London Dynasty (The Dynasties #1) - Geneva Lee Page 0,1

escaped shame. It was a map of my failures painted for her to see.

“I got you,” she said, as though this was both not a big deal or an ongoing problem. It was both.

“You had me last month, too,” I said sullenly.

“Business is down,” Eliza lied smoothly.

“Business isn’t down. I’m a shit waitress.” That was the truth, and we both knew it. I suspected Ron had hired me because he thought I was pretty. Actually, he’d told me as much, couching it as a treat for his customers, mostly working men who haunted the pub between other responsibilities like work and wives. I’d turned out to be a disappointment when it came to waitressing. It had taken me the better part of a month to lift a tray with an entire order of pints. I had to make two trips when I started waiting tables. I’d yet to successfully remember the usuals’ orders or when to drop off the bill. Eliza pitied me, showing me little tricks to help me remember orders and names. That had helped, but I’d bet money that Sheila could greet a customer, take an order, deliver it, and cash out the table wearing a blindfold. Eliza probably could, too.

“You’re still learning,” Eliza dismissed the truth like she did any of my more negative self-talk. “You’ll get better. It’s your first job, right?”

It was one of the few facts I’d bothered to share with her, and only then because her own work history had come up one night over a bottle of cheap wine from Tesco. She’d been waiting tables since she could drive. I didn’t ask where and she didn’t offer. I had confessed, however, that the pub was my first job. Eliza had raised one thinly-plucked eyebrow, waited a moment, and moved on. I supposed she’d paused to give me a chance to explain my lack of real-world experience. I was relieved she didn’t press me harder. The last thing I wanted was for her to feel sorry for me. But now it was clear she did anyway.

The bell clanged again, and Eliza tossed her cigarette out the back door. She patted my arm as she walked past. “Don’t worry about it, Kate. I got you.”

“Thanks.” I forced the gratitude out so hard that I practically chirped. After growing up with nothing, I still didn’t know what to do when people were nice to me. Eliza seemed to sense this and only nodded. I needed to do something to make it up to her. “I’ll take the table. You can still have the tip.”

I owed her that much.

The wide grin came back, and she reached into her apron for another cigarette. “You’re the best.”

I paused at the sink to wash my hands before going back to the floor. It was a habit, but it also gave me a chance to check myself in Sheila’s mirror. My hair had managed to stay reasonably secure in the tight knot at the top of my head. Pulled up this tightly, it looked darker than it was. There was almost no hint of the red tint it held when I wore it loosely. The rest of me looked about the same. I didn’t bother with much make-up. Between going back and forth to the kitchen and the overworked dining room aircon, I would wind up sweating it off within minutes. Not that there was much it could do for me anyway. My eyes were set a little too wide, and my mouth matched. My cheekbones were so high and sharp they seemed to swallow my face. Ron, the skeevy pub owner, might think I was pretty, but I felt mismatched. If anyone bothered to look, they would see it, too. That hadn’t stopped anyone from trying to grab my ass as I passed, though.

Backing through the swinging doors, I pulled out my notepad and a stubby pencil. A group had taken the table in the corner. As I walked toward them, light bounced through the window, nearly blinding me. I looked outside to find a shiny silver Jaguar was parked by the curb. I surveyed the group more closely and didn’t recognize a single face. That wasn’t a surprise since people in Bexby didn’t drive luxury cars. All three of them were busy on their mobile phones. When I reached the table, they barely looked at me.

“Pints all around. Hell, pints for the bar to celebrate the win,” one said, still busily dashing out a text on the