Ashton had thirty minutes to clean up and get his head in the game. As if being overlooked for partnership at the most prestigious actuary firm in Melbourne wasn't bad enough, he now had to play nice with his brother, the doofus getting married.
Playing the dutiful best man sucked. Especially when the very thought of getting hitched made him want to stick his head in the newly turned dirt.
Been there, done that, had the economical scars to prove it. His divorce may have come through five years ago but he'd never forget the damage inflicted by The Harridan, as he liked to call Tracee in his rare nicer moments.
She’d fleeced him financially and hooked up with his oldest high school buddy less than a month after walking out on him. He’d been attracted to her elegance at first, the cool beauty who made him woo her relentlessly. Pity that once they married she continued to play games, aloof and coy most of the time, doling out snippets of affection when it suited her. He’d been so smitten and so convinced that she’d slot into his lifestyle that he’d ignored the warning signs—and paid heavily for it when they divorced.
These days, he preferred his romantic entanglements brief and commitment-free. Like the memorable interlude in the garden earlier.
Exiting his parents' guest bathroom, he headed for the conservatory where he'd meet Greg. He'd washed the sweat from his back and scrubbed the dirt from under his nails, something he'd been doing since he was a kid who loved nothing better than helping the garden staff tend to the sprawling acreage. Gardening soothed him. It was his thing. And the nook had always been sacred.
So why had he taken the feisty redhead there to indulge in a little late-afternoon debauchery?
The thought of her straddling him, unzipping him, riding him, had him hard in an instant. She'd eyeballed him the entire time, her blue eyes challenging and defiant, a woman in command of her sexuality who enjoyed wielding it. Big turn-on. Huge.
She'd been the perfect distraction from his lousy day at work and a nice memory to dredge up while he sat through another interminable wedding meeting.
This one would be worse than usual. He'd have to sit across from sweet Alice in all her gushing, naive glory, and meet her sister, the maid of honour. Greg had mentioned her name, Kelly or Keeley or something like that. Not that it mattered. If she was anything like innocent Alice she'd take one look at him and run screaming. Good girls didn't like him. Thank goodness.
He heard voices and the clink of glasses as he neared the conservatory. Oh, yeah, this was going to be painful.
Pasting a smile on his face, the same one he used with clients while handling their millions on a daily basis, he strode into the room.
Greg and Alice had their arms around each other as usual, heads bent close, as they laughed at something the woman in front of them said.
"Hey, lovebirds," he said. He neared them in time to hear Greg say, "This is my brother, Ashton."
They turned in unison and that was when he saw her.
The woman he'd come inside half an hour ago.
The woman whose scream of ecstasy he'd swallowed as he pounded into her.
The woman staring at him with absolute horror in her eyes rather than the blazing lust he'd seen earlier.
The luscious redhead glared like she wanted to drive a garden stake through his heart.
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