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This Man Confessed

By:Jodi Ellen Malpas

Chapter One

My nerves are shot to bits. I don’t know why. I know I’m doing the right thing, but damn I’m a stupid mass of nerves. I’m alone, my first few reflective moments of the day and probably the last. I need this moment, just me to myself, absorbing the massive leap that I’m taking. I know these moments will likely be precious from this day forward.

It’s my wedding day.

It’s the day I promise myself to this man for the rest of my life—not that I need a piece of paper or a metal band on my finger to do that. But he does. That’s why only two weeks after he fell to his knee on the terrace of Lusso, I’m marrying this man. And why I’m now sitting in my robe on a chaise longue in one of the private suites of The Manor—the suite where Jesse cornered me all those weeks ago—trying to gather myself.

I’m getting married at The Manor.

The biggest day of my life is taking place at the plush sex haven of my Lord. My nerves aren’t only a result of my being the bride. My parents, brother, and family members are all roaming around the grounds of Jesse’s supposed country retreat, poking around, taking it all in. The Manor has been closed to members for two days so preparations could be made, and that alone has cost Jesse a small fortune in reimbursed membership fees. I might be just as unpopular with the male members as I am with the female members now. They must all hate me—the women for snatching their Lord from under their noses, and now the men for putting a halt on their preferred sexual adventures. Jesse has ensured all wooden, crosslike wall hangings and suspended, gold grid frames have been removed from the private suites, and he’s had the doors to the communal room locked. I don’t feel any better about it, though.

I look up to the ceiling and roll my shoulders in an attempt to dispel some of the growing tension. It’s not working. Pulling myself up, I walk over to the mirror and gaze at my reflection. Despite my unease, I look fresh, I’m glowing, and my makeup is light and natural. My dark hair has been glossed to within an inch of its life, the long, heavy waves flouncing freely and loosely pinned on one side with an intricately jeweled hair comb. Jesse loves my hair down. He also loves me in lace.

I turn toward the door where my dress is hanging and drink in the vast expanse of lace—lots of lace, with explosions of tiny pearls sewn here and there. Zoe of Harrods came up trumps with this dress. The ivory lace sweeps over my bum, hugs my thighs, and puddles on the floor a meter in every direction. I smile. He’ll stop breathing. This simple gown, with delicate shoulder straps, plunging back, and nipped-in waist will have my Lord on his knees.

I scoop my phone up from the nightstand. It’s midday. In just an hour, I’ll be meeting Jesse in the summer room and taking my vows. My stomach does a swift three-sixty-degree turn…again.

Slipping off my robe, I put my knickers on before taking my ivory lace, strapless corset and stepping in, pulling it up over my stomach and arranging my cleavage in the cups. Only just, but it does conceal the perfectly round bruise on my breast. My mark.

There’s a quiet knock at the door. My quiet, reflective time is up. “Yes?” I call, slipping back into my robe.

“Ava, darling, are you decent?” It’s Mum.

I open the door. “I’m decent, and I need your help.”

She pushes her way in, shutting the door behind her. She looks stunning, adorned in a lovely oyster-colored, satin shift dress, her short, sweeping hairstyle arranged with a feather and pearl hairpiece. “Sorry, darling. I was showing Aunty Angela the spa facilities. I think she’ll be asking Jesse about joining up. She was most impressed. Do you need membership for the spa and gym, or is it just for guests?”

I cringe. “Just for guests, Mum.”

“Oh, well, I’m sure he’ll make an exception for family. Your grandparents would’ve thought they were in Buckingham Palace, God rest their souls.” She faffs with my hair, and I bat her fussing hands away. “Have you wiggled your way into your underwear yet?” She runs her chocolate eyes up and down my robe-covered body. “It’s nearly time.”

I slip my robe off again and drape it on the bed. “Yes, I need you to fasten it.” I turn my back to her and pull my hair over my shoulder. Two weeks of Jesse’s hands working cream into my back has cleared all evidence of my thrashing. The physical marks are gone, but the mental images will be etched on my brain forever.

She commences securing all of the hooks and eyes. “You’re so lucky to have such a wonderful place to get married.”

I’m glad she can’t see my face because she would see a painfully uncomfortable expression. “I know.” I’ve seen the summer room and it does look beautiful—Tessa, our wedding planner, made sure of it. Jesse presented me with Tessa the day after I agreed to marry him, a small indication that my challenging man had already sourced her to take on the role of organizing our wedding—the wedding we were supposed to discuss together like adults. And, quite conveniently, The Manor also holds a wedding license. All I’ve done for my wedding is visit Zoe to find my dress. I’ve had no planning stress, just location stress.