Fleur de Lis Brides, Book 3
Reformed party-girl Camilla Lind accepts Jared Richardson’s ring, but she won’t be pressured into setting a wedding date at Fleur de Lis. When Steven Sterling, the bane of her old life, shows up to convince her of his undying love, he’s not beneath blackmail to get her back. Camilla fears Jared will believe Steven’s lies because of her shameful past.
Jared has no time to return to Wyoming. Historical restoration contractors are in demand after the hurricane, and work takes him away from Camilla for longer stretches of time. He’s concerned—someone is sending her flowers. When Steven threatens Jared, he fights back. But he won’t marry Camilla if the only reason she sets a date is to avoid Steven.
Together they learn their love is as steadfast as the Wyoming sky is blue, and Mardi Gras is the perfect time for a wedding.
Page Count: 100
Word Count: 23525
“Steven Sterling threatened Camilla. She was assaulted in this house.” Jared pointed. “I was attacked in the garçonnière. All of this tonight. Someone, not Steven—he’s too crafty for that—has invited her to meet Steven at midnight. I think we should consider this a hunting party.” Jared made eye contact with all her male relatives. “She’ll go. But not alone. We’ll all be there to protect her.”
“And the police!” Charles Lind inserted.
“Sir, respectfully, I think we can handle this—as a family matter,” Jared replied. “No need to spook our prey with red flashing lights.”
She tugged on his sleeve. “Darlin’, this isn’t Wyoming.”
“That’s right,” Linc chimed in. “We’re civilized here. A man can’t just walk into our home and hurt one of us. I’m in, Jared.”
“Not without the wrath of all of us to deal with!” Carson proclaimed. “I’m in.”
“Jared,” Charles interrupted. “I appreciate how much you want to protect my daughter, but I think if we talk with Steven, we can clear up this misunderstanding.”
“Time for talking is over.” Jared raised his fist. “He’s out of control. He set me up this evening posing as a potential client. Made it so I couldn’t meet Haley at the airport to bring her here. I had to hire a driver.”
“He what?” Camilla asked.
“Let’s just say, he must have sent someone to do his dirty work tonight after the exchange he and I had earlier.”
“Go, Jared!” Haley cried.
Jared high-fived the girl.
Camilla frowned and shook her head. Sheepishly, Haley lowered her arm.
“Camilla, exactly what happened in the house?” her mother asked, stepping forward.
As Camilla sought words to explain, to be truthful, but not rile Jared more, a realization came to her. Steven counted on her being too intimidated to tell anyone, especially her family, what he’d done. He counted on her past sins to keep her in line, to maintain silence. “I needed some quiet from the party noise. I was pouting because Jared was late. Taking a moment, I went to the butler’s pantry—the only quiet spot. A man came in from behind, gagged me, bent me over the counter”—her mother gasped—“and pressed himself into me.”
Her mother rushed to her. “He didn’t?’ She brushed hair from Camilla’s face and tucked it behind her ear.
“He didn’t touch me beyond that.”
“A man knocked me to the floor, kicking me. I was threatened—ordered to leave Camilla,” Jared added, lifting up his shirt and revealing bruises forming on his side. “This craziness has to stop.”
“But—” Camilla argued.
“No buts.” Jared folded his arms on his chest.
“Steven said to me that I hadn’t set a date. I think that’s why he’s kept on pressing. He didn’t believe I was serious, truly serious about Jared. I’ve made my intentions public. I think he’ll shrink away now.”
“You set a date—to marry me—to convince an idiot to leave you alone?” Jared faced her. A storm roiled in his eyes. She’d never witnessed anger like this from him before. “So, I’m what…your excuse?”
“No. It’s not like that,” Camilla wailed.
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