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by Christine London
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Romance
Description: Kay Macara had journeyed a long way from her Redondo Beach home in Los Angeles to London to speak at the Earls Court Book Fair as Author of the Day. She was a bit more than nervous about revealing her true identity as Jaid Rumor, the world's most popular and mysterious erotic romance author. It didn't help that this trip fell smack dab on the one-year anniversary of her divorce from a real sleaze. Staying at her university friend's cottage as part of her brief business trip to the U.K., Kay has sworn off all thought of a serious relationship-until she is taken by surprise by old flame, Bryce McKendrick, breaking in on her writer's solitude. Ten years hasn't changed her mind; Bryce still seems the womanizing cad. Set in the semi-rural village of Sunninghill on the periphery of London, this story spotlights the volatile re-acquaintance of two high-powered career people who haven't seen each other since their relationship ended, less than amicably, a decade ago. In charge of obtaining celebrity bookings and future programming for BBC 3's Good Morning Show, Bryce is living a lightening-paced life as the man to know in morning TV and one of London's most eligible bachelors. Having long been relegated to the occasional wistful smile or cringe of regret, Kay Macara was the last person he'd expected to run into at his best mate's country cottage. One snowbound weekend, a recalcitrant cat, a wild sled adventure and time stranded together are a recipe for war ... or passion. The problem is that neither one can seem to see what's right in front of them: they never stopped loving each other.
eBook Publisher: Phaze, 2007
eBookwise Release Date: June 2007
8 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [237 KB]
Reading time: 154-215 min.
"Katherine Elizabeth Macara. You should never leave your bag unattended for even a moment. 'Tis of no worldly good to ya now you've gone and squandered away what the good Lord has given ya. Where are your brains, girl?"
"Hush", Kay replied, her long legs outstretched on the grey mosaic floor of the train station, her butt uncomfortably pan caked against the unforgiving wooden bench.
"I beg your pardon?" The three-piece suit sitting with his nose in The Daily Telegraph next to her paused to query.
Kay looked at him, startled. "Sorry. I didn't think I'd said that out loud."
He frowned, fanned the paper with a few short shakes of his wrist and returned to his reading.
What would she do for clothes to attend the trade show? Her mind raced from flashbacks of Sister Beatrice giving her imagined rations of Catholic school guilt to the reality of having lost her only suitcase. She dragged her leather satchel closer to her on the bench. Digging under the oil splotched newsprint remnants of the dinner she'd purchased at the chips shop outside the station, she searched for anything that resembled clothing. "I know I stashed some stuff in here, just in case." Yank. Out slingshot a razor back black bra with matching panties loaded into the cup. Oh, God. They catapulted toward the reading man. Shit. She reeled in the bra, having managed to hold onto it by the shoulder strap, shoved it back into the bag and turned to face the music with Mr. Proper. The panties had ricocheted off the vertical surface of his newspaper and now pooled at his feet.
"What the bloody hell?" He shot a disgruntled glace at Kay, then looked down at the floor. She bolted towards the panties and scooped them into her palm.
"Sorry. I should never have let my little niece near my bag."
The corners of the man's mouth turned up in a faintly wry grin. "Judging from the contents, your niece is not so very little, or she's been allowed inappropriate access to your personal things. Either way, I should thank you to keep them to yourself."
Kay's face blushed rosy and hot. "It was an accident. I didn't mean to..."
"A woman your age should be more refined."
"I usually am. I'm--" she sighed. "Please excuse me." Rising from the bench, she slung the bag over her shoulder, and walked towards the main entrance of the station. The judgmental glare of her accuser burnt into her back, propelling her to move quickly away. Pushing her duffle coat covered shoulder into the frame of the door; icy tendrils of wind raced through the opening she'd created. Damn. It's supposed to be April. When does it warm up over here, she thought as she searched the curb for Sean's familiar Fiat Panda. She'd already given the stolen items report to the left luggage people and even had time to fret over a consolation Bounty Bar. Where was he, she wondered, squinting into the night that enveloped the distance beyond the glow of the lights of the station. Just as she dug into her pocket for her cell phone, the little red Panda screeched around the turn leading to the passenger pick up area. It lurched forward before coming to rest five feet in front of her. The window rolled down.
"Sorry, love. The traffic is abysmal this evening." Sean swung his door open and leapt out of the driver seat. "Can I help you with your--Where's you suitcase, darlin'?"
"I don't have one. Don't you know they're always encouraging us Yanks to travel light when we fly internationally?"
He gave her an incredulous look. "What bullshit are you dishin' me, Kay? Come on."
"One of your fellow countrymen decided I didn't need any superfluous clothes this trip and thoughtfully has saved me the trouble of being burdened with the extra weight."
"It's been stolen?"
Kay put her index finger on her nose. "Bingo."
"Shall I go park in the car park so you can make a report?"
"Already done. I gave them your address and phone number, in case the creep gets a sudden burst of conscience and decides to return my bag, unscathed."
"I'm sorry, Kay. Don't think I need to tell you not to hold your breath on that wish."
"You mean the English have crooks with no sense of propriety? I thought you all had matured out of such nonsense on this side of the Atlantic."
Sean took her arm and led her around to the passenger side of his car. "Come and get inside before you catch your death of cold." As he slid back behind the wheel he leaned over and kissed her on the cheek. "Sorry for the unpleasant welcome to our side of the pond. We can take you out shopping tomorrow, if you need something extra to wear to your book fair event. Or borrow something of Sarah's in the interim."
"I don't know. I think my ripped jeans and cable stitch sweater would really impress the agents and publishers, don't you?"
"They don't care what the famous Jaid Rumor will be wearing. Only that they get to meet the saucy wench that churns out those steamy hot erotic novels from the distant exotic shores of the Pacific. Have you any idea how a California woman effects a British bloke? Your accent and that sexy blonde hair are enough to have them coming in their pants without any further provocation." Sean put the car into gear and screeched away from the curb.
"Hey, this isn't the Indy 500. I want to get to your cottage in one piece, please."
"I thought you would be tired after that long flight, anxious to get to bed. How many hours have you been awake this time?"
"Only twenty, or so. Will Sarah be turning down the blankets for me?"
"Not this time, love. She's visitin' her mum up in Cheetham."
"Just you and me, then? Scandalous."
"Don't you get any plot ideas, now. You'll make Sarah go crazy. You know she's read everything of yours cover to cover."
"I hope she doesn't think she's reading reality. There are no men like the ones in my books. It's all fantasy."
"My, but you've got a bitter streak running down your back like a skunk. It stinks, my dear."
Kay looked over at him in profile. The headlights from oncoming traffic intermittently illuminated his straight brown tousled hair and classic Italianesque hooked nose. "All men are bastards underneath a thin veneer of civilization. You're all ruled by your eyes and your dicks."
"Come on, Kay, tell us what you really think." He slid a look of empathy over to her. "I guess you're entitled to a little acrimony after what Richard ... oh, sorry, not supposed to utter the name. After what 'he who shall not be named' has put you through."
"Screw you, Sean. I was having a perfectly lovely evening until you brought up that murky part of my distant past."
"Not so distant, love. It's not been a year yet, has it?"
"It will be--tomorrow, in fact. Not that I'm counting. Can't be long enough as far as I'm concerned."
"Is this a celebratory trip, then?"
"Coincidence. But now that you mention it, why don't we stop at the off license and get a bottle of California champagne to celebrate one year of freedom from the lying cheating bastard."
"That's what I love about you, Kay. Your true feelings are never a mystery."
"You've always know I can be a little blunt, Sean. Ever since our days at university, I've always kept you informed of the truth of things."
"You've certainly always kept me in stitches."
She opened her mouth in protest, paused, then said, "Don't tell me I'm not the most astute woman you know. At least when it comes to the male of the species."
"After that last crack lumping all us men into a group of sex saturated brainless bastards, I don't know."
"When we all lived at the flats in East Ham, didn't I always tell you that Bryce would turn out to be just like all the rest of them? Wasn't I right? Huh?"
"You're asking me to berate my best mate, Kay. He's changed."
"Oh, yeah, and Florida has some lovely swamp land I'd love you to look at next trip to the states." She peered over at him, evaluating his expression as best she could in the capricious light from street lamps. "What aren't you telling me, Seanie?"
"Nothin', darlin'. What could I be keepin' from you?"
"You've got him at the cottage, don't you?"
Sean shifted in his seat. "He won't be there until well after you've left for your book club in the morning. Maybe not at all if he decides to meet me in the city."
Her voice rising in pitch and tenor she snorted, "And that's supposed to reassure me? Where is he staying tomorrow night?"
"He and I are going to the pub. Don't worry, we'll be out of your way."
"Damn it, Sean. Couldn't you wait until I'm back on the plane heading out over the Atlantic before you bring Scotland's all time most notorious womanizer into your house?"
"Aren't you exaggerating just a bit, Kay?"
She flashed him an "F-you" glare.
"Okay, so he kind of cheated on you."
"So he was seeing another woman whilst he was dating you."
"He was only twenty two, Kay. Just a kid, really."
"And I was twenty. I still knew enough not to be sleeping with everything in pants--sorry, trousers."
"He's not been like that in years. He's a regular nine to five sort of bloke now, workin' for BBC 3 on future entertainment projects and programmes for The Morning Show."
"Bryce McKendrick never had a 'regular sort' of bone in his body, except maybe the one in his pants."
"Now who's being crude? Yeah, he's a man, what can I say, but he works damn hard, pays his taxes and has made real headway in his career. He's got a beautiful place just outside of Windsor and he dates, well, seldom."
"What's happened to him? Lost his mind? Become a eunuch?"
"Come on, Kay. You have to admit that career is all consuming when you've a passion for it."
"Yeah." She paused, gazing out into the calming night in thought. "I've never found anything like writing. It's not a job to me. It's an obsession. Hours fly by without so much as a blink when I'm hot on the trail of a really good story. Watch out!" The car swerved to miss a hedgehog ambling across the road in the light of Sean's high beams.
"Shit, Kay. We could have been killed. It's just one of those little spiny creatures."
Kay caught her breath, consciously slowing it. "I thought it was gonna be road pizza for sure."
"So you'll put us in mortal danger by ripping my arm nearly out of its socket, for a one pound rodent, but you won't give Bryce the benefit of the doubt when I 'm swearing to you that he's a changed man."
"Call me crazy, but a cute little innocent hedgehog warms the cockles of my heart far more than a snake that slithers on his belly to look under every passing skirt."
They bumped over the crest of the entrance to Sean's drive. The moonlight shone the muted outline of the little ramshackle wooden cottage. The walls looked slightly off plumb in a faintly whimsical way and the garden was running riot over its boundaries, sneaking up the sides of the wayward walls and crawling across the path leading to the door.
"Least I can do is carry your satchel for you, love," Sean said as he vied for control over her leather bag. She snagged it from the back seat before he could get a good grasp on it from the open driver's side rear door, and hoisted it over her shoulder.
"You know I don't go for any of that chivalry stuff. Now give me a break and just make sure you've got the keys to open the front door."
"You could easily be one of those women from your novels, what do you call them? Oh yeah, 'tough chicks'."
"My heroines are simply women with their eyes open."
They both closed their respective car doors and walked around to the front of the Fiat. "Give us a proper hug now, Kay." Sean stretched his arms around her and squeezed.
"Oh, not too tough a chick for a hug then, am I?" she retorted in mock sarcasm. Deadpan, he released her and walked towards the cottage entrance.
"I'm letting you carry your bloody bag, aren't I?"
"You're what? 'Letting me?'"
Sean slid the key into the lock. "Don't get your knickers in a twist. I'm just havin' a bit of fun with you." As he swung the door open, Kay could see the cozy little sitting room just past the small entry. A single light burned on the table next to the settee. "See, nobody is lurking to jump out and surprise you. I've left on just the one light so we won't be breakin' our necks dragging in your copious amounts of luggage."
"I'm heading for the guest room," Kay yawned as she walked past him and through the sitting area.
"Scintillating conversationalist that you are, I was expectin' a little more."
"Goodnight, Sean" she said from the recesses of the hall as she disappeared down it toward the guest quarters.