And The Bride Wore Prada. Katie Oliver

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Название And The Bride Wore Prada
Автор произведения Katie Oliver
Жанр Контркультура
Серия Marrying Mr Darcy
Издательство Контркультура
Год выпуска 0
isbn 9781474024617

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fire blazed in the great black throat of the massive fireplace as they entered the drawing room, and sofas and chairs were arranged in small groups throughout the room. A serving cart set out with an assortment of Scotch whisky stood under one of the tall, multi-paned windows.

      After inviting them to sit down and pouring them each a generous measure of the amber liquid, Tarquin rang for refreshments and settled himself on a sofa next to his wife. ‘I’ve arranged for smoked salmon and sandwiches. Will that suffice, do you think?’ he asked anxiously. ‘Or would you all prefer something a bit more substantial?’

      ‘That sounds perfect,’ Natalie assured him from the depths of a massive wing chair. ‘With cheddar, and that lovely brown granary bread...?’

      Wren smiled. ‘Of course! You can’t have a decent Scottish meal without it.’

      ‘Where are your father and mother, Tark?’ Natalie asked. ‘Will they be joining us?’

      ‘Alas, no. They’ve gone to the Greek islands for the holidays. Said they’d had enough of cold, snowy weather and wanted to spend Christmas slathered in sun cream, drinking ouzo.’

      ‘I can’t say I blame them.’

      ‘That’s why we invited you and Rhys to spend Christmas here with us. And Dominic and Gemma, now, of course.’ He slid his arm around Wren’s shoulders. ‘It gets a bit lonely rattling around this old place when it’s just the two of us.’

      ‘I can imagine,’ Nat agreed. ‘I could get lost for days just trying to find the loo.’

      Tarquin laughed. ‘You only need to tug on the nearest bell-pull,’ he advised, ‘and someone will come along to fetch you back to civilization.’

      ‘How many rooms in this place?’ Dominic asked, glancing around in curiosity.

      ‘About 150, at last count, and twenty or so bedrooms.’

      ‘And have they all been christened?’

      Tarquin looked at him blankly. ‘Christened?’

      ‘Yeah, you know,’ Dominic said, and raised his brow suggestively. ‘Christened.’

      He reddened. ‘Oh. Erm...I’m sure I don’t know.’

      Gemma rolled her eyes. ‘Really, Dom! What a stupid question. Is sex all you ever think about?’

      ‘Are weddings all you ever think about?’ he shot back.

      ‘Wren,’ Natalie said quickly, ‘have you and Tark any plans to start a family? You always said you wanted lots of children.’

      She shrugged, and a flash of sadness crossed her face. ‘We’ve been trying for two years, Nat, but so far, no luck.’

      ‘Oh, it’ll happen,’ Natalie assured her. ‘All in good time, that’s what they say.’

      ‘That’s what Dominic says,’ Gemma said, and cast the rock star a dark look. ‘Isn’t it, Dom?’

      ‘I told you, babes, we’ll have whatever kind of wedding you want. Just don’t drag me into it until it’s time to say ‘I do.’’

      ‘Oh, are you getting married?’ Wren said, and leant forward. ‘How exciting!’

      ‘That’s a matter of opinion,’ Rhys muttered.

      ‘Yes, in Northton Grange,’ Gemma replied. ‘Dom has a place there. We want to have a nice, quiet wedding in secret.’

      ‘Yeah,’ Dominic said, and snorted. ‘A ‘nice, quiet wedding’ with twelve bridesmaids, six groomsmen in kilts, a horse-drawn sleigh, and 500 of our closest friends.’

      “And a Prada wedding gown,” Gemma added, her expression smug. “I found the perfect dress online.”

      “Prada?” Natalie breathed. “Ooh, you have to let me see it, please!”

      “I want to see it, too,” Wren said. “May I?”

      As the three women clustered around Gemma’s mobile phone and bowed their heads to worship at the altar of Prada, Rhys turned to Tarquin. ‘So tell me, Laird Campbell,’ he ventured, ‘how does one celebrate Christmas in a Scottish castle? Do you roast an entire pig in that enormous fireplace? Fell a sixty-foot tree and drape it in swathes of tartan?’

      Tarquin laughed. ‘Nothing so grandiose as that. We eat a lot and drink too much whisky and take long walks on the heath with the dogs afterwards to burn it all off.’

      ‘Just like we do at home,’ Natalie said.

      ‘Exactly.’ He glanced over at Rhys curiously. ‘I thought you were born here. Have you never spent a Christmas in Scotland?’

      ‘A few, when I was a kid.’ He cast a glance around the vast drawing room. ‘But I didn’t exactly grow up in a castle.’

      ‘Where did you grow up?’ Wren asked as she resumed her seat. ‘If you don’t mind my asking,’ she hastened to add.

      ‘Edinburgh, in a tower block in Wester Hailes.’ He drained his glass. ‘It was difficult, but Mum did her best. I made up my mind to get out of there just as soon as I could.’

      ‘Well, I must say ‒ you’ve done very well for yourself in the interim,’ Tark observed. ‘Well done, you. More whisky, gentlemen?’ he offered, and at their nods, leant forward to pour Rhys and Dominic each another generous measure.

      Later, after they’d gone upstairs to their gorgeous – but cold – room in the west wing, Natalie twined her arms around Rhys and snuggled next to him in the enormous canopied bed.

      ‘Isn’t this lovely?’ she murmured against his chest as she gazed into the flames leaping in the fireplace.


      ‘And aren’t Tark and Wren the sweetest couple? I just adore them both.’

      ‘Ummm hmmm...’

      Natalie took her fingertip and drew it tentatively across Rhys’s chest. ‘Rhys, darling—?’


      ‘I’m feeling a bit...amorous. Are you?’

      There was no answer.

      ‘Are you?’


      ‘Rhys,’ she exclaimed, indignant, ‘are you even listening to me?’

      She lifted her head and looked over at him enquiringly in the flickering firelight. He was sound asleep.

      ‘Poor man.’ She leant down and tenderly kissed his forehead. ‘All that driving in the blizzard did you in, didn’t it?’ she whispered. She snuggled up behind him, breathing in his reassuring male scent, and fell at once into a dreamless, untroubled sleep.

       Chapter 6

      Helen woke to sunlight streaming into her eyes. She stretched and sat up, blinking. She was on a sofa, in a tiny living room. For a moment she was disoriented and couldn’t work out where she was; but the banging of pots and pans in the kitchen and a man’s muttered cursing brought everything back – the snow, the embankment, getting locked out of her car, her aching ankle – and she realized that her reluctant host must be fixing breakfast.

      He returned a moment later with a tray and thumped it down on the coffee table before her.

      ‘Good morning,’ she ventured.

      ‘There’s toast, a boiled egg, and tea, if you’ve a mind to eat.’

      ‘Thank you, that’s very kind—’

      ‘I’ve work to be doing, paths to shovel and fallen branches to clear off the drive. After you eat, you’ll have to go.’