A Bride For The Runaway Groom: A Bride for the Runaway Groom / My Fair Fortune (Summer Weddings)

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9780263251333: A Bride For The Runaway Groom: A Bride for the Runaway Groom / My Fair Fortune (Summer Weddings)

Elusive millionaire Will Carter has been almost-married four times - so who better to help Rose Huntingdon-Cross organise a wedding? But, as a heart-stopping attraction grows between them, Rose can't help wishing she could be lucky number five!

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Scarlet Wilson wrote her first story aged eight and has never stopped. She's worked in the health service for 20 years, trained as a nurse and a health visitor. Scarlet now works in public health and lives on the West Coast of Scotland with her fiance and their two sons. Writing medical romances and contemporary romances is a dream come true for her.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Something wasn't right.

No, scratch that. Something was very, very wrong.

Everything should be perfect. Her sister's wedding yesterday had been beautiful. A picture-perfect day with a bride and groom that truly loved each other. It was a joy to be a part of a day like that.

But, by midnight, the days ofjet lag that she'd been ignoring had finally caught up with her and she'd staggered to bed and collapsed in a heap, catching up on some much-needed sleep.

Her new brother-in-law, Seb, had a house to die for. Hawksley Castle, a home part Norman, part Tudor and part Georgian. The room she was in was sumptuous and spacious with the most comfortable bed in the world.

At least it would be—if she were in that bed alone.

She could hear breathing, heavy breathing, sometimes accompanied with a tiny noise resembling a snore.

Right now, she was afraid to move.

She hadn't drunk much at all yesterday—only two glasses of wine. Because of the jet lag they'd hit hard. But not so hard she'd invited someone into her bed.

She'd attended her sister's wedding alone. No plus-one for Rose.

There had been no flirtations, no alluring glances and no invitations back to her room. And this definitely was her room. She opened her eyes just a little to check.

Yes, there was her bright blue suitcase in the corner of the room. Thank goodness. She hadn't been so tired that she'd stumbled into the wrong room. Seb's house was so big it might have happened.

But it hadn't.

So, who was heavy breathing in her bed?

She didn't want to move. Didn't want to alert the intruder to the fact that she was awake. She could feel the dip in the bed at her back. Turning around and coming face-to-face with a perfect stranger wasn't in her plans.

She needed to think about this carefully.

She edged her leg towards the side of the bed. Stealth mode. Then, cringed. No satin negligee. No pyjamas. Just the underwear she'd had on under her bridesmaid dress that was lying in a crumpled heap at the bottom of the bed. Brilliant. Just brilliant.

Her painted toenails mocked her. As did her obligatory fake tan. Vulnerable. That was how she felt. And Rose Huntingdon-Cross didn't take kindly to anyone who made her feel like that.

Just then the stranger moved. A hand slid over her skin around her hip and settled on her stomach. She stifled a yelp as her breath caught in her throat. Something resembling a comfortable moan came from behind her as the stranger decided to cuddle in closer. The sensation of an unidentified warm body next to hers was more than she could take.

She slid her legs and body as silently as possible out of the bed. The only thing close to hand that could resemble a weapon was a large pink vase. Her heart was thudding against her chest. How dared someone creep into bed with her and grope her?

She held her breath as her feet came into contact with the soft carpet and she automatically grasped the vase in both hands.

She spun around to face the intruder. In other circumstances, this would be comical. But, right now, it felt anything but comical. She was practically naked and a strange man had crept into bed beside her. How dared he?

Who on earth was he? She didn't recognise him at all. But the wedding of an earl and a celebrity couple's daughter was full of people she couldn't even take a guess at. Undoubtedly he was some hanger-on.

If her rational head were in place she would grab her clothes and run from the room, getting someone to come and help with the intruder.

But Rose hated being thought of as a shrinking violet. For once, she wanted to sort things for herself.

She padded around to the other side of the bed in her bare feet, hoisting the vase above her head just as the stranger gave a little contented moan.

It was all she needed to give her a burst of unforgiving adrenaline. The initial fear rapidly turned to anger and she brought the vase down without a second thought. 'Who do you think you are? What are you doing in my bed? How dare you touch me?' she screamed.

The vase shattered into a million pieces. The guy's eyes shot open and in one movement he was on his feet—fists raised and swaying.

He blinked for a few seconds—big, bright blue eyes with a darker rim that didn't look the least bit predatory, but a whole lot shell-shocked—then dropped his fists and clutched his head.

'Violet, what on earth are you doing? Are you crazy?' He groaned and swayed again, one of his hands reaching out to grab the wall—leaving a bloodstained mark on the expensive wallpaper.

She couldn't breathe. Her heart was thudding against her chest and her stomach was doing crazy flip-flops. 'What do you mean, Violet? I'm not Violet.'

This just wasn't possible. Okay, Violet was her identical twin. They didn't usually look so similar, but a few years stateside and not seeing each other on a daily basis meant she'd shown up with an identical hairstyle to her sister.

This clown actually thought he was in bed with her sister? What kind of a fool did that?

He was still shaking his head. It was almost as if his vision hadn't quite come into focus. 'But of course you're Violet,' he said.

'No. I'm not. And stop dripping blood on the carpet!'

They both stared down at the probably priceless carpet that had two large blood drips, and the remnants of the vase at his feet and across the bed.

He grabbed his shirt from the chair next to the bed and pressed it to his head. It was the first time she'd even noticed his clothes—discarded in the same manner as her yellow and white bridesmaid dress.

His eyes seemed to come into focus and he stepped forward, reaching one hand out to her shoulder. He squinted. 'Darn it. You're not Violet, are you? You haven't got her mole on your shoulder.'

His finger came into contact with her skin and she jumped back. One part of her knew that this 'intruder' wasn't any danger to her. But another part of her was still mad about being mistaken for her twin and being felt up by her twin's boyfriend. How on earth could this be explained? This guy was obviously another one of Violet's losers.

Violet burst through the door. 'What's going on? Rose, are you okay?' Her eyes darted from one to the other. The guy, in his wrinkled boxer shorts and shirt pressed to his forehead, and Rose, in her bridesmaid underwear. The broken vase seemed to completely pass her by.

She wrinkled her nose in disgust and shook her head. 'Will? My sister? Oh, tell me you didn't?'

They didn't sound like words of jealousy—just words of pure exasperation.

She threw her hands in the air and spun around, muttering under her breath. 'Runaway groom my sister and I'll kill you.'

Rose was feeling decidedly exposed. The only thing she could find to hold in front of herself was her crumpled bridesmaid dress.

Whoever he was, he obviously wasn't Violet's boyfriend—not with that kind of reaction. But did that make things better or worse? She'd still been groped by an absolute stranger.

He wobbled again and sagged down into the chair strewn with his clothes, arching one eyebrow at her. 'So, crazy twin. Do you assault every man you meet?'

'Only every man who climbs into my bed uninvited and cops a feel!'

'Well, lucky them.' He sounded oh, so unimpressed. Then he frowned. 'Did I touch you? I'm sorry. I was sleeping. I didn't even realise I'd done that.'

The blood was starting to soak through his shirt. She cringed. Maybe the vase had been a bit over the top. And at least she'd got some kind of apology.

She stepped forward and took the shirt from his hand. 'Here, let me.' She pressed down firmly on his forehead.

'Youch! Take it easy.'

She shook her head. 'The forehead's a very vascular area. It bleeds easily and needs a bit of pressure to get the bleeding to stop.'

'How on earth would you know that?'

'Friends with children who seem to bang their foreheads against every piece of furniture I own.'

He gave her half a smile. It was the first time she really noticed how handsome he was. There were no flabby abs here. Just a whole load of nicely defined muscles. With those killer blue eyes and thick dark hair he was probably quite a hit with the ladies.

A prickle flooded over her skin. In the cold light of day this guy seemed vaguely familiar.

'How do you know Violet?' she asked.

He winced as she pressed a little harder. 'She's my best friend.'

Rose sucked in a deep breath. Things were starting to fall into place for her. Because she'd been working in New York she hadn't met Violet's best friend for the last few years. But she had heard a lot about him.

She pulled her hand back from his forehead. Now she understood what Violet had said. 'You're the Runaway Groom?' She was so shocked she dropped her dress.

A single dark red drop of blood snaked down his forehead as he looked at her in disgust.

'I hate that nickname.'

The Runaway Groom. No wonder he looked vaguely familiar. He'd been on the front page of just about every newspaper in the world. Self-made millionaire Will Carter had been famously engaged three—or was it four?—times. He'd even made it down the aisle once before turning on his heel and bolting.

The press should hate him. But they didn't. They loved him and ate it up every time he fell in love and got engaged again. Because Will was handsome. Will was charming. And Will was sitting semi-naked in front of her.

She was trying so hard not to look at the abs and the scattering of dark hair that seemed to lead the eye in one direction.

She gave herself a mental shake just as a heavy drop of blood slid past his eye and down the side of his face. She leaned over to catch it with the shirt, just as he lifted his hand to try and brush it away.

The contact of their skin sent a tingle straight up her arm, making her heart rate do a strange pitter-patter. All the little hairs on her arms stood on end and she automatically sucked in her stomach.

'Look, I'm sorry about your head. But I woke up and there was a strange man in bed with me—then you touched me and I was frightened.' And she hated saying those words out loud but since she'd caused bodily harm to her sister's best friend it seemed warranted. She raised her eyebrows. 'You're lucky it was only a vase.'

His gaze was still on her. 'So you're Rose?' It wasn't really a question—more an observation and it was obvious from his expression that a million thoughts were currently spinning through his brain. What on earth had Violet told him about her?

He looked at the fragments beneath his feet and gave a half-smile. A cute little dimple appeared in one cheek. 'Oh, you're definitely not going to be Seb's favourite sister-in-law. At a rough guess that's over two hundred years old.'

A sick feeling passed over her. Defence was her automatic position. 'Who puts a two-hundred-year-old vase in a guest bedroom? He must be out of his mind.'

He shrugged. 'Your sister obviously doesn't think so. She just married him.'

Daisy, Rose's youngest sister, was still floating happily along on cloud two hundred and nine. And Seb seemed a really sweet guy. Just as well since she'd told her sisters just before the wedding that two were about to become three. The first baby in the family for more than twenty years. Rose couldn't wait to meet her niece or nephew, and she was doing her best to ignore the vaguest flicker of jealousy she'd felt when Daisy had told her.

She frowned. How much did a two-hundred-year-old vase cost anyway? She lifted the shirt again and winced. 'Hmm.'

His eyebrows shot up. 'What's "hmm"?'

'Hmm means it's deeper than it originally looked and I think you might need stitches. Maybe I can get you a packet of frozen peas from the kitchen?' She paused and looked around. 'Do you even know where the kitchen is in here?' Even as she said the words she almost laughed out loud. Seb's kitchen would probably spontaneously combust if someone even said the words 'frozen peas' in it. Daisy really had moved into a whole different world here.

He shook his head and placed his hand over hers. His hand was nice and warm, whereas hers was cold and clammy. Another thing to annoy her. He wasn't nearly as worked up as she was. This was all just another day in the life of the Runaway Groom. How often did he wake up next to a strange woman?

'What were you playing at anyway? You might be Violet's best friend but why on earth would you be climbing into bed with my sister? It's obvious from Violet's reaction that there's nothing going on between you. What on earth were you doing?'

Will gestured his head towards her suitcase. 'If I'm going to need stitches why don't you get dressed? You'll need to take me to the hospital.'

He hadn't answered her question. Did he think she hadn't noticed? Of course she had.

And the assumption that she'd take him to the hospital made her skin bristle.

All of a sudden she was conscious of her distinct lack of clothes. She slid her hand out from under his and moved over to her suitcase, cursing herself when she remembered he'd just had a big view of her backside.

Still, if he sometimes bunked in with Violet, then he was used to being around her sister in a semi-naked state. She glanced backwards. He didn't seem to have even noticed. Was she relieved or mad? She couldn't work it out. Apart from a few freckles, moles and little scars—one of which he'd already noted—she and her sister were virtually identical. Maybe that was why he wasn't looking? He'd seen it all before.

She grabbed a summer dress from her case and pulled it over her head. A little rumpled and yesterday's underwear still in place. Not the best scenario. But she didn't fancy fishing through her smalls to find a new set while he sat and watched in his jersey boxer shorts that left nothing to the imagination.

'Don't you have a bride in waiting that can take you to hospital?'

He scowled at her. 'Not even funny, Rose. You work in PR, don't you? Surely you know better than to believe everything you read in the papers?'

His words were dripping with sarcasm. The nerve she'd apparently just touched ran deep.

She folded her arms across her chest. 'But I thought most of the time you sold those stories and worked them in your favour.'

'What made you think that?' he snapped.

'Oh, I don't know. The ten-page photo spreads in Exclusive magazine. How many of them have you featured in now?'

He gritted his teeth together. 'Not my idea.'

It was good to see him uncomfortable. Waking up with a strange guy in your bed was horribly intimidating. To say nothing of the discomfort and embarrassment. What if she snored—or made strange noises in her sleep?

And he still hadn't answered the question about sleeping with her sister. What exactly was the deal? His eyes were still fixed furiously on her and the blood was soaking through his shirt. She decided to give him a little leeway.

She gestured towards him. 'What about you? You can't wear that shirt. Where are your clothes?'

He wrinkled his nose. 'I'm not sure. I ran in here at the last minute yesterday. I think my bag might be in Violet's room.'

'Violet's room?' She said it bluntly, hoping he'd take the hint and decide he should go there. But if he did, he ignored it.

'Yeah, would you mind running along and grabbing something for me?' He had that smile on his face. The one that was usually plastered all over the front page of a magazine, or on his face when he was charm...

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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