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The Earl’s Villa Rosa Bride

Written by Jessica Gilmore

Chapter Four

It was only a kiss. A fleeting moment. A few seconds out of all the hundreds of thousands of seconds they had spent in each other’s company. And if Theo wasn’t going to mention it then nor was she. In fact Elisaveta was going to forget all about the moment she had turned, brandishing a CD triumphantly to find Theo right behind her, forget about how his eyes darkened, forget how her stomach had dropped, how a tingle had run through her as lightly and as potently as a piano scale. Forget how she’d leaned in, all sensible thoughts forgotten. The way he had oh so gently cupped her face. That feeling of coming home and, oh! The absolute rightness of it…

Her eyes snapped open. It wasn’t right. It was wrong on every single level.

Theo had insisted on seeing her home after the karaoke even though he lived in completely the wrong direction, and over a so-late-it-was-practically-morning coffee she had suggested he stay over rather than trek back across the city. That was all last night had been. Nice and innocent. The kiss barely counted. In fact, it counted so little that they’d been able to share a bed in complete chaste innocence.

Although it had taken her an agonizing hour to fall asleep. An hour aware of his every movement, his every breath. If only they had been able to agree on who would take the sofa…

Elisaveta shot a glance over at Theo. He was tall, broad-shouldered, with the kind of strong, toned physique expected of a man who spent all his spare time surfing and climbing – and who had built a multi-million-pound business producing clothes and accessories for those passions. Theo was the Willow brand and his title and good looks had helped to make their hoodies, trainers and bags must-haves for urban wannabes as well as true outdoors types. It was only natural that she’d had a slight crush on him when she had first started working for him - but that was months ago. Now her feelings were purely professional.

So it was best that he hadn’t mentioned the kiss. It would make working together awkward – and he was getting married. It would just complicate things and why do that when it meant nothing?

She cleared her throat. Professional. She could do this. ‘I already told the office you would be travelling down to Flintock Hall today and working there until the wedding rehearsal.’ If her voice quivered on ‘wedding’ he didn’t react. ‘If you take a cab back to your place, then I will arrange for a driver to collect you—’

‘No. I’ll drive myself down.’

She blinked. ‘Okay. I’ll head into the office and—’

‘No.’ That was two interruptions. One was unlike him, two unheard of. ‘I need you to come with me. You’re invited to the wedding, right?’

‘Well, actually...’ He’d mentioned it in passing but the invitation had never arrived.

‘You are now.’ The harsh lines in his face softened. ‘Please, Elisaveta. I need one person there who’s on my side. Please come.’

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Jessica Gilmore

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