The Eleventh-Hour Groom

The Eleventh-Hour Groom
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Eighteen months ago Elizabeth and Jay Hammond made a hasty marriage of convenience to secure her inheritance. But when Elizabeth suspected Jay was having an affair with another woman, she left him. Her expertly hidden feelings for Jay ran so deep that she fled Jamaica to make a new life for herself in London.Now Jay has come to find her– and it seems he has some unfinished business concerning their marriage merger! The trouble is, Elizabeth can't be sure revenge isn't part of his reason for tracking her down….

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“Let me tell you, Jay Hammond. If you came in here with any intentions of having a roll in the sack for old times’ sake, then you can think again.”

He smiled. “And this from the woman who was begging me to marry her just eighteen months ago.”

The mocking words made her temperature rise even farther. “I didn’t beg you to marry me.”

“Didn’t you? Must have been some other raven-haired beauty.”

“I suggested a business plan,” she murmured tightly. Her cheeks felt as if they were on fire, and her blood raced wildly through her body.

“So, are you making business plans with anyone else?” he murmured derisively. “Is that the question I should really be asking?”

KATHRYN ROSS was born in Zambia, where her parents happened to live at that time. Educated in Ireland and England, she now lives in a village near Blackpool, England. Kathryn is a professional beauty therapist, but writing is her first love. As a child she wrote adventure stories, and at thirteen was editor of her school magazine. Happily, ten writing years later, Designed with Love was accepted by Harlequin. A romantic Sagittarian, she loves traveling to exotic locations.

The Eleventh-Hour Groom

Kathryn Ross














ELIZABETH had been the one to propose marriage. So, if she had to apportion blame for the ensuing mayhem, she supposed, in fairness, that she had to shoulder some of the responsibility herself. But only a little…it was mostly his fault, of course. His fault for not loving her, for agreeing to something for all the wrong reasons.

When colleagues asked her how long her marriage had lasted and she answered six months, they always looked at her and shook their heads. ‘Fancied a big white wedding, did you?’

‘No, I just fancied him,’ she would answer wryly. ‘Big mistake.’

All those thoughts rushed through her head every time she opened her office drawer and saw the official looking manila envelope staring up at her from within. She imagined it was glaring at her reproachfully, which was rubbish, of course, how could an envelope be reproachful? Even so, she felt better after she had slammed the drawer shut on it again.

It had arrived by courier almost ten days ago and she had signed for it, thinking it was something to do with work. Only when she had really looked at it had she noticed the Jamaican postmark. Then she had recognised the handwriting.

It was from him and she was scared to open it. Scared because deep down she knew that envelope contained divorce papers.

Elizabeth Hammond, successful career girl, afraid of nothing and nobody…well, with the possible exception of heights and going to the doctor…was now afraid to open an envelope, she mocked herself. She needed to get a grip. She’d take it home tonight, pour herself a glass of wine and open it. Face her demons.

‘Elizabeth, fancy a drink after work?’ Robert asked as he passed her desk.

‘Can’t, Rob, sorry.’ She hardly looked up at him. ‘I’ve got a stack of paperwork to catch up on.’

‘Tomorrow then,’ he said easily.

The phone rang on her desk and she snatched it up, whilst at the same time glancing at her watch. She had an important meeting in ten minutes. ‘Richmond Advertising Agency, Elizabeth Hammond speaking.’ She sang the words breathily. ‘How can I help?’

‘You can help by signing the damn papers I sent you.’ The familiar American tones of her estranged husband drawled wryly.

The busy office suddenly seemed to fade into oblivion. The noise of printers and telephones, people’s voices and the London traffic outside all disappeared as if someone had pushed a mute button. Leaving only her, and Jay’s voice at the end of a line.

‘Elizabeth, don’t you dare hang up on me,’ he warned coolly as she made no reply.

The thought hadn’t occurred to her until he said it, and then she was sorely tempted.

She took a deep breath. ‘I’m busy, Jay,’ she said briskly. She was pleased at how composed she sounded, as if it wasn’t nearly twelve months since they had last spoken, as if his voice meant nothing.

‘Yes, so am I,’ he grated. ‘Why haven’t you signed the papers?’

‘I haven’t read them properly yet.’ It wasn’t entirely a lie, but she imagined she felt heat emanating from the drawer where they lay, untouched, unread.

‘Are you being deliberately awkward?’


‘You could have fooled me,’ he grated impatiently.

‘No one could fool you, Jay.’ She couldn’t resist the dig. ‘You’re infallible, remember?’

There was a silence for a moment and she wished perversely that she hadn’t said that. What was the point in quarrelling? She couldn’t win with Jay, anyway…never had. And maybe he was right, maybe she was being deliberately awkward. She’d known from the moment she’d looked at the envelope that it contained divorce papers, and she had consciously put off opening it. It was wrong of her, she should sign them and get Jay Hammond out of her life, once and for all. After all, they’d been separated for a year, wasn’t it time to move on?

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