Read Pure Wicked: A Wicked Lovers Novella (1001 Dark Nights) Online

Authors: Shayla Black

Tags: #Shayla Black, #Wicked Lovers, #erotic romance, #1001 Dark Nights

Pure Wicked: A Wicked Lovers Novella (1001 Dark Nights) (14 page)

BOOK: Pure Wicked: A Wicked Lovers Novella (1001 Dark Nights)
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But he understood her hesitation, her need to think things through. He just didn’t like it.

During his search, he spotted the cinnamon rolls she’d left him earlier wrapped in foil. They were still a bit warm, and the icing dripping off them had his mouth watering. If he didn’t love this woman for what was in her heart, he’d probably love her for her baking talent alone.

The first bite made him moan, and he leaned against the counter, head back, eyes closed. All this goodness from Bristol, both her words and her pastries, was good for his soul.

When he opened them again, he spotted his phone across the room on the coffee table. Dashing over to the device, he punched in the security code. His texts popped up. Candia had left him a message about two hours ago.

Morning! I’ve been researching your new girlfriend. Cute. Clean. The press will like her. I had a powwow with some of my peers. We all think she’s good for your image. Announce that she’s your new girlfriend. Or better yet, your fiancée. That will go miles to taking the attention off the crap about Ryan and the Harris girl. If you’re up for it, a real wedding would totally improve the public’s perception of you. I know it’s quick but think about it…

Jesse sucked in a breath. Was she kidding? Ask someone to marry him for show?

Hell no! He wanted Bristol to marry him because he loved her and they would be good together. She would fill his heart, and he would fill her life.

With an impatient growl, he punched up Candia’s contact and hit the call button. After three rings, the call went to voicemail. “Are you crazy, woman? I’m not going to pretend to marry Bristol for my image. I know your job is to worry what people think of me, but that’s fucking out of the question. And over the line. I’m finally in love and I’m grabbing her with both hands. You can either be happy for me and get on board or hop the fuck off the train.”

Jesse hung up and realized that Candia probably thought he’d gone crazy or been whipped by some magical unicorn pussy. But when she met Bristol, his publicist would love her, too. Yes, Candia knew exactly how to spin this to his advantage. She was like a killer shark scenting chum sometimes, and he didn’t expect to curb her instinct, but he wasn’t going to deceive Bristol to make his life easier.

Shoving the thought aside, he dashed to the sofa and quickly recorded the song that had been dancing in his head since making love to Bristol. He could hear the soft build of a steel guitar, something he never used. But it lent the song a heartfelt, somewhat country feel that reminded him of Bristol. The romantic strains of a piano accompanied as the bridge built to the chorus. He hummed where he didn’t yet have lyrics, but the whole melody flowed naturally. It was beautiful and perfect for him.

Just like Bristol.

Yeah, he definitely sounded like he’d been whipped by some magical unicorn pussy. But he’d finally felt a real connection to a woman that didn’t begin and end with his penis. Seeing her smile made him feel warm inside. Hearing her laugh thrilled him. So fucking sue him if he was feeling all Hallmark. He was happy. After over a decade of misery, he couldn’t wait for the next ten years.

When he closed the app, he glanced at the clock. Shit, Bristol would be closing her bistro and coming upstairs soon. Since she’d never gotten to the hospital with those goodies yesterday, he thought they could run them up today—and start planning a wedding. She hadn’t said yes yet, but he’d do or say whatever until she did.

Shakespurr chose that moment to jump on him and dig his dainty paws onto Jesse’s lap, as if looking for a comfortable place to nap. He set the phone aside and picked up the feline. He’d never been much of a cat person, but Shakespurr met his gaze with an inquisitive stare before his lids turned heavy. Jesse stroked the cat, who immediately lived up to his name by letting loose a loud, dramatic purr.

With a laugh, he carried the cat into the bathroom, then eased him onto a rug and started the shower. The feline darted off at the sudden gush of the running water.

“Not a fan of baths, huh?” He chuckled and doffed his jeans, diving under the warm spray.

As he washed up, he hummed a few bars of Bristol’s song, wondering if he could hire someone like David Tutera to pull off a huge wedding by the fall. Then again, that may not be what Bristol wanted. And the thought of speaking vows over helicopters hovering to get a shot of the ceremony wasn’t his idea of romantic. Maybe a destination wedding in the Caribbean or Europe. No, she’d want her family near her. As crappy as they could be, Bristol was a girl who valued family, and she wouldn’t get married without them. He made a mental note to ask Jayla about a pretty barn or church nearby and see if Bristol wanted to pledge her life to his there.

As he rinsed the last of his shampoo, he heard what sounded like his phone ringing. Candia most likely. Besides being dripping wet, Jesse didn’t want to tangle with a Latina woman who had a temper to match after he’d left her that scathing message. He’d call back when she calmed down. But on the third ring, it stopped. With a shrug, he soaped up and rinsed off, then stepped out of the shower and wrapped a towel around his waist.

When he peeked out the bathroom door, he saw Bristol sitting on the sofa, holding Shakespurr to her chest and crooning to him.

“Hey, honey. Jayla closing up for you?”

She paused. Froze, really. He frowned, watching as she petted the cat one more time and set him on the cushion beside her. She didn’t meet his gaze. “Yeah. But she had some questions for me. They’re valid, and I think we should talk about them.”

Jesse didn’t like the sound of that but he’d do whatever it took to ease her fears. “Sure. What do you want to ask?”

“This marriage is really sudden. Why me?”

“Because I love you.” Jesse crossed the room and picked up the feline, setting him on the back of the plushy couch so he could sit beside her.

“After only a few days?” She sounded skeptical.

He wanted to give Jayla a piece of his mind for planting doubt in Bristol’s head, but if any of his friends had ever said they wanted to get married after a few days of “dating,” he would have thought they were insane, too. “It may not sound logical, but it’s love. It’s not predictable. Sometimes when you know, you just know. I’ve spent way too many years being cynical. It’s great to finally listen to my heart.”

“What’s the hurry to get married?”

Her guarded expression whacked him like a pain in the chest. “What’s the point of waiting? I love you. You love me. If you want to plan a big event, we can. Or hell, let’s elope. I don’t care if we say our vows bungee jumping. But when you’ve lived with the superficial as long as I have and something real comes along, it smacks you in the face. I don’t want to wait any longer to spend our lives together.”

“And you’re not asking me to marry you for a simple fix to your image?”

Dread detonated in the bottom of his stomach and spread outward. How was he supposed to erase this doubt when marriage would so obviously help him? “What did Candia say to you?”

“What does that mean?”

Her face had no expression, as if she was determined to keep it unreadable. There was definitely something going on in her head.

Jesse scowled. “Somehow, she’s made you think that you’re nothing to me but a quick fix for my PR problem. And it’s total, utter bullshit.”

“I don’t think so.” Tears trembled in her eyes as she held up his phone. “I read the text she sent you.”

Oh, shit
. “Bristol—”

“Not a word, you snake. You can’t deny this.” She sniffled. “When I came in to talk, your phone was ringing. I didn’t think and I grabbed it to answer, but I was too late. Before I put it down, her text appeared. She told you to propose because I would be perfect for your image rehab.”

“You’ve got this wrong.”

“I don’t think so.” She stood, fists balls, face flushing with anger. “You lied to me. You used me. All your pretty words…”

“That’s not how it happened. I’d already proposed when she sent that message.”

“No. She sent it hours before your little impassioned speech.”

“I was asleep when she sent that message,” he pointed out.

She scoffed. “Or you pretended to be.”

“Seriously?” He stood and stared down at her, water dripping from his hair. He swiped it away with an impatient hand. “You think I would flat-out lie to you after I know what you’ve been through? After I’ve poured out my heart to you?”

“I think you have a career to preserve and millions of fans to make happy. Who cares about my feelings when all that is at stake?”

“I do. If I didn’t, why would I have jumped in to help you save face in front of your family the night we met? Why would I have chased Hayden off? Why would I do my best to tell you how special you are? Why would I have bothered to get to know you or tell you I love you? If all I wanted was to improve my fucking image, I could have paid someone a hundred times over to pretend to be my fiancée.”

She had to see that logic. He’d been in far worse PR scrapes—the time with the three hookers in Rio came to mind—and hadn’t resorted to a fake wedding. Didn’t Bristol get that if he wanted a facade, he could find one anywhere?

“I don’t know.” She jumped up and paced. “I don’t understand anything. It’s all happening too fast and the timing is a bit too coincidental. I can’t…” Bristol shook her head, plopping his phone onto the glass table. It pinged and rattled as she headed for the door. “I need to think.”

“Where are you going?” he demanded.

“Away.” She sobbed and sniffled.

“You’re leaving?” he marched after her. “Don’t do this. Honey, I meant every word I said. I really do love you.”

She wrenched the door open and paused outside the threshold, then turned back to him with tears in her eyes. “I love you, too. And that’s what hurts the most. I don’t know if you’re the love of my life…or my biggest mistake.”

Before he could say a word, she slammed the door behind her. He would have given chase, but he wore only a towel. By the time he dressed, she’d be long gone. Already, he heard her footsteps pounding down the stairs, then across the wooden subfloor of the stock room. A door slammed. He looked out the window, watching her flee to her car and drive away.

“Well, fuck.” He pounded a fist into the door, then grabbed his phone and reread Candia’s text. Yeah, that would look bad out of context. Damn it.

Jesse sighed. He wanted to be pissed but he understood her reservations. Trust was hard for her after Hayden had screwed her over so thoroughly. Jesse knew she had no way of knowing the man he’d been without her, and he wasn’t sure how to prove that he couldn’t be more serious about their marriage. But he had to start thinking fast because he didn’t intend to lose her.

 

Chapter Eight

With a sinking dread, Bristol parked down the street from her mother’s yellow Victorian and crawled out of her crappy compact. Tuesday evening dinner, and clearly she was one of the last to arrive since everyone else’s cars lined the crumbling tar road on both sides.

She closed the door and leaned against the vehicle, head bowed, and let out a rough breath. Might as well end this circus. The sooner she told everyone that “Jamie” had ditched her, the sooner she could start living with the label of Lewisville’s sad sack ho-bag/spinster and get back to her small apartment where she’d see Jesse everywhere and wonder again if she’d been stupid to run him off.

From the direction of her mother’s house, Jayla came sprinting across the wide, open yard. “Have you heard from him?”

Bristol had no doubt which “him” her bestie was referring to. “No. Nothing.”

After their argument, she’d left, taking a ride over to the Sonic Drive-In east of Lewisville, in the town of Stamps. A milkshake and a good cry later, she’d headed back to her apartment, ready to work things through. Jesse—and every trace of him—had been gone.

Only then did she realize that she didn’t have his number. And it wasn’t as if she could simply hit up his website or Facebook page and leave a comment that read,
Hey, Jesse proposed to me. Could you tell him I want to talk so he should call me
?

Jayla curled an arm around her. “I know you thought you loved him but…maybe him leaving so abruptly was his way of admitting that the jig is up.”

“Yeah.” Admitting that possibility seemed to take all of her breath. After that, she didn’t have any air for the rest of her body. Her shoulders slumped. She felt half dead inside. Last night, she’d had to change the sheets before she could sleep because they smelled like him.

And his absence had torn her in two.

“It’ll get better,” her friend promised.

“It’s just…he defended himself so vehemently. He swore that he loved me and wanted to get married. He said I was trying to make matters of the heart logical, and when I was drowning in my banana cream pie milkshake, I kind of wondered if he was right. I still do.”

“Hang in there.” Jayla hugged her, and Bristol reveled in her friend’s embrace for a silent moment. The woman might not be her biological sibling, but she was the sister of her heart. Bristol felt blessed every day to have her.

“I’ll try. Thanks.”

“I’m glad you’re here. I might have mentioned to Presleigh that Hayden came to see you after church on Sunday. Apparently, he told her he was going home to take a ‘nap.’” Jayla held up air quotes.

“He only stayed a few minutes, and nothing happened, except that he behaved like an ass.”

“That’s nothing new,” Jayla drawled.

“Nope. Besides, he’d been to see Corey before me.” Or that’s what he’d said. “He probably spent most of his time there.”

“What?” Jayla pulled a disapproving face. “Corey left on Sunday morning to go meet that girl he met on the Internet, the one who lives in Arkadelphia.”

“Oh, that’s right. I forgot. Maybe Hayden did, too.” She shrugged.

“Or he remembered that Corey’s lonely little sister quit University of Arkansas and moved back home.”

Bristol wanted to say that Hayden wouldn’t cheat on Presleigh…but she knew firsthand that he totally would.

BOOK: Pure Wicked: A Wicked Lovers Novella (1001 Dark Nights)
9.06Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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