His Brand of PassionBy: Kate Hewitt
HE WAS CHECKING his phone.
Zoe Parker twitched with irritation as she watched the groom’s best man thumb a few buttons on his smart phone. Discreetly, at least, but honestly. Her sister Millie and her husband-to-be Chase were saying their vows, and Aaron Bryant was texting.
He was unbelievable. He was also a complete jerk. A sexy jerk, unfortunately; tall, broad and exuding authority out of every pore. He also exuded a smug arrogance that made Zoe want to kick him in the shin. Or maybe a little higher. If she could have, she would have reached across the train of her sister’s elegant cream wedding dress and snatched the mobile out of his fingers. Long, lean fingers with nicely square-cut nails, but who was noticing? She certainly wasn’t.
She turned back to the minister, determinedly giving him her full attention. Maybe Aaron the Ass would pick up a few pointers. Honestly, the man was a gazillionaire and was a regularly attender at Manhattan’s most elite social functions— did he really need a brush-up course on basic etiquette? Based on his behaviour since he’d strode into the rehearsal forty-five minutes late last night, clearly impatient and bored before he’d so much as said hello, Zoe was thinking yes.
She glanced at Millie, who thankfully had not noticed the phone. She looked beautiful, radiant in a way Zoe had never seen before, her eyes shining, her cheeks flushed. Everything about her was happy.
Zoe smothered the very tiny pang of something almost like envy. She wasn’t looking for Mr Right. She’d gone for too many Mr Wrongs to think he existed, or to want to find him if he did. Although admittedly Millie’s almost-husband was pretty close. Chase Bryant was charming, genuinely nice and very attractive.
Just like his brother.
Instinctively Zoe slid her gaze back to Aaron. He was still on the phone. Forget charming or nice but, yes, he was most definitely attractive. A faint frown creased his forehead and his lips thinned. He had nice lips, even pursed as they were in obvious irritation. They were full, sculpted, yet completely masculine too. In fact, everything about this irritating man was incredibly masculine, from the breadth of his shoulders to the near-black of his eyes and hair to the long, lean curve of his back and thigh…
‘By the power vested in me, I now pronounce you husband and wife.’
Zoe yanked her gaze upwards from her rather leisurely perusal of Aaron Bryant’s butt in time to see Millie and Chase kiss—and Aaron slide his phone back into the side pocket of his suit blazer.
The congregation broke into spontaneous and joyous applause and Millie linked arms with Chase as she turned to leave the church. Aaron followed and, as maid of honour, Zoe had to accompany him up the aisle. She slid her arm through his, realising it was the first time she’d actually touched him since he’d breezed in too late to the rehearsal to practise going through the recessional together.
Now she was annoyingly conscious of the strength of his arm linked in hers, his powerful shoulder inches from her cheek—and her fingers inches from his pocket. With the phone.
Zoe didn’t think too much about what she was doing. On the pretext of adjusting her bridesmaid’s dress, she slid her arm more securely in Aaron’s and her fingers slipped into his pocket and curled round the phone.
Chase’s other brother Luke and his fiancée Aurelie fell in step behind them and they processed out onto the church steps and the summer sunshine of Fifth Avenue. Aaron pulled away from her without so much as a glance, and in one fluid movement Zoe took the phone from his pocket and hid it in the folds of her dress.
Not that it mattered. To all intents and purposes, according to Aaron she’d ceased to exist. He was gazing at his brother as if he were a puzzle he didn’t understand and absent-mindedly patting his pocket. His phoneless pocket.
Zoe took the opportunity to tuck the phone among the blossoms of her bouquet. A little judicious tugging of ribbon and lace, and you wouldn’t even know it was there.
Not that Zoe even knew what she was going to do with Aaron Bryant’s phone. She just wanted to see his face when he realised he didn’t have it.
Apparently that moment wasn’t going to be now, because someone approached him and he dropped his hand from his pocket and turned to talk to whatever schmoozy bigwig wanted to hear about Bryant Enterprises, blah, blah, blah. This was so not her crowd.