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Home > This Man Confessed (This Man #3)(13)

This Man Confessed (This Man #3)(13)
Author: Jodi Ellen Malpas

Jesse opens a bottle of water and takes a long swig, not in the least bit perturbed by Tessa’s concern. ‘It’s fine.’

Tessa shakes her head in disbelief and stomps off towards the entrance hall. She may as well leave. It looks like her services are no longer required.

‘Don’t you want to cut the cake?’ I ask, my wrist being lifted as Jesse secures the lid on his water bottle. ‘Kate went out of her way to make it on such short notice.’

He reaches forward and straightens my diamond. ‘Then let’s not ruin it.’ he says seriously.

‘You’re impossible.’ I sigh, glancing across the bar, spotting Sam and Drew entertaining my dad, who’s looking a little rosy cheeked. My mum is revelling in the attention, undoubtedly offering tours of the grounds, and Kate is looking drunk. Tom flaps a limp wrist at me, Victoria gives a girly wave before looking across the bar towards Drew and smoothing down her blonde locks, and poor Sal just looks like she’s trying to fit in, although she’s still sparkling, but her new fellow isn’t here. I smile and turn my attention back to Jesse, just a Tessa storms back into the bar.

‘Okay. I’ve spoken to Elizabeth,’ Tessa huffs. ‘We’re cutting the cake and having the first dance shortly, so don’t be disappearing on me again.’ She storms off, and I smile. She’s definitely regretting taking this job.

‘You okay, baby?’ His warm palm slides across my cheek.

‘Yes, fine.’ I answer, but I’m not. I’ve fallen out with my brother, and that has absolutely never happened.

‘You don’t look fine. I said I wanted you to enjoy today.’

I inwardly laugh. Then he should let me have a drink and he shouldn’t have broached the subject that has my brain the most twisted at the moment. ‘I’m fine.’ I sigh, taking a long sip of my water. Fucking water.

Patrick and Irene approach, my cuddly bear of a boss brandishing a huge ivory gift bag, his wife adorned in a mass of animal print material. I think it might be a dress. It’s extremely distracting. I quickly direct my eyes to Jesse. ‘Here’s Patrick. You said Monday, remember?’ I need to get that in quickly.

Jesse looks over his shoulder. ‘Yes, Ava. Just till Monday, though.’

‘Flower!’ Patrick thrusts the gift bag at me, kisses my cheek, and then holds his hand out to Jesse. ‘Mr Ward.’ he greets, a frown popping up onto his wrinkled forehead when he clocks the cuffs.

‘Please, it’s Jesse. Thank you for coming.’ Jesse takes Patrick’s hand.

‘Yes, Jesse.’ My boss drags his eyes away from our wrists. ‘This is Irene.’ He signals to his wife as she wobbles over with the biggest grin on her face. I smile to myself. She’s affected.

‘Nice to meet you.’ she practically giggles.

‘And you.’ Jesse hits her with his smile, reserved only for women, and she disintegrates on the spot. He’s unbelievable. ‘Please, the bar staff will see to you.’

‘Thank you!’ she gushes. ‘This hotel is just wonderful!’

‘Hello, Irene.’ I say on a smile. She drags her greedy eyes away from my husband and brings them onto me. She’s a frightening woman, but not at the moment. She’s too busy straightening her back and pulling in her stomach. ‘How are you?’

‘Delightful!’ she sings in my face. ‘Ava, you look stunning.’

‘Thank you.’ I blurt, completely surprised. She has never paid me a compliment, not ever, and I didn’t expect her to now. She mostly just rabbits on about her social life and gossips about her fellow ladies of leisure.

Patrick grasps his wife’s elbow and guides her away. ‘We’ll get a drink.’ He rolls his eyes, and I smile fondly at my boss. I know he finds his wife exasperating.

‘Interesting woman.’ Jesse muses, looking a little alarmed at her leopard print body, wobbling away from us.

I laugh. ‘She makes Patrick’s life miserable.’

‘I can imagine.’

‘Here’s John.’ I say, glancing past Jesse. The big guy is strolling over, wraparounds in place, and with his usual menacing expression plastered all over his face. His stare is pointed at the cuffs before he gives me the nod. I nod back.

‘A word, Jesse.’ he rumbles. He’s too serious. I don’t like it, and Jesse’s quick flick of his eyes to me doesn’t make me feel any better.

Jesse reaches into his pocket and pulls out the key to the handcuffs, and I watch as he brings it to my wrist. ‘What are you doing?’ I ask, yanking my arm away.

‘John wants a quick word.’ His teeth are clenched.

‘Oh no,’ I laugh. ‘You don’t get to release me when it suits you. No way, Ward.’ I look at John, who’s still expressionless.

‘Ava, I’ll be back shortly.’ He pulls my wrist back to him.

‘No! Where are you going?’ I look at John. ‘Where is he going?’

‘S’all good, girl.’

‘No. It’s not all f**king good!’ I yell a bit too loudly, earning myself a frightening scowl from Jesse. I don’t care. He doesn’t get to do this. He doesn’t get to brush me off when it suits him. It’s my wedding day.

‘Watch your mouth!’ he grates, leaning into me. ‘I’ll be a few minutes. You’ll stay f**king put, Ava.’

I recoil at his animosity, completely stunned as he makes quick work of the handcuffs before striding out with John. I’m perched on a barstool, the bride in a stunning gown, adorned with diamonds, all of our guests laughing, chatting and drinking, and I want to go home. I feel tearful, slighted and very, very hurt. I lower myself from the stool, deciding to make the most of my freedom and have a wee. I might have a little cry, too. I need to get away from these people before the tears start flowing freely. What is wrong with me?

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