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Instead, I’ve never gotten through a month of dating anyone.

Instead, last night I was almost . . . God, don’t think about it now.

Brooke steps out of the car and I’m glad for the distraction of getting her ready to enter. I told her that since Pete, Remy’s PA, is the best man and also Nora’s boyfriend, she should just ask her sister to be maid of honor. Who wants Nora scowling at her for the rest of her life anyway? Not me.

So I’m the proud bridesmaid along with Pandora, who’s also in red for probably the first time in her life. Not that she seems happy about it, but that’s nothing new.

As I walk behind Brooke into the church, I see him. By the door. And my legs turn mushy under my dress.

Greyson. He wears this really nice black suit as easily as he wears his self-confidence. God. It’s almost as if those nearby sway toward him.

I almost can’t handle the tug of his magnetic presence. He doesn’t know that just standing there, dark and powerful by the wide church entrance, he’s rescuing me from my thoughts and my fears and my loneliness, which yesterday felt as absolute as night. After twenty-five years of not being good enough, in the eyes of this man, I am. I am desirable. I am worth being here. What I feel is odd and exciting. Raw and gritty, precious and fragile. He doesn’t know the sight of him curls like warmth inside me, warming me in secret places, taking my fears away. My mind is on a one-track speed all of a sudden.

He came.

And by the way he levels those fierce hazel eyes on me, he’s not going anywhere. Not without . . . me.

During the ceremony, I start crying. I don’t expect to, but the fear of last night mingles with the much-wanted fact that the guy I want is here for me, all of that mingled with the low, rough words of my best friend’s boyfriend pledging his life to her.

I hate that I’m ruining my makeup but as I stand by and hear my best friend pledge her vows to one of the most protective, sexy, and kind men I know, I remember how it was me who told her, DO IT! Go after him! I remember it was me who said, have an adventure, live your life, come on, Brooke, it’s REMINGTON FUCKING TATE, nobody says no to the guy!

Now I feel a pair of narrowed hazel eyes on my profile, and when I steal a look his way, that possessive look he wears couldn’t be improved on by the devil himself. My heart squeezes as I try to stop crying, telling myself that at least for tonight, I’m going to be safe. I will feel safe. Because he doesn’t look like he’s letting me go anywhere without him.

God, I could’ve died yesterday.

I could die tomorrow.

I’ve always lived my life in the moment, but always planning and waiting for my perfect future. What if there is none? I don’t care what he’s here for and suddenly nothing matters but that I know what I want tonight.

I sniffle and wipe my tears, then meet his gaze almost imploringly, my tummy aching when he returns my stare with one that tells me so much more than simply I’m going to do you. There’s concern in his gaze, but there’s fire, simmering in there, promising to burn me in the most delicious way. He’s here because he wants me. He craves me and I crave him back. I crave the man I met that night in the rain, the one who wouldn’t let me get wet and quietly asked about me as he kissed me all night. The one who came back to see me and asked for another chance. His magnetism just pulls at me, the pull irresistible. Unprecedented.

And as the vows are exchanged in the chapel, I make a vow to myself. I vow that whatever this thing is between him and me—a fling, a catastrophe, the worst call of my life—tonight I’m going with it. I’m diving in, and I’m following my gut, my heart, and every single tingle in my wanting body or my f**king name is not f**king Melanie.

THIRTEEN

TONIGHT

Greyson

The ceremony takes a million f**king years.

I stand here armed with my SIG semiautomatic, just over two pounds of steel, but my c**k feels twice as heavy and my chest ten times as much. I’m like week-old roadkill. Seeing her crying yesterday wrung me out. Now her gaze is stripped na**d of emotion as she seeks me out in the crowd, and I can’t even process how I feel.

From the moment she stepped out of the limousine with the bride, I groaned at the sight of her. I’m still raging with the impulses to get close to her, touch her, smell her.

Melanie’s a bundle of contradictions in a bridesmaid’s dress. All smiles, but snapping out orders like a general. I watched her pull the train of the bride’s dress behind her so it “looked pretty” while a dark-haired girl with a frown passed a set of flowers to the bride. Melanie avoided looking at me. Maybe on purpose, maybe not.

Now that the vows are done, I’m on the sidewalk outside the church, impatient. There’s a chorus of people around, but above their noise, I can hear her laugh. I turn my head and see the priest saying something that delights her. God, I want to kiss that f**king laugh to silence. Then I want to do something to wake it up again so it trails into my mouth, where I can trap it. Taste it. Play with it.

When a group starts to gather around the limousine, I don’t waste another minute. I close the distance between us, stopping a mere two inches behind her, taking a moment to enjoy the fetching picture she makes: loose hair tumbling over her shoulders, tight red silken dress down to her ankles, the open back dipping in a V that ends almost at the start of her round, perky ass.

“Are you deliberately ignoring me?” I murmur, sliding my hand around her waist.

“No.” She smiles down at the sidewalk as she tucks her hair behind her ear.

I drop my head until my lips are almost grazing that ear. “Good, because I’m not someone you ignore.” Using my grip on her waist, I pull her back against my front. I’m testing the limits, glad that instead of making any sort of protest, she leans against me.

Good f**king sign, King.

Fuck, now I’m itching for more. Taking her by the elbow, I ease her away from the crowd and tuck her into an alcove near the entrance to the church.

Her breathing’s heavy, and that’s an even better sign. She wants you too, she wants you just like you want her.

I push her up against the stone wall using my body. Her br**sts press against my chest, her thighs against mine. A low groan gets trapped in my throat as I slide my lips over the lids of her eyes. To say I’m starved is an understatement. I wish I had ten hands—two are just not enough as I run my palms up her sides, fingers cupping her butt and then pinning her to my h*ps so I can feel her, alive and perfect, safe and untouched.

She nuzzles my throat and takes a deep breath as if she craves my scent. I squeeze her against me, feeling her shiver in my arms.

I’m highly trained.

I can sense fear, arousal, excitement.

But the mixture I seem to produce in her intoxicates me more than anything ever has. I bring her tighter to me. A gasp leaves her lips, and it takes everything in me not to bend my head and take it. No. When I take those red-painted lips, I’m not stopping until she’s na**d beneath me and I’m as deep as a curse inside her.

Tonight, I vow to myself.

I reach into my suit coat and pull the necklace I brought her out of a velvet bag.

“What is this?” She peers down at my fist.

I let her open my hand, and she looks down at the diamond necklace in my palm. It’s a high-quality tennis diamond necklace, simple yet extraordinary. Like her. “Something for my girl,” I murmur.

“Your girl?”

I lift the necklace and hook it around her neck.

“It’s too much, Greyson, I can’t take it,” she protests.

“I can’t take it back and it’s not my size.” I run my knuckles up her throat, and it’s warm and silky. “Besides, it’s meant for a queen, a princess.”

I adjust the sparkling strand so it rests against her collarbone, just beneath the flutter of her pulse point. I’m tempted to bend my head and slide my tongue in there. Hell, I’m tempted to do more. I dip my finger into the little crook instead, touching her pulse and lifting my eyes to hers. “Melanie, when you’re waiting for me to call,” I stroke the pad of my thumb over the diamonds one more time, “look at these stones and know for certain that that phone will ring.”

“Who are you?” she asks me, breathless and amazed.

My lips curl in a sardonic smile. “I’m the twisted version of your . . . Westley,” I say, holding her gaze.

We hear shouts outside and realize the bride has thrown the bouquet in the air. Melanie rushes out while I’m left behind, struggling to get a grip of my Neanderthal. She’s five feet and three inches of fun and she fills my entire being with shit I never intended to feel, let alone want.

I’m so f**king f**ked.

I follow her into the crowd and stop right behind her, my front pressing against her back as I look down at her profile. Her nostrils flare. She’s smelling me again. I remain in my place, letting her get accustomed to me. My size, my scent, my height, me. I reach out with my glove to touch her hair, and she trembles. I shift to stand right beside her, dragging the back of my fingers along her bare arm. She starts breathing faster, and I hear her stop breathing when I lace my fingers through hers in a way that tells her—you’re with me tonight.

We watch the bride and groom ride away in their limousine, and Melanie waves them off without letting go of my hand. As the car disappears in the distance, she tips her pretty face up to me.

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