She was different now. That fire had been replaced with something else. She wasn’t out for her own pleasure anymore. There was a look in her eyes that was harder than before. Scarlet had always been tough, but this was different. It intrigued me.

Brent’s reappearance caught my attention, and I saw Sadie whatever her last name was run toward him with a bright smile. His serious expression turned softer. She made him happy. Sadie was the kind of girl Brent belonged with. They fit. Scarlet had too much passion for Brent.

I shifted my gaze back to Scarlet to see if she was watching Brent and Sadie. She wasn’t. She was getting punch, oblivious to her surroundings. Dallas walked up to her yet again, and I got fucking annoyed. What did he think he was, her damn guardian? Jesus the kid needed to back off.

Scarlet looked up at him with relief in her eyes. There wasn’t attraction or interest. She was just thankful to have a friend. I shouldn’t give a shit, but I felt myself relax when I saw her visibly ease up on all that tension that had her so stiff.

He said something, and she laughed. Dallas was good with women. He had been since birth. I forced myself to look away from the two of them and reached for another beer before going to find myself a distraction. Anything to keep me from watching her every damn move.

Dallas and Dixie would watch over her. She wasn’t here alone. It wasn’t my job to care if she had someone with her or not. She was a big girl. One who regretted me. I was sure a lot of females regretted me. But Scarlet had owned me in ways no one else had. Her regret struck deep. Simply put—I gave a fuck.

Moving from my spot by the bar, I made my way toward Dixie’s cousin. I’d caught her eyes on me enough times to know she was inviting me over. It had started at the rehearsal last night. She had watched me more than the wedding director. I had other plans last night though. She wasn’t in them. Tonight, she might be.

Dixie had introduced her, but I had no idea what her name was. I hadn’t been paying attention. The dark brown curls and big blue eyes were a good combination. She had nice curves too. I could get distracted enough to make it through this evening.

Her eyes lit up as I locked mine on hers, making my way in her direction. I watched as she tried to subtly shift her stance into a more attractive one. The stance were her tits were on display and her legs were in better view.

I didn’t know the other girls she was standing with. They weren’t from here. Had to be out of town family or friends. I did a quick glance to see if any one of them was more appealing but decided I would stick with her. The others looked slightly frightened of me.

“Hello, Bray,” the girl said with a drawl that was southern but not from Alabama. Even better. She didn’t live in the state.

I nodded. “Hello, ladies,” I replied giving the others a quick glance, turning back to lock on her. “We haven’t officially met,” I told her, hoping I’d get a name.

She blushed, and her eyes sparkled with excitement. Normally, that was all it took for me but with Scarlet in the vicinity it was hard to concentrate on this attempt at a distraction.

She tilted her head and let her curls fall over her left shoulder. “I’m Meg,” she replied. “Dixie’s cousin.”

Meg. Easy to remember. Nothing like Scarlet. I had to stay away from any name remotely close to Scarlet’s. I’d hooked up with a Samantha and the S was apparently too much on me because in the middle of sex I’d called her Scarlet . . . twice.

“You’re not from around here,” I said trying to get the exact distance she lived from me before pursuing this any further. The further the better. No clingy stuff.

“I’m from Savannah,” she said making her drawl even thicker as she said it. That must work for her with other men.

“Bray, I need to talk to you a moment,” Asher interrupted me. “Hello ladies. I hope you’re enjoying yourselves,” he said to the females.

Meg didn’t look pleased about his sudden appearance. She managed a tight smile for him. “It’s beautiful. All of it!” the blonde beside Meg said with too much enthusiasm.

Asher nodded. “Good. Please help yourself to the refreshments. The meal will begin soon. If you’ll excuse us I need my brother for a moment.”

The other girls thanked him and gave their silly responses. Meg, however, was frustrated.

I winked at her before following my brother away from the tent and toward the hill that led to Dixie’s house. Once we were safely out of earshot of the other guests, he stopped and turned to me.

“She’s Dixie’s cousin. Don’t go there,” Asher said.

“She wants it. She’s been eye fucking me since last night.”

Asher sighed. “Meg is just getting over a broken engagement. She’s not emotionally ready for you to take her in the barn and use her to forget Scarlet is here. Don’t do this.”

“Sounds to me like she needs a good hot fuck. Not to be ignored by the guy she’s been checking out since she got here,” I stated.

“Jesus, Bray. Don’t be so damn insensitive. The girl is hurting.”

I smirked. “No, she needs someone to show her she’s sexy and to reassure her that the sex with her ex wasn’t that good. I figure I can conquer both in about twenty minutes.”

Asher scowled at me. “I’m asking you not to go there. Can’t you leave the guests alone and go out tonight? Find someone else to make you forget Scarlet?”

Forgetting Scarlet wasn’t happening. Not when she was here. Not when all I had to do was scan the crowd to find her. Whoever I fucked would have her face in my head. It would be Scarlet I was fucking.

“Fine. It’s your wedding day. I’ll back off if that’s what you want. But I think she’s going to be disappointed. Her ego needed a boost. I was willing to boost it.”

Asher frowned and looked back at the tent. “It’ll upset Dixie. Meg might want your attention and would likely gladly go to the barn with you. But Dixie will worry.”

That I understood. I didn’t like it or agree but I got what he was saying.

“I’ll go back to the bar. Keep to myself.”

“I’d say go mingle with the others but that’s not you. Don’t drink too much though. Momma will chew your ass.”

“Too late. She’s already got after me for missing the pictures.”

Asher grinned then. “You fucking deserved it.”

Possibly. I still didn’t give a fuck.


THE GUESTS WERE being seated for the meal. Although I dreaded this part, sitting at a table with both Bray and Brent, it also meant the evening would be closer to the end. I could leave. Go back to my trailer. My job. My solitude. I’d never realized how loneliness was comforting. Not until I let go of needy people.

Dixie’s eyes found mine and she smiled brightly. I walked toward her as she waved me over. I wasn’t part of the wedding party. To everyone else this would look odd. Me sitting here at their table. If it’s what Dixie wanted, I was doing it. I didn’t care what people thought of me. That was something I’d dealt with my entire life. The whispers and judgment about my mother. She deserved it all of course.

“I’ll walk you to your seat,” Dallas said from beside me. I’d forgotten he was there. He’d been quiet the last few minutes. His endless chatter had stopped when something else had caught his attention.

Tags: Abbi Glines South of the Mason Dixon Romance