Scarlet had only started dating Brent to get to me. I’d had her first. I wouldn’t be exclusive. I didn’t want one woman. The idea suffocated me. She’d gone and tried to force my hand using not only my brother but my twin. It had worked. She’d made me fucking crazy with jealousy. But I wasn’t going to tell Momma that because I didn’t like how it made Scarlet look. And motherfucker if I didn’t want to protect her still.

“Okay,” was all I could say.

The old Bray would walk into the reception, find a single girl and seduce her right there in front of Scarlet. But getting up the desire to even try was too damn draining.

“Good. They’re headed this way now. You missed pictures. I ain’t forgetting that!” she snapped. Turning, she stormed off back toward the house.

I had been in plenty damn photos before the wedding with Asher and the others. I didn’t see why there had to be more anyway. Fuck the pictures.

With one last glance at the barn and the punching bag I’d been about to go release some aggression on, I followed Momma back to the house to meet the others as they arrived. If I was lucky Scarlet would have left.

The second I thought that, the pain in my chest squeezed at the idea of her leaving again. Away from me. Away from here. She was done with us. I had to do the same. At one time she’d wanted me so badly, she’d tried to force me to want her by using jealousy. I’d messed up. It was over.

Time to move the fuck on with my life. Stop thinking of her. Let it go. Brent sure had easily enough.

I reached the tent about the time the others had parked and were headed toward us. Brent, Dallas, and Steel were all shooting daggers my way. My absence during pictures was a bigger deal than I thought it would be. Dixie must have been upset. Shit. Now I’d have to deal with Asher.

“You’re a complete dick,” Steel said angrily.

“Selfish motherfucker,” Dallas added.

Brent studied me before finally saying, “It’s over. Move on.”

I was too raw from the confrontation with Scarlet, being forced to be here by Momma, and my own all-consuming pain that I didn’t fucking want to be threatened by Brent. I took three steps toward him until I was in his face. Before I could say anything, hands were on both my arms and I was pulled back.

“Jesus, Bray! It’s Asher’s wedding reception,” Steel said, pulling me harder.

The glint of red hair in the corner of my eye caught my attention and my eyes shifted over Brent’s shoulder. Beside Dixie was Scarlet. Both of them were paused, watching me. Us. Waiting. Dixie looked angry. Scarlet looked terrified. She hadn’t left. Her eyes almost appeared to be begging me to stop. She’d told me it was over.

I jerked my arms loose from Steels grasp. “Let me go. I’m not going to do anything,” I said, glancing at Brent. “But you need to keep your mouth shut. You moved the fuck on. She’s not yours anymore.”

Brent scowled at me. “No, she’s not. But she’s not yours either. She’s here for Dixie. Let her be. Leave it alone.”

He was right. She hadn’t come back for me. She’d come back for Dixie. I turned and stalked to the far-right corner where the bar was set up to get a beer. I’d stand back here and keep to myself. I’d watch her from here because I was fucking weak.

I picked up a beer and downed it not caring if anyone had a problem that I was under age. This was private property. They could suck my dick. I needed a damn beer. I needed a case of fucking beers.

“She was going to leave. Dixie begged her not to,” Dallas said from behind me. “She wants to be here with Dixie, but she doesn’t want to cause any drama.”

I took another long drink. I knew why she was here. Why did everyone think I needed reminding. I wasn’t hitting anyone. Brent’s ass was still standing. They could calm the fuck down.

“I know that,” I replied when I finally turned to face him. “You went and talked her into coming. Congratu-fuckin-lations, but back off, baby brother. I ain’t in the mood to listen to any more warnings.”

Dallas frowned at me. “I’m not scared of you, Bray. If I have to, I will stop you.” His tone didn’t seem threatening. More nervous.

I laughed. Loudly. Because that was the funniest shit I’d heard all day.

I pointed my beer at him and grinned. “You may be large but don’t think you can take me. It takes more than size, baby brother. It takes truly not giving a fuck mixed with crazy. And I got both.”

Dallas looked concerned. “Then control your crazy. For Asher.”

“Back off my ass. For Asher,” I shot back.

Dallas sighed, shook his head, finally resigned to leave me the hell alone.

Brent’s gaze was locked on me. Watching me. I downed my beer and held his gaze. When he didn’t stop staring at me I did the mature thing and gave the fucker my middle finger before getting another beer.


DIXIE SQUEEZED MY hand. “It’s okay. The others will control Bray. I have to greet people with Asher. Get a drink. Relax. Enjoy yourself. When we take our seats, I’ll have a chair added to my table for you. Come sit there.”

I knew she couldn’t stay with me the entire time. It was her wedding. She had to go be the bride, but facing this alone was terrifying.

I forced a smile. “I’ll be fine. Go be social,” I told her.

Asher put an arm around her waist and kissed the top of her head. The happy glow on her face was enough for me to push through my fear. I could do this for her. She wanted me to be here. I would be here.

Dixie smiled and made her way toward the other guests who were anxious to gush over the beautiful bride. I watched for a moment, glad she had gotten her Sutton boy. She would have never been this happy with Steel. He was a good man, but he wasn’t the one for her. Asher always had been. Even when I hated him for hurting her, I knew they were meant to be. I just couldn’t say that. Dixie had lived through enough pain.

Glancing around I saw Dallas heading my way. He was one Sutton brother I didn’t mind talking to. Brent still hadn’t spoken to me alone. I didn’t want to face him without others around. He hated me still. That much was obvious.

Dallas was taller than the others now, but his face still held youthfulness. His age was easy to detect. Although he seemed to think he was grown now. That was cute. He’d always been the prettiest of them all and the most charismatic.

“You made it through the hardest part. Time to take a deep breath and chill,” Dallas said as he came to stand beside me.

I didn’t agree. “Brent hasn’t approached me alone yet. He hates me. I would like to avoid him.”

Dallas shook his head. “I don’t think he will. If Sadie sees him talking to you he’ll have trouble in paradise. She’s a bit jealous. Sweet and all, but she doesn’t know about you. At least not yet. He can’t talk to a good-looking woman and her not get upset.”

“I’m glad he found someone,” I replied honestly. I wouldn’t have been able to say that if we’d been talking about Bray. That would have been too much.

“Bray hasn’t. He’s back to not taking women seriously.”

When had he ever not done that? Even when he was with me he slept around. I was never enough. He wasn’t a one-woman guy. Knowing that should have been enough for me to have kept my distance. Instead of trying to force him to want more with me. But I was broken before Bray. I didn’t expect to ever have the kind of love normal people had. It would take a person who could handle my . . . issues.

Tags: Abbi Glines South of the Mason Dixon Romance