The following afternoon Kyra made a trip to the capital of Cockburn Town. Hailed as the historical centerpiece of the Turks and Caicos, Grand Turk was the largest island in the chain; boasting a first-class cruise center complete with a 3000-foot pier, in addition to a 19th century lighthouse, and a national museum. The town’s Salt Era charm was preserved in the form of Bermudan-style buildings which had been re-opened as rustic inns or private residences. Most of the government offices, banks, churches, and other commercial buildings were located downtown, although traffic was sparse minus the horses or donkeys roaming the alleys. Sand dusted the main streets.
White wrought iron framed the glass walls of the public conservatory however, it was the central dome that made it most unique. Nestled in acres of meticulously kept gardens, a colorful array of flowers surrounded the old structure for as far as the eye could see. Exotic birds made their homes amongst the diverse greenery housed in each wing. Butterflies fluttered about.
A plaque outside stated that the conservatory had been built in 1822 by a wealthy salt merchant named Francis Middleton. Sadly, Middleton died of malaria one month before his floral palace was to be completed, but Kyra didn’t stop to read the rest of the story. She bypassed a tour and the gift shop as well.
Hidden behind a pair of sunglasses and a floppy sunhat, Kyra entered the tea room. She stood five inches taller in Giuseppe heels, and the black Chanel piece she had on fit her better than the mannequin. Factor in her wild curls and her favorite lipstick; it was her confidence that was wearing off.
After the last conversation she and Justin had, Kyra was looking for a little reassurance, but it soon became clear that if she expected to find it there, then she had come to the wrong place.
“Kyra . . .” Eden faked a smile for appearance’s sake. “Care to join me for some tea?” She picked up the teapot, perky as could be.
“Cut the bullshit, Eden. Where is Justin?” Kyra propped one hand on her hip and let the other fall at her side. Eden could sense her dirty looks even though she couldn’t see her eyes.
“He’s not coming. Now, sit.” Her smile was replaced by tight lips. She dropped two sugar cubes into her teacup, and stirred until they were dissolved. When she was done, she rubbed her spoon against the edge, and laid it gently on the saucer. Although the steam rising off of it made it a tempting weapon, it was still too hot to drink.
“This doesn’t concern you, Eden. You need to mind your business,” Kyra lit into her the moment her butt touched the seat.
“In your text, you said you had something important to tell him. And, well, he is my fiancé so yes. I do believe that qualifies as my business.” Eden folded her hands and smiled, yet the look in her eyes said she was ready to flip the table.
The heat between them raised the temperature in the room.
“What do you want Eden? I didn’t come here for this,” Kyra groaned in annoyance. Out of all the delicious pastries laid out in front of her, she wasn’t tempted to try anything. For all she knew they were poisoned.
“I wanted to let you know that I know.” Eden leaned half-way across the table. “I know what you’re trying to do, and it’s not going to work,” she whispered.
“And what is that?” Kyra laughed louder than she should have.
Several heads turned in their direction.
“Come on, Kyra. I know you don’t really think I’m that stupid. I already know he’s not working late every night he says he is.” For the first time in their conversation Eden looked at Kyra, not as though she was trying to look through her.
“Well maybe if you worried more about him than me you wouldn’t have that problem,” Kyra muttered.
“Oh, please, Kyra. I would consider you more of a pest than a problem.” Eden stuck her pinky out when she took the first sip.
“Does Justin know that you’re here?” Kyra asked.
“Don’t worry about Justin or what he’s doing,” Eden snapped. “I am not about to let you steal my husband!”
“Um, in case you forgot, Justin is not your husband.” Kyra looked at her like she was crazy.
“Not yet anyway. . .” Eden flaunted her ring. “God, I cannot wait to see the look on your face when you have to call me Mrs. Hartwell!” she teased.
“Yeah, okay. Like that’ll ever happen,” Kyra mumbled.
“You know, I don’t think I like your attitude.”
“That’s okay. Your ‘husband’ likes it enough for the both of you.” After spending just a few minutes with Eden, Kyra seemed to have mastered the art of insulting her with a smile. But instead of cussing her out or making a scene, Eden smiled wider.
“You know, I am really trying to be nice right now. But you are not making it easy,” she chuckled.
“You act as though you are anywhere near my level, when the only thing you and I have in common is Justin. And even that is temporary.” Eden broke a cookie in half, took a bite, and watched the rest crumble in between her fingers – all the while wishing she could do the same to Kyra.
“So if that’s the case then why don’t you tell him to stop callin’ me? I can’t help if he still checkin’ for me,” Kyra gloated in return.
“Because I don’t care,” Eden delivered a swift answer. “Just because he fucked you that don’t mean he loves you,” she reasoned.
“And just because he tells you he loves you that doesn’t mean he really does,” Kyra added.
“Then you would be wise to take your own advice,” Eden shot back. “I mean, seriously, Kyra, where is your dignity . . . your self-respect? Clearly, you don’t have any.”
Kyra folded her arms in defiance.
“Whateva, Eden. I’m not goin’ anywhere. So you might as well get used to me.” Eden laughed.
“Kyra, sweetie, you don’t want it with me. You need to learn when it’s time to walk away.”
“I’ve never been one to walk away from a fight,” Kyra informed.
“I don’t have to fight for what’s mine.” Eden barely blinked.
“Why? Are you scared? Or is it because you already know you’re not going to win?” Kyra smirked.
“I’ve already won.” Eden held up her ring finger, and Kyra’s smirk was gone.
“Then why are we here?”
“Okay, Kyra. Let’s cut the small talk.” Eden threw her napkin down on her plate. “I don’t want you coming around anymore. I find your friendship with Justin inappropriate and unnecessary, and as his wife I am going to have to ask that you put an end to it immediately,” she explained.
“So you do realize I still work for Justin, right?” Kyra squinted at her request. “It’s not up to you to fire me. Only he can do that.”
“You’re right. I can’t fire you . . . Which is why I’m giving you the option to quit,” she said. “You would be smart to take it.”
“And what are you gonna do if I don’t?” Kyra’s attitude resurfaced.
“It’s simple really: you agree to stop seeing Justin. And I’ll agree not to tell him that you slept with Dominic.” Eden shrugged.
“What the hell are you talkin’ about?” Kyra masked her worry with a slight laugh.
“Oh, you know,” Eden giggled. “I heard all the details. I know all about you, girl.”
“You don’t know shit!” Kyra hissed. “Whateva Dominic told you, is a lie!”
“Even if Dominic is lying, which I doubt, Justin has no reason not to believe me. Whereas with you. . .” Eden waved her index finger. “Well. We all know you haven’t always been the most forthcoming with him, now have you?”
“Okay, but what about Dominic? You would really be willin’ to put his business out like that?” Kyra pulled the sympathy card – only to find out Eden didn’t have any. Not even for her brother.
“If it meant getting rid of you: then yes,” she snorted. “Because while you may have Justin fooled, you don’t fool me,” Eden came at her with increased hostility. “I see you for what you really are. You want to make it seem like you’re all ‘in-love’ when really, you’re just another gutter bitch looking for a sponsor.”
Kyra opened her mouth to defend herself, when Eden cut her off.
“And that’s fine,” she continued. “So long as you know it’s not going to be Justin.” Eden sat back satisfied she had gotten her point across.
“However, since you seem to be a woman about her money, I have a proposition for you,” she purred.
“Whateva it is, I’m not interested,” Kyra grumbled.
“I’m only going to make this offer once. You might want to listen up.” Eden reached for the tan Birkin bag sitting next to her.
“And my answer is still gonna be no,” Kyra declared.
“I will write you a check for twenty-five thousand dollars if you to get on a plane tonight and disappear. I’ll buy you a one-way ticket wherever you want to go.” Eden snatched off the cap to her pen. She had her checkbook sitting wide open right in front of them.
“Read my lips. N – O,” Kyra slowed her speech as if Eden was hard of hearing. Meanwhile, Eden rattled off figures like an auctioneer.
“Go ahead. Name your price. Thirty thousand, forty, forty-five. . . I’ll sign the check myself!”
“Sorry, Eden, but you can’t put a price on love. I would’ve thought you figured that out by now?” Kyra cringed at Eden’s idea – and at her for even suggesting it.
“Maybe not. . . But I can put a price on your life!” Eden huffed.
“Bitch, don’t get treated! It’s still Chi-town all day. I will fuck you up!” Kyra bumped the table, creating quite a noise.
“Okay. Don’t say I didn’t try,” Eden exhaled in her usual dainty way. She put away her checkbook when she stood up, and clutched her purse close.
“While I enjoyed our little chat, I’m afraid I must get back to Providenciales. I don’t want to be late for my fitting.” Eden dismissed herself wearing the same snarky smile that irked Kyra to the bone. Everything she did was in an attempt to get under her skin. And this time, it worked.
Something about Kyra and Justin’s situation was starting to feel all too familiar. And Kyra didn’t like it. It was almost as though she had been there before. Like she already knew how their story would end. It seemed everyone else got to move on with their lives while she was stuck to pay the consequences.
“Ma’am, is everything all right?” One of the servers came to her side seconds after Eden left, but Kyra refused his handkerchief.