Home > Just One Scandal (The Kingston Family #2)(5)

Just One Scandal (The Kingston Family #2)(5)
Author: Carly Phillips

He could leave her alone to sleep it off, but she might wake up frightened and not remember how she’d gotten here. His conscience told him not to abandon her on what was supposed to be her wedding night. After another glance at the vulnerable woman, he headed to the bathroom. The large counter with double sinks was also full of amenities, and he was able to brush his teeth before heading back inside.

Instead of still being passed out, she was sitting up in bed, surrounded by the layers of her gown, with mascara-stained tears streaming down her face.

Aww, shit. Now he had a crying female on his hands. He turned back to the bathroom, coming out with a box of tissues in his hand. He approached the bed and extended his arm so she could grab a Kleenex.

“Thank you.” She pulled three sheets from the box and dabbed at her eyes, succeeding only in smearing the makeup around her face.

Settling on the side of the bed, he took her chin in one hand and, with a tissue, gently blotted and wiped the black stains off her soft skin.

“You’re so nice,” she said and immediately began crying again, which meant he had to begin all over cleaning her up.

Knowing she was drunk and the alcohol was exacerbating her shitty feelings, Beck let her continue to sob it out. There was nothing else he could do.

“I don’t get how I could have screwed up so badly. I picked the nice guy, the safe guy, the guy who I thought would never screw me over like my father did to my mom. And here I am, alone on my wedding night.” She lifted her hands and helplessly dropped them back to her lap and continued to list all the reasons she’d chosen her groom.

Not one of them, he noted, was love.

The longer she spoke, the more her hysteria built, and Beck sat back to let her get it all out, only reaching out occasionally to dab at the dripping black tears in order to save the white gown from ruin. If anyone had told him this was how he’d be spending his night, he’d have had a good, hard laugh. The fact that it was Linc Kingston’s sister made it even more ironic.

“We even liked to stay in at night and watch television together,” she said on a wail. “It’s not like he was a guy who chose bars and drinking. So much for playing it safe.”

“Safe isn’t always smart,” he said, handing her another tissue.

She blotted her eyes and nose, then handed him back the Kleenex. He shook his head and put it on the dresser.

“And now I’m stuck with no place to live and a boring job with a brother I love but who won’t let me branch out and … and … what happened to my life?” she asked. She glanced down and started to work an emerald-shaped engagement ring off her finger.

“Wait. Stop.” He didn’t need that expensive rock lost somewhere in this hotel room. “Leave it on until you can put it somewhere safe. Then you can decide what to do with it.”

“I hate looking at it,” she said. Even pouting, she was pretty.

Knowing he was in way over his head, the best thing he could do was get her to fall back to sleep. She’d wake up in the morning no happier, but at least she’d be sober, and, he assumed, calmer.

“Listen, I think you should get some rest. Things will look brighter tomorrow. What do you say?”

She nodded and then, taking him off guard, pushed herself around him to the end of the bed and rose to her feet. Stepping over, she turned her back toward him and lifted her heavy, gorgeous hair and swept it to one side.

“Undo my buttons,” she demanded.

“What? Why?”

She turned her head, giving him a perfect view of her exquisite profile. “Because you said I should go to sleep, and I can’t get comfortable in this dress.”

He swallowed a curse. She had a point, but that meant he’d be left with Chloe sleeping in whatever she had on beneath that dress while he … what? Sat in the uncomfortable chair in the corner? Or stretched out beside her and ignored his aching cock.

“Fine,” he said through gritted teeth. It took a while for his big fingers to slip each tiny button through the small loops, but he finally managed, revealing inch after inch of her porcelain skin. “All set,” he muttered.

“Whew!” She released her hair, and as it tumbled down her back, she shrugged and let the dress fall to the floor before spinning back to face him.

She stood in a strapless white lace push-up bra, sexy matching panties, and a blue garter hooked around her thigh. She was a vision with her blond hair tumbling over her shoulders and the body of a goddess.

He swallowed a low groan of desire just as she reached for the back hook of her bra.

“No!” He couldn’t handle it if she stripped down to nothing, and there was no way she’d be happy with herself in the morning. “Climb into bed. I’m sure you’ll be comfortable like that.”

She pouted but did as he asked, striding to the other side of the mattress, giving him a view of her heart-shaped ass in the barely there panties. He shook his head, wondering what he’d done in this lifetime to deserve such torture.

She turned down the covers, slid beneath, and he gave a relieved sigh. That is, until she wriggled under the comforter and the bra went flying across the room, followed by the garter. As he braced himself for her panties to go next, she lay her head on the pillow, sighed, closed her eyes, and just like that, fell asleep.

His shoulders dropped as his tension eased, and Beck let out a long groan of relief. Now that he didn’t have a hysterical woman to deal with, he turned his attention to where he’d be spending the night. One look at the uncomfortable chair and he nixed that idea. He’d just have to lie on top of the covers with as much space between him and Chloe as he could manage.

After kicking off his shoes, he sat on the side of the bed and took off his socks and shirt, laying them on the chair he’d opted not to sleep on. After debating, he said fuck it and removed his jeans. His boxer briefs were good enough.

Then he climbed on the bed. Using the bedspread that had fallen to the floor as a blanket, he pulled it over himself and settled back against the pillows on his side of the bed. Beside him, Chloe let out little snores that had him grinning despite the situation.

Being with Chloe Kingston brought back memories he’d always done his best to keep far away. He’d met Linc in college. They’d been roommates and become best friends. While Linc had a family who could pay for everything, giving him time to party as well as study, Beck had attended partially on scholarship but mostly on loans, and he’d had to work for spending money. By sophomore year, he and Linc had formed a tight bond. Took the same classes, had the same life goals, and had found girlfriends at the same time. They’d gone out together as couples and hung out at parties.

Beck remembered how much his girlfriend, Jenna, resented his need to work because it meant they couldn’t spend as much time together as Linc and his girlfriend, Lacey, did. She was jealous and Beck knew it, but there was nothing he could do, and he would placate her until she calmed down.

Everything was great until one night when Beck worked late and came home to find Linc and who he thought was Linc’s girlfriend in bed together. No sooner had Beck shut the door than Jenna sat up, looked at him, and began to cry about how she was sorry and they hadn’t meant for it to happen. Even remembering that moment now, Beck saw red, his anger stemming as much from Jenna’s hurt and betrayal as it had from Linc’s. Maybe more so from Linc because nobody did that to his best friend.

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