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Groom (Deceit Duet #2)
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Marry Clementine Bright or watch your carefully crafted kingdom crumble.
I’ll say my I do’s and pretend to be the doting husband, but this is one union that’s strictly a marriage of inconvenience. Clementine may be disarmingly beautiful, but she defies me at every turn. I’m the king of my castle. The ruler of my bedroom. And even though I want her, I’ll fight the urge to have her, until death do us part.
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I want to leave this art gallery with my dignity intact.
Have you ever had your strings pulled like you’re a marionette puppet? My grandfather is my very own built in marionettist. A master puppeteer, pulling at my strings with my upcoming nuptials, moving me along in a manipulated dance where I assume the position of the jolly idiot while I picture my grandfather laughing maniacally.
I have good days, and I have some bad. Today is one of those bad ones. The only good comes from the woman pretending to be in love with me while we charm the designer pants off all the elite socialites of this city.
Was she pretending in the limo on the ride over?
Was she playing the part of my doting fiancee when she moaned out my name?
Was I pretending?
That is one question I know the answer to.
I wanted her to come all over my hand. I wanted to keep kissing her all night long as I slid my cock deep inside her pussy.
But, neither of those things happened. And now, I’m lost in a fantasy where it did happen, and my cock hasn’t stopped being rock hard since.
I lost control, something I vow never to let happen again.
I stand in this art gallery, not entranced by the art hanging on the walls, which is where my attention should be. No, here I am more concerned about my bride-to-be talking to some cowboy about sex. Of all the people to talk to Clementine about sex, I never thought it would be some old fuck. My blood boils as I try to remain in control.
Control. That’s something I practice in everything I do. It isn’t enough to be in control, but to be controlling too. To have power over every outcome, good or bad.
Since my grandfather’s death, I’ve been more out of control than I’ve ever been before, and a lot of it has to do with Clementine. She’s been pushing me to lose my control, and she doesn’t even know she’s doing it.
And this cowboy, I don’t like the look of his bushy moustache. He sticks out like a sore thumb as he dominates Clementine’s attention with his cowboy hat in this sea of tuxedos. He has a criminal air about him, and a smarmy smile I want to punch off and bury six-feet under.
I won’t lie, I never wanted this marriage. I didn’t. But the minute that boot wearing, big-buckle fuck said he was talking about sex to my fiancee, something happened. It’s like a switch flipped. It’s like a fuse ignited and I was useless to stop it. I wanted to plot out all the ways I could watch the asshole die. And I pride myself on being creative.
When Clementine asked me to let it go, it went against everything ingrained in my DNA. Every bone in my body begged me to hurt him for disrespecting what was mine. It was hard to let something like that go. Yet, for some odd reason I did.
I dropped the inquisition for her.
It’s called trust.
I’ve never trusted anyone.
But for some reason, I trust her. For now anyway. And if this feeling is an indication of what trust is going to do to me, I’m smart for avoiding it as long as I have.
For the rest of the evening, I play the part of generous benefactor, shaking hands with the different artists, and introducing my fiancee around, keeping her close and enjoying having her near. It almost becomes like a dance, the two of us, standing too close, mingling. All while the flashes of the media cameras subtly blind us. And without seeing the pictures, I already know they’re stunning.
I work the room, like I was born to do, making sure to perform my duties as Clementine enhances my charm. I’m a Prince, and this is what I’ve always done as long as I can remember. Play the part. Be the philanthropist. Be the best. Be Gabriel Prince.
“You ready to go?” I ask Clementine, when the event winds down.
“Yes,” she answers, her eyes scanning the crowd like she’s looking for someone, and I bristle when I picture her searching for a man. A man that isn’t me.
She’s been switching her attention from the attendees to staring at a painting that looks like an angry burst of bright colors.
“You really like that painting?” I ask her.
She gives me a faint smile. “I do. It’s very moving.”
And now it’s hers. She just doesn’t know it yet.
I nod to Kurt, calling him over. “Buy this one,” I whisper into his ear, pointing at the painting Clementine’s had her eye on all night, “and tell Stefan to get the car pulled around.”
Clementine can call it a wedding gift. I’ll call it unable to resist making her happy.
I lead her out to the car and slide in after her. She scoots all the way to the edge of the seat, leaning against the window, staring out and putting way too much distance between us for my liking.