Most of the time, I’m grateful I came to my senses less than twenty-four hours later, but sometimes I wish I’d stretched out that indulgence just a little longer.
“Marston Rowe?” Abbi squeaks. “Holy hell, Mr. Self-Made Man, you look even better than you did in high school. I didn’t even recognize you.”
Marston swivels his attention to Abbi. “My apologies, I don’t remember . . .”
“We never officially met,” she says.
“In that case, I’m Marston.” He offers her his hand. “You’re . . . ?”
Abbi blinks, looking him over in a way that’d be super creepy if anyone else did it. She’s just too cute to be a man-eater—which is why they never see her coming.
“Abbi Matthews,” I supply when it appears my friend has lost her capacity for speech. “One of my best friends.”
She blinks a few times before turning her gaze on me. “You . . . He . . . Does he know you’re engaged?”
If he somehow didn’t, he does now. But I don’t let my grimace show. I lift my chin and meet Marston’s eyes. “I’m not sure. Did you get the invitation?”
“You invited him to your wedding?” Abbi screeches, and half the bar turns in our direction.
“She did,” Marston says, his voice low and gravelly. I swear, this man was born with bedroom eyes and an intonation most guys can only manage mid-coitus or first thing in the morning. Is it any wonder I ended up in his bed in Vegas?
And engaged, Brinley. Don’t forget that ring.
“You didn’t tell me that.” Abbi sounds too damn giddy, so I shoot her a look. “What? Most girls would consult their best friend before inviting their first love to their wedding.”
“A little louder so the folks in the back can hear, Abbi?” I snag her half-full martini, and it sloshes over the rim and onto my hand, cold and sticky. “You’re cut off.”
She bites her lip and her cheeks blaze red, but her bright eyes give her away. She doesn’t feel even a little guilty.
Marston’s lips twitch again. Of course. I’m endlessly amusing. “It’s nice to meet you, Abbi. I think I like you.”
Abbi flutters her lashes dramatically. “And I like you . . . or at least everything I’ve heard.” Her wink suggests graphic details I haven’t shared with a soul, but Marston’s cocky enough that he doesn’t balk at the suggestion of me spilling all his bedroom secrets. “But seriously? She didn’t mention me at all when you saw her in Vegas?”
Marston cuts his gaze to me for a beat, and I see the question there. What does she know about Vegas?
Seeing as how I can’t even remember half the night, Abbi got more details from Savvy than from me. I drain the martini and shrug.
Marston treats Abbi to a full smile. “We didn’t do a lot of reminiscing. You know how loud Vegas clubs are.” He winks at her, all sexy, smooth charm, and jealousy rises so hot and brilliant in my chest that I wish Abbi had a second martini for me to steal.
“Right.” She nods. “That makes sense.”
“Are you still living in Orchid Valley or just visiting?” Marston asks.
I’m glad they’re hitting it off so well, but I’d really love for them to hurry past the pleasantries and get to the part where Marston explains what brought him back to Orchid Valley for the first time in ten and a half years.
“I left for a couple of years, but I’m a lifer. What’s kept you away so long?”
If that question causes him any angst, Marston doesn’t show it. “Work’s been good. It keeps me busy.” He flashes me a smile. “But I’m here now.”
“I didn’t expect to see you . . .” I’m not sure how to finish that sentence. I didn’t expect to see him before the wedding? I didn’t expect to see him at all. I didn’t really think he’d come, but why did I send the invitation? “Why are you here?”
He scans my face for a long moment. “We need to talk.”
“Oh. Right, of course.” Abbi hops off her chair and steps away from our table then nods toward where her brother and his friends are gathered at the back of the bar. “I’ll go. I’ll see if the guys have any room for me at their table so you two can just—”
“You don’t need to go,” I say at the same time as Marston says, “Not here. In private.”
“That’s not necessary.” I wave to Abbi’s now-vacant chair. “Have a seat.”
Abbi’s worried gaze ping-pongs between us—it’s only now occurring to her that maybe she shouldn’t leave me alone with my greatest weakness since salted caramel gelato. She puts her hand on my arm. “Do you want me to stay?”
“Yes,” I say, and at the same time, Marston says, “No.”
“Considering I’m engaged to another man,” I say, trying to appeal to Marston’s reason, “I think it would be more appropriate for us to have someone with us as we talk.”