out now

united kingdom

september 2010

 

 

 

 

BY REQUEST

GORGEOUS GROOMS

 

 

(featuring HER WISH-LIST BRIDEGROOM)

 

 

 

 

 

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REVIEWS

 

"Lighthearted, fast-paced and amusing, Liz Fielding's Her Wish-List Bridegroom also carries substantial emotional weight. Juliet and Gregor are delightful, as are their witty exchanges."

 

4 stars, Romantic Times

 

 


 

 

 

 


 

 

The guy she'd always had a crush on...

Yes, throwing champagne over her lowlife boyfriend—and boss—had proved rather career limiting. She'd been fired! So, having sworn off men for good, Juliet has headed back to her mom's house to start again—only to bump into her childhood crush...Gregor McLeod.

Greg has been number one on Juliet's wish-list as a future husband-to-be since she was a little girl. And he's still gorgeous, sexy, charming and flirtatious. So what's to stop her? A) She's sworn off men, remember? (She's forgotten!) B) He's got a few secrets of his own....


 

JULIET’S mouth dried and for a moment she couldn’t think of a thing to say.  All she could think, hope, pray, was that he wouldn’t remember her. 

‘I am in the right place?’ he prompted, finally, breaking the long silence.  How could she not have recognised his voice?  Soft, gravely and far too sexy for common decency...  ‘The Bookshop?  You did call Duke’s Yard about a broken window?’  And he glanced up at the window as if to say, well, one of us knows what they’re talking about.

So that was all right. 

There wasn’t the slightest sign of recognition. 

As far as she knew he’d never known her name;  he’d always called her “princess”, for which she’d been teased mercilessly, although never in his hearing.  

And back then she’d been a skinny thirteen-year old in charity shop clothes, metal-framed glasses – years before Harry Potter made them fashionable -- and with her long hair in a childish pigtail, quietly shadowing her hero around the school. 

Except, of course, he hadn’t been a hero. 

A hero wouldn’t have just disappeared from her life without a word.

‘Yes.’  She pulled herself together, ignoring the little tug of disappointment that while he’d made such a major impact on her, she hadn’t even dented his memory.  Refusing to regret that she hadn’t made more effort with her appearance.  Put on a little make-up.  Done more than twist her hair up and impale it with a few pins.  ‘Yes, this is The Bookshop.  But I don’t need a knight errant,’ she said, at last finding her tongue and having no difficulty in resisting the “irresistible rogue” look now she was old enough to recognise it for what it was.  ‘I need a glazier, or at least someone who can replace the glass in that.’   She stepped out into the access lane that ran along the back of the shops to indicate the broken pane, bending down to pick up a piece of jagged glass, rather than continue staring at him. 

One look was all it had taken to see that he hadn’t changed a bit. 

‘Leave that.’  He bent beside her, taking the glass of from her fingers. 

Startled, she looked up.

‘You’ll cut yourself.’

‘Oh, right.  Thank you.’  No.  He hadn’t changed at all.  He was heavier, of course, but all of it was muscle and there were lines carved into cheeks, fanning out from his eyes, adding character to his youthful good looks.  But he was still the same Gregor McLeod and she had the weirdest feeling that as if, by looking at her “list” of goals, ambitions, she had conjured him up out of her past. 

‘I’d like it done today,’ she said, standing up, brushing the dust of the lane from her fingers.

‘If you’re hinting that I didn’t get here in the ten minutes I promised,’ he replied, ignoring her snippy tone, ‘then blame yourself.  If you’d bothered to open the shop door when I knocked I’d have been a full thirty seconds early.

‘Oh, was that you?’  She hadn’t asked him in, hadn’t actually been aware of standing back to let him passed, but he was, nevertheless, inside the office and making it feel uncomfortably small.  His closeness raising the hair on the nape of her neck, goosing her skin...   ‘I assumed –‘

‘You assumed that when I said “ten minutes” I was being over-optimistic?’

‘Well, yes.’  Then realising that might not have been the wisest thing to have said, ‘No!  You were very prompt.  I meant that I assumed you were a customer.’

‘So you ignored it?  I don’t want to tell you how to run your business, Juliet but you won’t sell many books that way.’ 

‘You’re absolutely right,’ she replied, straining for politeness.  ‘But then I don’t sell books.’

‘Well there you are.  Point made,’ he said, the grin deepening as he made himself at home, propping his perfectly formed backside on the corner of the desk.

Oh, puh-lease... 

Some men couldn’t help it.  They looked at a woman and whether they fancied her or not – and she was quite sure that she was no more his “type” than he was hers now she knew better -- they just had to flex their “pulling” muscles. 

Well, he was wasting his time on her. 

Working her way to the top in a man’s world she’d quickly learned that the only way to deal with his kind was to remain calm and businesslike.  Never to show by even the smallest twitch that she was aware of any sexual overture.  

You might get the reputation for being a frigid cow, but there were worse things. 

Stupidity, for instance. 

Gullibility...

Mercifully his kind had a very short attention span; they knew that if one woman didn’t respond to the muscle-flexing and chest-beating there’d be another one along in a minute. 

It was the quiet men, the ones with brains that you had to watch. 

‘I was waiting for you to call and check back that I wasn’t some teenager playing a stupid prank,’ she said.

‘No teenager ever sounded like you, princess.’

She swallowed.  Clamped down hard on her jaw to cut off the ridiculous stinging at the back of her eyes.  Clearly he called every woman he met “princess”.  So much easier than all that bother of having to remember their names.

‘Can you handle the job?’ she demanded. Then, realising that probably sounded sharper than was entirely prudent, ‘I mean can you handle it today?’

‘That’s what I’m here for.’

‘Right,’ she said.  ‘Good.’  Then,  ‘How long will it take?’

‘Well, let’s see.  I’ll measure the window, go and get a piece of glass cut and then, while I clean this out and fit it, you can make me a cup of tea – top of the milk, two sugars -- and tell me the story of your life.’

‘How long?’ she repeated, in the same even tone.

He seemed to find that amusing.  At least she assumed that was why he was grinning.

‘An hour should do it.  Depending on how interesting your life has been until now.’

Oh, joy.  A whole hour of flirtatious backchat.   ‘And how much will an hour of your time cost?’

‘Why don’t you just buy me lunch and we’ll call it quits?’

And he had the nerve to criticise her lack of business sense? 

‘I’ll fetch you a steak from the butcher on the corner, shall I?  I imagine you do eat it raw?’

He took a steel tape from his pocket and reached up to measure the window – and he didn’t need to stand on a chair.  ‘You know,’ he said, his back to her, ‘I had a date this lunchtime.  I was just on my way out when you rang.  I could have told you I was busy.’

‘Why didn’t you?’ she asked.  ‘Everyone else did.’

‘You sounded as if you needed help.’

She refused to be seduced by his apparent empathy.  ‘I did.  I do.  But I need a glazier not a chat-up line so why don’t you save time by leaving out the tea and the life story?  Call your date.’  She refused to succumb to the flutter of jealousy, the “who?”, the “where?”, that flashed through her brain.  ‘I’m sure she’d wait for half an hour.’

‘Would you?’ he asked, glancing back over his shoulder.  ‘Wait?’

Ignoring the disconcerting way her pulse kicked into over-drive, she said, ‘I wouldn’t have agreed to have lunch with you in the first place so the occasion wouldn’t arise.’

‘Consider the question hypothetically.’

This was her fault.  She’d broken the cardinal rule – never get involved with someone in the office.  Six months ago, three months even, and she could have handled this kind of conversation without losing her cool.  Even with Gregor McLeod.

But her cool had been permanently blown by Paul’s callous pretence and no matter how much she tried to keep it pinned down, anger would keep breaking through the miasma of misery like little puffs of sulphurous smoke warning that a volcano is about to blow.

‘Hypothetically?’ she repeated.

Ice cool.  Mill pond calm.  Duchess polite – no “princess” polite.  She could do it if she tried.

‘That’s what I said.’

‘Then hypothetically,’ she replied, ‘I’d say that if I had agreed to have lunch with you and you called to explain that you’d be late because you were helping a damsel in distress...’  She stopped, seeing the trap a fraction of a second too late.

‘Go on,’ he said, but not making much of an effort to hide his amusement. 

‘I’m sure you’ll think of something.’

‘You wouldn’t be suggesting that I’ve had a lot of practice in making excuses, would you?’

‘You can’t help it,’ she said, deciding that since cool, calm and polite weren’t doing the trick, she might as well go for natural.  Whatever that was these days.  ‘You’re a man.  The excuse mechanism comes ready packaged with the chromosomes.’   She listened to the words coming out of her mouth with a certain amount of horrified fascination.  For a woman who, until a few months ago, hadn’t taken a single risk in her life, had kept her emotions locked up for so long that she’d forgotten where she’d put the key, she seemed to have suddenly lost the plot.   

Fortunately her knight errant was fully occupied writing down the measurements he’d taken in the notebook he’d taken from the buttoned down pocket of his cream wool shirt.  It looked just like her notebook.  The shiny black cover worn dull with use.  It would be warm from his body, she thought.  Full of his thoughts... 

‘Please accept that I’m deeply appreciative of your sacrifice,’ she went on, quickly, in an effort to distract herself.   

That did provoke a reaction.  Nothing excessive.  Just some slight movement of an eyebrow suggesting he wasn’t totally impressed by her declaration of appreciation, no matter how deep. 

‘I would, however, be grateful if you’d get on with the job so that we can both get on with our lives,’ she concluded, primly.  ‘I assume you do have one.’

‘Do you?’ 

He looked up, regarded her thoughtfully and it occurred to her that it would be a lot wiser to stick to the job.  Personal remarks simply gave him an open invitation to develop his chat-up technique. 

When she didn’t answer, he said, ‘The thing is, I like to show an interest in my customers.  Get to know them.  Build up a rapport.’

‘Very commendable.’  That was better.  Suitably distant.  ‘I promise that if I should ever need someone to fix a pane of glass in the future, Duke’s Yard is the first name that will come into my head.’    

‘Sarcasm is not attractive in a woman, Juliet.’

Sarcasm?  That wasn’t sarcasm.  ‘Well, thank you --’ 

She pulled herself up short.  He was using her name in an attempt to get her to ask his.  The truth was that she’d just come very close to using it without thinking.  If she did that he’d want to know how she knew it and while it probably wouldn’t embarrass him one bit that he didn’t remember her – and why should it? – she’d be embarrassed beyond bearing if he discovered that she’d never forgotten him.  Because he wouldn’t need the reason spelling out in words of one syllable.  He’d know why.    

From the book HER WISH-LIST BRIDEGROOM by Liz Fielding
ISBN:
9780263880465
Imprint: Romance TM & Harlequin Romance (R)
(R) & TM are trademarks of the publisher

 

 

 

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