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

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

I shake my head at the glass that’s floating in front of me. ‘No, I’m fine.’ I don’t want alcohol breath under Jesse’s nose.

‘It’ll sort your nerves.’ Kate insists, taking my hand and placing the glass in it. ‘Drink.’

She knows the cause of my nerves. I’ve made Kate check the padlock and private suites a million times, too. She nods at the glass with raised eyebrows and I relent, taking a generous swig of Mario’s Most Marvellous. It tastes as marvellous as ever, but no amount of alcohol is going to cure me.

‘Where’s Jesse?’ I ask, setting my glass down. I’ve not seen him since last night. Knowing my mum’s traditional views, I insisted we sleep separately on the night before our wedding. He refused to leave my room until one minute to midnight, and then he did so in a mighty huff when my mum was banging on the door. I could see he was dying to trample all over her, but, surprisingly, he conceded without too much fuss, just a ferocious scowl at my mum as she guided him from the room.

‘I think he’s getting ready.’ Kate downs a Most Marvellous.

‘Katie Matthews, take it easy!’ Mum scorns, taking the glass from her. ‘You’ve got all day to go.’

‘Sorry.’ Kate flicks me a cheeky grin. I know why she’s hitting the drink so early: theDan and Sam combination.

‘What about my dad and brother?’

‘At the bar, Ava. All of the men are at the bar.’ Kate emphasises all.

‘All of the men?’ I ask. ‘Like all of the men, including Sam?’

Kate nods in agreement to my obvious thoughts. ‘Yes, all of the men, except Jesse and including Sam… and Dan.’

I wince. Today is going to be tough for Kate. Dan delayed his return to Australia so he could be here for my wedding, but he hasn’t said much, neither on the night of the proposal or since. He doesn’t need to. It’s obvious that he’s struggling with both the direction of my life and being near Kate, especially with an oblivious Sam on the scene. Kate’s struggling too, although trying to appear unaffected.

‘Come on, then.’ Kate claps her hands. ‘Are you getting dressed or walking down the aisle in that? I’m sure he won’t mind.’

I smile at my fiery friend. She knows Jesse’s compulsion for lace, but my mum doesn’t. ‘I’m getting dressed.’ I unpack my heels from the tissue paper and slip them on, raising me by four inches. ‘Right,’ I take a deep breath and make my way over to the door, where my dress is waiting for me.

‘Perhaps you should use the toilet before we get you into it.’ Mum suggests, joining me by the dress. ‘Oh, Ava. I’ve never seen anything like it.’

I hum my agreement, my eyes drifting up and down the full length. ‘I know. And yes, I need a wee.’ I leave my mum admiring my dress and head for the bathroom, catching Kate having another quick glug while my mum’s back is turned. If I wasn’t so concerned about my wedding venue, I might be concerned about spending the day with Dan and Kate within spitting distance of each other.

I shut the door quietly before using the toilet and relishing in another private moment. Then I hear a loud knock on the suite door, followed by the unmistakably panicked voice of my mother. Wondering what’s going on, I make quick work of sorting myself out and washing my hands before exiting the bathroom.

‘Jesse,’ My mum is clearly exasperated. ‘You and I are going to fall out if you don’t do as you’re told.’

I look over at Kate, who is drinking more Most Marvellous while my mum is distracted. She grins at me on a shrug. ‘What’s going on?’ I ask.

‘Jesse wants to see you, but Elizabeth is having none of it.’

I roll my eyes, turning my attention to the door, where my mum is blocking the small gap between the door and the frame. Then I hear him.

‘We won’t fall out, mum, if you let me in.’ I know he’s grinning at my mother, but his playfulness isn’t fooling me. I can detect the threat in his tone. He’s coming in this room, and not even mum will stop him.

‘Jesse Ward, you do not get to call me mum when I’m only nine years older than you.’ she spits. ‘Now go, you’ll be seeing her in half an hour.’

‘Ava!’ he yells past my mum.

I throw my eyes back to Kate, and she nods her head, instantly catching my drift. We both run towards the door, Kate unhooking my dress from the top and me gathering the bottom in my arms before we take it into the bathroom and rehang it on the back of the door.

Kate laughs. ‘Will your mum learn or will she continue to try and tame him?’

‘I don’t know.’ I smooth the front of my dress down and follow Kate back out, shutting the door behind me. Mum is still guarding the door, her foot wedged at the bottom. That won’t stop him.

‘Jesse, no!’ She’s pushing against him now. ‘Oh no! It’s bad luck. Have you no respect for tradition, you stubborn man?’

‘Let me in, Elizabeth.’ He’s clenching his teeth, I know he is.

I glace at Kate and shake my head. He’s trampling my mother, just like he promised to do if she ever got in his way, and she is most certainly in his way.

Kate takes another drink from the tray and walks casually over to the door. ‘Elizabeth, just let him in, you’ll never stop him. The man’s a rhinoceros.’

‘No!’ Mum is really digging her heels in, not that it’ll work. She should know this by now, even after the limited time she’s spent with him. ‘He is not… oh!… Jesse Ward!’

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