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About the Author
Wendy HoldenWendy Holden was a journalist for The Sunday Times,Tatler and The Mail on Sunday before becoming a full-time author. She has now published nine novels, all being top-10 bestsellers in the UK, and is married with two young children. Her novels include Farm Fatale, Bad Heir Day, Simply Divine, Gossip Hound, The Wives of Bath,The School for Husbands, Azur Like it, and Filthy Rich.
From Chapter One
The bride had still not arrived. Beside Anna, Seb fidgeted, sighed and tutted, and the surrounding cacophony of wailing babies and coughing increased. There...
From Chapter One
The bride had still not arrived. Beside Anna, Seb fidgeted, sighed and tutted, and the surrounding cacophony of wailing babies and coughing increased. There seemed, Anna saw as she glanced round the candlelit chapel, to be an awful lot of people there. All better dressed than herself. As she caught the haughty eye of a skinny and impeccably turned-out brunette, Anna dropped her gaze to her feet. Realising that there had been no time even to clean her shoes, she immediately wished she hadn’t.
Everything had been such a rush. After breakfasting at his usual leisurely pace, Seb had glanced at the invitation properly for the first time and, after much panicked scanning of the Scottish mainland, eventually discovered the location of the wedding in the middle of the Atlantic.
“Fucking hell, I thought it was in Edinburgh,” he roared. “It’s practically in Iceland.” Seb thrust the AA Road Atlas at her, his stabbing finger a good quarter inch off the far northwest coast of Scotland. Anna stared at the white island amid the blue, whose shape bore a startling resemblance to a hand making an uncomplimentary gesture with its middle finger. She glanced at the invitation.
“Dampie Castle, Island of Skul,” she read. “Well, I suppose getting married in a castle is rather romantic
“Castle my arse,” cursed Seb. “Why can’t they get married in Knightsbridge like everybody else?”
“Perhaps we shouldn’t bother going,” Anna said soothingly. After all, she had met neither component of the unit of Thoby and Miranda whose merger they were invited to celebrate. All she knew was that Thoby, or Bollocks, as Seb insisted on calling him, was a schoolfriend of his. There seemed to be very few men who weren’t. While his habit of referring to Miranda as Melons confirmed Anna’s suspicions that she was one of his ex-girlfriends. Again, there seemed to be very few women who weren’t.
Seb, however, was hell-bent on putting in an appearance. Abandoning plans to drive to Scotland, they flew first class from Heathrow to Inverness instead and drove like the wind in a hired Fiesta to the ferryport for Skul, Seb in a rage all the way. Being stopped by a highway patrol car and asked, “Having trouble taking off, sir?” had hardly improved his temper. In the end, they had arrived at Dampie too late to be shown their room, too late to look round the castle, too late to look at the castle at all in fact, as darkness had long since fallen. Too late to do anything but rush to the chapel, where the evening service would, Seb snarled as they screeched up the driveway, be halfway through by now at least. Only it wasn’t.
-- -- -- -- --
Ten more brideless minutes passed, during which a small, sailor-suit-clad boy in front of Anna proceeded to climb all over the pew and fix anyone who happened to catch his eye with the most contemptuous of stares. Anna returned his gaze coolly as he bared his infant teeth at her. “I’m going to kill all the bridesmaids,” he declared, producing a plastic sword from the depths of the pew and waving it threateningly about.
“I’m feeling rather the same way towards Melons,” murmured Seb, testily, when, after a further half hour, the bride was still conspicuous by her absence. “Then again, she always did take bloody ages to come.” He sniggered to himself. Anna pretended not to have heard.
“Thoby should think himself lucky,” whispered a woman behind them as the vision in ivory finally appeared at the door. “Miranda is only fifty-five minutes late turning up to marry him. She’s always at least an hour late whenever she arranges to meet me!”
“There’s probably a good reason for that,” muttered Seb.
“Shhh,” said Anna, digging him in the ribs and noting enviously that Thoby clearly did think himself lucky. His inbred features positively blazed with pride as Miranda, her tiny waist pinched almost to invisibility by her champagne satin bustier, drew up beside him at the altar on a cloud of tulle and the arm of a distinguished-looking man with silver hair and a second-home-in-Provence tan.
“Stella McCartney,” whispered the woman behind.
“Where?” hissed her companion.
“No, the dress, darling. Achingly hip.”
“Aching hips, as well, I should think. It looks like agony. Poor Miranda.”
“Still, it’s worth it. Mrs. Thoby Boucher de Croix-Duroy sounds terribly grand. If not terribly Scottish.”
“No. They’re about as Scottish as pizza,” whispered the second woman. “Hired this place because Miranda was desperate to get married in a castle. And I hear Thoby isn’t quite so grand as he seems anyway. Apparently he’s called Boucher de Croix-Duroy because his grandfather was a butcher from King’s Cross.”
“Yes! Shush, we’ve got to sing now. Damn, where is my order of service?”
As everyone vowed to thee, their country, Anna sneaked a proud, sidelong glance at Seb and felt her stomach begin its familiar yoyo of lust. His tanned neck rose from his brilliantly white collar, his tall frame, drooping slightly (Seb hated standing up), looked its best in a perfectly cut morning suit innocent of the merest hint of dandruff and his long lashes almost brushed his Himalayan cheekbones. He might make the odd thoughtless remark, but he was the best-looking man in the chapel by a mile, even—Anna prayed not to be struck down—counting the high-cheekboned, soft-lipped representation of
Jesus languishing elegantly against his cross. Seb was gorgeous. And, source though that was of the fiercest pride and delight, it was also rather terrifying. Seb attracted women like magnets attracted iron filings—and in about the same numbers. If being in love with a beautiful woman was hard, Anna thought, it was nothing to being in love with a beautiful man.
“Pure entertainment. ” - A Curious Statistical Anomaly
Length: 8 in
Width: 5.25 in
Weight: 14.88 oz
Page Count: 352 pages