"Why couldn't we do this at your place?" Ashton muttered as he slid another candy heart imprinted with entwined A and G initials into a tulle bag.
"Because Alice wanted all the wedding paraphernalia at the venue so nothing could be forgotten on the day."
Kiara sighed and slipped a silver key chain into the bag Ash handed her. "And if we'd done this at my place, we wouldn't get finished."
"That's because I'd rather get started," he said, leaning across to nip her earlobe.
A shiver of anticipation made her tingle. "The faster we get these done, the faster we can get out of here."
"There's always the garden nook," he murmured, trailing his lips across her jaw to claim her mouth.
They leapt apart to see Greg grinning in the doorway as his gaze swung between them. "I hate to interrupt but I need you for a second, Ash."
"He's always had bad timing," Ash muttered, winking before he handed her another tulle bag. "Then again, if it gets me out of stuffing any more of these, I'm glad."
She rolled her eyes and shooed him away. "Go."
Kiara sighed in appreciation as she stared at Ash's butt as he walked towards Greg. A few weeks ago, the thought of stuffing delicate candy hearts, silver key chains and miniature calligraphic thank-you notes into tulle bags would've sent her batty. But the last hour had flown while Ash kept her entertained with his signature dry wit.
"Ouch!" She glanced down at her finger where blood welled near the tip. Lost in ogling, she'd slashed it across a thank-you note. Paper cuts were the pits.
Not wanting to drip all over Alice's white tulle bags, she went in search of a plaster. The guest bathroom had a plethora of emergency supplies as she'd discovered on her first visit to the mansion, and once she'd bandaged the cut she headed back to the library and her duties.
However, the sound of raised voices, Ash’s and Greg's, drew her towards the kitchen.
"Stop lying to yourself, man—"
"Shut up, Greg, and back off. Kiara and I are short-term, nothing more. It's ridiculous to pretend otherwise."
Kiara froze, ice trickling through her veins. She'd never eavesdropped and this was why. Listening to these truths hurt a lot more than they should.
Ash had articulated exactly what they'd stipulated at the start. But somewhere along the way her stupid, well-protected heart had been duped into believing they could be more.
Time to toughen up.
But first, she swivelled on her heel and made a dash back to the bathroom where she could compose herself before finishing those damn bags and making a strategic exit.
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