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A Diamond Deal With Her Boss

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He has an outrageous proposition...

She’ll wear his diamond—temporarily!

Personal assistant Abby’s newest assignment, as her sexy boss Gabriel’s fake fiancée, sends her heart rate rocketing. And that’s before Abby experiences the heady sensuality of his response! She cannot resist the temptation of a burning hot, short-term affair. But when the heat between them threatens to undo her, Abby must decide if she can share her body—and soul—with Gabriel...

CATHY WILLIAMS can remember reading Mills & Boon books as a teenager, and now that she is writing them she remains an avid fan. For her, there is nothing like creating romantic stories and engaging plots, and each and every book is a new adventure. Cathy lives in London. Her three daughters—Charlotte, Olivia and Emma—have always been, and continue to be, the greatest inspirations in her life.

Seduced into Her Boss’s Service

A Virgin for Vasquez

Snowbound with His Innocent Temptation

Bought to Wear the Billionaire’s Ring

The Secret Sanchez Heir

Cipriani’s Innocent Captive

Legacy of His Revenge

A Deal for Her Innocence

Discover more at millsandboon.co.uk.

A Diamond Deal with Her Boss

Cathy Williams


ISBN: 978-1-474-07216-8


© 2018 Cathy Williams

Published in Great Britain 2018

by Mills & Boon, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers 1 London Bridge Street, London, SE1 9GF

All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. This edition is published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, locations and incidents are purely fictional and bear no relationship to any real life individuals, living or dead, or to any actual places, business establishments, locations, events or incidents. Any resemblance is entirely coincidental.

By payment of the required fees, you are granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right and licence to download and install this e-book on your personal computer, tablet computer, smart phone or other electronic reading device only (each a “Licensed Device”) and to access, display and read the text of this e-book on-screen on your Licensed Device. Except to the extent any of these acts shall be permitted pursuant to any mandatory provision of applicable law but no further, no part of this e-book or its text or images may be reproduced, transmitted, distributed, translated, converted or adapted for use on another file format, communicated to the public, downloaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of publisher.

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To my three wonderful and inspiring daughters.



Back Cover Text

About the Author


Title Page




html#u9e74baec-7617-552d-8dec-37dd97734f25" id="back_u9e74baec-7617-552d-8dec-37dd97734f25"> CHAPTER TWO











About the Publisher


‘YOU’RE LATE.’ GABRIEL pushed himself away from his giant walnut and steel desk to look at the small, dark-haired woman moving briskly to pull out a chair so that she could position herself in front of him.

She was clutching her laptop under her arm and carrying a flat white coffee in her free hand, bought on her way in from a mobile one-man-band seller of excellent coffee who had set up camp outside the towering glass building that housed Gabriel’s headquarters.

So far, so good.

Except it wasn’t eight-thirty, her usual time of arrival. Nor was it nine-thirty. In fact, it was after ten, which was definitely out of the ordinary. Gabriel looked at his watch significantly, catching her eye as she glanced up at him.

‘I know.’ Abby could barely meet his gaze as she carefully rested his coffee on his desk and sat in front of him. On the outside, she was as serene and composed as she always was. It was part and parcel of having to deal with the adrenaline-charged, volatile personality of her boss. Anything less than serene wouldn’t have made it past the six-month mark and she had been his PA now for over two years.

On the inside, however, she was a nervous wreck because she was about to shake the foundations of Gabriel’s carefully composed life and he was not a man who took kindly to having his foundations shaken.

‘So?’ Gabriel vaulted to his feet, eyebrows raised, every sniffer instinct on full alert, because if there was one thing that could be said about his secretary, it was that she was the very essence of efficiency predictability. He couldn’t think of the last time she had arrived late. No, he could, and the answer was never. ‘Don’t leave me in suspense.’ He grinned and approached her in ever-decreasing circles until he was towering right beside her.

‘You know what a crashing bore I am,’ he murmured. ‘I loathe anything out of the ordinary.’

Abby could recognise a back-handed piece of self-congratulation when she heard one because the one thing no one could accuse Gabriel of being was a bore. And he knew it.

Momentarily distracted from the business at hand, she looked at him with a touch of exasperation but, as always, direct contact with Gabriel’s darker-than-night eyes left her feeling a little breathless and frazzled. Abby didn’t belong to that long, long queue of glamour women between the ages of eighteen and eighty who went weak at the knees the second Gabriel looked in their direction, but he still managed to have an effect on her which she had long since learned to ignore.

‘Would you mind sitting down?’ She arched her eyebrows, keeping all outward signs of her lack of composure under wraps. Her boss was eagle-eyed when it came to spotting the tiniest of reactions in other people and he was fond of pouncing. Abby wanted to say what she had to say before any pouncing had a chance to take place. ‘You’re giving me a crick in my neck.’

‘So?’ He perched on the edge of his desk, still too close but at least no longer towering. ‘Why the departure from your usual routine? Unexpected dental appointment? Sick cat in urgent need of a vet? Crashing hangover?’ Gabriel didn’t object to a little unpredictability and variety in his private life although, in fairness, variety was now a thing of the past given the fact that he was a man travelling at speed towards the altar.

However, in his professional life, unpredictability was not something he encouraged and he hoped his trustworthy secretary wasn’t going to start becoming unpredictable. That would pose a number of problems, the main one being that he couldn’t envisage having such a successful working relationship with anyone else. Something about her calm complemented the aggressive energy of his personality, grounded him in ways he had become accustomed to.

He paled because on top of the sick pet, emergency tooth filling and oversleeping her alarm came another, more likely possibility.

‘You’re not...

are you?’

‘Not what?’

‘I don’t even know if you have a boyfriend. You’ve worked for me for over two years and I still don’t know whether you have a boyfriend or not.’

‘What has that got to do with anything?’ Abby flushed and bristled.

‘Most bosses know at least some details of their PA’s private lives! You’re so secretive, Abby. Why are you so secretive?’

‘Gabriel, I honestly have no idea where this is going.’

‘If I’d known that there was a man lurking in the background, then I might have braced myself for the inevitable.’

Abby looked at him in open confusion. Gabriel’s brilliant mind had a disconcerting habit of whizzing around in unexpected directions until, hey presto, he got precisely where he wanted to be, leaving the rest of his competition miles behind and breathless, but even for him this line of deduction was bewildering.


‘Simple process of deduction: you’re never late...so I’m assuming something unexpected has reared its ugly head, or else you’re not well. Yet here you are! So...temporary bout of sickness? Maybe a trip to the doctor? I’m joining the dots here...’

His dark eyes zeroed in on her flat stomach and Abby felt her muscles contract and tense. Then she felt something else, an awareness that made her breathe in sharply, because it crashed through the protective layers she had built around herself, layers that safeguarded her against the dynamism and virility of her impossibly sexy boss.

‘What dots are you joining? I’m not pregnant!’ she exclaimed impatiently. ‘And the reason I don’t talk about my private life isn’t because I’m secretive—it’s because it’s actually none of your business, Gabriel!’

‘That’s called secretive,’ Gabriel pointed out without batting an eye. ‘Women always like to talk about their private lives.’

Abby gritted her teeth with a distinct lack of the cool reserve of which she was so proud.

‘But I can’t say that I’m not relieved.’ He was carrying on now with considerable less tension. ‘And I want to tell you right now that you should never be hesitant about telling me if and when you fall pregnant. I don’t belong to that category of male chauvinists who think that a woman with a child is a liability in the work place.’

‘Equality has come a long way since the Dark Ages.’ Abby had no idea how her simple speech had managed to become so derailed but then she realised that she hadn’t actually been allowed to get a word in.

‘You’d think so, wouldn’t you?’ Gabriel smirked. ‘Trust me when I tell you that I know otherwise.’ He paused. ‘So, you still haven’t said why you’re late.’

‘I...er... Gabriel, I was out last night...’ This was hardly the crisp speech she had mentally rehearsed on her way to the office, but she hadn’t foreseen a hijacking of her prepared agenda by her unpredictable boss. ‘I went to a club, in actual fact.’

‘A club? On a Thursday?’

‘Yes, Gabriel! It’s actually not that unusual. In fact, the club was packed. Because people do that—they go to clubs. Even on Thursdays!’ But Abby knew that she was red as a beetroot and getting more flustered by the second when she thought about what had taken her out of her comfort zone to the club. An Internet date. Rather, someone she had met on a dating app who had seemed very promising at the start of the evening, when they had been having a tame drink at a very civilised bar in the city. True, she had had to resist glancing at her watch every so often, and had had to keep reminding herself that after two years of celibacy it was high time she jumped back into the dating pool, but even so...

Well, he hadn’t been an ogre. Nice looking, wire-rimmed specs and a suit and a decent job at a large accountancy firm.

There’d been no reason for her not to go to the club with him. How was she to know that after four hours what had started out as nice enough would develop into interminably dull?

Maybe that was why she had started looking around her. The music had been loud and she had had a few minutes’ reprieve while he had braved the crowds at the bar to replenish their drinks, ignoring her protests that it was time she went home.

The outfit she had chosen to wear, something that shrieked ‘smart bar’ and definitely not ‘hip club’, had been uncomfortable and itchy in the overheated, dark room, and people-watching had been a distraction to stop herself from jettisoning her date and sprinting to the nearest exit.

She hadn’t expected to recognise anyone. She didn’t mix with people who went to clubs. In fact, her circle of friends was tiny and limited to the girls she played tennis with once a week and a handful of university friends who spent more time planning to get together than actually getting together.

It had been hot, it had been dark but she hadn’t been able to miss Lucy, Gabriel’s fiancée. How could you miss someone with waist-long white-blonde hair, legs that went on for ever and a body that made men stop in their tracks and do a double-take?

Lucy Jackson was a catwalk model with the sweetest of personalities and, not only had Abby been shocked to see her dancing with abandon in a club, she had been even more shocked to see her getting more than a little comfortable with a guy who was as beautiful as she was.

Shock had given way to confusion and then anger because how on earth could she do that to Gabriel?

She’d spent so long staring in horror that it had been little surprise that Lucy had half-turned and caught her eye. For the following hour, Abby had almost wished herself back with the interminably boring accountant, because a tearful Lucy had cornered her and dragged her off to the quietest spot in the nightclub, where the sound from the music was still so loud that Abby had been able to feel her brains rattling around in her head.

‘I thought I could marry Gabriel!’ Lucy had half-wept. ‘It’s not that I don’t care about him, but...he’s just not my type. Mummy and Daddy were so happy when he proposed but I just can’t... He’s so...so...serious, always working and stuff...’

Abby had bit down the very natural retort that sprawling technology empires that raked in billions every year didn’t get that way under the guiding hand of someone who holidayed and partied all year long.

‘I wish you hadn’t seen...you know...’ Lucy had chewed her lip anxiously but then had brightened. ‘But Rupe really gets me. He’s a model like me and he doesn’t get all funny about having a good time. I know he’s not eligible like Gabriel, and honestly, Abby, Daddy’s going to kill me, but I just can’t go through with it. Now you know, please, please, please could you tell Gabriel? He’s going to go mad and I know I’ll just cave in because I hate making a fuss...

Abby had been appalled.

‘Tell him?’ she had bellowed above the bass beat of the music. ‘Lucy, are you mad?’ But sweet-natured Lucy had proved that everyone had a mulish side. She had dug her heels in, pleaded and begged, shed some tears and Abby had cracked.

Which didn’t make it any easier now, standing here having dragged her boss back from his wild speculations.

She took a deep breath and said casually, ‘You’ll never guess who I bumped into at the club.’

Gabriel looked at her narrowly. ‘I’m sensing we’re getting to the heart of the matter now,’ he said drily. ‘So, instead of going round the houses, why not just spit it out?’ He spread his arms wide in a gesture of benevolent magnanimity. ‘I think you’ll find that I’m pretty unshockable when it comes to finding out what happens in clubs. There’s a very good reason I stopped frequenting all but my private one.’

Abby was aware that time was passing. Gabriel, workaholic that he was, didn’t seem unduly bothered but there were never sufficient hours in the day for her and she wasn’t enthusiastic about hanging around until late in the evening, having been the messenger of bad tidings. She had no idea how Gabriel was going to take what she had to tell him but she foresaw an uncomfortable day ahead for herself.

‘I saw Lucy there.’

‘Fiancée Lucy?’

‘The same.’ She looked at him, head cocked to one side.

‘If you’re expecting me to have a jealous meltdown,’ Gabriel inserted wryly, ‘Then you’ll be waiting a long time. Lucy is her own person and, if she wants to go to a nightclub, then she’s more than welcome to do that.’ He was momentarily distracted as he wondered who Abby had gone to the nightclub with. A band of women, all drinking cocktails and dancing around handbags? Had she gone there to pick a man up? Surely not? But why not? She was in her mid-twenties and, whilst she might dress like someone twice her age, there was something captivating about her face.

Gabriel took a couple of minutes to dwell on what it was that seemed to hold one’s attention for a little longer than was strictly necessary. It wasn’t as though she was beautiful. Lucy was beautiful, he thought absently, with her tall, rangy body and her long blonde hair. Abby’s looks ran to unusual, intelligent, characteristics that shouldn’t set the imagination alive with curiosity but somehow did.

She had shoulder-length dark hair which was usually tied back and grey eyes fringed with surprisingly lush lashes and well-defined brows. And her mouth was sexy. It wasn’t the first time Gabriel had clocked that about his very efficient, very controlled and deliberately in-the-background secretary, but it was the first time he wasn’t controlling his imagination—and maybe that was because he was now picturing her in a club. A hot, sweaty, noisy club surrounded by gyrating bodies in skimpy clothing.

Involuntarily, his dark eyes roved over her body. As always, she was neatly turned out in a white blouse, a grey, knee-length skirt and flat, black, sensible pumps. Just the sort of get-up most self-respecting twenty-something women would have flung to the back of their wardrobes. In his mind’s eye, however, he was seeing a cropped top, a short skirt and high heels...in flamboyant colours.

Aware of the direction of his gaze, Abby went bright red and adjusted her skirt primly. ‘Lucy wasn’t there on her own,’ she began.

‘Who were you there with?’

‘I beg your pardon?’

‘Who did you go with? You’re normally so reserved when it comes to talking about yourself that I expect you can understand my curiosity now.’

‘No, I can’t, Gabriel,’ Abby told him flatly. ‘And if you’d stop interrupting me and allow me to continue...’

‘What does my fiancée have to do with you arriving late for work this morning?’

‘We spent a good part of the evening talking and I ended up getting home far later than I’d anticipated, hence I overslept. That’s why I’m late. And I overslept because I was up most of the night following our conversation.’

‘You’re talking in riddles.’

‘Lucy was there with a guy, Gabriel, someone called Rupert. I hate saying this, and I know that I should never have been tasked with saying it, but I promised so here goes: Lucy is having cold feet about the marriage. She was at the club with this man and they were obviously...somewhat intimate.’

Gabriel’s dark eyes flicked to her face and he stilled because this was hardly what he’d been expecting to hear. From anyone else, he might have wondered whether they were having him on or else overplaying something relatively innocent but, coming from his PA, those two options were ruled out immediately.

‘I’m sorry,’ Abby said huskily. ‘This isn’t something I want to be doing right now, but Lucy left me with little choice.’


‘It would be far better if the two of you sat down and had a conversation about this without me in the middle being used as a go-between.’

‘So my fiancée is screwing someone else.’

‘I never said that!’

‘The implication is there.’ He clenched his jaw and strolled towards the vast pane of glass that occupied one side of his office and overlooked the city.

Hand thrust into his trouser pocket, he stared out, barely registering the busy streets several storeys below.

He should be gutted, devastated and raging with a desire to hit something or someone—Rupert at the very least, a guy he vaguely knew. Or maybe a brick wall. Something upon which he could vent his anger.

Actually, all he felt was a certain amount of disappointment. The best laid plans, he thought.

He felt Abby touch him gently on his shoulder and he spun round to register the concern on her smooth, oval face.

‘I’m very sorry,’ she said quietly. ‘I think Lucy was anxious that you would be angry with her.’

‘So she thought she would use you as the middle man to diffuse some of my anger?’

‘I guess so. She really does like you, Gabriel. She just isn’t sure that you’re the one for her, or at least that was what she told me. I wouldn’t normally have this conversation but she was desperate for me to pass on the message.’

‘How thoughtful of her. Since I appear to be having a break-up by proxy, what reasons did she give?’

Abby marvelled at how well he was managing to rein in all emotion. His personality was so forceful, so unapologetically alpha male, that his composure at a time when he should have been tearing down the office was disconcerting to say the least. Not that she wasn’t relieved, because she was.

Relieved and suddenly curious.

Curiosity, however, wasn’t part of the package when it came to being Gabriel’s PA. Abby liked to keep her working life in one box and her private life, what little there was of it, in another.

‘I don’t think she liked the thought of marrying someone who spends most of his time working.’


‘I guess in her profession, she goes out a lot, to parties and so on and so forth, and she couldn’t envisage you accompanying her to them.’

‘Definite point there.’

‘I guess she thinks she might end up with someone who isn’t fun.’

‘No one can deny that I enjoy work,’ Gabriel murmured, ‘Although I’m hurt that I’m seen as someone who can’t have fun.’

‘Gabriel, you don’t seem too...too...upset by this. She’s your fiancée! You must be breaking up inside.’

‘I like to imagine that I’m a resilient sort of guy, and it has to be said that it’s better that doubts cast their long shadow before the vows are taken rather than the other way around. Wouldn’t you agree?’

‘Yes, but...’

‘You want to see me weeping?’ he questioned coolly and with such self-control that Abby blushed.

She was no romantic. She’d been through the mill and had emerged with a healthy amount of scepticism when it came to flowers, chocolates and fairy-tale endings, but she now realised that she might have downplayed her own fundamental belief that happy-ever-afters existed.

‘It’s none of my business how you react or don’t react.’ She shrugged, back to her normal cool. ‘I didn’t want to do this but Lucy left me very little choice. I’m sure you’ll want to get in touch with her yourself and pass the message on. I just thought that... Of course, I didn’t expect you to weep...’

‘My grandmother,’ he said succinctly, surprising himself, because for all his outwardly easy banter he, like the woman standing in front of him, was intensely private and was seldom lured into revealing more than he wanted to. Yet here he was...

‘Your grandmother?’ Abby frowned. She’d taken a surreptitious step back but she was still so close to him that she could feel his heat and the energetic, physical dynamism of his personality. He dwarfed her and very occasionally made her so intensely aware of her femininity that she had to fight to retain her self-control.

It was happening right now as he stared down at her with unfathomable dark eyes.

It never failed to puzzle her how someone could wear the most expensive of business suits yet manage to look nothing like a conventional businessman.

‘My grandmother has suffered a series of mini strokes,’ Gabriel said, as serious as she had ever seen him. ‘They have taken their toll. Despite the fact that she’s been given a clean bill of health, she has become depressed about her future, and vocal about her sadness at not seeing me settled with a nice wife who will bear me nice kids and look after me in my dotage.’

‘Okay...’ Abby was shocked at this admission, which took them veering wildly off the employer-employee road they were accustomed to travelling down. Perhaps this was his vulnerability being exposed, she thought, acknowledging that alongside her surprise was a certain illicit thrill that he was confiding in her. ‘What about your parents, Gabriel?’

‘Both dead.’ He lowered his eyes and kept to himself the recognition that, like his grandmother, his father and mother, who had enjoyed a wonderful, close marriage, likewise had been disappointed in him. First his mother, who had died leaving his father bereft, and then his father who, Gabriel often thought, had died from a broken heart, unable to cope with the fact that sudden illness had stripped him of his childhood sweetheart.

‘I’m so sorry.’

‘It was a long time ago. The fact is that I was effectively raised by my grandmother. It pains me that her one wish, to see me settled, has gone unfulfilled.’

‘Hence you decided to get married to Lucy.’ There was no need for her to add before it’s too late. ‘But what about love?’

Gabriel looked at her with brooding amusement, the handsome lines of his lean face sending a rush of awareness through her body. This was the most personal conversation they had ever had and, whilst Abby told herself that she couldn’t wait to return to the business of work, she was alarmed at how much she was enjoying this rare insight into her boss’s thought processes.

She’d met a number of his girlfriends in the past. Sexy, confident women who knew what effect they had on the opposite sex and enjoyed playing to an audience. So why Lucy out of all of them? Abby was ashamed at the pull of curiosity and she looked away.

‘I am no great believer in that particular emotion,’ Gabriel drawled, then he grinned and murmured in a low, silky voice, ‘But I’m beginning to think that you might be.’

‘Then you’d be wrong,’ Abby blurted out.

For a few seconds time stood still as their eyes tangled and a slow drumbeat pounded inside her, drying out her mouth and scrambling her thoughts.

‘Poor Lucy,’ she snapped, pulling back and giving herself time to get her act together under a show of antagonism.

‘Because she had the misfortune to have worn my diamond on her finger?’ Gabriel was amused and vaguely aware that he was picking up vibes that were quite unlike anything he had felt before in his PA’s presence. ‘Many women would have been delighted.’

‘Perhaps you should have chosen one of them.’

‘Wouldn’t have worked.’ He grinned, inviting her to ask the inevitable, but of course she stubbornly refused to, so he added, anyway, ‘Lucy and I go back a little way and there’s one thing compelling in her favour: she comes from just the right background.’

Abby wondered why that felt like a slap in the face. ‘I had no idea that sort of thing mattered to you, although of course it’s none of my business.’

‘No, it’s not,’ Gabriel purred in agreement. ‘But now that the door’s been opened, so to speak, I’d rather you’re not left with any stones unturned. Naturally, I’ll get in touch with Lucy, but she’s mistaken if she imagines I’m going to give her a hard time. She’ll get enough of that from her parents. No, I shall give her my blessing for her future life with the chinless wonder, Rupert. And, to satisfy your curiosity, I don’t care what anyone has or doesn’t have but, when it comes to the business of marriage, it makes sense to tie the knot with a woman who isn’t in it for the money.’

Abby thought of some of the women she had met—flamboyant, seductive and definitely not out of the top drawer.

He had said that he’d wanted to satisfy her curiosity but she discovered that, instead, he had awakened it and that dismayed her.

‘Now,’ he drawled, pacing the spacious office to take up residence in front of his desk, all business now in record time, ‘Down to work.’ He paused and looked at Abby as she slowly made her way to her usual position at her desk in front of him, ready for the day to begin, albeit later than was customary. ‘She should not have put you in the position she did,’ he said seriously.

‘She’s young.’

‘Which is something I failed to take into account,’ Gabriel conceded wryly. ‘That, along with the fact that she expected rather more than was on offer, even though by anyone’s standards what was on offer was a pretty good deal.’ He stared thoughtfully off into the distance. ‘Now there’s just the business of breaking it to my grandmother that the marriage of the century is off.’

His face remained impassive but he recognised that, whilst he would fast recover from the business of his broken engagement, it would be different for his grandmother. Depression was taking its toll. She refused to leave the house and travel to London, where he could keep a watchful eye on her, but she was distancing herself from her friends, going out less and less, and it worried him.

Gabriel’s love for his independent and strong grandmother was his one weakness. She had never understood why he couldn’t settle down.

‘You work too hard.’ She used to nag away at him as she bustled around, bringing him little delicacies she had cooked and treating him like the kid he no longer was. ‘You need a wife, Gabriel, children—something to come home to at the end of the day.’

She would never understand that his father had had all that and had crumbled like a hollowed out shell the day it had been snatched away from him. She would never understand how Gabriel had watched from the sidelines and seen how love could destroy as much as it could nourish. His father had never recovered after his wife had died and that wasn’t going to be Gabriel. He was never going to position himself in the firing line, open to hurt and devastation because he’d given his body and soul to someone else.

For him, marriage would be an arrangement, and he’d been happy to get engaged to Lucy and embark on just such an arrangement. He was thirty-four years old and the timing had been good. And, most importantly, it would have made his grandmother happy and, more than anything, Gabriel would have liked that.

His parents had died without the grandchildren they might have expected and he was determined that his grandmother wouldn’t follow suit—he had a chance to provide great-grandchildren at least.

But love? No. He would happily leave that to other misguided souls.

‘You were going to introduce her to Lucy, weren’t you?’

‘It’s a shame. I think they would have got along.’

‘What about the week we had planned there before that? Shall I cancel it?’

‘Why would you do that?’

‘Won’t you want to spend some quality time with your grandmother on your own? I know you were staying with her while I went to the hotel, but won’t work be a distraction you could do without?’

‘And I thought you knew me,’ Gabriel murmured.

‘So we go as usual?’

‘I will stay on after you’ve returned to London. That will please my grandmother.’

Abby thought that it might please her but it certainly wasn’t going to make up for a broken engagement and saying goodbye to the pitter patter of little feet in due course.

All that normal stuff that happened to normal people.

For the first time, feelings carefully submerged burst their banks and came raging through. Memories of how her own heart had been broken, mangled and walked over, by an ex to whom she had been engaged. Memories of picking up pieces while facing the daily humiliation of carrying on in a tiny village where everyone knew everyone else and the story of her broken engagement had been headline news for months. She’d pinned a smile to her face for so long that her jaw had had a permanent ache from the strain of it. And her poor parents, so sympathetic, making sure to avoid talking about that man even though they still saw that man’s parents all the time in the village. She and Jason had been childhood sweethearts before he’d been seduced first by London, then Paris and then a sexy little blonde who’d been thrilled to nab a hot shot banker.

She should have been turned off the whole business of love and marriage for good. Maybe the reason Jason had reared his ugly head out of the blue was because, faced with that very question, Abby had had to concede that there was still a part of her that longed for the fairy tale.

The normal stuff that happened to normal people, even if sometimes it ended up going wrong.

‘Fine.’ Her voice was clipped and she smiled blandly at Gabriel in a manner that suggested that, now that the message had been delivered, it was time for normality to return.

She’d had her heart broken but that had made her so much stronger.

‘My perfect, efficient PA,’ Gabriel murmured appreciatively. ‘Time for work—and there’s a lot to get through. Good to know that we’re on the same wavelength—which is why I say that work goes on as normal when we go to Seville in a few days’ time.’


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