ASHER

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Chapter 16

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

Fury ran through me unlike anything I’d ever felt. I felt like I was 17 all over again, but I’m not 17 years old anymore! I’m a grown ass adult! And there was no way I was going to letAsher Creed treat me like this again!

No. He was going to get the tongue lashing he always deserved.

When I had the courage to move my feet and bombard on him, Harper yelled at me.

“What the hell are you doing?! Why aren’t you dressed?”

I spun to find her glaring at me with her hands on her hips. She was wearing everything but her wedding gown and my heart dropped. Was it that time already?

“What time is it?” I asked confused. I didn’t think I was in my room for that long, but it also wouldn’t surprise me. When I got into my work, I tended to lose track of time.

“It’s time for your pretty little ass to get dressed and meet us downstairs!” She sounded frantic and I wanted to calm her down but no amount of calming words were going to break Harper from her rampage. “The hairdresser just got here so hurry up!!” Then she was gone.

I stared back at Asher’s door and knew I would have to wait to get answers and ran back into my room and into the bathroom where Mark was finishing up and grabbed my dress.

“Why didn’t you tell me it was time to get ready?” Now I was the one rushing around.

Mark shrugged with a grin. “Oh, by the way, it’s time to get ready for the wedding.”

I groaned and gave him a dirty look before I ran into the bedroom and got my gown on. Asshole.

After getting my gown on, I left Mark to finish up alone and went downstairs and found the rest of the wedding party, minus the bride of course. She was strict with the traditions and didn’t want Tate to see her before she walked down the aisle.

I stood near Harper’s cousin as I looked around and my eyes landed on Asher and my jaw nearly hit the ground. I had never seen him in a tux before and right now I could stare at him for hours. Then I’d want to tear it off of him and have my way with him.

No! I scolded myself. I am mad at Asher. I can’t let myself fall for his charms again. Not until I’ve said my piece. I wasn’t 17 years old anymore and he needed to know that.

I noticed he was staring at me too, biting his bottom lip, and even though it affected me far more than I wanted it to, it was really hot. Yeah, go ahead and bite that lip, but you still can’t have this.

I flipped my hair, exposing my shoulder, as I looked up at him through hooded eyes. I wanted to tease him and it was clearly working because he was staring at me with dark, seductive eyes.

And then he was moving.

And he was coming toward me.

Mayday! Mayday!

I spun on my heels and took off toward the bar where I thankfully found Mark. I know I said I wanted to give him a tongue lashing, but it was going to have to wait until after Harper’s wedding. I didn’t want to ruin her special day by making a scene and yelling at her brother. So my plan was to avoid him at all costs tonight.

Yeah, right. I was totally screwed.

I downed the shot Mark slid in front of me and prayed I could get through the next few hours without coming face to face with Asher Creed.

**

As I stood beside Harper at the alter, I couldn’t help but notice Asher was staring at me. I finally looked at him, and he was indeed glaring right at me. A small smile tugged at the corner of his mouth, but he tried to hide it, and then he winked at me!

I rolled my eyes and focused my attention back on Harper and Tate. It was a beautiful day and they were finally saying their “I do’s.”

The reception was being held at the main lodge just down the hill since it had a large conference room and it was beautiful and perfect for the gathering. We could get as drunk as we wanted because the staff was ready to take the wedding party back up to the luxury cabin just up the hill on golf carts. Yes, I said golf carts. Let’s just hope I don’t make a fool of myself because I was planning on getting wasted tonight.

We were all headed down to the lodge when I heard my name being called just behind me. When I looked over my shoulder, I saw Asher grinning at me and trying to get my attention.

But I shook my head slightly, hooked my arm in Mark’s, and kept walking. I was thankful that Asher didn’t try to get my attention again after that.

Once all the guests were seated in the ballroom, we were able to make our entrance. Which I had totally forgotten about. I would be walking arm in arm with Asher until we reached the table. Shit! How could I forget this giant detail?

“You look amazing.” Asher’s raspy voice slid over my skin like cool silk and I had to ignore what it was doing to me as I kept my eyes straight.

“Thanks,” I replied coolly as I slipped my arm into his. The contact was almost too much for me to bear, and right when I was about to rip my arm away from him, the music started blaring and that was our cue to enter the ballroom.

The doors opened and I put on a fake smile as Asher pulled me forward and the guests all started cheering.

“Loosen up, Stanford.”

That statement had my already boiling blood nearly exploding, but I kept my mouth shut and tried to pull my arm from his, but he grabbed my arm and held me there. When the guest’s eyes were on the next couple to come out, Asher pulled me right into his chest and face to face with him.

“What’s wrong? You seem tense...” He was studying my face but I held my fake smile and pushed off of him.

“It’s a tense evening. I don’t like being in front of all these people.” Which wasn’t a lie. I hated when all eyes were on me, even if it were just for a split second.

I moved away from him and found my spot at the table. I couldn’t help but notice that Asher looked troubled as he took his own spot, looking at me with confusion. He turned his gaze toward Harper and Tate as they made their grand entrance and I turned my attention to them as well.

We made it through dinner and now it was time to party, and damn did I need this.

Before Asher could come near me, I jumped up from my spot at the table and stormed toward the bar where I ordered two shots and sucked them down like water.

“More, please.” I stared at the hired bartender who was grinning at me. He was cute too.

He poured me two more shots when he looked just over my shoulder. “For you sir?”

I didn’t have to look to know that it was Asher standing there. The scent of sandalwood engulfed me, but I did my best to ignore him as I knocked back the two new shots in front of me and kept my eyes forward.

“Just a beer, thanks.”

He didn’t say anything, or even step up to the bar next to me. He just stood right behind me not saying a single word.

“There you are.”

I sighed out my relief when I heard Mark’s voice. I turned and saw Mark standing right next to Asher, but when I looked at Asher, he didn’t look happy.

“I was just getting something to drink.” I pulled my eyes from Asher’s and looked at Mark.

“I came to see if you wanted to dance.” Mark grinned at me and I nodded. I pushed away from the bar and felt Asher’s eyes boring holes into the side of my head as I walked right past him.

“Thank you for saving me,” I finally said to Mark as he wrapped his arms around me and we began to dance.

“What was that tension all about anyways? I thought you two were finally getting along. I was really hoping for our room tonight and figured you and Romeo over there would shack up.”

I snorted. “Not likely.”

“What happened?”

“Remember when you told me to go find him earlier today?” He nodded and I continued, “Well, when I left our room, I saw Abby leaving his room wearing only a towel and giggling.” The anger was rising back up and I was seconds away from saying fuck it and getting my answers.

Mark looked taken a back. “I honestly don’t know how to answer that, but I think you should ask him about it. Maybe it isn’t what you think.”

Again, I snorted. “Seriously? A girl left his room naked and it might not be what I think?”

He stared down at me before finally answering, “All right, you’re right. But I think you should still talk to him. He is a guy after all. Maybe he was sick of waiting for you to put out and got some from someplace else. It isn’t unheard of.”

I groaned. “Don’t say it like it’s a normal thing to do...”

He laughed. “Sorry, babe, but you can’t leave a guy on the hook for too long before he nibbles on something more willing.”

Damn. I hated it when he was right.

“Mind if I cut in?”

I whipped my head up and found Asher standing next to us.

“Yes, I mind.” I let the liquor speak for me but I regretted it as soon as it came out because he looked truly wounded.

He went to walk away as I groaned.

“Wait...”

Asher stopped and turned to look at me, studying my next move.

“You can cut in.”

“Don’t sound so excited,” Asher replied, still looking like a wounded puppy.

Mark let out a small nervous laugh as he stepped away from me to let Asher take his place.

Sandalwood invaded my senses as I wrapped my arm around his neck and took his hand with my other one.

We didn’t say anything for several seconds, but then he finally asked me a question.

“Did I do something to upset you?” His voice was so soft that I hardly heard him.

I didn’t answer him at first. I just stared into his eyes, willing him to know the answer to his question, but he clearly didn’t.

“Yeah, actually you did,” I finally replied curtly.

He looked shocked. “What did I do?”

I cocked an eyebrow at him. “Like you don’t know. Please...”

“Seriously, Layla... I have no idea what I did to upset you. But I’d like you to tell me what I did so I might be able to fix it.”

I couldn’t help but notice how his voice sounded so desperate, pleading, and needy, as if he was panicked that I wouldn’t let him.

I knew I said I wouldn’t bring it up until after the wedding, but it was now or never. I had liquid courage running through my veins and I was going to seize the moment.

“Why was Abby in your room this afternoon?” I had no emotion in my voice as I glared at him. His light grey eyes filled with emotion.

“What are you talking about, Layla?” He was doing a good job at portraying that he really didn’t know what I was talking about. Either he didn’t, or he stepped up his game in the last seven years.

“Don’t treat me like an idiot, Asher. I wasn’t born yesterday.” I tried to push away from him but he held me tighter to his chest.

“Don’t walk away from me. I don’t think you’re an idiot. I honestly don’t know what the hell you’re talking about!” He looked hurt, angry, and confused.

“This afternoon,” I breathed out, looking around the room before adding, “I was coming to your room but when I stepped out into the hallway, Abby came out wearing only a towel and giggled like an idiot...” I looked away but Asher grabbed my chin and forced me to look at him.

“And you think I was with Abby.” It wasn’t a question, but a statement, and I slowly nodded. “You really do still think I’m an asshole, don’t you?”

I let out a snorting laugh as I tried to look away, but he only held my chin tighter. “Well, you are, aren’t you?”

He stared down into my eyes and he looked wounded. I knew then that Asher Creed did in fact grow some feelings while he was away.

“I wasn’t in my room this afternoon, Stanford.” Now he was looking cocky and it pissed me off. “Why were you coming to my room anyways?”

Oh, no he doesn’t!

“Are you trying to change the subject? That worked when we were kids, but we’re not 17 anymore, Asher,” I scolded him.

He lightly laughed. “Not at all.” Then his lips turned up into his delicious, seductive grin. “What do I have to do to get you to believe that I’m not the same guy anymore?”

That was a good question. A question I didn’t have an answer to. I had no idea how he could prove to me that he was a different guy when all I could think about was who he used to be. Maybe it was my own issue that I had to work out before I could really see who Asher has become.

“Who was in your room this afternoon then?” I turned the subject back. There was someone showering in there with her and if it wasn’t him, then who was it?

Asher cocked an eyebrow at me. “What do you mean?”

I groaned and tried to push off of him again but he held me tightly, his hand digging into my hip. “Don’t play mind games with me. There was someone showering in your room when I saw Abby coming out.”

Recognition flashed over his face. “Oh, that was... what’s his name?... Jeff? Craig? I don’t know his name. He’s Tate’s buddy from work. His date was using their shower so I told him to use mine.”

He said it so matter-of-fact that it was hard not to believe him but I squinted my eyes at him anyway. “Why don’t I believe you?”

And he gave me a half grin. “Because you still think I’m an asshole.”

He got a small laugh out of me as I shook my head. “I need a drink.” And this time when I went to walk away he let me.

I made it back over to the bar and the bartender held up my poison as I nodded to him. By the time I stepped up to the bar, he had two shots waiting for me.

“You should take it easy on those.” Asher joined me, signaling for another beer.

“Why?” I shot them back and coughed when it burned down my throat. “Tonight is my night to get wasted and let go. I never get to do this.”

He stared at me, studying me, when he asked, “Are you going to tell me now why you were coming to my room earlier?”

“I- I,” I paused before adding, “I was coming to tell you it was time to get ready.”

He laughed. “Why don’t I believe you this time?”

I couldn’t hide the blush creeping over my cheeks when I turned to look at him. Damn, he is so good looking.

“Because I’m lying.” I giggled as I pushed away from the bar and sauntered away from him. I could hear his laugh from behind me but I kept walking away.

Then I felt the alcohol hit me and I really needed to use the bathroom so I made my way out of the ballroom and down the hall to relieve myself and to freshen up a bit.

After I left the bathroom, I started back toward the ballroom but someone grabbed my arm and pulled me into an adjacent hallway. I sucked in a breath from being startled but relaxed when I smelled sandalwood and looked up into Asher’s eyes.

“What are yo...”

I couldn’t get my question out before he slammed his lips onto mine.

And damn did he taste good.

Instinctively, I wrapped my arms around his neck as he grabbed my chin and pushed his tongue against my lips. I opened my mouth as he deepened the kiss. His free hand slid down my body as he grasped my ass and pulled me tight against his body. I couldn’t help but feel the ache between my legs as I moaned into the kiss.

Kissing Asher was unlike anything I had ever experienced in my life. He could make me feel so special, so loved, so magical, and all he had to use were his lips.

He broke the kiss and left me reeling as he rested his forehead against mine.

“Is this why you came looking for me this afternoon?”

My lips were swollen and already missing his as I stared up into his eyes. I was speechless. No words were even coming to my brain when I looked up into his mesmerizing eyes.

Then he pressed his lips to mine again and captured my bottom lip with his before he breathed out, “Stay with me tonight.”
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