The butler stood beside her chair wringing his hands. “I’ll get it ma’am. Please don’t worry about it.”
“Why don’t we have dessert in the living room,” Tommy tactfully suggested, rising as he spoke.
Everybody followed him, and Tommy seated himself on the sofa beside Nikki. He began to talk to his parents about nothing in particular, and with the focus off of her, Nikki marginally relaxed.
“Did you know Tommy when you were in high school, Nikki?” asked Mr. Price.
“No, I didn’t.”
“When did you graduate?”
“Oh, I didn’t graduate. I quit when I was seventeen. I always thought I’d go to adult education and get my diploma, but after the kids were born I had to work and take care of them, and I just didn’t have the time.”
Nikki maintained a casual air, but her face had turned pink, for she knew that nothing she had done so far could hold a candle to her lack of education. Tommy was a lawyer for goodness sake. These people valued education as much as they valued family, and she had neither
Mrs. Price changed the subject for which Nikki blessed her. “Your cousin, Dan, trains Tommy’s horse doesn’t he?”
“Yes, he does. He does a good job, too. He’s won a lot of ribbons and trophies for Tommy.”
“I believe he recently married Holly Grant.”
“Yes, ma’am, he did.”
“I play bridge with Holly’s grandmother, Pauline. She’s really pleased about the marriage.”
“Oh, so is Mr. Wakefield. You know Dan lived with him after his parents died.”
“I expect he is pleased. Most parents wouldn’t like for their daughters to go out with Kyle Wakefield’s son.”
Nikki’s eyes started to snap, and Tommy hastily stepped in. “Mother, I know you didn’t mean that the way it sounded. Dan’s a fine man; he’s nothing at all like his father.” Dan’s father had been a drug dealer, and everyone in Fairfield knew it.
“I’m very sorry,” Mrs. Price apologized. “That didn’t come out the right way.”
Nikki suspected that it came out exactly the way Mrs. Price meant it, but for Tommy’s sake, she kept quiet.
Thankfully, Tommy didn’t want to stay too late. Nikki had never been as glad of anything in her life when he said they had to go. The thing was, she needed a restroom. She hated to ask, but it had reached the point where she had to.
“May I use your bathroom before we go?”
“Certainly. I’ll show you where it is,” Mrs. Price said.
Nikki followed her through the elegant home, and Mrs. Price indicated the powder room. It wasn’t as large as Nikki had thought it would be, but this was an older house. Maybe they didn’t build bathrooms so large a long time ago, she thought.
As she washed her hands she admired the pretty, snow-white towel. With all that lace on the bottom it looked too fancy to use. She had just replaced it on the towel bar when disaster struck. Her arm nudged the edge of a cut glass bowl full of potpourri that crashed to the tile floor and splintered into what looked like a million pieces. Nikki started to cry. She wiped her cheeks with the back of her hand and bit the inside of her lip hard. She couldn’t afford to bawl like a baby.
She heard a knock on the door, and Tommy called, “Nikki, what was that noise? Are you okay?”
Nikki swiftly opened the door. “Get me a broom and dustpan. I knocked your mother's bowl into the floor and broke it."
Tommy shook his head. “Henry will clean it up, Nikki. You’re Mother’s guest.”
Mrs. Price appeared in the doorway behind Tommy. “Don’t worry about it, Nikki. I have plenty of bowls to replace it with.”
“I’d like to pay you for it.”
“That isn’t necessary. It wasn’t valuable.”Finally, they said goodnight, and as the car door closed behind her Nikki burst into loud, noisy sobs. The good time had definitely ended. Tommy would wash his hands of her, and it was all her fault. Why couldn’t she have done things right just this one time?