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The Earl’s Villa Rosa Bride

Written by Jessica Gilmore

Theo Willoughby might be the Earl of Navenby but he’s not interested in being an Earl or running his family estate. Theo just wants to run his multi-million-pound business, but that means spending most of his time with his beautiful PA Elisaveta Marlowe. And that’s an issue, because he’s already engaged! His impending marriage may be one of convenience, but he’d never do anything to hurt his fiancée, yet the closer he gets to his wedding, the harder Elisaveta is to resist. . .

Copyright © 2017 by Jessica Gilmore

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Chapter One

'Elisaveta, I’m heading off now. If you can get the contracts typed up, I’ll sign them in the morning.’ Theo Willoughby pushed the pile of papers to one side with a sigh of relief. It was still early—there was plenty of time to grab his bike and head south out of the city; he needed the adrenaline rush that racing up a few good hills could give him. The circumstances really called for a mountain or two. Shame there weren’t any within an hour of London.

‘In the morning?’

Looking up at the slightly incredulous tone, Theo met his assistant’s dark-eyed gaze, his hands folding into fists as the old jolt of attraction sizzled through him. Damn, he’d thought he’d trained himself out of the unwanted response. After all, he was a thirty-year-old CEO, not a schoolboy with a crush. He scowled, aware his voice sounded harsh as he replied. ‘Yes, in the morning. Will that be a problem or do you need more time?’

‘No, Theo.’ Elisaveta gave him her best long-suffering glare. ‘I am quite capable, but you won’t be here in the morning. Wedding, remember?’

How could he forget? ‘Not till the day after tomorrow.’

‘But most of your relatives are descending on Flintock Hall tomorrow and there are rehearsals, dinners and other wedding-related things planned. You should be there, not here.’

Theo’s chest tightened, the walls closing in. It was too easy to forget his responsibilities, his impending marriage, here at his company, where he was just ‘Theo’ or occasionally ‘Mr Willoughby’ but never ‘My Lord’. ‘I need to work the morning at least. After all, I have to take a whole week off.’

Elisaveta rolled her eyes. ‘It’s called a honeymoon, Theo. It’s an ancient custom—it can’t have come as that big a surprise. And a week is nothing. Most people take way longer.’

Most people probably looked forward to their honeymoon. Madeleine, his fiancée, had picked the location – a tropical island so tranquil Theo wasn’t sure he’d manage a day trapped there let alone a week. But allowing Madeleine a free rein with the honeymoon was the least he could do. She’d accepted his proposal in good faith. It wasn’t her fault he had feet so cold they practically turned his shoes to ice. ‘There’s too much going on here—the first US shops open in the autumn. I can’t afford to be gallivanting around for weeks on end.’

‘Such a shame no one has invented a way to contact people when they’re on holiday and send them documents. Oh, wait, they have. Theo, you’re allowed a holiday. When did you last relax? You didn’t even have a stag weekend.’

‘I didn’t have time,’ he said curtly. It wasn’t true. Usually he could always make time for a weekend surfing or climbing with his friends, but he didn’t want anyone to realize how reluctant a groom he really was. It was unfair to Madeleine.

Elisaveta tapped her foot, a clear sign she was deep in thought. ‘You need to get in the groom vibe,’ she said finally. ‘Let me throw you a last-minute stag do. Tonight.’

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