Authors: M. S. Parker
Before things got too awkward, Reed and Britni arrived. I caught a glimpse of surprise flashing across Reed's eyes before it was gone again, but it made sense that he was able to hide it so quickly. I already knew he was a good liar.
Britni recognized me too and gave me a glare so angry I wondered if Reed had told her about us. A quick glance at him said he hadn't, and her anger was probably because she thought her brother had brought a prostitute to family dinner.
As we made our way into the dining room, I unintentionally discovered the reason for the short honeymoon.
“I really wish you would've taken the extra time off of work.” Mrs. Stirling didn't even try to conceal the disapproval in her voice as she spoke to Reed. “It was your honeymoon, after all.”
“You know my company's at a critical stage right now,” Reed answered in a tone that suggested he'd offered this explanation a million times before. “I can't leave for a whole week or more until it's stable. Britni and I discussed it and decided that, rather than postpone the wedding, we'd put off the honeymoon for a couple months.”
Mrs. Stirling pursed her lips. “I hope you intend to take your wife someplace nice then. No woman is okay with giving up her honeymoon.”
Most women wouldn't be okay with marrying someone who didn't love her either, I thought, but Britni had done that. Maybe it was a rich person thing. I just didn't get it.
We took our seats around the dining room table and I tried not to stare when someone in a starched white apron came in to serve us. Anastascia's family had a housekeeper who would clean their place a few times a week, but they'd cooked for themselves and she couldn't imagine them having someone serving their meals.
“This must be quite a change for you,” Rebecca broke through the quiet murmurings that had been the conversation through the first course of the meal. I didn't even have to look at her to know she was talking to me. She continued without waiting for a response. “Aren't you used to being on the other side of the table?”
“Rebecca.” Mrs. Stirling's heart didn't seem to be in the chiding.
“Did she tell you, Brock, that she grew up here? Poor.” She practically sneered.
“Actually, yes,” he answered without a pause. “Piper told me everything.”
Either he believed I hadn't left anything out or he was a better actor than I'd given him credit for. He answered her without batting an eye.
“You must be enjoying this then,” Mrs. Michaels interjected smoothly. “The chance to see how the other half lives.”
I didn't need her to say the other part of the statement. I knew it already. Before you go back to where you belong. I remembered a movie I'd watched as a teenager. Poor boy saves rich girl's life and gets to have dinner with the important people, most of whom are determined to make sure he knows his place. He'd gotten the girl for a little while, but the story hadn't ended well for him. I just hoped that wasn't going to be the case here.
“You have a lovely home.” I gave the Michaels a polite smile. “So much space.”
“I suppose you and your dozen half-brothers and sisters all shared a one room apartment, right?”
My smile tightened and Brock put his hand on my back. Across the table, Reed stiffened, though I couldn't tell if it was because of his sister's comment or Brock's touch.
“Our apartment had two bedrooms,” I replied stiffly. “And it was just my mother and me before she died.”
“I'm sorry to hear she passed,” Mrs. Michaels said.
I wasn't sure I believed her.
“That's unusual,” Rebecca continued. “Isn't it? Someone like your mother not having a dozen kids from different men.”
My hands curled into fists.
“Then again, you're following in her footsteps, aren't you? And you don't have any kids.” She smirked. “That we know of.”
I stood. “Excuse me.”
I heard Brock say my name, but I didn't acknowledge it or stop walking. I wasn't sure where I was going, but I knew it was away from the dining room. As soon as I saw a set of French doors leading outside, I went through them. I didn't care if they went to the front or back of the house. I wanted fresh air and solitude.
I stepped out into what looked like a garden. Leave it to rich people to turn their backyard into a garden rather than keeping it somewhere kids could play. I supposed the Michaels could've done it after Brock and Britni had grown up, but I doubted it. They seemed like the kind of people who wouldn't want to deal with the mess that came from outside play.
I took a deep breath of the warm early summer air. It was well past seven, closing in on eight, but dusk was only just settling. If I hadn’t been escaping from a room of horrid rich bitch snobs, I might have enjoyed it.
Brock's voice came from behind me but I didn't turn to face him. His arms slid around my waist and I leaned back against his chest.
I shook my head. “It wasn't your fault. Rebecca's a bitch. Always has been. Usually, I can take it, but...” My voice trailed off.
“But this was about your mother,” he finished the thought for me.
“It might not be my fault, but I'm still sorry you're hurt.” He kissed my temple.
I turned around in his arms and put my hands on his shoulders. “Do you see now why I can't move back here?” My eyes met his. “Why this can't work?”
“I don't believe that.”
“They're never going to see me as anything but trash, even if they never find out how we really met, although you know they will.” I ran my fingers through his hair. “It doesn't matter how I dress, or if I learn all the nice buzz words that people in your social circle use. I'm not one of you, and I never will be.”
He kept one hand on my waist while the other cupped my chin, holding my face in place as he spoke, his voice intense. “Fuck them. I don't care what my parents think and if they try to make me choose, I'll choose you. I'm not going to let their close-minded prejudices make me miss out on the chance for happiness.”
My heart constricted almost painfully. He was choosing me over family. How could I not at least try to see if this could be something? I touched his face, trying to see if he words were real. “Okay.” I gave in. “I'll consider moving back.”
Brock's face lit up and he lowered his head. The kiss was rough, his mouth moving against mine almost forcefully. It was more than just wanting. This was needing. A hunger I felt myself catching. I slid my arms around his neck and pulled myself closer, pressing my body against his. The hand on my waist dropped to my ass and the one holding my chin moved around to bury itself in my hair.
When we finally broke apart, we were both panting and I was feeling much better.
“I'm glad you're thinking about coming back,” Brock said. He wrapped a lock of my hair around his finger and his eyes took on a teasing light. “Who knows if I'd ever find someone else as good in bed as you?”
I rolled my eyes and opened my mouth to retort, but before I could, someone behind us cleared his throat. I looked over Brock's shoulders and saw Reed standing in the doorway, his face an expressionless mask.
Well… this had all just gone to hell.
“May I have a word alone with Piper?” Reed's voice was flat.
Brock looked down at me, the question in his eyes. I nodded. My stomach was in knots, but I knew if I protested, Brock would wonder why. Right now, for all he knew, Reed wanted to make sure I didn't tell Britni I'd been the stripper at his bachelor party. As much as I like Brock, I wasn't about to let him know any differently.
“I'll wait inside.” Brock kissed my cheek. “If you want to leave when you two are done talking, we'll go. I won't ask you to stay.”
“Thank you.” I watched him walk back into the house and close the doors, giving Reed and me privacy. Only after Brock had disappeared from my sightline did I turn toward Reed. I folded my arms and waited.
“You slept with Brock?”
I lifted my chin, refusing to acknowledge the blush staining my cheeks. “Not that it's any of your business, but yes.”
A flash of hurt crossed his face. “How could you?”
My jaw dropped and I stared at him, unable to believe he was actually asking me that question. “Are you kidding me?”
He took a step toward me. “I told you how I felt about you and that I wanted to be with you, and then you show up with Brock? You fucked him? Was that all I was? Or are you just trying to make your way through the richest guys in Philly?”
My fingernails bit into my palms as they curled into fists. “Who the fuck do you think you are?” I crossed the distance in a few angry strides, stopping when I was barely a foot away. “You slept with me when you were engaged, then told me it was over so I'd fuck you again, then treated me like a whore. Now you're pissed because I found a guy who likes me and doesn't care who knows it. He brought me to meet his parents, for god’s sake. He wants me to move here so we can be together, not keep me in Vegas like his dirty little secret.”
“It wasn't like that!” Reed snapped. “You don't know the whole story.”
“I don't need to know. There's nothing you can say–”
“My parents threatened to cut me off.”
That stopped me, but only for a second.
“Oh, so you didn't want to have to make your own way like a grown up. That's so much better.” My entire body was flushed and it was everything I could do to keep from slapping him. I couldn't believe the nerve he had.
“My business is just getting started. If my parents cut me off, it'd go under and thousands of people would lose their jobs. People who put their trust in me.”
My eyes narrowed. It sounded like he was saying he'd sacrificed what he'd wanted to save thousands of jobs, and I was supposed to accept it.
“I don't love Britni.” He reached out his hand and I took a step back. “I want to be with you Piper, and I know you want me too. Brock is a distraction. A rebound. I get that. We can still make this work.”
“You don't love your wife.”
“No.” Relief flooded his face and he stepped closer. “I don't.”
“You didn't sleep with her, then, on your honeymoon?”
He stopped mid-step.
I moved closer this time. The desire I had for Reed was burning away, my anger taking over. “Tell me, Reed, did you fuck your wife on your wedding night? A woman you don't love. Did you tell her you don't love her while you were inside her?” I watched the color drain from his face. “Did you tell yourself that you had to do it once, to officially consummate the marriage? Was that the only time? Did you turn away her advances or give in so she wouldn't notice? Or did you initiate, giving yourself some excuse that would let you stand there with that self-righteous look on your face acting as if I’m the one out of line for sleeping with someone I actually like? Someone who wants to be with me regardless of what it'll mean to his family.”
He didn't say a word, but the shell-shocked expression told me everything I needed to know.
“Go back to your wife and your loveless marriage. Fuck her, because you're never getting near me again. It's too late.” I walked past him and didn't look back, not even when he said my name.
I still didn't know if I wanted to move back to Philadelphia and I wasn't sure if what I felt for Brock could become something more, but I did know one thing for sure. I was done with Reed Stirling.
I was out of the house and halfway down the front steps when a hand closed around my arm, stopping me. For a moment I thought it might be Reed, and was filled with both relief and disappointment when I turned and realized it was Brock. I cursed, confused by my reaction. I didn’t seem to know what I wanted.
“I know you like Reed,” Brock said softly.
I started to protest, but he talked over me.
“I don't care.” A determined expression came over his face. “I can make you forget him.”
He took my face between his hands and pressed his mouth against mine. The kiss was gentle, not what I'd expected and it startled me into allowing it to last for a few seconds before I pulled away. I started to tell him this wasn't a good idea, that I didn't think it was fair to him, but then movement over Brock's shoulder caught my eye.
Reed stood in the doorway, his jaw clenched, face pale. His hands were curled into fists and he looked like he was fighting the urge to come down here and punch Brock. If he had, maybe I wouldn't have made the decision I did.
I didn't want someone who wasn't willing to fight for me, to fight for what he wanted. Brock said he'd choose me over his family. He knew I liked Reed and didn't care, almost saw it as a challenge. I looked up at him and wrapped my arms around his neck.
“I don't want him,” I promised. “Only you.”
I pulled his head down for another kiss, but I didn't let this one be gentle. I pressed my body against his and pushed my tongue between his lips. His groan vibrated through him and he pulled me tighter against his body. His tongue curled around mine and I buried my hands in his hair, fisting the thick strands between my fingers.
When we finally broke apart, we were both gasping for air. After I'd caught enough breath to speak, I said, “Take me back to your place. I'll show exactly how over him I am.”
To be continued in Sinful Desires Vol. 3, coming Oct 13
to get an email as soon as the next book in the series is available.
Connect with me on Facebook:
Don’t forget to check out my other book series, Chasing Perfection and Club Prive, featuring Krissy from when she lived in New York City. Right now book 1 in Club Prive is free most places. Check it out here:
First, I would like to thank all of my readers. Without you, my books would not exist. I truly appreciate each and every one of you.
A big “thanks” goes out to all my Facebook fans, street team, beta readers, and advanced reviewers. You are a HUGE part of the success of my series.