One Night to Wedding Vows (Wedlocked!)(7)

By: Kim Lawrence

He had a new future. Thinking of it stretching out ahead of him, he was conscious of an empty feeling in his chest. He might not have auditioned for the role, but it was his. He was the last man standing, or at least the last Di Vittorio standing, which to his grandfather meant the same thing.


‘FINE. I’LL SLEEP with the first man I see!’

It was really hard to maintain any dignity, having just issued a threat worthy of a teenager having a tantrum, thought Lara. Mark’s laugh in response only made her madder, so she slammed the door as hard as she could. Lara was slim but she was tall and athletic so the door rattled in its frame.

The first man she saw was the balding middle-aged proprietor of the hotel they had booked into for their romantic weekend.

He looked at Lara with concern as she rushed past him into the street, tears coursing down her cheeks.

The blurb had claimed the small hotel was within walking distance of all the main tourist sites, clearly a gross exaggeration. But it hadn’t mattered to Lara, who had never had any intention of doing a lot of sightseeing!

How could she have been such a fool?

She had thought Mark was different. Maybe I’m meant to be alone, she thought. The prospect wrenched a sob from her throat.

Self-pity, said the voice in her head, is very unattractive. She ignored it and sniffed loudly and angrily.

This would never have happened to Lily, but then no man who took her twin away for a romantic weekend would have acted as though he’d been lured there under false pretences if he discovered she was a virgin.

Was her twin a virgin...?

A thoughtful expression flickered across her face as Lara considered the question. Her twin didn’t talk to her much about that sort of thing, but then they hadn’t talked about that sort of thing since the boy she’d known Lily had fancied had taken Lara to the Christmas party the year they were sixteen. It was years ago now, and a joke, but Lil hadn’t see it that way at the time... What had his name been?

How ironic if Lily was not a virgin, while she, who people assumed had had more lovers than handbags, most definitely was. But then that was people for you—they always assumed the worst. So Lara had decided a long time ago that life was simpler if you just let them.

People did so love their boxes—Lily was the sensible twin while Lara was the wild child. She liked to party ergo she slept around. Right now she wished she had!

She bit her lip, feeling a fresh rush of tears.

‘I hate men, all men and especially Mark Randall!’

For about thirty seconds the outburst made her feel empowered, then like all pointless gestures it left a sense of anticlimax and the knowledge this was her own fault.

It could have been worse—she could have slept with him and then discovered he was a pathetic loser. What was it about him that she’d been attracted to in the first place?

Smooth brow pleated, she pondered the question. True, he’d seemed like a considerate boss and he’d noticed her. Everyone noticed her, but Mark had noticed her for her work. He’d said she had potential, and she hadn’t minded doing extra work, work way beyond her pay grade, because he appreciated it and he was one of the few men in the building who hadn’t tried it on... Hmm, big clue there, Lara.

She had decided that there was sensitivity gleaming behind his horn-rimmed spectacles and kindness in his eyes. She’d felt safe around him and love, or the sort she wanted, was about feeling safe and secure.

Lara did not want the sort of love that would leave her feeling utterly bereft if she found out her lover or husband was cheating. Had Dad been a cheat? Lara didn’t know for certain if the charming, charismatic father she had adored had been unfaithful. The clues had all been there, but she had never asked her mum for confirmation. She didn’t think she could bear to hear the answer.

Lara never intended to feel that way about any man, so while her friends looked for men who made them lose control Lara looked for quite different qualities.

Qualities her new boss had seemed to epitomise. For the first time she was being treated as an equal by someone who saw her as a person and not a sex object, and she had found the combination irresistible.

He was too nice and too professional, she reasoned, to make the first move, which was sweet but a bit frustrating. Not being someone who thought patience or unrequited love were good things, Lara had set about making him notice that she could do more than file.

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