For some reason, the wedding was being held at a resort deep in the Black Hills, forty minutes away from Rapid City.
Why did people have destination weddings? Well, he knew why. The late-summer sun was already lower in the sky, casting a shimmering glow over the hills. They weren’t black right now, not with the sun turning them golden shades of orange and red and pink at the edges.
It was pretty—not that he was looking as he took the next curve even faster. Roger must’ve found one hell of a woman if she wanted to tie herself to him with all this beauty around her.
Or maybe the jerk had changed. It was possible. After all, Seth himself had once been the kind of impulsive, restless kid who’d stolen a car and punched a grown man in the face because the man had dared to break Seth’s mother’s heart. Sure, that man—Billy Bolton—had married his mother and adopted Seth, despite the punch. But still, that was the sort of thing Seth used to be capable of.
Maybe he was still a little impulsive, he thought as he flew down the road well over the speed limit. And yeah, he was definitely still restless. The last year living in Los Angeles had proved that. But he’d gotten good at controlling his more destructive tendencies.
So people could change. Maybe Roger had become a fine, upstanding citizen.
The road bent around an outcropping, and Seth leaned into the curve, the Crazy Horse chopper rumbling between his legs. This was a brand-new model, in the final stages of testing, and he was putting it through its paces. The new engine had throwback styling combined with modern power and a wider wheelbase. The machine handled beautifully as he took another curve and leaned in hard. Seth felt a surge of pride—he’d helped design this one.
Damn, he’d missed these hills, the freedom to open up the throttle and ride it hard. LA traffic made actually riding a chopper a challenge. And palm trees had nothing on the Black Hills.
His father and his uncles, Ben and Bobby Bolton, owned and operated Crazy Horse Choppers, a custom chop shop in Rapid City, South Dakota. Crazy Horse had been founded by their father, Bruce Bolton, but the Bolton brothers had taken the company from a one-man shop in Bruce’s garage in the early eighties to a company with sixty employees and a quarter of a billion in sales every year.
Seth had never had a father growing up, never expected that he would be a part of any family business. But when Billy adopted Seth ten years ago, the Bolton men had embraced him with open arms.
And now? Seth was a full partner in Crazy Horse Choppers.
He still couldn’t get his head around the meeting yesterday. His dad and uncles had called him into the office and offered him an equal share in Crazy Horse. And Seth was no idiot. Of course he’d said yes.
At the age of twenty-five, he was suddenly a millionaire. A multimillionaire. Considering how he and his mom had sometimes been on welfare when he was a little kid, it was a hell of a shock.
But Seth knew it wasn’t straight nepotism—he worked hard at making Crazy Horse Choppers a successful business. He’d just gotten back from living in Los Angeles for a year, managing the Crazy Horse showroom and convincing every A-to D-list celebrity that a Crazy Horse chopper was good for their image. And he’d excelled at the job, too. Getting Rich McClaren to ride up the red carpet at the Oscars on a Crazy Horse chopper—right before he won the award? Seth’s idea. The free advertising from that had boosted sales by eight percent overnight.
The McClaren stunt was the kind of strategic thinking that Seth did now. He didn’t just react—and react poorly. He planned. The best defense was a good offense.
Even now—he wasn’t just going to a former friend’s wedding. A quick internet search had revealed that Roger was a real estate agent now, part owner in his own agency. He was up-and-coming in the civic world of Rapid City. And after a year in LA, Seth was back in Rapid City. Maybe even permanently.
Seth was not going to this wedding to wish Roger and his new bride happiness, although he would. Seth was going to the wedding because he planned to be an up-and-comer himself. God knew that he had the money now.
The Bolton men might have given him a place at the table, but Seth was going to damn well keep it.
He screamed around a curve but saw something that made him ease off the throttle. There was a limo at a scenic overlook—but something wasn’t right. Seth couldn’t brake fast enough to stop without crashing, but he slowed enough to get a better look.
Something was definitely wrong. The limo was parked at a crazy angle, its bumper hanging in the roadway. Was there someone behind the wheel? He didn’t see anyone enjoying the view.
He was late—but he couldn’t in good conscience ride on. Seth pulled a U-turn on the road and headed back to the overlook. Did his phone even have service out here? Because if this wasn’t some crazy wedding photographer stunt and the driver was having an emergency...
The limo was still running when Seth pulled up alongside it. His heart leaped in his throat when he realized that the front wheel on the passenger side wasn’t exactly on solid ground. The driver had stopped just before the wheel went off the edge of the overlook completely. Hitting the gas would mean certain death.
He hopped off the bike and hurried to the driver’s side. He hadn’t been wrong—there was someone behind the wheel. A woman. Wearing a wedding dress and a...tiara?
Definitely not the limo driver.
She wasn’t crying, but her eyes were wide as she stared at nothing in particular. Her color was terrible, a bluish shade of gray, and she had what appeared to be a death grip on the steering wheel. Basically, she looked like someone had shot her dog. Or ruined her wedding.
For all of that, she was quite possibly the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen.
How many brides were wandering around this part of South Dakota? Was this Roger’s bride? If so, what was she doing here? Where was Roger?
He knocked on the glass of the driver’s-side door. “Ma’am?” he said in what he hoped was a comforting voice. “Could you roll down the window?”
She didn’t move.
“Excuse me? Ma’am?” This time, he tried the handle. Miracle of miracles, the door was not locked. When he opened it, she startled and swung her head around to look at him. As she did so, the limo shuddered. “Where did you come from?”
“Hi,” Seth said in a soothing voice, hanging on to the door as if that could keep the car from plummeting off the side of the hill. “I’m going to turn this off, okay?”
Her eyes blinked at different speeds. “What?”
Seth leaned into the limo, keeping an eye on her in case she started to freak out. The limo was actually in Park, thank God. She must have taken her foot off the brake when he startled her. “I’m Seth,” he told her, pulling the key from the ignition. “What’s your name?”
Seth didn’t expect her to burst out laughing as if he had told a joke. Clearly, this was a woman whose actions could not be predicted. Then, as quickly as she’d started laughing, the sound died in the back of her throat and she made a strangled-sounding sob. “I’m not sure.”
Bad sign. He had to get her out of the limo. “Can you come talk to me? There’s a bench over there with a great view of the sunset.” He tried to make it sound like he was just here for the vista.
“You not going to tell me to get married, are you?”
Seth shook his head. “You’re here for reasons. All of those reasons—I bet they’re good ones.”
She blinked at him again, her brow furrowed. He could see that she was coming back to herself now. “Are you here for a reason, too?”
He gave her a reassuring smile. “Everything happens for a reason.”
This time, when she started laughing, he was ready for it. He chuckled along with her as if they were at a comedy club in downtown LA as opposed to on the edge of a scenic overlook in the Black Hills. He held out a hand to her and bowed at the waist. “Seth Bolton, at your disposal.”
For the longest second, she just stared at him, as if he were a Tyrannosaurus rex that had emerged from the undergrowth and was roaring at her. “I’m not imagining you, right? Because you’re kind of perfect and I made a mess of everything.”
“I’m very real—the last time I checked, anyway,” he joked, which got a small, quick smile out of her. He kept his hand out, the picture of a chivalrous gentleman. Take it, he thought. He would feel so much better if she were on solid ground next to him.
She placed her hand in his and it took everything he had not to close his fingers around hers and yank her out of the driver’s seat—and into his arms. Instead, he tightened his grip on her ever so slightly and waited as she swung her feet out and stood. Her layers of dress settled around her—silk and satin and chiffon and all of those fabrics that his aunt Stella made dresses out of for her fashion line.
He didn’t think this was one of Stella’s dresses. Stella designed classic gowns that looked deceptively simple. This gown?
There wasn’t anything simple about it. The bride looked a little bit like an overdone cupcake, with sparkles and sprinkles. The skirt was huge, with tiers and layers of ruffles and lace. How had she even fit behind the wheel in that monstrosity?
Her golden-brown hair was swept up into some elaborate confection that matched the dress, but at some point it had tilted off its bearings and now listed dangerously to the left. Pearls dripped off her ears and around her neck, but her ring finger was bare.
What did she look like when she wasn’t dressed up like a bride? All he could see of her was her face and her bare shoulders. And her cleavage, which was kind of amazing—not that he was looking. His body tightened with awareness even as he tried to focus on her eyes. It didn’t help, staring down into her face. Everything tugged him toward her with an instinctive pull that wasn’t something he’d planned on, much less could control.
His first instinct had been right—she was gorgeous, he realized as she lifted her gaze to his. A sweetheart face, wide-set eyes that were the deepest shade of green he’d ever seen. The kind of eyes a man could get lost in, if he weren’t careful.
Seth was careful. Always.
He knew exactly what happened when a man lost his head around a woman. So it was final—no losing himself in her eyes. Or any other of her body parts. She might be a goddess, but she was obviously having a very bad day and he wasn’t about to do a single damn thing that would make it worse.