- Women’s Fiction
♥ Blurb ♥
A heartwarming romance perfect for fans of Lindsey Kelk and Sophie Kinsella.
Gillian Bennett has always dreamed of opening a luxury hat shop, and when she finds the opportunity of a lifetime in the shape of a rent-free shop she thinks her dreams have come true.
Her parents are less than thrilled and she has two years to prove to them that this isn’t just a pipe dream, or she’ll be shipped back home and into an office job.
But she wasn’t counting on a distraction in the form of sexy but enigmatic Jared, a completely unreadable man that she soon finds herself falling for. Yet, Jared has a secret, and when she finds it out, it shakes Gil to her core.
With everything spiralling out of control around her, will Gil ever realise her dreams?
♥ Excerpt ♥
“When the hell did you move here?”
“When the hell will you mind your own business?” he retorts with irritation as he joins me in the kitchen. “Please get out of my place.” His tone is peremptory, but in his emerald eyes I don’t see only fury: there is also a flash of frustration mixed with embarrassment and this is what makes me insist.
“You haven’t told me today’s schedule yet,” I reply with feigned nonchalance. Jared sighs and seems torn between the idea of kicking me out and being reasonable. How do I know? Easy, I suspect he is similar to me in some ways: he is impulsive like me and like me he is aware of it. At first we want to do one thing, but sometimes we manage to turn our brains on a moment before we do it and try to think before we act. It’s what I imagine he is trying to do now.
“I need to sleep now,” he finally says with a sigh. I think that if I don’t want to exasperate him, for now I had better beat a retreat, though I’m aware that in this fashion I will more or less waste an entire morning of work.
“Ok, I’ll scrub the windows this morning and put off the serious cleaning to this afternoon.” There’s no way I’m getting all dusty since I have to go to Ernest’s later. I display all of my diplomacy with a smile, which he, of course, does not return. Rather, he stands there looking at me with an expression of mingled amazement and curiosity. At least I can say that I’m leaving him more awake than I found him, even without the help of caffeine.
I leave his apartment and return downstairs to the shop. I’m increasingly convinced there’s something strange in Jared’s lifestyle. According to Jane he moved in at least four months ago, but if that is the case, why does it look like he hasn’t unpacked? It’s as if he’s just arrived, jetlagged, from another country and hasn’t recovered yet. He sleeps in the morning and maybe even through the afternoon. He doesn’t eat anything that hasn’t been ordered from a take-away. I got the impression he’s not been shopping and for sure he’s not equipped with the bare essentials to inhabit a house. I may be the strange one here, but I don’t think he’s normal.
Kennedy Park is delightful and today’s warm sunshine makes it the perfect place for a companionable lunch break. Grandma Natalie joined me, as promised, at 12 o’clock sharp with a picnic basket hanging from her arm. A woman of her word. We reached the park in about ten minutes in her sky blue car, some kind of Beetle, too old for me to recognize the actual model, and settled on a yellow blanket spread on the grass under a tree. Grandma Natalie opened the basket, pulled out some sandwiches, a couple of bottles of water and an apple pie I suspect she baked this morning. Starving, I take one of the sandwiches and unwrap it while she watches me with satisfaction.
“So, Gil, isn’t this better than a sandwich gulped down by yourself?” she asks, with those hazel colored eyes always so attentive, as if she didn’t already know the answer.
“Absolutely, Grandma,” I give her the confirmation she seems to be looking for before I bite into my sandwich. Egg and tuna: delicious.
She imitates me, takes a sandwich, unwraps it and begins sampling it. I’ve already finished mine and am reaching for a second.
“I haven’t seen Lillian in a while. How is she?” she suddenly asks.
“No, nothing, it’s just that your father told me she’s got a new job.”
“It’s true. She’s the receptionist for Rochester’s vet, Zach.”
“Oh,” she says with feigned casualness, as if I’d believe the lack of interest on her part. “And what’s this Zach like?” she says his name as if there were something negative in being called just Zach.
“His name is Zacharias Lorenz, Grandma, he’s thirty-five and is a qualified veterinarian. Remember the Lorenzes? The owners of the butchers shop? He’s their eldest son. I don’t know him very well because he went to Cornell, so he was away for a while. He worked there for a bit, then he decided to come back to Rochester and open a practice in town. He needed some-one to help him with the accounting and the appointments, so he hired Lillian.”
“The son of Lorenz the butcher, the one near the flower shop, right?” she reflects enigmatically.
“Um-hm” I nod as I bite into my second sandwich. Salad and crunchy bacon, also delicious. At this rate I think I could eat them all. Work makes you hungry, no kidding.
“And how does Lillian like it?”
“She likes it. She just has a hard time getting up early in the morning, but aside from that she seems to like it.”
“And is Zacharias Lorenz married?” Her hazel eyes pin me down, attuned to spotting the merest hint of a lie in my expression.
“What’s worrying you, Grandma?” At this point I’d like to know, too. I know Lillian falls in love easily, but not this easily. Besides, even if she did fall in love with Zach, I wouldn’t see any harm in it.
“Don’t beat around the bush, Gil, answer my question: is he married?” she insists relentlessly.
“No, not that I know of,” I hurriedly satisfy her curiosity.
“So you’re not sure?” she insists.
“What do you mean I’m not sure? I’d say I am – if he were married we’d know about it, don’t you think? Rochester is small, it’s hard for a piece of news like that to slip by us.”
“You never know,” she is still reflecting thoughtfully.
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