Home > Serves Me Wright (Wright #9)(2)

Serves Me Wright (Wright #9)(2)
Author: K.A. Linde

I’d already had a full tour. Ever since Julian and Hollin had offered me a spot as the company wedding photographer, I’d been all in on Wright Vineyard.

For more than three years, I’d been working weddings and elopements as a travel photographer. I went all over the country and the Caribbean. I even shot a wedding in Bali. Bali. But it had been hard, being gone every weekend and most weekdays from April to October, especially since I found it impossible to say no to clients. And not every wedding was as much of a dream as the trip to Bali. They were a lot of hard work, and I liked the idea of having a full-time job here in town. Then I got to pick and choose which elopements to photograph. It was an easy way for me to say no to potential brides without saying no.

But I couldn’t say no to Julian either.

Nor did I want to.

So, I stepped into the cellars and breathed in the wine fermentation. It was a particular smell that I was coming to enjoy. Especially with the added benefit of free wine on the job.

Julian was regaling me with stories about the different vintages. I only half-listened. From the moment he’d decided to purchase the winery, he’d been full deep dive into winemaking and running the business. This was his life, and even if I only understood half of it, it was interesting to hear his excitement.

The cellars were at least relatively deserted, and we made it all the way down and around the corner, uninterrupted.

Julian stopped in front of his office. “Well, that completes the tour. Show should be starting soon,” he said. “Probably should get you backstage.”

I nodded. “Probably.”

Despite the fact that I’d said no guys for ninety days and I wanted the entire summer to myself, I didn’t want to walk away from Julian. It was impossible anyway. Probably stupid to even consider.

Then his eyes rounded in circles as he looked over my shoulder.

I turned to find none other than Ashleigh Sinclair on the property.

“What is she doing here?” I whispered.

As far as I knew, all Sinclairs were banned from the premises.

“I have no idea.” Julian reached out and grabbed my hand. I looked back at him in surprise. “I really don’t want to find out.”

“What?”

But he put a finger to his lips and then tipped his head back. Without a word, he pulled me into his office, decisively shutting the door behind him. The lights were off, and I could hear our breathing in the space as we waited to see if Ashleigh had seen us.

“What are you doing?” I barely breathed.

He hadn’t dropped my hand, and he squeezed it. “It’s opening day. I just…I don’t want to deal with her.”

“I thought she wasn’t allowed on the property.”

His sigh was audible. “She isn’t.”

“Do you think she saw you?” I whispered.

He didn’t respond. We lingered in the silence of that dark space. The heat between us potent. An energy crackling that I’d never felt before. It started at the top of my head and ran all the way to the tips of my toes. I could lean in, and our bodies would touch. I wanted to. Even knowing it was stupid.

We were hiding from his ex. This wasn’t…anything.

“I think she’s gone,” he breathed softly.

I felt him pull away, and then against all odds, the door to the office began to open. I saw a flash of bleached-blonde hair and creamy white skin. Ashleigh had seen us.

I heard Julian’s quick intake of breath and the two simple words that turned my life upside down, “Forgive me.”

His lips crashed down on mine, and there was no longer air left in the world. There was simply this moment as I drowned in him and forgot what it meant to breathe.

 

 

2

 

 

Jennifer

 

 

I’d kissed Julian Wright once before.

Just once.

At Jensen and Emery’s wedding, we’d danced all night, and he kissed me before saying good-night. I hoped it was the start of something special. I’d been wrong.

He’d moved to Lubbock from Vancouver to be with his mom during her cancer diagnosis. It was the third time she’d fought it, and she beat it again. But that year, dealing with her chemotherapy, had been a blur for Julian. And when he’d come out of the haze, he’d found Ashleigh. Not me.

I hadn’t been surprised. What had I expected anyway? He was a Wright. They were essentially royalty in our dusty, small town. And he hadn’t been treated any differently as a Wright cousin when he moved here. I couldn’t believe that he’d even seen me ever so briefly at that wedding.

When he’d found Ashleigh Sinclair, I’d thought that made perfect sense. Her parents were big-time real estate moguls. They owned almost everything downtown and near Texas Tech University. Wright built the town, and the Sinclairs owned it. That was how it had been for years. Why wouldn’t a Wright end up with a Sinclair? And not…some nerdy girl with a camera permanently attached to her face. Some girl who hadn’t even gotten into pharmacy school. Someone like…me.

Or at least, that was what all my dark fears said about me. My therapist was working with me on my negative talk and worst-case scenario-ing. I was better than I’d ever been. But not as good as I could be.

As Julian had his lips pressed to mine, I hoped that this time would be different. That he’d see me again. Even though I knew it would never happen.

Julian pulled back just barely. Our lips still hovered together. I could have hung in that second forever. His dark eyes opened to look down into my hazel eyes. Something flashed across his face that I couldn’t place. I’d never seen him look at me like that.

I swallowed, wanting nothing more than to stand on my tiptoes and claim his mouth for mine again. But at the end of the day, I’d never be confident enough to do that.

“What is going on here?” Ashleigh’s voice snapped me out of my reverie.

Julian’s jaw tensed at the sound of Ashleigh’s high-pitched voice. And that fast, I lost him. If I’d ever had him.

He wrenched back, his face a mask of tightly controlled fury. “Ashleigh…”

I winced at the sound of his voice. I’d never heard him talk like that before. Charming Julian Wright had fled the building. He’d been betrayed by Ashleigh. He hadn’t forgiven her, and he wouldn’t forget what she’d done. If it were me, I’d be cowering at that voice. But Ashleigh continued to look at him in some form of mock shock.

“I came to see you, and this is happening?” she demanded.

“What are you doing here?” he snarled.

“I wanted to see you.”

“You’re not allowed on the premises.”

Ashleigh flicked her bright blonde hair off her shoulder. “I came to talk to you about the gala that we’d planned.”

Julian tensed. “What about it?”

“I have some final details to go over with you, and I want to coordinate our outfits.”

“We’re not going together,” he said lethally.

Ashleigh fluttered her eyelashes. “We always planned to, love.”

“That was before.”

“We can get past this…”

My jaw dropped. The audacity of this woman.

“It’s time for you to leave, Ashleigh. If you have something to discuss with me, you can send an email,” Julian said, crossing his arms over his chest and straightening to his considerable height. “Now, go.”

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