Home > Making The Match (River Rain #4)

Making The Match (River Rain #4)
Author: Kristen Ashley

 

 

PROLOGUE

 

 

THE GOOD ONE

 

 

Corey

 

 

Decades ago…

 

He didn’t think he’d gain entry.

But when he knocked, the door opened, and one of the groomsmen looked at him, then glanced over his shoulder, he heard the familiar deep voice call, “Let him in.”

Corey entered and saw immediately that the groom had prepared for Corey’s visit.

As, of course, he would.

He was not stupid.

Corey knew he’d prepared because, with a nod and a look, but not a word, all the groomsmen filed out.

Corey did not see joyous-wedding-day expressions on their faces when each man caught his eye as he left the room.

That wasn’t about them having any apprehension about what was to happen that day or the woman their friend was about to tie the rest of his life to.

It was because they all detested Corey and perhaps knew why he was there.

Or they thought they did.

His face void of expression, Corey met every eye.

He was used to this, especially with the male gender. Men never knew what to do when another man was in their orbit who was smarter than them in a way they’d never equal him— and worse for them, richer just the same.

Especially ones with huge egos like these men had.

And on that thought, the door closed behind the last and Corey turned to Tom Pierce.

“I know,” Tom started. “If I hurt her—”

“I will have her.”

Tom’s mouth snapped shut and his eyes, annoyingly always filled with wit and intelligence, turned shrewd.

Another annoying thing about Tom Pierce?

Not only was he the most talented tennis player on the planet—a player who turned that wit and intelligence against opponents so that he not only prevailed through physical prowess, he outthought them.

(As an aside, this was, to Corey’s way of thinking, worse than someone humiliating you after serving an ace, then doing it again, and again, and then again, something Pierce did often—his serve was, as one of his rivals put it, like trying to return a bullet.)

He was also one of the most handsome men on the planet.

He was not built like a tennis player. He was built like a football player, his tall body packed with power. This being what made his serve so terrifying, not to mention his return.

Dark hair.

Dark eyes.

Classic looks, square jaw, strong chin, high cheekbones.

The first time Corey heard his name was overhearing office talk. Someone’s assistant was talking about “that tennis guy, Pierce,” who “looks like JFK, Jr., but more handsome.”

When Corey saw a photo of him, he noted she was not wrong.

When Genny phoned him and said, “Corey, I think I’ve met the man I’m going to marry,” and that man was Tom Pierce, Corey’s heart cracked in two.

Last, when Corey had met Tom, he knew what Genny knew.

She would never truly be his.

But Pierce would always be hers.

And he’d be happy with that.

As to the matter at hand…

“You would not be the first to break her, or the best,” Corey jibed.

Pierce, damn the man, didn’t give him anything. Not a sneer, a flinch, or even an eye twitch, his ability to hold his own against Corey was something else he didn’t like about the guy.

Corey carried on, “I put her together before, I’ll put her together again.”

At that, Pierce spoke.

“Let’s not pretend that’s what you’re angling for.”

“And what am I angling for?” Corey pushed.

It was a mistake.

His first for so long, he didn’t realize it, not then.

“You hope this will crash and burn, like she and Holloway crashed and burned, because you hope she’ll eventually give up on men she actually wants and settle for one she doesn’t want, but he wants her.”

Truly.

Corey hated this man.

“Are you saying you don’t want her?” he goaded, purposefully misinterpreting what Pierce said.

Pierce drew in a very long breath.

He let it out, speaking slowly.

“What I’ll make very clear right now is, what I want, what Genny wants, our marriage and the family we’ll create is none of your business, Szabo. I will hurt her, and I’ll hate it, but it’ll happen. She’ll hurt me, and she’ll hate it, but it’ll happen. None of that will be your business. We will fight. We will make up. We will wonder if we made the right choice. We’ll remember that we absolutely did. We will repeat all of this time and again until we’re both dead. And in between times, there will be love that never dies and commitment that will never break. And not one fucking bit of it will have one fucking thing to do with you.”

It was Corey who was quiet then. He needed to be. He had to take that time to fortify his defenses.

“Am I heard?” Pierce prompted.

“I’m important to her,” Corey replied.

“I know you are, that’s why I’ll put up with you,” Pierce retorted.

Corey grew silent again.

“Have I made myself clear, Szabo?” Pierce pressed.

“You will hurt her. Your kind always do.”

“I’m not him.”

“No,” Corey spat, his tone and the expression he allowed to come over his face underlined his words. “You are not.”

Pierce’s eyes slightly narrowed.

“You still love him,” he said quietly.

He was talking about Duncan.

Duncan Holloway.

The man who broke Genny’s heart.

“He’s my best friend.”

“He tore her apart.”

“And this is why my best friend is no longer in my life. I had to choose. I chose her. I will always choose her, Pierce. And I will always be at her side.”

“You may always be in her life, but you’ve never been at her side, Szabo. And you never will. It’s only now you won’t because I’ll be there.”

That was the blow that penetrated.

“Yeah,” Pierce whispered, not missing he’d drawn blood.

They stood there, staring at each other.

And then it happened.

Never.

Not once since he’d graduated college had he lost such a duel, professionally, cerebrally, creatively or romantically.

So it was no wonder he tasted ash as he broke Tom Pierce’s gaze, turned and walked out the door.

That ash nearly choked him forty-five minutes later when Imogen Swan, the woman Corey Szabo loved down to his bones, became the lawfully wedded wife of a man who would become one of the greatest tennis players of all time, known for his physical prowess on the court, but most especially, his intelligence.

Tom Pierce.

 

 

Tom

 

 

A few years later…

 

“It’s…I don’t know what it is.”

“It’s bullshit, that’s what it is. It’s the creation of a useless woman desperately trying to prove she has something more than long legs, a beautiful head of hair and a golden snatch.”

“Jesus, Andrew.”

“Am I wrong?”

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