Bride By Friday
About the Author (#u560ab17e-8332-54e2-bf87-c3f51df88ce9)Title Page (#u8423d455-9c1d-5676-a1ff-9a104cb08f6d)CHAPTER ONE (#ue84b1f69-fff7-52e7-b36e-4a5c780a05ca)CHAPTER TWO (#u6810426a-7878-53db-903d-81a6fdb8fb96)CHAPTER THREE (#u21e9291b-7b5d-51ad-a42a-d2f07e44e4d8)CHAPTER FOUR (#litres_trial_promo)CHAPTER FIVE (#litres_trial_promo)CHAPTER SIX (#litres_trial_promo)CHAPTER SEVEN (#litres_trial_promo)CHAPTER EIGHT (#litres_trial_promo)CHAPTER NINE (#litres_trial_promo)CHAPTER TEN (#litres_trial_promo)CHAPTER ELEVEN (#litres_trial_promo)Copyright (#litres_trial_promo)
“I have a problem here,” Charlie confessed
“I’m not sure who I am.”
“You’re not sure?” Tessa glared This was getting crazier by the minute.
“Well...” Charlie’s blue eyes glinted with laughter.
“Until a week ago, I was Charles Cameron, cattle farmer But now... According to this, I’m Lord Charles Cameron, thirteenth Earl of Dalston. Owner of a grand-sounding title, and—if you’ll agree to marry me—owner of one rather decrepit castle and all it contains..”
Trisha David is a country girl, born on a dairy farm in southeast Australia. She moved on—mostly because the cows just weren’t interested in her stories! Married to a “very special doctor,” Trisha writes medical romances as Marion Lennox and Harlequin Romance
stories as Trisha David In her other life she cares for kids, cats, dogs, chickens and goldfish She travels, she fights her rampant garden (she’s losing) and her house dust (she’s lost!) Oh, and she teaches statistics and computing to undergraduates at her local university
Bride by Friday
‘I...I beg your pardon?’
On second thoughts, maybe this was rushing things. He’d been sitting beside Tessa Flanagan for all of five minutes.
‘It was just a thought,’ Charlie said hastily. Uh-oh. His gorgeous fellow passenger was staring at him as if he’d landed from Mars, and he really had only been thinking aloud. How to retrieve a situation like this?
If ever there was a time to lay on the Cameron charm, this was it.
Charles Cameron lifted a pile of papers from his drop-down table, and let it fall again as if the weight of the pile explained all. Then he sighed, giving Tessa the benefit of his very nicest smile. It was a totally heart-stopping smile, and it usually worked a treat.
‘I know it’s sudden, but the way I’m reading this, it’s either marriage or lawyers,’ he told her. ‘And you sure beat lawyers!’ Charlie directed his fantastic smile straight at Tess, and it showed absolute appreciation.
Which just showed how deranged the man was, Tess decided, staring at him in astonishment. She hadn’t slept since she’d heard about Christine. Tessa’s trim figure was disguised by the jogging suit she was wearing for comfort on the long flight. Her short, blonde curls were tousled and unkempt, and her eyes were shadowed and way too large for her face.
And this man—a complete stranger—was asking if she’d marry him!
She eyed him warily for all of ten seconds, as if he was about to sprout Martian antennae. Charlie kept smiling. Finally Tess came to the conclusion that he was nuts, but harmless nuts. Maybe even nice nuts.
‘Yeah, right,’ she said blankly and turned away, trying to block him out.
She couldn’t block out his presence. Nutcase or not, Charles Cameron was a difficult man to block.
Charlie was six foot three without his boots on. He had broad shoulders, but he didn’t carry one ounce of spare fat. The man was sheer muscle, his body narrowing to long, long legs stretched out under the airline seat. He was wearing a short-sleeved, open-necked shirt and moleskin trousers, and his clothes suited his muscled, tanned and weather-beaten body to perfection.
Despite her distress, it was impossible for Tess to ignore the sheer maleness of the man. He was thirty or so and weathering magnificently. Charlie’s thick black hair was bleached at the tips as if exposed to too much harsh sun. His deep blue eyes twinkled and danced and made you want to smile...
He looked a man apart. Charles Cameron fitted into the surrounding sea of suits like a bull fitted into a china shop—and Charles Cameron was some bull!
Oh, for heaven’s sake... Ignore him, Tess thought desperately, as she clenched her eyes shut. She had enough to worry about without a grinning lunatic she’d never met before proposing marriage from the neighbouring seat.
Like thinking about Christine...
The thought of Christine was enough to stop any hint of a smile. Christine was Tessa’s twin sister—and Christine was dead.
Maybe it was stupid for Tess to feel this bad. Donald had told her over and over that she shouldn’t care. He didn’t understand Tessa’s grief-stricken reaction one bit.
‘For heaven’s sake, Tess, you haven’t seen Christine or your snobbish brother-in-law for six years. Not since your twenty-first birthday. She met that creep and she hasn’t been home since. She’s hardly written. They didn’t even come to your mother’s funeral. And you’ve never been to England to visit her. You’ve never even wanted to visit...’
That was how much Donald knew! Tess had ached to visit her twin, and she longed to travel.
But Tess couldn’t ignore family ties as Christine had done. Their mother had been an invalid and, after her death, her legacy of medical bills had made visiting Christine impossible.
And now Christine was dead. Her mother was gone, and now her sister. It was the end of her family.
Only it wasn’t the end, of course. There was Ben...
She had to see him. She must! Even if she wasn’t wanted.
‘Hey, if it’s my proposal making you look like this, then forget it.’ The deep male voice rumbled beside her and Tessa’s eyes flew open. It was such a nice voice. Low and growly, but warm and with such depth..
The lunatic’s voice. The Martian.
For a moment, Tess wished she was back in her economy class seat—but only for a moment. As a last-minute passenger, she’d been wedged between a twenty-stone woman who reeked of garlic, and the airline toilet. The tap on her shoulder after the hour’s stop at Singapore—‘Miss, we have a seat available in business class if you’d like the offer of a free upgrade’—had been a gift from heaven.
‘Am I making you look like this?’ the man asked anxiously, and then answered his own question. ‘Nope. I’m sure it’s not me. You looked like this before.’
‘Like what?’ Tess asked before she could help herself, and the man smiled his blindingly attractive smile
‘Like a mermaid who’s lost her sea,’ he said gently. ‘Who’s floundering on the beach and who doesn’t know how to get home.’
A mermaid. Honestly!
Tess glared. ‘I just need some sleep,’ she managed.
‘Hey, I guessed that,’ he told her. ‘That’s why I suggested you come up here.’
‘The seat beside me was empty all the way from Australia.’ He grinned at her look of astonishment. ‘I stretched out and luxuriated no end but, truth to tell, I was lonesome. Then I saw you in Singapore looking like a waif who was about to topple over, and I thought if there was company to be had I wouldn’t mind if you were it. So I pointed you out to the airline people and told them you looked too young to be travelling alone.’ His smile deepened. ‘They agreed—and here you are.’
‘They agreed...’ The man’s audacity took Tessa’s breath away. So that was why she was sitting in business class.