Lara Callaway has been cheated on for the last time. She's enjoying a peaceful stay at her employer's London town house before embarking on the holiday of a lifetime—alone! Until the unexpected arrival of Reuben Tyler throws her senses into overdrive...
The rebellious millionaire becomes her unlikely travel companion, and somewhere between romantic Venice and glamorous Monte Carlo, he is beginning to make Lara feel beautiful again. But can Lara return the favor and show cynical playboy Reuben that he, too, is worthy of love?
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
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.:
Lara tried to hide her sniffles as the door opened and Addison's chin nearly hit the perfect hardwood flooring.
'Lara? What on earth...?'
She didn't wait for her to finish. Rain was dripping off the end of her nose and running down her back as she tried to bump her impossibly heavy case over the entranceway of the house. The case gave a squeak and one of the wheels catapulted merrily into the air, spinning off down the front steps and along the exclusive London street.
She swallowed the impossible lump in her throat. It pretty much summed up her life right now.
Addison pulled her by the elbow and slammed the door behind her. 'What's wrong? What's happened?'
Lara's stomach coiled up. She hated this. She hated turning up like this. Even though she tried to hide it, she knew Addison was stressed enough without adding anything else into the mix. Her pretty face had been marred by a permanent frown for the last few months Lara had been acting as a nanny for her and her husband, Caleb.
She took a deep breath. She was still in shock and the words just seemed to come out of nowhere. 'I had a Sliding Doors moment,' she breathed, before dissolving into tears.
'A what?' The frown was back. Addison had no idea what she was talking about.
Lara shook her head, her blonde hair sending raindrops splattering all around them. 'I went home earlier than he expected. I caught the earlier tube.' Her voice wobbled.
Addison took a deep breath and stood up a little taller. 'And?' She could be scary when she wanted to be.
'And Josh was in bed with the next-door neighbour.'
She wobbled and Addison caught hold of her elbow and steered her through to the kitchen. 'I'm sorry, Addison. I know you're just about to go on holiday but I had nowhere else to go. I just stuffed everything into my case and left.'
Addison flicked the switch on the coffee machine. 'That ratbag. How dare he? You've paid the rent on that flat for—how long? And he does this to you?'
She opened the cupboard and pulled out two cups then sat down on the stool opposite Lara. 'What are you going to do?'
Lara hesitated. The timing was, oh, so wrong. 'I'm sorry, Addison. I know you're leaving in the next few hours. This is the last thing you need.' It was the absolute last thing. Although to outsiders Addison and Caleb Connor had the perfect life, Lara could tell that things were strained. Their son, Tristan, was a dream to nanny, a happy, well-mannered little boy with the biggest smile in the world. But things in the household were far from happy. Addison had been strangely silent these last few weeks, and Caleb's presence had been virtually non-existent. Lara had the distinct impression this month-long holiday was make or break for the couple.
She bit her lip. 'I wondered...can I stay for the next couple of weeks? Just until I try and sort things out? I'll need to find somewhere else to stay.'
Addison didn't hesitate. 'Of course you can. No problem at all. Caleb and I will be gone in the next few hours. You can have the place to yourself and take some time to get sorted.'
She pressed some buttons on the state-of-the-art coffee machine. She frowned at Lara, 'Double shot?'
Lara nodded. Addison pressed a few more buttons for the extra shot for Lara and decaf for herself and the steaming hot lattes appeared in seconds. She held up two syrup bottles. 'Gingerbread or caramel?'
'Vodka,' Lara groaned. It might only be three o'clock in the afternoon but after the day she'd had she wanted to cut straight to the chase. She pointed over at the one in Addison's left hand. 'Caramel.'
Addison poured a healthy amount of pure sugar syrup into the latte before adding the tiniest dash into her own.
She looked Lara straight in the eye. 'What are you going to do about your holiday?'
The holiday. Of course. Lara pressed her head down on the counter worktop. 'Oh, no.'
Addison reached over and squeezed her hand. 'You've been looking forward to this all year. Don't let him spoil this for you. You deserve a holiday. You need a holiday. Spend the next two weeks sorting yourself out, then go and lie in the sun. Relax. Chill out.'
'By myself?' The holiday she'd been looking forward to for months had instantly lost its shine. There was something really wrong about going on a cruise on your own. Talk about awkward.
Addison's glare had a steely edge. 'Yes, by yourself. Why not? You don't need a man to determine who you are in this life. You've saved hard for that holiday. Go and enjoy it.' She picked up her latte. 'Now, I need to finish packing. Will you be okay?'
Lara shifted on the stool. She really needed to get out of these rain-soaked clothes. Her stomach was churning. She could sense the tension in the air around Addison. It wasn't like her to say something so direct. She usually kept all her cards played safely close to her chest. Still, it wasn't her place to say anything. The line between employer and employee still existed and she shouldn't cross it. Her only concern should be Tristan, and from all her observations he was a happy, healthy little boy. Whatever was going on between the adults was up to them to solve.
She nodded her head in grateful relief. 'I'm not right now, but I will be. Thanks, Addison. I promise I'll take good care of the place.'
'I know you will,' Addison replied, with the quiet reassurance she always possessed. She paused for a second, 'I won't be able to call or email you. The place we're going—it doesn't have a phone line or internet.' She paused and gave a sad kind of smile. 'You'll be fine, Lara. You don't need him. He didn't deserve you—not at all. It's amazing how strong you can be on your own when you need to be.' She held Lara's gaze. 'The world needs good people like you. Look after yourself.' She gave a nod of her head and disappeared out into the hall.
Lara sucked in a deep breath, looked around the immaculate show kitchen and put her head back on the counter. Two weeks to sort herself out. Perfect.
It was almost midnight. Reuben fumbled with the key in the lock yet again and swore under his breath.
Maybe he shouldn't have had that extra drink but his flight had been delayed six hours, jet-lag was kicking in and he'd decided to stop to try and get something to eat before he got back to the house.
Only something to eat had turned into something to drink. The takeaway hadn't looked too appetising and the pub across the road had stopped serving food at seven p.m. So he'd just had a drink. That had turned into another. And then another. Watching a football match in a pub had that effect. After five minutes everyone was your best friend.
The key finally clicked into place and he shouldered the door open, falling over the front step and landing in a heap on the hardwood floor. The entrance hall was so big the noise echoed around him.
He picked himself up and tried to feel his way along the wall, seeking a light switch. When was the last time he'd been in Caleb's house? Must have been over a year ago—Addison wasn't exactly welcoming. She didn't seem to like her husband's bad-boy friend.
The light switch wasn't beckoning. All he felt was the flat walls. His eyes tried to adjust to the dark. If he remembered correctly the kitchen was to the right and the living room to the left, looking out over the exclusive London street.
He sighed and headed towards the living room. He'd collapse on the sofa and watch TV for a bit.
He froze in mid-step. What was that? Was that a noise?
He held his breath for a second. Caleb, Addison and their son should be on holiday. Caleb had said he could stay here for the next few weeks while his house was getting roof repairs. He tipped his head to the side and listened again.
He dumped his bag at his feet and walked over to the outline of the door to the living room and pushed it open. All he really wanted to do right now was sprawl out on the sofa.
But everything was wrong. And the jet-lag meant that all the senses in his brain were firing in slow-mo.
If he'd been firing on all cylinders he would have noticed immediately the glowing television on the wall, the sweet wrappers and wine bottle on the living-room table and the duvet on the sofa. His sofa.
Instead, all he noticed was the flash in the corner of his eye and the thudding pain at the back of his head. As he made contact with the floor and looked upwards all he could see was something pink and fuzzy.
Then everything went black.
She couldn't breathe. There was a tight strap across her chest and her heart was thudding wildly in her ears.
One minute she'd been lying half-dozing on the sofa, watching Saturday night TV, the next she'd heard footsteps walking across the entranceway. She'd gone into autopilot—years of watching too many TV shows—and picked up the nearest thing to hand. It was one of Caleb's awards and it was currently lying broken on the floor next to the burglar in black.
She picked up the phone and dialled the police. 'Emergency services. Which service do you require?'
'Police, how can we help you?'
'There's a burglar. In my house. I've hit him.'
'What's your name?'
'Lara. Lara Callaway.'
'Can you give me your address, Lara?'
'Seventeen Crawford Square, Belgravia.'
'Where is the suspect now, Lara?'
She gulped. 'At my feet.' Police, she'd asked for the police. Maybe she should have asked for an ambulance?
'Lara, what do you mean, the suspect is at your feet? Are you in any danger?'
Her mouth was suddenly dry. Maybe she shouldn't have drunk all that wine? 'No. I don't think so. He's unconscious. I hit him.'
The operator spoke slowly. 'Without putting yourself in any danger, can I ask you to check that he's breathing? I'm adding an ambulance to the dispatch call.'
Lara bent her knees and squinted at the guy on the floor. He was lit only by the TV glowing on the far wall. His chest was rising and falling slowly.
She took a deep breath. For a man who was breaking into people's homes he was actually very handsome. He didn't have that furtive, shady look about him. There was a hint of suntan under the shadow along his jawline. He gave a little groan and she jumped back.
'Yes, yes, he's breathing. But I think he's going to wake up.'
'Lara, take yourself to a safe place. The police are on their way and will be at your address in under two minutes. Keep this phone with you. You can keep talking to me if you're scared.'
She backed off out of the room and headed to the front door. Her head was starting to throb. This was turning into a nightmare.
Maybe this was her fault. This was a prestigious London address—of course they would be at risk of housebreaking. The house had a state-of-the-art alarm system—which she hadn't put on yet. She would have done on her way to bed. She just hadn't got that far yet.
Something struck her as strange. How had the burglar got in? The front door was still closed. None of the windows seemed open. What if he'd damaged the house somewhere? Through the window the glow of blue lights in the distance made her breathe a sigh of relief.
How was she going to explain this to Addison?
This was the worst jet-lag ever.
'Sir, can you open your eyes for me, please?' And why was this bed so hard?
'Yeow!' Someone had nipped the soft flesh on his hand. He sat bolt upright, ignoring the pounding headache.
Wow. He swayed. Dizzy. That was a new experience for him. He hadn't been dizzy since that time he'd been knocked out while playing football ten years ago.
Knocked out. He narrowed his gaze as the pieces started to fall into place. Two policemen.
Two green-suited paramedics—one male, one female. And another female dressed in a pink fuzzy pyjama suit with her blonde hair in some kind of weird bundle on top of her head. She looked like some kind of giant kid's toy.
He lifted his hand to the back of his head and winced. 'Someone want to tell me what on earth is going on here?' He frowned and turned to face the pink teddy bear. 'And who the hell are you?'
The teddy-bear face looked indignant. He could tell she was trying to place his Irish accent, which got thicker the angrier he was. 'Who am I? Who are you? You broke into my house!'
One of the policemen stepped forward but Reuben held up his hand. 'Wait a minute—you're not Addison. This isn't your house.'
He stood up and dusted himself off. 'And I didn't break in anywhere. I have a key...' he pulled it from his back pocket '...because I am supposed to be staying here. So who are you exactly?'
The policeman looked from one to the other. 'It would probably help if you could both identify who you are.'
The paramedic stepped forward. 'I'm not finished yet.' She held up a penlight and shone it into Reuben's eyes. He flinched but didn't object. He knew better. After a second she gave a nod. 'Both pupils equal and reactive.' She stepped back to write some notes.
Reuben pulled his wallet out from his back pocket and handed it to one of the policemen. 'Reuben Tyler. I just landed from LA a few hours ago.' He folded his arms across his chest. 'My own apartment is under repair. It took damage during the recent storm and when they went to do repairs they discovered asbestos in the roof.' He turned to glare at the teddy bear again. She really was quite cute. If he hadn't been having such a bad day he might have been quite taken by her strange get-up, perfect skin and mussed-up hair. 'My friend Caleb Connor, who owns this place, said I could stay here while he and his family were on holiday.'
The policeman turned towards the teddy bear, who was shifting uncomfortably on her feet at the mention of Caleb's name. 'And you are?'
'I'm Lara Callaway. I work for the Connors. I'm their nanny.'
Ah, their nanny. Things were starting to fall into place in his brain. Caleb had said the last nanny had left and they'd hired someone new.
'And I can verify this with the Connors?'
He watched as she gulped and glanced at the clock. This was a girl who obviously wasn't used to being around the police.
'Well...not right now. They'll be midway across the Atlantic—and they're going to a place with no phone or internet.' She turned around to look at Reuben. 'You're not going to take him at his word, are you? I've never seen him before—and I've never heard Mr Connor mention his name. He could be anyone.'
"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.
Book Description Harlequin, 2016. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110373743696
Book Description Harlequin. MASS MARKET PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0373743696 *BRAND NEW* Ships Same Day or Next!. Bookseller Inventory # SWATI2132282471