The Villain

Page 44

But seven days in, and my traitorous body made no sign of settling down.

The memory of her writhing beneath me burned hotter at night.

Statistically speaking, limiting our encounters to once a week would still ensure a pregnancy within the next few months.

To be on the safe side, I’d created a chart with her potential ovulating dates and decided to alternate the days in which I saw her each week in order to cover all the bases. But I knew next time we met, I would have to do a better job at reeling in the monster inside me.

No part of me had meant to lose control the first time we had sex, but when I saw her naked tits bouncing to the rhythm of my thrusts and her pink, O-shaped mouth hanging open in desire, I’d lost the self-possession I’d clung to like a desperate Belieber meeting her tattooed, acne-ridden hero and came apart.

I blamed her for the mishap. She was the one who insisted I stop visiting my side pieces and deprived me of a chance to rid myself of my animalistic nature.

Luckily (and I used that term very loosely), I had no time to think about my bride. I had a shitstorm to prepare for in the form of Andrew Arrowsmith.

Upon filing the lawsuit, Arrowsmith had sent me a formal letter through his lawyers, accusing me more or less of single-handedly ruining planet Earth. He had made sure the letter would leak to the press, and all the positive news I’d garnered since marrying Persephone, aka Little Angel Baby Jesus, went down the drain.

Andrew didn’t stop at that. Blind items about a powerful, Boston-based CEO visiting European prostitutes began to pop up like mushrooms after the rain in the tabloids, and I had no doubt he was the one who fed the journalists these pieces.

He had me followed.

Did his homework. Uncovered my secrets. All of them.

Which was why I’d decided to gather Devon, Sam, and Hunter on my ranch for a weekend of brainstorming, horse riding, and planning the demise of my archnemesis.

Bonus points: going to the ranch would put some mileage between Persephone and me.

We were in my car, heading out of Boston, when Devon said aloud what Sam and I were thinking.

“I’m surprised Hunter agreed to spend an entire weekend away from his missus.” He was in the passenger seat next to me while Hunter and Sam sat in the back.

“What can I say? I’m full of surprises.” Hunter slouched back, grinning.

“And shit,” Sam spat out.

“And yourself.” Devon smirked cockily.

Frost covered the narrow, winding road, the same shade as my wife’s eyes.

“Dev, can you check Kill’s temperature?” Hunter nudged the back of his seat. “He just missed a chance to slag me off, as your people call it. It’s unlike him.”

“Very few things would make me touch your twat of a brother, and you are definitely not on the list,” Devon quipped.

Once we parked outside the ranch, my stable boys shot out of the barn like bullets to help us with our suitcases.

Ignoring their toddler-like blabbing, I removed my leather gloves as I made my way into the main cabin. I stopped dead in my tracks when I noticed Sailor’s Porsche Cayenne parked in front of the door. I shot my brother a dirty look.

He raised his palms in surrender.

“In my defense, you shouldn’t have trusted me. I can’t stay celibate for an afternoon, let alone an entire weekend. Everyone knows that.”

Sam flicked the back of Hunter’s head as he marched in my direction with his duffel bag slung over his shoulder.

I didn’t have to ask Hunter if he extended his invitation to his wife’s friends and our sister. These women were attached by the hip.

I was glad I didn’t care what Persephone thought about my performance in the sack because she was sure to share her final score with her BFFs.

Disinterested in coming face-to-face with my wife, I disposed my bag with Hunter and headed straight for the stables.

Checking on my horses, I fed and brushed their coats, then took them out, one by one, and cleaned their hooves. I sat on a barrel, my back facing the cabin, and got right down to it, still in my pea coat and eighteen karat F cuff links.

The air turned chilly by the time I heard the soft sound of hay crunching under boots.

Seconds later, she stood in front of me, next to the horse I was tending to, wearing a yellow dress that complemented her blond hair.

She looked like a swan with her long, delicate neck, and her head tilted down in elegant resignation.

My gaze hardened on the horse’s hoof.

“What’s his name?” She put a gentle hand on its back. The sweetness of her skin drifted into my nostrils, even under the overwhelming stench of the stables.

“Washington.” I raised the hoof pick, pointing it at the stalls behind him. “The rest of these rascals are Hamilton, Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and Jay.”

“The Founding Fathers.” She sashayed to the barn, leaning against its wall with her hands tucked behind her back, watching me.

“Congratulations, you just passed a third-grade history exam.” I patted Washington’s thigh, signaling him to raise his other leg.

“Fifth,” she corrected with a grin. She was always happy to spar with me.

“I studied abroad,” I muttered. All my American history studies were given to me by tutors.

“I know,” she said softly. “Unlike our children, who will be staying right next to us until they are old enough to make up their minds about where they want to study.”

Uh-huh. You keep telling yourself that, sweetheart.

“Over your dead body, huh?” I groaned, digging deeper into the hoof with the pick.

“No,” she said calmly. “Over yours.”

My gaze shot up to hers, before returning to my work.

“That’s a lot of horses for one man,” my wife commented. “They’re beautiful, but some of them seem quite old. Gray-faced. Do you ride all of them?”

“Yes. They’re all in pristine condition.”

I dropped the pick, then grabbed the brush and moved it over Washington’s hoof.

“My father gifted me a horse for every year I finished top of my class, starting in middle school.”

She strode over to me.

“Isn’t being perfect all the time tiring?” Her hand was on my shoulder now. My muscles flexed. I focused on my task.

“What kind of question is that?”

“One I’d like an answer to.”

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