This Man Confessed (Page 12)

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‘Explain about this drink issue, then.’ he challenges.

My eyes widen. ‘What are you talking about?’ I don’t like the reproachful look on his face, not at all.

‘I’m talking about the drink issue Matt brought up—the drink issue that hasn’t been mentioned since. The fact he hasn’t touched alcohol all day hasn’t gone unnoticed, Ava. Not on my part, anyway. Mum’s probably too wrapped up in mother-of-the-bride duties to see it.’

I knew it was too much of a good thing. After Jesse’s sly stunt of getting my parents to London, they fell in love with him and the drink issue wasn’t mentioned again. They put it down to Matt being spiteful. I don’t need Dan unearthing an issue that really isn’t an issue. Jesse hasn’t had a drink since I found him at Lusso. He doesn’t need it if he has me, and he most definitely has me.

‘And where’s his family?’ he asks.

‘I’ve told you. He doesn’t speak to them.’

‘Right.’ He laughs. ‘That’s convenient. And to think I disliked Matt.’

‘So now you’re suddenly a Matt advocate, are you?’ I snipe nastily. I point my finger in his face. I feel really f**king mad, and I’ve never been mad with Dan. ‘There is no issue. He has no family, so back off. Let’s talk about what’s really eating you up. Let’s talk about Kate.’

It’s his eyes that are wide now. Yes, I’ve just homed in on the real issue here. I’m not going to let him ruin my day with his judgments. They’re not valid, and I don’t want to hear them.

‘Nothing’s eating me up!’ he yells. ‘I couldn’t give a f**k about Kate!’

‘Of course!’ I laugh. ‘That’s why you’ve barely pulled your eyes away from her all day.’

‘Who the hell is that Sam?’ His tone only confirming I’ve hit a nerve.

I might not be thrilled with Kate’s life direction at the moment, but I would prefer her carrying on with Sam, rather than heading for guaranteed disaster with Dan. It ended in tears before and it will again. ‘He’s good for her.’ I spit. I can’t believe I’ve just said that. Dan would die on the spot if he knew the ins and outs of Kate and Sam’s relationship. I don’t even know the extent of it myself, but I have a good idea. ‘You need to leave this exactly where it is.’ I gather my dress up, ready to make a retreat, but he grabs my arm.

‘What if I don’t want to?’

‘Get your f**king hands off her.’ The familiar growl pulls my head around fast. Jesse is standing nearby. His chest is heaving, and he has a murderous look on his face.

‘It’s fine. We’re done.’ I say, yanking my arm free. I need to get Jesse away before he tramples all over my brother. And it won’t just be a verbal trample.

Dan steps forward. ‘She’s my sister.’

Jesse closes the gap between them, his eyes black. ‘She’s. My. Wife.’

My brother laughs a little, not a good thing, judging by Jesse’s darkening glare. I need to intervene, but stepping between these two angry men is not a thought I relish. But then I see Jesse’s fists balling, and I know I need to remove him now.

I place my hand on his arm and he flinches, too focused on Dan to realise it’s me. As soon as he does, though, he breaks the glowering deadlock and turns his eyes to mine. They soften immediately.

‘Let’s go.’ I say quietly, sliding my hand down his arm to grasp his.

He nods and turns with me, not giving Dan another look. I’m grateful. Dan’s obviously not in a good place, and I know how tenacious he can be when he’s on the defence. Kate’s not trying to, but she’s screwing with his head again, and Dan’s trying to bat it away by focusing his attention on me.

We make our way towards The Manor, leaving Dan behind. ‘Give me your hand.’ Jesse orders, reaching down. I let him take it and re-cuff me. ‘Don’t ask me to remove them again.’

‘I won’t’ I grumble. I wish he’d never released me in the first place, then I might not be seething with both Dan’s obvious issue with Kate and his inquisitiveness with regards to Jesse’s issue. ‘Throw away the key.’

His eyebrows rise. ‘Wishing you’d have stayed nailed to me?’

‘Yes.’ I admit. ‘Don’t free me again.’

‘Okay,’ he agrees. ‘Would you like a drink?’

We continue towards the house, re-cuffed and re-united. ‘I’d love a drink.’ I’ve hardly touched a drop all day, and I’m a little surprised that he’s offered.

‘Come on.’ He pulls me in and kisses my forehead. ‘I won’t stand for it, Ava. Even if he is your brother.’

‘I know.’ I agree quietly. I’m pleasantly surprised by his self-control. It doesn’t matter to Jesse who he eliminates, and Dan has not helped his cause. He’s just tried to restrain me, the worse thing he could do. I don’t want my husband and brother to battle, but I know Jesse would never back down when it comes to me, and Dan would never lose face.

The evening guests have arrived. As we make our way through the bar, we’re accosted, kissed and wished well with every step we take. When we finally make it to the bar, I’m placed on my stool and handed a glass of water. Water? I look at the clear glass and back to Jesse, who is doing a damn fine job of ignoring my obvious disbelieve. Water?

Tessa comes steaming over, looking as wound up as poor mum. ‘Where have you been?’ she asks incredulously, flicking her eyes from me to Jesse and back again. ‘You were supposed to cut the cake!’

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