Home > Serves Me Wright (Wright #9)

Serves Me Wright (Wright #9)
Author: K.A. Linde


1

 

 

Jennifer

 

 

My smile was fake. I’d perfected a pleasant exterior as my insides roiled, and I wondered how the hell I was going to escape this guy. Why had I ever agreed to go on a date with him? It had clearly ruined everything.

New rule: don’t date anyone you work with.

“Oh, that’s nice, Evan,” I said, taking a step backward.

Evan moved forward again, swinging his Nikon around as if it hadn’t cost him a small fortune. He’d been my second shooter at a dozen weddings all over the country, and it had seemed like a great idea to ask him to shoot the grand opening of Wright Vineyard. That was before I’d agreed to go on a date with him. The worst date of my entire life.

“Maybe after we’re done, we can head out for a drink,” he suggested.

I bit my lip. I’d decided after our last date that I was going to go cold turkey on guys for ninety days. After a string of horrendous dates—truly horrendous dates—I couldn’t stomach it. I wanted the summer all to myself. But saying no was easier said than done when I’d spent my entire life doing what everyone else asked of me. It was time to be more like my best friends, Annie and Sutton. They got what they wanted. I wanted that, too.

“I don’t know, Evan.”

“Ten o’clock downtown?”

“I…”

“Perfect.”

My eyes were wild with alarm at the stupid word that wouldn’t escape my lips. How hard was it to say no to a guy? No, I don’t want to date you. No, I don’t want to sit through another dinner where you talk about yourself. No, I don’t want to hear how much better you think you are than me. Just no.

But the word never left my mouth.

“Uh…I don’t know. Maybe…”

Evan furrowed his brow and opened his mouth, as if he were going to say something, but then his eyes darted up and over my shoulder. He took a step back in response.

I whipped around and found none other than Julian Wright. My heart stuttered at the sight of him. He was dressed to impress in his typical preppy attire—sharp khakis, a blue button-up, gray blazer, and boat shoes. His dark hair was swept to the side, and his dark eyes were fixed right on me. I’d been attracted to him since the day he’d literally fallen into a pool on top of me. That was three years ago. One date and one perfect kiss later, and I was a goner.

But that was ancient history. We were just friends now.

“Hey,” I said with a smile.

“Hey, Jen,” he said. “Think I could borrow you and your camera?”

His eyes moved to Evan behind me. His jaw flexed for a moment. The news of our bad date had circulated. He’d probably heard about it.

Damn Annie! I wanted to bury my face in my shirt.

“I can go,” Evan said quickly.

Julian dismissed him without a word. “Jen?”

“Yeah. Sure. What do you need?”

He gestured for me to precede him, which I did. We headed across the main barn and toward a side exit, which helped us avoid the crowds. Because not only was today the grand opening, but we’d also secured the band Cosmere to play a private concert for us right here in the Wright Vineyard barn. It helped that the lead singer, Campbell, was from Lubbock and his brother, Hollin, was a co-owner with Julian.

We exited the barn, and I took one fleeting look behind me. It was already busy with early-access guests. The high ceiling and ambient lighting made the rustic interior shine. The floors, which used to be dirt, were now a glossy hardwood, and there was a stage set up at the end of the place, just big enough for a band or a wedding party. It had taken them months to get it the way they wanted, and it had all paid off.

“What do you want me to shoot?” I asked Julian.

“Oh, nothing,” he said, running a hand back through his dark hair and shooting me an alluring smile. “You looked like you wanted to be anywhere but talking to that guy.”

I laughed self-consciously and tucked a strand of my light-brown bob behind my ear. “That is the truth.”

“Didn’t you recommend him for the job?” He tilted his head to the side.

“I did,” I said with a wince as I fell into step beside him.

We took a trail away from the bustle of the barn and toward the cellars. Hundreds of people were already waiting in line before the barn door for the Cosmere show. Thankfully, they’d hired security for the event, and everything seemed to be in order. I was glad that we were taking a different route to the cellars rather than past the crowd. My anxiety couldn’t handle that on a good day. After dealing with Evan, today was not that day.

“What happened?”

“Oh God, haven’t you heard?”

He shook his head.

I sighed. “Well, we went on a date. He took me to La Sirena.” Which was my favorite restaurant in town. I’d thought it was looking up. “Then he spent the entire dinner talking about himself. He got handsy into the third course of tapas.”

Julian cringed. “Jesus.”

“Yeah. It, uh…dissolved from there.”

“So, why is he still coming around? I’m shocked he’d take the job.”

“Well, I’m not Annie,” I said with a laugh.

Julian arched an eyebrow in question. “You aren’t going after my brother?”

I laughed, a genuine one at that. “Dear God, I am most certainly not.”

“That’s a relief,” Julian said.

His dark eyes met mine, and something fluttered in my stomach at the look.

I glanced away. “I mean that I’m not as extroverted.”

“No one is as extroverted as Annie,” Julian said with a laugh.

“You are.”

“Psh! Not even me.”

“Well, I’m definitely not. So, I guess I didn’t make it clear enough to him that I wasn’t interested. I honestly think that he thought the date went well.”

Julian wrinkled his nose. “Fucker.”

I snorted and then immediately covered my mouth. “Oh my God, don’t make me laugh like that.”

His eyes found mine, and his own smile was wide and unassuming. “Why not? That snort is the best part of your laugh.”

I giggled, tucking my hair behind my ear again. “You’re ridiculous.”

He was flirting with me. Oh my God, was he flirting with me? I didn’t know. Julian Wright was as charming as they came. I’d never met anyone who could woo someone so thoroughly. And I wasn’t just saying that because I’d been into him for so long. I knew it wasn’t going anywhere and that he couldn’t control the charm. But I also couldn’t help hoping that this was more than his normal charm…and actual flirting.

It seemed unlikely. Just as much as I wasn’t dating because of my string of bad dates, coupled with my inability to tell people how I really felt, Julian hadn’t been dating the last couple months either. He’d been dating Ashleigh Sinclair for two years when he found out that she was trying to sabotage the winery to get him to work for her father—a real estate mogul here in Lubbock. Their breakup had been swift and brutal, and he hadn’t dated since.

“Come on. Let me show you the cellars while we’re down here,” Julian said, opening the cellar door.

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