While the brothers silently cursed their predicament, Blake’s thoughts were running towards the opposite direction.

Please let him kiss me. Please let him kiss me. Please, please, please let him kiss me.

Thornton’s dark eyes seared into hers. “You’re mine, Blake.”

“Yes,” she whispered. Yes, yes, yes!!!

His head started to lower.

Oh yes!

Her eyes closed.

Yes, yes, yes—

But nothing happened.

Nothing was happening.


She opened her eyes.

Just in time to see Thornton starting to sway.

Chapter Nine

Blake woke up in her bed with her heart beating like crazy. She remembered mostly everything that happened last night, but because every moment was too surreal for words, a part of her couldn’t help wondering – maybe…maybe it was all just a dream?

Today was the one day in the week that the shop was closed, and since this also served as her off day, Blake took her time in the shower while she worked through her memories. Thornton’s brothers had brought him home drunk, and apparently, Thornton under the influence had ten times more to say than sober Thornton normally did.

He had been about to kiss her, too, she suddenly recalled, and her body jolted under the hot stream of water. She had been so excited for it, too, but then next thing she knew he had passed out, and his brothers practically had to carry him to his bed and get him changed.

After that, Aidan and Ethan had spoken to her, apologizing for their brother’s misbehavior and reminding her to call them for anything.

‘But why did he get drunk tonight? Did something happen?’ she also remembered herself asking.

To which, both men had stared at her incredulously.

‘You know he has remote access to the shop’s CCTV, right?’ Aidan had asked.

‘He saw you with that dude,’ Ethan had continued, ‘and that was it. He headed to the pub, started drinking, and we only realized he’d been there for the entire night when we got the call from the bartender.’

Just remembering those words had her toes curling and feel like stars were starting to circle around her head, and Blake had to give herself several hard slaps to the cheeks just to stop herself from floating to la-la land.

Don’t assume anything. Don’t assume anything. Don’t assume anything.

She repeated the warning over and over inside her head while scrubbing herself furiously with her favorite milk foam wash. She mustn’t forget that just two weeks ago, she had convinced herself that a relationship between them was inevitable. But instead, the opposite had happened.

So until she heard it straight from her beloved horse’s mouth—

Don’t assume anything.

Thornton woke up feeling sick to the stomach. Shit. Shit. Shit. While he had been no monk in his teenage years, he had also never let himself lose control the way he had last night. Never. Which was why this morning was his first legitimate taste of a hangover—

And while it hurt like shit, the pain was nothing compared to the memories that were slowly crystallizing into vivid playbacks in his mind.


Everything was steadily falling into place like pieces of a puzzle. The CCTV footage. Ethan telling him it was a guy Blake already knew. Him hitting the pub just after lunch…and staying there until the bartender felt the need to call for his brothers.

After that, they had taken him home, with Thornton sprawled in the backseat of Aidan’s police car, and he could distinctly recall Ethan (the asshole) cheerfully telling everyone it was because Thornton couldn’t handle having competition for Blake’s affections.

Asshole, Thornton thought darkly.

It was only when he had stepped out of the shower that another memory from last night popped in his mind, and he froze in his tracks.


He was finally remembering what happened when his brothers got him home. She had been awake, he recalled with a distinct sense of queasiness, and she had realized right away that he was inebriated. Even worse was how, after that…


Thornton could feel himself whitening as he started remembering all the things he had practically yelled – fucking yelled – at Blake’s face.

You can only look at me. Because I’m your man.

Stop looking at other men. Can’t I be enough for you?

You’re mine, Blake.

A shudder wracked his frame. Shit. He tried getting his limbs to work again but immediately ended up staggering. Shit. His stomach was still turning over, and he was feeling increasingly nauseated. Shit, shit, shit. His brothers should’ve just thrown him into jail than have him shoot his mouth off like that. It would’ve been infinitely kinder and a thousand times less humiliating—

Another memory popped, this time of Ethan cheerfully recording everything with his phone.

Asshole, Thornton thought again.

And knowing how much of a prankster Ethan could be—


Redwood Cafe was unusually noisy and crowded on a Wednesday, and looking around, Blake quickly realized that none of them were locals.

“Over here, B,” Elizabeth called out and pointed to the last vacant seat by the counter.

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