That last comment got my attention. I jerked my gaze off her to look at my youngest brother. “What does that mean?”

He shrugged. “Took a lot of convincing and guilt to get her to this wedding for Dixie’s sake. Don’t make my wedding gift a nightmare.”

“You got her here?” I asked, furious. I’d never wanted to hurt my youngest brother until this moment. I didn’t like the idea of him talking to her. He had warned me that he knew where she was. I hadn’t realized they had been chatting. Fucking communicating. She left me. Sent me into a dark place and instead of contacting me she contacted the fucking kid.

I took off.

“We aren’t supposed to go yet. We wait until—”

I kept walking ignoring Dallas’s instructions. I knew the damn drill. Dixie and Asher were walking out greeting people as they left. We were supposed to follow them out. Steel stopped, offering Momma his arm and escorting her down the aisle. I wasn’t needed. They wouldn’t realize I had left. With the guests all standing and their attention on Asher and Dixie, I escaped out the back of the white wedding tent and circled around away from the people to get to Scarlet’s side.

As I rounded the corner, I saw her red hair. She was dashing away from the crowd, escaping. Like hell. Not until she talked to me and answered my goddamn questions. I broke into a run and although the noise from the wedding was loud, she must have heard my footsteps because she started running too. Back to the Monroe’s barn. Away from all the activity. Good. Perfect. I wanted her alone. Keep running, baby.

She almost stumbled in the heels she was wearing. Her green dress was short, the back kept fluttering with the breeze as her legs did their best to get her away from me. I got two glimpses at the white lace panties she was wearing, and my anger was turning into something else.

When she reached the barn opening and didn’t slow down, continuing to flee, I picked up my pace and grabbed her waist. I tossed her over my left shoulder, taking five more swift strides inside the barn.

I didn’t set her down until I had closed the door behind us.

Bright furious eyes glared up at me. “What are you doing? Are you crazy? YES! Why am I asking that? You’re completely insane!”

I waited until she was done yelling and hitting me in the chest.

“This is Dixie’s wedding day! I am here to see her, not cause a scene. That’s what I was afraid of and why I didn’t think I should come. I don’t want to ruin her day!” She yelled all of this. Now her finger was pointed at my chest and her eyes were glistening with unshed tears.

No one had noticed us. Their attention had been on the bride and groom. Only Dallas knew what had happened. I let her continue to fuss though. Simply because I was trying not to throw her on the nearest hay bale and fuck her until we were both sated.

“Do you ever think of anyone other than yourself? Ever? This day is important, Bray! It is your brother’s wedding day! You should be out front with your family. They will notice you are gone! Brent will come looking and this will be a disaster. I can’t even see Dixie now. I will have to leave!” She let out a sob and covered her mouth. A tear finally broke free and rolled down her face.

“You,” I replied.

She frowned through her tears. “What?” she asked.

“You. I think of you.” She’d ask if I ever thought of someone else and that was the truth.

She closed her eyes and shook her head. “Don’t. We . . . that’s done. It has to be. Just don’t.”

“Nothing has to be.”

She sighed and wiped at her face. “Yes, it does. Us, it hurts people. We can’t hurt people. It’s not fair. What we . . . what I did. It was wrong. We were wrong. Now all we have is regret.”

I’d rather her slap me and call me a motherfucker than feel regret. Anything but that. Hell, she could have taken a damn hoe off the wall and wacked me across the chest and it would have hurt less. We weren’t wrong. Not to me. She’d been the only thing that had ever felt right in my life. I’d thought it was something she felt too.

This changed things. I’d be damned if I fought for someone who didn’t want me.



No more words. Nothing. He just left me standing there in the barn. I didn’t follow him. I didn’t call out his name to stop him. I wanted to do both, but I stood there. Hating myself for what I’d said and the look in his eyes when I had said it. They were lies. Lies we both needed to believe. Lies that had to end the disaster we had created.

Bray was the black sheep. The bad boy in the Sutton clan. Everyone in town talked about him. They expected him to mess up. I was just like him. If he wanted something bad enough he took it no matter who it hurt. I had done the same. Our need for each other had consumed us and we never cared what the future held. We had lived in the moment.

Those moments were gone now. This was the future and if I had known then what I knew now . . .

I’d have still done it. Because like all decisions I made, it was my past that drove me.

Hanging my head, I let the emotion take me a moment. The pain slicing through me and the ache that was always there now pumping heavy in my veins. I was strong. The weak Scarlet was gone. She hadn’t won. I would make it through this. I would get it together and walk out there and find Dixie. Tell her congratulations, she was beautiful, it was perfect, and I loved her. Then I would leave.

Tonight, when I was alone in my trailer I would crumble. Get it out. Inside my trailer there was no pretending. I could be honest. Real. I would let it all out and move forward. But right now, I had to pretend. Suck it up and deal.

One more long exhale and I wiped the tears from my face. I held my shoulders back, lifted my chin high, and faced the door that Bray had left open in his exit. Time to do this. I had come for Dixie.

The sun was warm on my skin, but the warmth did nothing for the empty coldness inside me. For a moment in that barn I had wanted to run into Bray’s arms. To tell him I loved him and beg him to forgive me for leaving. But that was the old Scarlet. The one who didn’t care about anyone she was hurting and thought she had to be in Bray’s arms to survive. I was different now. I saw what destruction could be caused if I didn’t face my own demons. I wasn’t doing that again.

The wedding guests were walking from Dixie’s front yard to the Sutton’s where the reception would be held. They’d drink, dance, eat and laughter would fill the air. Smiles all around. Happiness, joy, and all the emotions I had always wanted. I’d longed for them. And only found them with Bray. It was ironic and unfair that a guy that would never love me brought me the only happiness I had experienced.

The time spent in Bray’s arms were my moments. The ones I would never forget.

I turned to look up at the tent where the ceremony had been held and saw the wedding party getting photos taken. Bray and Brent would both be there, but so would Dixie. The worst of this was over. I’d seen Bray. Spoken to him. That alone had shattered what little strength I had but I would muster up all I could to speak to my best friend and hope she forgave me.

The walk back up the hill toward the yard gave me time to get myself back together. Find my poise. Prepare to face this. I didn’t know how Brent would react. I trusted Bray to remain silent and ignore me. I had said what needed to be said and he’d walked away. No more words were needed. He was finished. I had ended it for him.

Tags: Abbi Glines South of the Mason Dixon Romance