Big Talking ManBy: Marquita Valentine
Growing up, Tate Prescott was just my older brother’s best friend, but over the years he became my first love... and my biggest secret.
Yes, you read that right.... The Tate Prescott—Hollywood superstar and now the most sought-after movie director in the industry—is mine. We’ve hidden our relationship from the world for so long that it’s become second nature. The last thing we wanted was a media frenzy to rain down on us.
But after my little brother drowned at sea and I became wrapped in the guilt of knowing his death was my fault, I shut down... and Tate left when I needed him the most. Four months have passed since then, and now he’s back, demanding I give him thirty days to make our relationship work.
All I want is to forget the mistake we made the weekend my brother died. But Tate’s not so easily deterred. After all, he’s not just some big-talking man from Hollywood—he’s my husband... and he wants a second chance to prove he can win back my heart.
I still want him. Still love him. But can I forgive him for abandoning me?
“We’re closed,” I call out as the door to my salon chimes, but no one answers. “Hello? I’m happy to help you another day, but we’re all out of stylists.”
Instead of a client trying to get in at the last second, my little brother appears in my doorway, one of his arms extended just beyond it. I know who’s on the other end, holding his hand, but I don’t say anything.
His bright blue eyes are earnest as he asks, “Would you do me a favor, Quinn?”
“Depends on the favor,” I tease. The thing is, I’ll do anything for Laird. I’m such a sucker for my baby brother, and he brings out the mostly dormant mothering instinct in me.
Smiling, he turns. “C’mon. It’s okay.”
“I don’t want to bother her,” I hear my brother’s girlfriend say. “It’s just hair.”
It’s never just hair. Hair is the outward manifestation of what’s going on our lives. “You’re seriously not bothering me, Ophelia.” I get out of the chair, then turn my straightener and curling iron back on. It shouldn’t take long for them to get smoking hot again.
Hand in hand, Laird and Ophelia walk into my semi-private booth. She’s biting on her bottom lip, her nearly black hair a hot mess of waves, curls, and frizz that definitely needs conditioning and maybe even a cut.
I’m not going to suggest a thing until I hear more about the favor. Heck, it could be for a ride to the movies for all I know.
“Would you help Ophelia with her—with whatever she wants?” Laird asks.
The boy is so good, so careful with how he phrases things around her. In any other circumstances, I’d tell him to shove it because my feet are achy and hot and there’s a bottle of wine with my name on it waiting at home for me. But this is my brother... and I’m sort of a sucker for people who don’t quite fit the mold of normal. I mean, I’m Exhibit A. “What are you thinking, Ophelialicious? Laird needs a complete makeover, or just a bit of guyliner?”
Ophelia grins as a soft snort leaves her mouth. “I need help with my hair. I tried to curl it, but... things didn’t go as planned.”
Laird’s mouth flattens. “Mrs. Randolph tripped the breakers, put a lock on the electrical box, then threw Ophelia out of the house. She walked to ours.”
My blood starts to boil. Ophelia’s mother is a piece of work, the kind that should be locked up in an attic and never displayed because of the ugliness inside and out.
Ophelia turns bright red, her gaze dropping to the floor. “Laird.”
He turns to her. “I’m not sorry for telling the truth. You put up with too much. It’s my job to protect you.”
A sweet yet intense look passes between them, conveying so much emotion that my heart aches. I shouldn’t be surprised. Laird has loved Ophelia for as long as I can remember, and would do anything for her.
As for her, she’s an eighteen-year-old girl with a lot of family drama, so she fits in perfectly with the Kings. Still, she’s vulnerable, and even someone as caring as my little brother can end up hurting her if he’s not careful.
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