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Home > This Man Confessed (This Man #3)(6)

This Man Confessed (This Man #3)(6)
Author: Jodi Ellen Malpas

‘I’ll take care of the groom!’ she declares, diverting her eyes. ‘Jesse, come on.’

‘Wait.’ He looks at my chest. ‘Where’s your diamond?’

‘Shit!’ My hand instantly flies up to my breastbone, my eyes darting around on the floor. ‘Shit, shit, shit! Mum!’

‘Ava!’ Jesse yells, ‘Please! Watch your mouth!’

‘Don’t panic!’ Mum drops to her knees and starts looking under the bed, while I scan every inch of the plush carpet.

‘Here it is!’ Tessa sweeps it up from the floor, and Jesse abruptly snatches it from her hand before making his way over to me.

‘Turn around.’ he huffs, and I comply immediately, my heart hammering in my chest. That damn f**king diamond will be the death of me. ‘There.’ His lips fall onto my shoulder, his hips pushing into my bum.

‘That’ll teach you for frolicking on the floor.’ Mum huffs. ‘Now, out!’ She starts tugging at Jesse’s arm, but he doesn’t brush her off.

I turn and wave at him, then curtsy, prompting another huff from my mother and a cheeky grin from Jesse, before he lets Tessa usher him out of the suite.

‘Right. In that dress, Ava O’Shea. Where is it?’

I point to the bathroom and sit myself on the end of the bed. ‘Bathroom. And you won’t be able to call me that soon.’ I say haughtily.

She stomps across the room. ‘You will always be Ava O’Shea to me.’ she grumbles. ‘Up. Your Father will be here in a minute to escort you downstairs.’

I stand and re-arrange my underwear. ‘Is he okay?’

‘Your dad?’ she asks. ‘Nervous, but it’s nothing a few whiskeys won’t cure. He hates being in the limelight.’

He does. He’ll be keen to hand me over to Jesse so he can escape the attention and blend back into the crowd. We had a brief conversation about speeches, and I could see the fear in his face. I told him he didn’t have to, but he insisted and so did my mum.

My dress is removed from the hanger and held in front of me. I rest my hand on mum’s shoulder and step into it, letting her pull it up my front so I can slip my arms through the delicate straps before she turns me around and fastens the dozens of tiny pearl buttons running down my lower spine. Her hands move to my shoulders to straighten the straps. She’s quiet, and she’s stopped moving. I know what I’m going to see if I turn around, and I’m not sure I can cope with it. Then I hear a small sniff.

‘Mum, please don’t.’

Her hands kick back into action. ‘What?’

I turn around, and my suspicions are confirmed. Her eyes are clouded and she lets out a small sob. ‘Mum.’ I warn softly.

‘Oh, Ava.’ She runs to the bathroom, and I hear the frantic yanking of toilet paper from the roll, and then the blowing of a nose. I knew she would do this. She appears in the doorway, dabbing under her eyes with some tissue. ‘I’m sorry. I was doing so well.’

‘You were.’ I confirm. ‘Hey, help me out here.’ Distraction, that’s what she needs.

‘Yes, yes. What should I do?’

‘Shoes.’ I point to my shoes where I kicked them off, and she scoops them up, placing them at my feet.

‘Thank you.’ I lift my pooling dress and slip my feet back into my Louboutins. ‘How’s my face?’ I ask.

She laughs. ‘You mean after you’ve just rubbed every inch of it all over Jesse’s?’

‘Yes.’ I answer, walking across to the bathroom to inspect it myself.

‘You could probably do with an extra brush of powder.’ she calls.

She’s right, I could. I look a little flushed. I grab my make-up brush and sweep it across my cheeks before refreshing my nude lips and applying a little extra mascara. My hair isn’t as silky smooth after my little roll around on the floor, but the comb is still securely in place. I feel better. He does that to me. He draws all of the anxiety right out of me with his presence, and now I can’t wait to get my lace clad arse downstairs to meet him.

I pull up the hem of my dress and walk out of the bathroom, flicking my hair over my shoulder and blowing out a calming breath. ‘I’m ready.’ I declare, coming to an abrupt halt when I see that my mum is no longer alone.

‘Oh, Joseph, look at her!’ Mum cries, turning into my dad’s shoulder and blubbering all over his charcoal three piece suit. Kate reaches up and strokes mum’s back on a small eye roll, and dad tenderly wraps his arm around her waist. This is rare. He’s not a touchy-feely man at all.

I smile at him, and he returns my beam. ‘Don’t you start,’ I warn him.

‘I’m saying nothing.’ He laughs. ‘Except, of course, how beautiful you look. Really beautiful, Ava.’

‘Really?’ I ask, shocked by his open display of affection, even if it is just words.

‘Yes, really.’ He nods sharply. ‘Now, are you ready?’ He shifts my mum away from his body and brushes his suit down, pretending he hasn’t just said some loving words to his daughter.

‘Yes, I’m more than ready. Dad, take me to Jesse.’ I demand, and that has the desired effect, everyone laughing at my order. Much better. I can’t cope with all of this intensity. Jesse provides me with enough of that.

Tessa barges in. ‘Come on, then. What’s the hold up?’ she asks, scanning the bodies that are all staring at me. ‘Elizabeth, Kate, downstairs, please.’ She escorts them from the room. ‘Ava, I’ll meet you at the summer room in three minutes.’

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