Home > Wright with Benefits (Wright Series #8)(7)

Wright with Benefits (Wright Series #8)(7)
Author: K.A. Linde

“Ah,” she said, her voice frosting over.

“So, do you want to?”

She narrowed her eyes. “Do I want to…what?”

“Try out a few bottles?”

“What?”

“Forget the party, Annie. Forget your obligations for one night. You’ve had a shitty day. You don’t need to spend another night schmoozing at a medical school party when everything else has gone wrong. Do you really think any good is going to come from you going there? After the day you’ve had?”

She bit her lip. “No. Not really. Bad luck is kind of clinging to me. I’ll probably trip and take the whole tent down. Or hit an outdoor heater and catch the woods on fire.”

I snorted. “Trip on the way to the drinks and crash down all of the wine we carted over there.”

She covered her face. “Oh God! Pour wine down a professor’s white dress.”

“Pour wine down your dress,” I added.

She broke into a fit of giggles at our worst-case scenario-ing. “I could see it all happening. Today has been a real shitshow.”

“So, any interest in popping open a lot of expensive wine I got for free and taste-testing the bottles?”

“I don’t know.”

I could see her resistance slipping. That she wanted to go with me, but I wouldn’t push her. Not when I’d just started to get back into her good graces.

Then she glanced up at me. “We couldn’t go to my place. It’s still flooded. I’m planning to crash on the couch until the water damage is fixed.”

“Or we could go to my place,” I offered, bracing myself for her disdain.

But it never came.

“Where do you live again?”

“Out near Landon.”

When I’d first moved here, I’d been shocked by how cheap housing was. Coming from Vancouver, where every shack was a million dollars, it felt inconceivable that I could build a mansion for under a half-mil. I’d gone a little crazy at the prospect.

“We’re just drinking wine,” she said almost to herself.

“Yeah. My guest room is probably better than the couch.”

She met my gaze. I could see her walls breaking down at the prospect of a bed. No matter how much she talked up the couch, it wasn’t the same.

She finally nodded. “All right. That sounds fun.”

My smile widened at her acceptance. She blushed furiously and brushed past me to her car. As if she couldn’t even look at me or she’d change her mind. I was sure she was already regretting her choice.

She might have been having a terrible day, but mine had only gotten better the minute I saw her. And I wasn’t ready for her to leave anytime soon.

 

 

6

 

 

Annie

 

 

This was a really bad idea.

I hit the steering wheel savagely. I should have gone to the stupid party, even if it was the last thing I wanted to do. But Jordan’s invitation sounded really tempting. Who wouldn’t want to try a bunch of expensive wine on someone else’s dime?

It shouldn’t matter that Jordan was the only bright spot in my otherwise terrible day. But somehow, it did. Once I’d stopped taking out my anger on him, it had actually been…great. The drive there and back, getting the car started, the dance, even the carefully awkward invitation. I wanted to go. That was what it had come down to. He’d been a good guy, helping me out when he certainly didn’t have to. No matter what Cézanne had said about owing me.

I rolled my eyes at myself. If he ended up being a jerk after I drank all his wine, then fine. Whatever. At least I’d get some expensive wine out of the bargain.

Anyway, I was already committed. We were driving toward the mansions on the south side of town, toward the country club and golf course that Jordan’s cousin, Landon Wright, had created. It was a swank area, mostly owned by construction executives, oil tycoons, and decorated PGA golfers, like Landon. Regular people need not apply.

And as the mansions came into view, my trepidation wore off. I hadn’t been out here in a while, but damn! They made the rest of Lubbock look like they were living in squalor.

Sometimes, I forgot that the Wrights were heads of a Fortune 500 company and billionaires. That thought was front and center as we rolled up to Jordan’s enormous two-story.

I parked next to him, killed the engine, and stepped out into the cold. My eyes going up, up, up at the beautiful home, all red brick and stone and stained wood columns for the porch and shutters. The grass was trimmed and nearly as spotless as the golf course he lived on with two towering trees that must have taken a lot of care to keep alive way out here in the dusty, arid climate.

“Wow,” I whispered to Jordan as I came up to stand next to his truck. “Your house is beautiful.”

“Thanks,” he said with a furrow in his brow. “The garage door opener isn’t working. Battery must be dead.”

“Of course it isn’t working. I must have killed the battery.”

He chuckled as he headed toward the bed to collect the wine. “I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.”

I wasn’t sure.

I’d been hoping to look into the garage though, if for no other reason than to get a good look at the car I actually associated with him—a silver Tesla Model S. It was a gorgeous electric car that I’d coveted for years. I still couldn’t fathom that someone who had an electric car…had purchased a diesel truck.

I patted the truck as he slammed shut the tailgate. “And apparently, you’ve gone full Texan.”

He sighed. “I needed something for when I went to sites. I’d been putting it off.”

“Do I need to get you some boots? A belt buckle?” He narrowed his eyes at me, but I couldn’t stop myself. “A cowboy hat?”

“Now you’ve gone too far.”

“You need something to go with that truck. It’s heavy duty. You’ll definitely need a hat and boots for the construction sites.”

He shook his head and headed toward the front door. “I don’t think I’ll ever be that Texas.”

“Oh, come on.”

“No chance in hell.” Then he tossed me the keys. “It’s the silver one.”

I found the key to the front door and turned the lock, pushing my way inside. He carried the case of wine, and I let the door close behind us. My hand went for the light switch as he hauled the case of wine to the kitchen island. But nothing happened. I narrowed my eyes and tried again but still nothing.

I fished out my phone and turned the flashlight on. “Uh, I think we have a problem.”

“What’s that?” he asked, going to flick on the kitchen light. Nothing turned on. “Well, fuck.”

And somehow, that was the moment that I broke.

Not when I’d stood alone in my flooding house as I watched everything fall apart. Or the moment of sheer terror as I’d nearly been driven off the road. Or the frustration with dealing with an issue that I hadn’t caused. Or finding Jordan Wright’s face there when I’d just wanted to deal alone.

No, it was this moment. When, against all odds, his power was out.

The laughter bubbled up from the deep recesses of my chest before bursting out of my mouth. It was a hysterical madness that couldn’t be contained. Tears came to my eyes as the compounded effect of this terrible day hit me full force.

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