You are viewing this site in an old browser or Internet Explorer compatiblity mode.
You can continue to use our site but it may not work properly or display correctly.
add to basket
Successfully added to your bag
SUBMIT

The Earl’s Villa Rosa Bride

Written by Jessica Gilmore

Chapter Two

Elisaveta tilted her chin and met Theo’s astounded gaze with as much insouciance as she could manage. She wasn’t a fool. That’s why he employed her – well, that and because she was fluent in four languages – and over the last few months she had got to know her boss pretty well. He barely mentioned Madeleine Fitzroy, nor did the blushing bride-to-be ever visit Theo at work. There were no photographs of her in his office and he worked insane hours, barely visiting Flintock Hall, where his fiancée practically lived now – and when he did it was for work purposes.

Plus, he could barely say the word ‘wedding’. She didn’t need to be able to count in four languages to put two and two together.

Elisaveta couldn’t imagine getting married to someone she wasn’t madly in love with. Her mother had left her home and her family, following Elisaveta’s father to England after only one week. That was love. They had been blissfully happy and she was sure that if her father hadn’t died they would have stayed that way. That’s what she wanted. The kind of love that made you take a crazy chance and follow someone halfway across the world. But unlike Theo she didn’t have responsibilities, an ancient title and a money pit of a house to take care of. She couldn’t judge him.

But she could make the run-up to the wedding less of an ordeal. ‘Come on, Theo,’ she cajoled. ‘I’ll get some of your friends to meet up with you tonight. What do you want? Karaoke? An upmarket gentleman’s club? Shots and dares? Matching t-shirts and a hilariously themed pub crawl?’

‘That all sounds enticing but I’ll pass.’ The words were curt, but his mouth tilted into the rare smile she loved to coax from him. She never allowed herself to question why she liked to provoke that smile, or why her favourite times were when everyone else had packed up for the night and she and Theo were left alone, often ordering takeout as the evening ticked away, the work talk mellowing into something lighter. Something more dangerous. Just as she never allowed herself to dwell on how she knew every line of his face, how his shoulders filled out his clothes, the curve of his wrist. He was her boss, he was engaged and he was way, way out of her league.

‘I could just book you a nice dinner somewhere and you go and have a good time with people you’ve known forever. No strippers, no being tied naked to lampposts, no drinking games. Just a catch-up.’

‘No, thanks. I really would rather not.’ His face was bleak and her heart ached. ‘I don’t feel like company. Not tonight.’

The message was clear—she should just walk away. But the loneliness in his eyes froze her in place and even though she was playing a dangerous game, a game she could only lose, Elisaveta stayed rooted to the spot. ‘In that case,’ she said with a smile that was as devoid of pity as she could manage, ‘it’ll have to be a very small and select stag night. Get your coat, Willoughby. I’m taking you out.’

Like this? Why not share it

About the author



Read more
Jessica Gilmore

Discover more free stories

View all

Santa's Plus-One Surprise

Written by Melissa Senate

When her cousin falls in love at first sight with Felicity Walsh’s boyfriend, she can hardly believe it. And when a wedding invite arrives six weeks later, she knows she can’t show up without a plus-one. Lucky for her, Drake Russo needs a stand-in girlfriend—to convince his ex’s parents that he’ll be a good father to his newly discovered baby son. But when their arrangement goes from a few hours to a few days, will Felicity be left out in the cold this Christmas?

Trick and Treat

Written by Cara Lockwood

Lizzie—in her Madonna costume—is on her way to the mother of all ’80s Halloween parties when the most gorgeous man she’s ever seen—dressed as Maverick from Top Gun—tries to steal her ride-share car. Suddenly she’s letting herself do things in the back of that car that she’d never do in her usual buttoned-up librarian life. But will this chance hookup turn into something more? Or will fate keep their paths from crossing again?

aaaaa
statushh