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Every Little Piece of Me (Orchid Valley #1)
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1940832144 (ISBN13: 9781940832142)
It’s not every day you’re invited to your wife’s wedding . . . as a guest.
The first time I saw Brinley Knox, she was crying, draped in a ridiculous pink tulle dress for her sweet sixteen, and cursing the boy who’d broken her heart.
I was the hired help, a teenage charity case.
She was the daughter of the wealthiest family in Orchid Valley.
I knew a girl like Brinley was off-limits. That didn’t stop me from kissing her. Or from deciding that if she were ever mine, I’d never let her go.
The last time I saw Brinley, she was sleeping, tangled in the sheets of my Vegas penthouse, my diamond glittering on her finger.
I returned three hours later to an empty bed, the ring on the dresser, and a goodbye note.
We haven’t spoken in the six months since, but I’m not the kind of guy who’d file for a divorce he doesn’t want.
Until I got this damn invitation, it never occurred to me that Brinley didn’t remember our impulsive Vegas nuptials.
It’s time to return to Orchid Valley and remind the bride-to-be that I promised her forever. And I’m a man who keeps his promises.
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It’s been more than ten years since Brinley Knox ripped out my heart, and I still see her everywhere—pumping gas in Orange County, waiting tables in Toronto, riding a Spin bike in a Manhattan fitness center, and, one desperately lonely night, working the pole at an Atlanta gentlemen’s club.
Tonight, she’s sitting at the bar at my favorite Vegas nightclub, wearing a little black dress and sipping a martini.
“Incoming,” my friend Alec says, his elbow digging into my side. “Damn, she’s fine.”
I struggle to pull my attention off the sexy brunette—a doppelganger of my first love—and follow my friend’s gaze. There’s a blonde sauntering toward me with a martini in one hand and a glass tumbler in the other. She’s hot as hell in a skirt that would test indecent exposure laws anywhere other than Vegas and has the kind of long, toned legs that should send my imagination running wild.
And I have zero interest.
“All yours,” I tell Alec.
He grunts out a dry laugh. “She only has eyes for you, I’m afraid.”
My attention’s already back on the brunette at the bar, and I will her to turn around. The way she’s sitting sideways in her seat, legs crossed at the knee, head turned away, I can see more thigh than face. While I typically wouldn’t complain about the view, I need confirmation that it’s not her.
I should let it go. It’s never her. She’s just on my mind because it’s September twenty-first.
“The bartender told me you were drinking bourbon,” the blonde says when she reaches our table. She offers me the tumbler.
From his post across the room, the bartender gives me a curt nod. His grin says it all. He thinks he did me a favor by sending this woman over. Maybe some nights I would agree, but tonight I’m too distracted by the Ghost of Christmas Past.
“It’s Knox bourbon,” the blonde says. “I thought you might want to get a taste of how they make it where I come from.”
That gets my attention, and I frown as I swivel my gaze back to her. “What?”
“Knox bourbon,” she says, her tongue dancing along the rim of her martini glass. “Black label. You’ll love it.”
I’ve spent the last ten years steering clear of anything with the Knox name, but if this woman is from the home of Knox bourbon . . .
I take the glass. “Thanks. What’s your name?”
“I’m Savannah.” She offers a delicate hand, and I shake it briefly and even manage a smile before swirling the bourbon under my nose.
Some people think all bourbon smells the same, but a true connoisseur can smell the difference in every variety. Knox bourbon smells like oak and pear with notes of first love, stolen kisses, and heartache.
“My friends call me Savvy,” she says.
I scan my memory for the name. “You’re from Orchid Valley?”
“Well, from Atlanta originally, but I live in the OV now. You know it?”
I open my mouth to explain I lived there briefly in high school, but every word disappears from my mind when the brunette across the room finally turns. Once I see her full profile, the rest of the world falls away.
I’m not imagining things. Dark hair, high cheekbones, lips that can’t possibly be as soft as they are in my memory. Brinley Knox.
“That’s my friend Brinley,” Savannah says, following my gaze. “Her parents actually own the Knox distillery in Orchid Valley.”
“The Brinley Knox,” Alec says, and now we’re all staring at her. “She’s smoking hot,” he mutters.
I shoot him a look, and he holds up both hands, his face a mask of innocence.
“How do you know Brinley?” Savannah asks him. She turns to me. “Do you know her too?”
As if she senses our attention on her, Brinley turns toward us, and her spine goes rigid. Her lips part, and when she meets my eyes, I can’t breathe.
I’m already out of my seat and heading her way.
“Marston,” Alec calls after me, “are you sure you should—”
“Marston?” Savannah scrambles to keep up with my long strides. She grabs my arm. “You’re Marston Rowe?”
“Yeah. Now if you’ll excuse me . . .”
She tries to hold me tighter, but I shrug off her touch, not taking my eyes off Brinley. Fuck me. It’s really her. I keep my gaze locked on those blue eyes with every step closer, oblivious to everyone around me.
The sight of her after all these years is both a punch to the gut and a balm to old wounds. This is the bitter and the sweet. This is the freefall into memories of first love and regrets of things left unsaid.
When I step up to the bar beside her, her eyes are all over my face, my chest, and down to my waist before slowly roaming back up. It’s as if she needs to catalog every inch of me to convince herself I’m real—or maybe that’s what I want to believe, and she’s really sitting there wishing me away. “Marston?”