His hand reached out to touch her
arm. Freya looked up.
And then he kissed her on the cheek. A gentle touch of his lips on her skin. Freya gripped her keys hard, willing the pain of the metal biting into her soft flesh to prevent her raising a hand to touch where he’d kissed her.
His kiss hadn’t been about sex. Or lust. Or any of the things she’d experienced before. It was liking. It was gratitude.
And maybe, just maybe, it was a little about love.
As anyone who has visited my blog will know, it’s been a very tough time for me and mine. I’m sure that many of you reading this will also have known difficult times. Maybe you’re in one of those dark patches right now. And even when life is on an even keel there are still those days when you just feel completely frazzled and worn out, aren’t there? It’s because life can be tough that I believe time out to read a romance is so very important—one of those little treats that make everything seem more rosy and manageable somehow.
I love writing romance. I get to give my characters real problems and losses—the kind we all face—and then I give them the resolution we all desperately want for ourselves. I believe absolutely that life can change for the better in a moment, and there is nothing better than a “happy ever after.”
Thank God for Harlequin Romance® novels.
Wanted: White Wedding
Natasha Oakley told everyone at her elementary school that she wanted to be an author when she grew up. Her plan was to stay at home and have her mom bring her coffee at regular intervals—a drink she didn’t like then. The coffee addiction became reality, and the love of storytelling stayed with her. A professional actress, Natasha began writing when her fifth child started to sleep through the night. Born in London, she now lives in Bedfordshire with her husband and young family. When not writing or needed for “crowd control,” she loves to escape to antiques fairs and auctions. Find out more about Natasha and her books on her Web site, www.natashaoakley.com.
“One of the best writers
of contemporary romance writing today!”
“Ordinary Girl, Society Groom is one of those books
that keeps you guessing until the end. It is very pleasing on so many different levels that it will appeal to many. I sense awards are in Ms. Oakley’s literary future.”
To Jenny, my editor.
Without your support and belief in me
this book would never have been written.
FREYA bit down hard on the expletive hovering on the tip of her tongue and called again, her eyes raking the rows of old sofas and chests of drawers. ‘Hello?’
There was still no answer. No sound of anything in the cavernous building except the clip of her heels on the concrete floor. ‘Mr Ramsay? Anyone? Anyone at all?’ She came to a stop and looked back across the auction house.
She sucked in her breath and spun round to look again at the long line of caged cupboards piled high with knick-knacks. Where was everyone? The entire place was deserted.
Freya tucked her hands further into the depths of her sheepskin jacket and stamped her feet to get warmth back into her frozen toes. This was such a crazy way of doing business. There had to be someone whose job it was to speak to people like her. A porter? Wasn’t that the way it worked?
She hadn’t expected anything like Sotheby’s or Christie’s in a place like Fellingham, but this was plain ridiculous. Left to herself, she’d walk straight back out of here—and a casual trawl through the telephone directory would, no doubt, produce any number of more promising alternatives.
Her almost habitual frown snapped into place. Except Daniel Ramsay had somehow managed to convince her grandmother he was all things wonderful. Damn him!
Twelve years’ hard experience had taught her that anyone who gave the appearance of being ‘too good to be true’ was usually exactly that. The trouble was it would take something approaching the impact of World War Three to shift the elderly woman from her opinion of him now.
Freya pulled her hand out of her pocket and glanced down at her wristwatch. Where was he? She really wanted to see Daniel Ramsay for herself, gauge what kind of man he was, and preferably without her grandmother being there to witness it.
She stepped back, and her leg jagged against a box of china on the floor behind her. She swore softly and bent down to brush the dust off the fine black wool of her trousers.
What kind of place was he running here? Whatever the reality of Daniel Ramsay turned out to be, he was no businessman. His auction house was full of junk. Row upon row of it.
Freya looked round, her nose wrinkled against the musty smell. He couldn’t be doing more than scratching a living here…
She frowned. No doubt that was why he’d gone out of his way to befriend her grandmother. Stopping to chat and eat lemon drizzle cake whenever he had an hour free.
He’d certainly managed to inveigle himself very successfully. According to her grandmother, his prowess extended from the removal of mice to changing a lightbulb. And, of course, antiques. Apparently Daniel Ramsay knew everything there was to know about antiques…
Freya stamped her foot again as the cold bit at her toes. Looking at the sad specimens around her, she seriously doubted that. In her opinion his ‘gift’, such as it was, was in correctly reading an elderly woman who wanted shot of things she didn’t much value but which he knew would earn him a hefty commission.
Her eyes fixed on the green painted door with the small ‘Office’ sign on it. She gave her wristwatch another swift glance and then sidestepped the box, pushing her way passed a battered rocking horse.
This was a stupid waste of her time. If the office door was unlocked she’d leave a note, asking him to call this afternoon.
Not perfect. Not what she’d hoped for. But better than nothing. And it was always possible she was worrying needlessly anyway. Perhaps Daniel Ramsay genuinely liked spending time with her grandmother and had no ulterior motive at all?
Freya’s eyes narrowed as her normal scepticism rose to the surface. Only that wasn’t very likely. Not in the least likely. She rapped with her knuckles on the closed office door, scarcely pausing before pushing it open. ‘Mr Rams…?’
His name died on her lips as she took in the threadbare rug and the muddle of…stuff. There was no other word