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Her Secret Valentine

Written by Nicola Marsh

Some people might say getting married on Valentine’s Day is the height of romance, but for divorce lawyer and romance cynic Kiara Hastings it’s the height of cliché. But as her sister’s maid of honour she must suffer through the cake tastings and tulle. Until an encounter with a sexy gardener leads to a red-hot fling that promises to make the wedding preparations more pleasurable. Kiara is stunned when the man who made her scream with pleasure is introduced to her later as Ashton Cromwell, the groom’s brother and the best man!

Ashton agrees to keep their sexy secret and wants to continue enjoying their mind-blowing chemistry behind closed bedroom doors. Since his divorce, Ashton has earned himself a playboy reputation, and when it seems like having Kiara on his arm could be good for business, he proposes a fake relationship until the wedding is over.

But as Valentine’s Day approaches, these two romance cynics find they’re not immune to all the love in the air, and that their pretence is starting to feel all too real…

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Chapter One

If Kiara didn't love her sole sibling, Alice, so much, she could've happily shoved the cake decorator's face into the ridiculously pretty cupcakes.

"What do you think, Miss Hastings? The ginger spice, caramel apple, tropical guava or hazelnut almond?" The decorator handed her yet another plate covered in dainty cakes. "Or perhaps you'd like to try the key lime and pink champagne?"

Kiara would prefer a bottle of bubbly over the fancy-schmancy cake samples. That way, she could drink the entire thing and forget the horrors of the upcoming Valentine’s Day wedding.

Being a maid of honour sucked.

There was a reason she was the most sought-after divorce lawyer in Melbourne. She abhorred nuptials and all they entailed. Like stuffing her face with overly rich, ornately frosted cake that would probably last longer than her sister's marriage.

Alice touched her arm. "What do you think, sis?"

Seeing the glint of anxiety in Alice's eyes, Kiara forced a smile. "I love the ginger spice."

"Me, too." Alice visibly brightened and turned to the decorator. "We'll go with that one in the design Greg and I already chose."

"Excellent." The decorator flipped open a folder. "Now, what do you think about presentation—"

Kiara took that as her cue to flee. She needed to escape before she exploded in a cloud of sparkles, bling and frosting.

"I'll leave you to it," she said, dropping a kiss on Alice's cheek before bolting through the French doors and into the garden, not giving her sister a chance to protest.

Bad enough she'd had to finish work an hour early to do cake tasting; she didn't want to be roped into any other last-minute maid of honour duties. After wrangling a particularly acrimonious divorce earlier, she was plumb out of wedding warm and fuzzies.

A quick walk around the immaculate gardens of the Toorak mansion, home to the Cromwells, Alice's future in-laws and the venue for the ceremony in two weeks, to clear her head and she'd bid Alice goodbye.

But she'd barely made it around the corner of the pool house when her steps slowed, her gaze snagged by an expanse of bare skin.

A guy on his knees, his shirtless back glistening in the waning sun, the muscles shifting and bunching beneath tanned skin as his hands delved in the dirt. His movements were fierce, almost primitive, as he shovelled dirt out of the way and shook weeds loose.

Then he straightened and she hissed out a breath, the front view as appealing as the back. Broad shoulders, impressive biceps, defined pecs and the right smattering of dark hair arrowing lower.

He stood, stretched, and Kiara couldn't look away. It had been two months since her last date, five months since she’d last had sex. She needed this. It was therapeutic. Like watching Magic Mike on repeat.

When the gardener turned and shot her a knowing grin she realised her mistake. He'd seen her ogling him, reflected in the pool house window.

"See anything you like?" His eyebrow arched in provocation, framing the wicked glint in his hazel eyes.

Kiara never backed down, ever. So she matched his imperious eyebrow arch and raised him another. "I've seen better."

He laughed, the low, thrilling timbre making her thighs clamp. "You interested in gardening?"

Absolutely not. But after faking enthusiasm through dress fittings, table settings and the search for the perfect shoe, she needed to reassert her antiromance stance.

Starting with a little healthy flirtation with the hottest guy she'd had the luck to encounter in a long time.

So she nodded, her mouth dry and her pulse hammering as he stalked towards her, all glistening muscles and eager stride.

For him, she could be interested in anything.

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About the author

As a girl, I dreamed of being a journalist and travelling the world in...

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Nicola Marsh

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