I just didn’t give a fuck. Dallas’s hands didn’t belong on Scarlet. I stopped at her chair and without a word held out my hand. She stared at my hand. She lifted her eyes to meet mine. She was frowning as we stood there staring at each other.

I hadn’t stopped to consider that she wouldn’t dance with me. After our talk in the barn I should have thought about that. I should have figured this wasn’t something she would consider. But I didn’t drop my hand. I waited. If she was going to turn me down, then she was fucking going to do it right here in front of everyone. Make the wound bleed. I silently challenged her. I knew she read it clearly in my gaze. Then I saw it. The flicker of mischief. The naughty streak that ran thick in her veins. The girl who threw caution to the wind and did as she pleased.

Her small soft hand slipped into mine. I let out the breath I’d been holding while she stood up beside me.

“Don’t make me regret this,” she whispered.

“Why stop making you regret stuff now, baby. Seems I’m on a roll,” I replied with a wink.

Her eyes flashed. I slid my hand to her lower back, leading her away from Dallas who I knew was furious. He’d get over it though. The kid needed to mind his own damn business.


THIS WAS POTENTIALLY stupid. No . . . it was stupid. I knew it was a bad idea. But he’d caught me in a moment of weakness. I was emotional. Watching Asher and Dixie dance. Seeing their happiness.

Bray’s hand on my back felt as if it was placed on the most sensitive spot on my body. It wasn’t of course but all my nerves tingled from that area throughout my body. Reminding me how those hands had felt other places. What they had done to me and the erotic memories that were forever etched in my brain. There were things a girl could never forget. Sex with Bray Sutton was one of those things.

I was one of many. I was one of many. I repeated that mantra in my head as Bray walked me onto the dance floor and pulled me into his arms just as Perfect by Ed Sheeran began to play over the speakers, taking the place of the band. Dixie loved this song.

I normally turned it off when it came on the radio. The lyrics were too sweet. Too romantic. All the things I wouldn’t get in life. But it fit Dixie and Asher’s love story well. Almost as if it had been written for them.

Bray’s gaze was on me. But I hadn’t looked up at him yet. I was fighting it. Dancing this close to him in his arms was hard enough. Looking into his eyes was another thing. I watched the others around us dance. Brent seemed taken with Sadie. His smile was genuine. Real. Something that I was truly happy to see.

Steel and Meg were laughing as they danced. I wondered if there was something there. The way Meg had talked about Bray I doubted it.

“Where are you living?” Bray asked me. His voice low and husky. The songs melody making it impossible not to feel anything.

“Why?” was my response as I shifted my eyes upward to meet his.

“Just curious. I don’t intend to come find you. I got your message in the barn clear enough.” His voice sounded hurt. That caught me off guard.

“Robertsdale, Alabama,” I told him. No reason to keep it a secret now. Brent and Bray had healed. Brent had moved on. Bray and I had talked. Ended things. I didn’t have to be concerned he’d come find me.

“Interesting choice.” He smirked. “I would have thought you’d chosen something more exciting.”

“I’ve had all the excitement I can handle. I needed the opposite.” Proof this man didn’t know me at all.

He raised his eyebrows and his crooked smile stayed in place. “You left the excitement here. And missed all the drama when you ran.”

I had faced my own drama. It was called struggle to survive. The real world. Getting free of the monsters that haunted my mind. That tarnished my soul before I even had a chance to live.

“I did what needed to be done,” I said.

He pulled me closer to him. It was subtle, but each new part of my body that touched his came alive with the contact. “I’ll have to disagree with you.”

I was sure he would. Bray was about self-indulgence. In his head, my leaving was all about him. He was the push I needed to finally run. Start a new life.

“It’s over. No reason to discuss it now.”

“Then come home. If it’s over, why stay away? Unless you love your new life and can’t bear to leave it behind.”

I thought of my trailer, my job, the solitude. I didn’t love it. I clung to it. If I was ever going to have a chance at normal, healthy, I needed my new life. None of those things he needed to hear. Maybe I would have if he’d wanted more than sex, but that was all we ever were.

Bray was an addiction. I loved him. I knew that. I wanted to not love him. I wanted to be able to walk away and never think of him again. I couldn’t. Saying I needed him for a crutch, a way to survive, was unfair. I knew after being here with him that, yes, it had been love. It had been more.

Dixie was married now. There would be no more sleepovers, girl’s nights, gossip fests. She had a husband. She would want to be with him. Her home wouldn’t be a place I could go to find safety. Those days were a memory.

“I don’t fit here anymore. There’s no place for me. I’ve found my place there.” My place there may seem dull and lonely to someone else. It wasn’t. Not to me.

He scowled. Shifted his eyes from me, he stared angrily over my shoulder. Either someone was making him mad or he didn’t like my response. I kept silent. The song ended, and I stopped dancing. I started to step away from him when his arms held me firmly. His eyes swung back to me.

“Go somewhere with me. Before you leave.”

This was where a smart girl said no and walked away. The right thing to do was leave him, kiss Dixie goodbye, wish her the best, promise to call, and leave. I’d go back to my empty trailer. Sleep in my bed and get ready to face work in the morning. I didn’t need three days off. That was what I should do. What I needed to do.

“Where?” I asked, ignoring all the good advice I had just given myself. That girl I’d left behind seemed to be lurking in the shadows trying to come out again now that I was in Bray’s arms.

“Just get in the truck and go with me. Right now.”

Bad idea. Bad idea. Bad idea. I stared up at him ready to tell him that was a bad idea. That we were at a wedding and should stay here.

“What about Dixie and Asher?” I asked him.

He raised his eyebrows and glanced back at them. They were laughing and dancing again. No one existed but the two of them. The world was theirs. “They seem fine to me,” he drawled. He fixed his blue eyes that I dreamed about back on me. His eyelids were heavy. The look there told me this wasn’t an invitation to talk or catch up.

My stomach fluttered. Desire began to pull at me, making my body tingle. All I could do was nod. Saying the words made me feel ashamed of this. Of my weakness. But I wanted it too. Even if it was for a moment. I’d leave and he’d move on to someone else tomorrow.

Where was my willpower?

His hand grabbed mine tightly and we were moving. Swiftly. Directly out of the tent and toward the cars parked out front. I had to almost run to keep up with his pace. I wondered if anyone had noticed us leave but didn’t glance back to check. If they did it wouldn’t stop me. Now that I had given in. I was sunk. I couldn’t back out now. My body would rebel against me.

He jerked open the passenger door of the blue farm truck and hauled me inside like I couldn’t do it myself. The door slammed, and he was in the driver’s seat too quickly. It was like he was in a race.

Tags: Abbi Glines South of the Mason Dixon Romance
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