For Matthew Timothy Mortimer
I’m so proud you’re my son.
‘TOUCHES of Lady Chatterley, do you think?’ Janie giggled.
Cyn made a slight acknowledging movement of the remark, although her attention was still held by the scene they were unwittingly witnessing.
They had been shown into this small reception-room only seconds ago by the rather haughty butler, while he left them to go off in search of Rebecca Harcourt, the young mistress of the house.
Cyn only hoped the young lady out in the garden wasn’t her—otherwise their journey here could have been a wasted one!
She and Janie had driven into town especially to see the Harcourts, and had been suitably impressed by the house from the outside. The grounds the house stood in alone were almost as big as the park across which the house actually faced. Grand old houses like this one weren’t so unusual in London, but the amount of ground attached to it was, Cyn was sure, given the expense of property in London and its immediate vicinity.
It was because of the size of the grounds that the Harcourts needed the gardener at all, she would say. And what a gardener—a tall golden god of a man, about twenty-five, his skin bronzed from the amount of time he obviously worked outside, although that colour was more likely to be simply weather-worn, considering it was only April and, what watery sun there was did not actually contain much heat just yet.
He had been working on one of the extensive borders outside when Cyn and Janie were shown into the reception-room, obviously absorbed in his work. He had seemed to remain so, when a young girl of about twenty crossed the landscaped lawn several feet away from him to enter the wooden-structure gazebo that stood in one corner of the garden facing away from the house. But seconds later he had straightened, glanced casually about him, before he too went into the gazebo.
Hence Janie’s teasing remark! The girl who had crossed the garden, seemingly unaware of the gardener working there, hadn’t looked like a maid, or anyone else who worked in the house for that matter. Her blaze of red hair was expertly styled, her make-up perfectly applied, the suit she was wearing designer-label, if Cyn wasn’t mistaken.
God, she hoped it wasn’t Rebecca Harcourt...! Because Cyn very much doubted that that Adonis of a gardener was her intended bridegroom.
Gerald Harcourt had actually been the one to make the appointment for Cyn to come here today, claiming his motherless daughter needed help organising her wedding, which was to take place in August. And organising weddings, and dealing with all the problems that seemed to bring along with it, was what Cyn did in her business, Perfect Bliss.
The idea for such a scheme had come to her out of the blue one day. Being stuck in yet another dead-end job, working for a particularly temperamental catering boss who often threw temper tantrums while they were actually working, was not what Cyn wanted to do with the rest of her life. The problem was, she didn’t know what she did want to do either. She had gone through a long list of jobs the last few years—hotel receptionist, helper in a florist’s, assistant in a bridal shop for a very short time too, all mixed up with waitressing jobs, plus training to be a printer at one stage, a job she knew she definitely wasn’t cut out for after she had printed hundreds of posters inviting people to a Trafalgar Balls; her boss had been absolutely furious, and she could think of a few sailors who probably wouldn’t have been too happy either! Needless to say, it had been a short-lived training.
Most of her jobs had been, but after a rather traumatic evening, where she had been helping her boss cater at a private dinner party in a gentleman’s apartment, and his female guest had turned out to be the boss’s own wife out for an evening of fun while her husband was working, Cyn had decided it was time for her and that particular job to part company. Especially when her boss had started throwing knives about the apartment; Cyn had decided there and then that he wasn’t temperamental, just mental!
Unemployed again, she had sat down, briefly—she still had to pay the rent and the bills!—and thought over her career assets. Taken separately, they had seemed a bit haphazard, but when she put them all together...!
And so Perfect Bliss had emerged from the debris, the ‘complete wedding’ agency, designed to take away all the wear and tear—or did she mean tears?—from the bride and her family. Not that it had been an overnight success. After three years she still kept the agency ticking over with the occasional dinner party, but she had enough bookings for weddings not to take on too many other commitments. She had merely been waiting for the ‘big one’, as Janie called it, the society wedding that would get her name in those circles, where she hoped her agency might become fashionable once it was seen what a good job she did.
The Harcourt wedding was supposed to be that big break...!
Gerald Harcourt, a man in his early forties, had been a guest at one of the weddings Cyn had organised last weekend on Easter Saturday—a small affair in the country, and the bride was the daughter of a business friend, Gerald Harcourt had explained when he spoke to her during the wedding reception. He had been most impressed when he learnt that Cyn had organised the wedding, with the bride’s requirements in mind, from the printing of the invitations to the perfect colour of the wedding bouquet—a bouquet he had somehow managed to catch when the bride threw it into the wedding crowd before departing on the honeymoon Cyn had also booked for the happy couple.
The bouquet disposed of, given to one of the bridesmaids accompanied by a charming smile, Gerald had questioned Cyn about Perfect Bliss, explaining that his own daughter, his only child, was being married later in the year, and, as his wife had died more than a dozen years ago, Rebecca was finding the whole thing rather a headache on her own. Cyn had been only too happy to talk to him as she helped clear away after the reception. She found his tall, distinguished looks, dark hair lightly sprinkled with grey at the temples, blue eyes warm in a face that was maturely handsome, his body still fit and lean in the dark three-piece suit he had worn for the wedding, more than passingly attractive. She found the idea of organising his daughter’s wedding, the ‘society wedding’ she had been seeking, even more attractive, and she was more than willing to drive up from her little office in Feltham—she couldn’t afford London rents on business property—to the Harcourt home and talk to the daughter in person at a time to be arranged once Gerald had spoken to Rebecca.