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
Sign up for exclusive offers, news and more!

The Earl’s Villa Rosa Bride

Written by Jessica Gilmore

Chapter Seven

The afternoon and evening seemed interminable. Theo spent every moment either fending off well-wishers or solving disputes ranging from the height of bunting to the positioning of the dance floor. He hadn’t exchanged as much as one word with his fiancée apart from a little polite conversation at the wedding rehearsal.

Nor had he seen Elisaveta.

He knew he should keep away from his PA until the wedding was over. Until the memory of her slim form snuggled under the sheet faded, until he didn’t find himself smiling as he recalled just how wholeheartedly she had thrown herself into singing ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’, interpretive dance and all. But he couldn’t stop thinking about her. How she’d known exactly the right way to cheer him up, about her picture-filled flat. About how he sensed that she was as lonely as he was – and hid it just as well.

About how her mouth had felt under his, the way she’d sighed, sinking into his kiss.

His mother had ordered a celebratory dinner to follow the wedding rehearsal, glad of the opportunity to use one of the larger dining rooms for once. Course flowed into course but Theo barely touched his food, struggling to make appropriate conversation as his mother-in-law loudly made plans for changes he had no intention of carrying out. From the corner of his eye, he saw his mother’s concerned glances.

He tried to catch Madeleine’s eye, to gauge how she felt about her mother’s plans, but she seemed to be avoiding his gaze. He couldn’t shake the feeling that she wanted this marriage as little as he did – or maybe that was wishful thinking. Nobody had coerced her into accepting his proposal. She was a sensible girl who knew exactly what he was offering. That had been part of her attraction once.

The second dinner was over he headed out of the French doors and to the Rose Garden, needing some air, some time alone. He came to an abrupt stop as he saw a familiar form leaning against the fountain, her dark tresses freed from their usual knot tumbling around her shoulders.

‘You weren’t at dinner.’

Elisaveta looked up with a start. ‘It was for family only. Don’t worry, Mrs Mellors made sure I didn’t go hungry. Theo, what are you doing out here?’

Tomorrow he’d be married. He would no longer just be Theo Willoughby, CEO of Willow. No longer the Theo who couldn’t see a wave without wanting to ride it, a peak without wanting to climb it. He’d be a husband. He’d have to start being the Earl of Navenby with all the responsibility that entailed - not just responsibility for the Hall and for the people who lived and worked here, he already took care of that, but responsibility for society’s expectations of who an earl should be.

He just wanted a last night free of all those expectations. ‘Come for a walk with me?’

He could see the indecision playing over Elisaveta’s face before she nodded. ‘Okay.

Just a short one. You need your beauty sleep tonight after all.’

Like this? Why not share it

About the author

Read more
Jessica Gilmore

Discover more free stories

View all

Seducing His Shy Cinderella

Written by Michelle Smart

From waitress…

Sensible, shy English rose Jodie can’t forget her sinful encounter with Italian billionaire Antonio Cavalli. Convinced this dazzling playboy won’t give her a second thought, she fled the next morning. Now all she wants is to return home to England and nurse her broken heart. But first she must face waitressing a party in the Pellegrini castello …where Antonio is a guest!

…to wife!

Antonio was hooked on Jodie after just one steamy night. And he’s not about to let his Cinderella run away a second time. So, trapped together in the castello’s elevator, Antonio seizes the opportunity to show Jodie just how far their powerful connection could take them: from one wild night to wedding vows!

Copyright © 2017 by Michelle Smart

The Cowboy’s Twins

Written by Linda Warren

All Jess McQuire wants is to be a champion tie-down roper. He loves the thrill of the rodeo circuit, even though his marriage didn’t survive it. That ended four years ago. Now back in Horseshoe, Texas, Jess encounters his past—his former wife, Abby…and three-year-old twins he didn’t know he had!

Abby’s world tilts the day Jess comes knocking. Learning he’s a father is tough for him, but so was raising their children alone for years. Forced to grow up fast and put the twins first, Abby doesn’t think she can stand further heartbreak if Jess chooses the rodeo over her. Again…

Copyright © 2017 by Linda Warren