Ripples

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By the middle of the afternoon, the defiant attitude Riley had managed to muster up in front of Gareth had been watered down by the three vodka sours she had downed at the nearest bar she could find. By the time she returned to her building, she was drunk, or, at least, tipsy. It didn't help that she was angry, too, which usually made the buzz worse. It certainly didn't make it any better. It was preferable to have no buzz at all, or the very least stay sober.

She said all this in one breath to Frank, her doorman, the moment she walked into the lobby of her building. An enormous bouquet of roses, sunflowers and chrysanthemums sat on his counter, and she wondered out loud if anyone had died.

"No one died," Frank replied. "They're for you. Mr. Hunter had them delivered to you this morning."

"Oh," Riley said, wishing she wasn't as drunk as she felt.

"I didn't want to leave it by your door in case Miss Tipper's poodle might mistake it for a bush."

"Well, it's not a bush," Riley said. "It's a bouquet of flowers, damn it."

She tried to lift it, but it was quite a large vase, and it felt slippery in her hands.

"Let me help take the flowers up to your apartment, Miss Eames," Frank said, frowning, as he gently pried the vase from her hands.

"I'm not drunk," Riley said, wagging her finger at Frank. "I'm just annoyed. I should have had more attitude today. I wonder where I can get more of that. Do you know?"

"Unfortunately, no," Frank said as they stepped into the elevator. He hit the button for the fifth floor, staring straight ahead and saying nothing.

"I'm mad because just when I thought I'd found the right guy, this time, he turns out to be in mourning or something, and not only that, but he's got a kid. A kid! I mean, I have nothing against men in mourning and kids, but you'd think that he'd have told me that little detail, you know? And to make things worse, my ex-boyfriend is in town and, while everyone just loves him—did I say everyone loves him?" Frank nodded, a forlorn look on his face. "Well, I hate him! And wouldn't you know it? He fucking kissed me not once, but twice out there on the street! To make it worse, some paparazzi guy took a picture of us!"

Riley sighed, leaning her head too far forward and accidentally hitting the control panel with her forehead. Her vision swam for a moment, and she stayed where she was, leaving her forehead pressed against the button that was now beeping continuously before Frank gingerly peeled her from it. She wouldn't be surprised if the button left a mark on her forehead.

"Ow!" she groaned. "What floor did I just hit?"

"Twelve, though it says twenty-one on your forehead. Still, I'm afraid you need to lie down, Miss Eames," Frank said, as the elevator stopped on the fifth floor and the doors slid open. "I'm sure this man in mourning—with the kid—is a nice man, and maybe he thought it was too soon to tell you."

"So you're defending him now?"

"No," Frank said, walking alongside her toward her door.

"Well, I hate his guts," Riley declared.

"Whose guts?" Frank asked. "The father in mourning? How could you hate his guts?"

"No, my ex-boyfriend. I hate his guts," Riley said, fumbling for her keys. "And you know what, Frank?"

He shook his head.

"When he kissed me, there was nothing there. I thought that after three years of thinking about him and wondering why he left me, there'd be something—a spark or something, stars, fireworks, but there was nothing. I got more from the man in mourning with the kid," Riley said. She sighed as the key finally slipped into the lock and she turned it. "How long is the mourning period in England, do you know?"

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