Home > Serves Me Wright (Wright #9)(3)

Serves Me Wright (Wright #9)(3)
Author: K.A. Linde

Ashleigh’s smile turned purely feline. “But, babyyy…”

Her whine grated on my nerves. No one had ever really liked Ashleigh, even when we’d tolerated her for Julian’s sake. I still had no idea what he had seen in her as far as personality went. She was a nightmare. But she was gorgeous with long tan legs, thick blonde hair, and bright blue eyes. She always wore the latest fashions and had money coming out of her ears. Maybe it was easier to ignore her personality with all the rest in your face. Maybe for a dude.

“Don’t make me call the cops.”

“You wouldn’t,” she hissed.

He narrowed his eyes, as if to say, Just try me.

“I’m done with this. If I see you on the property again, I’ll have you arrested.” He stepped forward, towering over her already-tall frame. “And I’ll push to take you to court for everything you did earlier this year, too.”

Ashleigh sighed and rolled her eyes. “You’re so dramatic.”

Part of me wanted to reach out and shake her. She literally didn’t see the danger in front of her face. The other part of me wished I had her gall.

Julian looked like he was going to blow his gasket, but she dismissively waved her hand.

“I know this isn’t real. There’s no way you could go from me to that.” She pointed at me.

My face turned three shades of red. I swallowed and wished I had a comeback to that. Instead, I felt humiliated by the accuracy.

Julian stepped forward. “Don’t fucking talk to her like that.”

Ashleigh lifted one shoulder. “Whatever.”

She turned on her four-inch stiletto heels and stalked back through the cellar. Julian watched her exit with hypervigilance. Not until she was out of the building did he finally relax and slump back against the doorframe.

“Fuck,” he said, running his hand down his face. “Fuck.”

“You okay?”

He shook his head. His eyes were squeezed shut. Then, they cracked back open and met mine. “I’m so sorry for everything.”

“You can’t control what she says and does.”

“No,” he said easily, pushing off of the doorframe. “But I can control what I did.”

I flushed and looked down at the ground again. Here it comes. All the ways he regretted that kiss. The kiss that I thought had been perfect…even if it was fake.

“You were just telling me that some other guy touched you without your permission, and then what do I do? Kiss you without asking if it’s okay.”

“It’s fine,” I said quickly.

“I mean, it was a great kiss.”

My head jerked up in surprise. “It was?”

He laughed and shoved his hands into his pockets. “I thought so. If you didn’t like it, then I’m doubly sorry.”

“No, it wasn’t…it was fine,” I finished lamely.

“Fine,” he said with a nod. “My mother tells me that fine never means fine from a woman. So, I’m going to continue to apologize for everything that happened. Kissing you without your permission and everything Ashleigh said. Don’t listen to a word out of her mouth. I learned the hard way how much of a poisonous snake she is.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Not your fault,” he said automatically. “Should I continue apologizing?”

I laughed and shook my head. “It’s okay. You saved me first. I was happy to do the same.”

His smile was electric. “I guess we’re even then?”

“We are,” I agreed.

“Good. Well, I should probably get our photographer back to the concert before it starts.” He gestured for me to step out of his office, and we went back toward the barn.

I bit the inside of my cheek as I second-guessed whether or not I should dive into his business. Curiosity ended up getting the better of me. “Have you been dealing with a lot of Ashleigh?”

He breathed out heavily. “Well, sort of. She didn’t take our breakup well. Mostly she’s mad that she got caught and thinks that if she pushes enough, I’ll bend to her will.”

“That doesn’t sound like you.”

He flashed me a smile. “It doesn’t, does it? Stubbornness runs in my family.”

“Sure does.”

He nudged me. “Hey!”

“What? Sutton is one of my best friends. I’ve seen Wright stubbornness way up close.”

“Yeah. It doesn’t matter how much Ashleigh hounds me; we’re not getting back together.”

“I’d think not after what she did.”

“Never pegged you as a grudge-holder, Gibson.”

I flushed at the use of my last name. “I’m not. But she didn’t just hurt you, she tried to force you into her mold and hurt the winery, too. I’m kind of attached to it, to be honest.”

“Me or the vineyard?” he asked, waggling his eyebrows.

I covered my blush with a laugh. “The vineyard!”

“Likely story.”

Our eyes met, and we both broke down into laughter. As much as I wanted something with Julian, the main reason I’d never gone for it was because of what was happening right here between us. I was into him, but I valued his friendship more. I wouldn’t risk losing this easiness between us to shoot for more.

I pulled my camera up and snapped a picture of him.


I took another.

“What are you doing?”

“I won’t miss getting a real Julian smile.”

“Let me see,” he said, coming around to stand next to me.

I pulled the back of the camera up and flipped through the pictures I’d taken. This was the one thing I wasn’t self-conscious about. My pictures were good. I was certain of that. I loved photography, and I did it constantly. All those weddings had really honed my craft. I wasn’t like our friend Blaire, who was a legitimate social media influencer with a million followers, but I had a good thirty thousand–plus people following my photography. I’d been featured in wedding magazines and won contests for my work. This was my passion.

“Jesus Christ, Jen,” he breathed. “How the fuck do you do this?”

“Talent,” I teased.

He nodded his head. “Absolutely. I’m so glad that we convinced you to work here. Couldn’t have been easy, giving up all the traveling.”

“Well, it was, and it wasn’t,” I told him. “I like that I can be picky now, and as I said, I’m already attached to the place.”

His smile was bright. “Could you send me this one?” He pointed at the picture I’d captured of the real him—charming and laughing Julian Wright. Exactly how I saw him. “I’d like to put it on the website.”

“Definitely. That’s what I’m here for.”

We continued up the walk until we nearly reached the barn. I could hear the concert had already started and winced. I was supposed to be there for that.

We stepped inside to the backstage. It was loud from the show. Sutton was standing off to the side, watching the show. A group of the production crew was buzzing around. Hollin was speaking to the new manager, Alejandra. Jordan was sitting at a table with Annie in his lap. And someone else was standing before us that I’d never seen before.

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