Nailed - Opal Carew

Chapter One

“Oh my God, I can’t believe someone is willing to pay five thousand dollars to have dinner with me.” River stared at the Kickstarter page on her cell.

“Really?” her friend Tia said. “Let me see.”

Tia pushed her long, red hair behind her ear as she peered over River’s shoulder. They were standing in the break room of Giselle’s, the cosmetics and accessories store where they worked. River was just checking her e-mails before she stashed her phone and other belongings in her locker and started her shift.

“Hey, your campaign looks like it’s fully funded,” Tia observed. “That was fast. Didn’t you just start it up?”

River nodded. “Two days ago.” She was shocked as she stared at the numbers. Tia was right.

“So have you figured out where you’re going to take this person? It better be a pretty nice place if they’re paying that much.”

River’s stomach clenched as she shook her head, opening the next e-mail. She’d never thought anyone would actually pay that much. She knew most campaigns had some extravagant options people could buy in order to get online donors to contribute to a business initiative. She’d thought of having the person’s initial tattooed on her thigh, but then discovered that someone else had done something similar. Then Tia suggested the dinner thing.

River had her own nail polish blog and had built up a bit of a following, but she never thought anyone would be enough of a fangirl to pay that much to meet her. In fact, the thought made her a bit nervous.

“Look,” Tia said, still reading the next e-mail over her shoulder. “She wants to do it on Saturday. And she’s even picked the place.” Tia glanced at River. “Can you afford dinner at the Carousel?”

“When she’s paying five grand I can.”

River turned off her phone and pushed her purse into the locker next to Tia’s then closed the door.

* * *

“Hello there. River, isn’t it?”

River glanced up from straightening the display of lipsticks and nail polishes into the face of the handsome customer. She recognized him from yesterday when he’d come in with his wife or girlfriend. He’d bought a lot of items for her, mostly high-end nail polishes and a few pieces of the boutique’s designer costume jewelry.

“Yes, sir.” River smiled. “Are you back for that onyx necklace for your friend?”

He smiled, his gaze gliding over her in a way that made her uncomfortable. “No, actually. I was hoping that maybe you’d join me for a drink when you finish work.”

Good God, he had to be kidding. She knew he had a girlfriend. He knew she knew he had a girlfriend.

“I’m sorry, sir, but I’m seeing someone.”

He shrugged. “So?”

Her skin quivered in revulsion.

“I spent a lot of money here. I assume you made quite a bit in commission.”

Anger surged to the surface and the polite comeback she’d fought to utter slipped away. “Does that approach actually ever get you anywhere? Because—”

But suddenly Tia grabbed her arm, startling her. “River, time for your break. I’ll take over here.”

Tia hustled River to the side and then went back and started talking with the man. His indignant expression faded as Tia turned on the charm, tossing her long red hair over her shoulder and flashing that beaming smile of hers.

River walked away, realizing her friend had just saved her from another reprimand from their boss.

You have to learn to deal with customers who come on to you in a polite manner, her manager would always say. Simply say no, and if that doesn’t work, excuse yourself and find another staff member or manager to step in.

River knew the drill, but any guy who betrayed his girlfriend, or tried to bully a woman into doing something she didn’t want to do, like go out with him, made her see red.

She walked to the break room door, watching while Tia chatted to the man.

“You had a little trouble, I see.” Her manager, Louise, stepped up beside her.

“Tia took over,” River said, a bit resentful that Louise had been watching her so closely. Waiting for her to make a mistake.

“I’m glad. I’d hate to write you up for being rude to a customer again.” Louise glanced at River’s hands. “I don’t recognize the shade of nail polish you’re wearing. It’s not one of ours, is it?”

River curled her fingers. “No,” she admitted.

“River, you know that everyone who works in the store is supposed to wear our nail polishes. Especially the new spring line.”

River cringed inside. Normally, she loved the products