Jilted at the altar! No one could do that to Ryan Falconer and get away with it. That' s why, two years later, Ryan' s back. He' s going to reclaim his bride– and he wants revenge.Ryan needs to discover why Virginia left him, as he' s convinced the passionate love they shared isn' t dead, and he' s determined to prove it. Ryan' s revenge: to lead Virginia down the aisle– willing or not!
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Without warning, hands came over her eyes and a low, slightly husky voice said close to her ear, âGuess who?â
Virginiaâs heart pounding like a trip-hammer, her breath coming in shallow gasps, she stared into Ryanâs tough, hard-boned face. A face she knew as well as her own. A face she had often looked into while they made love.
He put out a hand, and with a proprietary gesture brushed a loose tendril of curly hair back from her pale cheek.
âMy dear Virginia, thereâs no need to act as if youâre afraid of me.â
âSo you did catch sight of me in the gallery. Why didnât you say anything?â
Ryanâs voice was ironic as he told her, âI thought Iâd surprise you.â
LEE WILKINSON lives with her husband in a three-hundred-year-old stone cottage in a Derbyshire village, which most winters gets cut off by snow. They both enjoy traveling, and recentlyâjoining forces with their daughter and son-in-lawâspent a year going around the world âon a shoestringâ while their son looked after Kelly, their much-loved German shepherd dog. Leeâs hobbies are reading and gardening and holding impromptu barbecues for her long-suffering family and friends.
WARM June sunshine poured in through the open window, a beneficence after the late and miserably cold spring. In nearby Kenelm Park a dog yapped excitedly, shrill above the continuous, muted roar of Londonâs traffic.
Glancing from her second-floor window, Virginia saw between the trees the flash of a bright red ball being thrown, and smiled, before returning to her cataloging.
A moment later the internal phone on her desk rang. Reaching out a slender, long-fingered hand she picked up the receiver. âYes?â
Helenâs voice said formally, âMiss Ashley, thereâs a gentleman here asking if we have any paintings by either Brad or Mia Adams. Iâve explained that there are none listed, but heâd like to know if weâre able to acquire any.â
During the past ten years the Adamsâ work had become widely sought after, and Virginia had grown used to the idea of her parents being well knownâat least in the world of art.
âIâll come down,â she said.
Helen Hutchings, a nice-looking forty-year-old widow, handled casual sales of the good contemporary art that the Charles Raynor Gallery displayed, while Virginia dealt with specialist requests or queries.
Checking that no wisps of silky ash-brown hair had escaped from her neat chignon, and donning the heavy glasses that changed her appearance and made her look considerably older than her twenty-four years, she left her office, slender and business-like in a charcoal-grey silk suit.
The long oval gallery had a balcony running around it and was open to the skylights, where today the oatmeal-coloured blinds were in place because of the bright sunshine.
Peering over the wrought-iron balcony rail, she saw that a few people, mainly tourists she judged, were browsing. At the far end, she caught a glimpse of a tall, well-built man with dark hair who was standing by the reception desk.
His stance was easy, anything but impatient, yet he had an unmistakable air of waiting.
As she reached the stairs, which at the bottom were roped off with a crimson and gold tasselled cord that held a notice saying Private, he turned to glance in her direction.
There was no mistaking that lean, hard-boned face, the set of the shoulders, the carriage of that dark head, the strong yet graceful physique.
Though it was much too far away to see the colour of his eyes, she knew quite well that they were midway between dark blue and violet.
Her breath caught in her throat. Virginia stopped dead, gripping the banister rail convulsively.
Even after her flight from New York and her return to London she had been afraid of seeing him, on edge and wary of every tall, dark-haired man who came into sight.
Only over the last six months or so had she started to feel relatively safe, confident that she had left the past behind her.
Now it seemed that her confidence had been premature.
Her heart was beginning to pound and, a rush of adrenalin galvanising her into action, she turned and fled back to the safety of her office.
Sinking down at her desk, her stomach churning sickeningly, she prayed that he hadnât seen and recognised her.
If he had, Ryan wasnât the kind of man to walk quietly away. Remembering how heâd said, âIâll never let you go,â she shuddered.
In spite of all that had been between them she had left him. Unable to bear the pain of his perfidy, afraid to confront him for fear of what damage it might do to the family, she had run without a word.
He wouldnât easily forgive her for that.
But if he hadnât recognised her, the situation could be savedâ¦
Hoping against hope that Charles was back from his early afternoon appointment, she reached for the internal phone.