Inked Ever After

Inked Ever After by Elle Aycart

Book: Inked Ever After by Elle Aycart Read Free Book Online
Authors: Elle Aycart
tough, but he’d had no idea how tough. Tate had crumbled on him,
literally. It had broken his heart. Then of course she’d started babbling about
putting up a front so that he wouldn’t regret marrying her, and he’d all but
lost it. It was unbelievable that she’d think she wasn’t good enough for him
when she was the best thing that had ever happened to him. There was nothing
more precious to him than her. Nothing.
    While Tate finished with the invoices, James got a call from
    “What’s up?” she asked when he turned the phone off.
    Work, work, and more work. “Remember that big client I’ve
been in contact with for the past month? Well, he wants someone to go to El
Paso to see his installations and give him an estimate already at the beginning
of next week.”
    “Congratulations, babe,” she said.
    They were getting ready to leave, when a petite woman
entered Rosita’s.
    Tate stopped dead in her tracks.
    The woman smiled shyly. “Hi, Tate.”
    “Oh my God, Em! It’s you,” she said as she broke into a run
and hugged her. “What are you doing here? I thought you were in Seattle. It’s
so good to see you.”
    She didn’t get a word in before Tate turned to him. “This is
Emma. She’s—”At that her voice broke a little, but she plunged forward. “Was.
Emma was Jonah’s girlfriend.”
    James strode toward her. Jonah’s girlfriend? Tate had never spoken
of her. “Nice to meet you, Emma. I’m—”
    “The groom, James Bowen. I know,” she replied, shaking his
hand. “I got the wedding invitation.”
    James moved closer to Tate. She seemed a bit shaky. “So
you’re staying for it?” she asked. “It’s still several weeks away. I would love
for you to be there.”
    Em hesitated. “I don’t know. I came to see my folks. I’ll
try to stay until then. I guess after all I was right, and you were going to
get married before me, uh?”
    Pain flashed across Tate’s face. She didn’t answer but
instead asked. “How have you been?”
    Em shrugged. “Better.” Tate’s gaze drifted to the ground. Em
seemed to take pity on her, for she forced a smile on her lips and looked
around. “I see Rosita’s is like always.”
    “You could come by a bit later. Have dinner with us. We were
supposed to go to Cape John, but I’m sure we could leave later, right, James?”
    He nodded. “Sure.”
    “See?” Tate said to the girl, her tone pleading. “Stay for
dinner. Elle would love to see you.”
    Now it was Em’s turn to look at the floor. Then those sad,
sad eyes locked with Tate’s. It was clearly taking a lot for her to be there.
“Thank you, Tate, but I don’t know. Maybe another day?”
    Tate tried to hide her disappointment and nodded. Hugged her
too. “Whenever you want. Just give me a call.”
    “I have to go now.”
    “Guys, cake sampling. Ticktock,” Paige yelled from the
    Tate turned to Em, somehow apologetic. “We have to decide on
the wedding cake today.”
    The girl smiled the most sorrowful smile James had ever seen
and hurried to the front door.
    As she was opening it, Tate called out to her. “Em?”
    Tate ran to her. “So good to see you. Don’t be a stranger.”
Whatever she answered and whatever Tate said after that, James didn’t hear it,
but both were misty-eyed when they parted.
    Tate was very quiet on their way to the bakery. Having to
choose a cake for the wedding didn’t seem to improve her disposition. At all.
As a matter of fact, she was very unenthusiastic and they left the place
without deciding on one.
    In the truck on their way to Cape John, she sat in silence.
Hands clasped together. Eyes shiny. Retreating into herself.
    Fuck. Shit.
    The silence was so heavy it was difficult to breathe. He was
almost scared to ask, afraid she would shut him out once again. He wasn’t sure
he could take it. Not after yesterday.
    He braced himself, gripping the steering wheel so hard his
knuckles were fucking white. Etching a dent on it probably.

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