First Chapter - A Fallen Fortune

Copyright © Jackie Williams 2012

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A Fallen fortune

Chapter One

 “Mon Dieu! Eh, Madame?” An angry voice reached her ears. There was then some over loud muttering that echoed back off the high walls. “Foolhardy English woman.” And then another shout. “Eh, Madame! Whatever do you think you are doing up there?” The heavily accented voice was not a happy one.

Elspeth sat up straight, confused for a moment. The muttered words were obviously aimed at her! She peered down over the edge of the roof to see where the annoyed voice had come from.

Electric blue eyes flashed up at her from beneath dark brows, two floors below. The expression on the man’s face went with the voice. Very unhappy.

“I’m repairing the roof.” She called down. Then mumbled to herself as she rolled her eyes, “What do you think it looks like I’m doing?” She held up a slate tile and her hammer to demonstrate at the same time as she spoke, though her actions hardly needed any explanation.

The blue eyes flashed again, glittering in the sunlight.

“Come down immediatment! You are not meant to be up there, it is too dangerous.” The voice was a little more uncertain now and she noticed the accent more this time. Deliciously French and incredibly sexy, even when annoyed.

She sighed before she called down to explain.

“I’m fine. The structure has been checked. I’m just replacing some of the slipped tiles. I’ll be fine.” She dismissed his concern as she swivelled herself back around and carried on fitting the long crochets into the wood.

The rhythmic tapping of the hammer and sliding of the slate was pleasant and Elspeth found herself almost humming a tune as she worked. This was exactly where she wanted to be, working hard on her very own mill, set in fabulous French countryside, far away from anyone who knew her and getting her hands dirty at the same time.

She breathed in the clean, clear air deeply. She’d only been there two weeks and already she couldn’t bear the thought of ever returning to London with its endless noise and choking fumes.

She turned a slate in her hands and placed it into a crochet. She smiled in satisfaction as it slotted perfectly into position and she thought of the superficial lifestyle she’d led just a few weeks before.

Shopping in Knightsbridge and all those air-kissing, ‘mwah mwah darling,’ parties seemed so completely ridiculous now, that she cringed inwardly when she thought about them. She could hardly believe that she had recently been part of that crowd. She suppressed a little shiver of disgust as she picked up another handful of the metal crochets used to secure the slates.

“I said it is too dangerous.” The silk smooth voice came from right behind her this time and she dropped several of the crotchets as she jumped out of her reverie.

“Jeez! You scared the life out of me!” She exclaimed as she knelt up, holding a slate to her thumping chest. “You could have warned me you were right there. I might have fallen.”

“Which is exactly why I’m telling you to get down now. What on earth are you thinking of, being up here? This is no job for a woman.” The glacier blue eyes were now set beneath a deeply furrowed brow. His tanned face was set in grim lines as he appraised her work critically, and then suddenly his brow un-creased. “Hmm, perhaps you do know what you’re doing.” His English was flawless, his tone slightly more approving and the accent had softened, making it even sexier than before. He picked up a couple of the loose crochets with long fingers and dropped them back in the box beside her.

Elspeth watched his hands and noticed his perfectly formed, expertly manicured nails. They contrasted violently with the hardened look of the skin on his knuckles.

“Yes, I do actually know how to fix tiles. I just finished a roofing and basic building course in England, but I’m trying out my skills here now. It’s all laid a bit differently to what I’m used to, but I think I prefer it. It all seems to fit so much more easily and it takes no time at all.” Elspeth flipped a crochet expertly in her slender fingers, used the hammer from her belt and tapped it into place in the wood, then looked into his eyes as she slotted home the slate tile.

The blue was almost too intense and she glanced over his whole face to give her something else to look at. Now the frown was gone he was certainly worth looking at.

His eyes were set in thick black lashes under neat brows. High cheekbones were visible and they seemed to emphasize his square jaw. His hair was nearly black, glinting almost midnight blue in the late sunlight, short around the sides and a little longer on top. Dark stubble covered his firm chin and upper lip, underlining his straight, well-proportioned nose. It looked as though he had not shaved for a couple of days.

“Shouldn’t there be scaffolding and stuff? Should you even be here?” He asked as he looked her over curiously.

Elspeth arched her eyebrows at the man.

“Yes, I should be here. I own the place.” The satisfaction in her voice was obvious. “I signed the final papers over two weeks ago. And what do you mean about stuff? Like what for instance?” She looked astounded at him, his arrogance was unbelievable. She tucked a stray wisp of her short blonde hair back behind her ear and decided to give him another chance…“Look, I’m just about finished for today, go down again, I don’t want to be held responsible if you fall. We can talk more easily on the ground.” It was hard to ignore his intense gaze.

He gave a sharp nod.

“Well okay, but shouldn’t you be wearing a hard hat at the very least?” He stared at her intently from where he stood on the ladder, his face almost on a level with hers.

She rubbed her nose self-consciously, knowing that the freckles really stood out now that she had been working in the sun for a fortnight.

“Whatever for? If I fall from this height, a hat won’t help and I don’t see any low flying aircraft about to land on my head.” She glanced up and looked sarcastically at the clear blue sky as if a Jumbo Jet was about to appear and use her roof as a runway. “It would be better if you wore the hard hat in case I drop something on you while you’re prowling about my property. I’m sure that the last time I tested it, gravity was working the same as usual.” She flicked her fingers and spun a crochet out over the roofline. They watched it disappear. “Yup, still working.” She added as she peered down. “And I don’t need the scaffolding because I’m using a safety harness.” She jiggled the thick rope that was attached to the belt around her waist. It snaked away, up and around the huge brick chimney. “Unlike you, I’m perfectly safe up here. I think you’d better go down. I’ll follow you. I could do with a drink of something.”

He gave her another hard look and then took a step back down the ladder.

She turned to follow him but suddenly realized that he would have a bird’s eye view of her bottom, encased in very short shorts. She twisted back round quickly, extremely embarrassed.

He laughed out loud, showing perfectly white teeth, as he immediately knew why she had sat back round. He gave a shake of his head as he laughed.

“Okay, I’m going down now. I’ll shout when I’m on the ground.” The laugh continued in his tone as he disappeared beneath the row of slates.

Elspeth fumed with indignation as she sat waiting for his yell, she really didn’t care if he called out or not. She was finished with men, however sexy their voice sounded and however good looking they might be, for the foreseeable future.

The shock of having to cancel her own wedding, just two days before the event, was one she wouldn’t be getting over for a long time. Seven wasted years spent with John wasn’t going to endear her to the male species anytime soon.

She sat looking out over the roof top to the tress that surrounded her haven. The gentle breeze rustled the leaves and cooled her forehead.

“Alright, I’m down!” The fabulous accent called up to her a few seconds later.

She tried to ignore the voice, took a deep breath, and turned around again, hoping he wasn’t looking upwards at the view of her backside.

She stepped over the edge of the roof, but something instantly felt wrong. Her right boot hit the ladder but the left slid against metal and hit nothing but air. She slipped gently sideways, grasping frantically at the roofline and ancient guttering as it disappeared beneath her flailing hands.

The safety rope whistled through the pulley around the chimney and slowed her descent, but not by a lot and she cried out as she banged against the stone wall of the mill, grazing her knees.

She bounced off the wall, falling fast and as she twisted in mid-air she suddenly saw a pair of long arms reaching up towards her.

“Argh!” She cried as she smacked down between his outstretched limbs. The force of her fall carried her forwards and he staggered back as she hit his hard chest.

“Oof!” The air came out of his lungs in a great surge of breath, knees buckling as she landed on top of him and he hit the ground hard. Her legs were either side of his waist as they struck the gravel and her head jerked forwards uncontrollably as his bounced up towards her.

The crack as their foreheads met echoed off the high walls of the mill and Elspeth began to see rainbow stars falling around her. The pain hit a millisecond later as she rolled limply to her side clasping her head in her hands and unable to utter a sound.

She squeezed her eyes shut as her head felt as though it were splitting in two and she dropped her fingers from her forehead as she discovered that touching it made the pain a lot worse.

There was a deep groan at her side and suddenly warm hands were on her shoulders. She wasn’t sure if they were shaking with fright or shaking her. It was impossible to unlock her jaws as the pain screamed through her head. Stars still whirled under her closed eyelids and her blood began pounding furiously in her ears.

She felt herself being rolled onto her back and for the strangest second she thought she must be unconscious and in some kind of weird, almost erotic, dream.

All pain was forgotten as she felt as though she was being kissed, meltingly soft lips touching hers with an almost fervent desperation.

Was it possible?

She hadn’t had as much experience of kissing as she would have liked, the seven years with John having taught her virtually nothing, and she tried to reason with the impossibility of it, but then gave up. The imaginary sensation was too beautiful to want it to stop. She went along with the vision for a second longer and then almost moaned in delight as she imagined her lips being gently parted.

They were definitely being moved tenderly, sensuously, by something, someone, soft and warm and tasting of rosemary and lavender. She was about to move her lips in a dreamy response when suddenly she felt a great whoosh of air being forced into her lungs. The next second there were more delicious movements and then more air. It wasn’t an unpleasant sensation, but the next breath caught her unawares and she tried to breathe out as more air was being breathed in.

She instantly froze, trying not to choke as the warm feeling of being kissed suddenly moved away. She held her breath to stop herself coughing and to her utter amazement she felt large hands move over her left breast.

She opened her eyes in shock, as her nipples reacted more quickly than her brain, and contracted into frighteningly hard peaks. She looked at where the new sensation was coming from. Long fingers were entwined and placed over the top of one another on her chest. They were connected to muscular forearms, covered with a thin layer of black hairs. She looked further up to see white shirtsleeves rolled over elbows and then the strong arms pushed down onto her breast, jolting her body.   

Realization suddenly dawned, but too shocked to move, it took her a moment to form coherent words.

“Stop!” She yelled furiously as her mouth caught up with her brain after the second firm push on her breast. She wriggled beneath the hands. “I don’t need resuscitating!” The hands were immediately gone.

“Mon Dieu! I thought you were dead!” His voice, almost too loud in its relief, echoed back off the mill walls. He sat back on his heels, his own shock evident in his expression.

“No, I’m okay. I think. God! My head.” She gasped as the pain came back, throbbing hard now. She tried to sit up and she felt him unclip the rope around her waist before taking her shoulders in his strong grasp as he helped her raise her body from the ground. She shook him off, angry, but not entirely sure why. She curled her legs beneath her and winced in pain as her scuffed knees protested. She tried to stand, but she felt dizzy and her legs trembled.

“Do you think you’re okay? Can you stand?” He looked deep into her eyes, the black eyebrows creased into the solid line again as he voiced his obvious concern. She could see a huge lump appearing right between his furrowed brows, but he didn’t look to be in any pain.

“I have no idea. Let’s give it a try.” She took a deep breath and struggled to get to her feet as he put his hands under her arms to help her up. The ground immediately started to spin and she fell forwards into his hard chest, catching the beautiful heady scent of his perfume as he grabbed her shoulders again.

“I think I’d better call an ambulance.” He held her close to him, heat radiating from his body and enveloping her totally as he said the words near to her ear.

She suddenly couldn’t decide if it were the bump on her head or his closeness that was causing the vertigo. She tried to pull away again, but immediately felt faint.

“No!” She gasped as she flapped her hands in protest. “I think I’ll be fine. I just need to sit for a minute. Can you help me inside?” She gave in and leaned against him, noticing how he towered over her, as he put a long arm around her waist. But at the first step she staggered again, the ground seeming to rush up towards her. Her legs gave way and she felt him suddenly sweep her up into his arms, holding her tightly against his chest as he carried her into the mill.

He shouldered his way through the front door, moving quickly across the room before he laid her gently on the lumpy settee and knelt down on the floor beside her. He examined her face carefully, his long fingers brushing her cheek, turning her face towards the light. He took a deep breath and shook his head gently, his dark hair falling across the huge bruised lump on his forehead.

“You need to see a doctor. That was a long way to fall. I told you that you should have scaffolding.” His eyes were boring into hers and she felt her breath becoming deeper the longer he looked.

She suddenly remembered why she had been so enraged a few minutes earlier.

“You moved the ladder!” Her voice exploded out of her as she almost shouted the accusation. “I only fell because it wasn’t where I’d put it.” She thought of how her boot had slipped and she leaned forwards glaring at him furiously, her breath coming in short angry gasps.

He inched back away from her fury and held his palms up in surrender.

“About ten centimetres, that’s all, and only because you had the foot of the ladder on uneven stones. Damned thing wobbled so much as I climbed down, I nearly fell myself. I thought you saw me move it. I was only trying to save you from having the ladder tip over and then you go and fall off anyway.” He was just as incensed, his eyes blazing as he glared at her. They were both breathing deeply, anger close to the surface, but his expression softened as he gazed at her, then his eyes flicked up to her forehead. He stood up quickly.

“Do you have any ice? We could both do with some for our heads.” He spoke through gritted teeth.

“In the freezer compartment of the fridge. There’s a tray.” She was quieter now as she nodded towards the corner of the big room. Her eyes followed his fluid movements, his broad shoulders swaying, twisting his slim waist, as he turned and moved toward the small fridge. She closed her eyes for a moment. She was not supposed to be admiring a man with whom she was deeply annoyed, and who had nearly killed her. “Can you refill it afterwards, that was supposed to go with my vodka and tonic.”

He cracked the ice out of the tray into two large pieces of kitchen roll, then refilled the ice tray, put it back in the freezer and folded the loose ice in the paper towels. He dampened another paper towel and walked back to her. He passed her one of the packets of ice. She clamped it to her forehead at the same time as he pressed the other one rather tentatively to his own.

He looked down at her and then smiled suddenly.

“Well, I can think of better ways to meet new neighbours. I don’t think I’ve ever been leapt on by one before. Well, not quite so soon after meeting them. I know I am irresistible, but most of the women I meet let me introduce myself first. I think you’ve broken my record.” He waggled his eyebrows suggestively at her, his meaning quite clear as he spoke and she laughed when he winced in pain. His accent was soft again, very French and very sexy. He slid down the side of the settee and sat on the floorboards looking at her as the melting ice in the paper dripped onto her forehead, then he reached out with the damp towel and dabbed it gently on her grazed knees.

She watched him as he worked carefully, cleaning the blood and dirt, waiting until he seemed satisfied with his work before she spoke.

“So you’re a neighbour are you? I’m almost disappointed.” She arched her fine eyebrows as she ignored his innuendo and then lowered them quickly as the pain scorched through her head again. “I thought you must be part of the local branch of saboteurs at the very least.” She decided to forgive him. It wouldn’t be a good idea to get on the wrong side of the locals, especially as she meant to live here permanently. She attempted a smile at him and stuck out her free hand for him to shake. “I’m Elspeth Fr…Franks from England.” She trailed off unexpectedly, she had been about to say more but the words unexpectedly died on her tongue. He didn’t need to know too much about her. There was a short silence as he waited for her to continue, before he took her hand and responded.

“Leo Montel…from…further along the river.”

She noticed his hesitation but didn’t say anything. If he wanted to keep something to himself, that was fine by her. She wasn’t being entirely truthful herself.

He suddenly carried on. “Claude said there were new people here. He saw your van a couple of days ago and I thought it was about time I introduced myself. Where’s your husband? Boyfriend? Err, partner? Aren’t they helping you today? I must be here when they see you are injured. I must explain that you were unconscious in case you feel unwell tonight.” He looked around the room they were in as he spoke. He hadn’t been in the empty mill for years and it still looked unlived in.

The room was large and high. There was a large oak table with only one chair at the end near the kitchen and a fold up bed at the other near the window. He suddenly noticed that it was a single bed and he looked back at her almost accusingly.

She looked a little crestfallen as she read understanding in his eyes, but then lifted her chin defiantly. She didn’t have to explain herself to him, but she felt compelled by his open manner. It was very disarming.

“I wasn’t entirely unconscious. You just thought I was. I was momentarily stunned.” She clarified. “And actually, I don’t have a husband or anyone else for that matter. Thank God!” She muttered as an afterthought. “I’m doing this place up myself and I don’t need any help.”

He caught the stubborn edge to her statement and gazed in surprise at her determined expression.

“Well then, you must be completely mad. The mill hasn’t been lived in for years and there’s no way a girl…” He trailed off and almost quailed at the now livid look on her face. “Sorry. That was extremely rude of me, but you have to admit it’s unusual for a woman to want to renovate by herself.”

“Perhaps, but I’m going to do it anyway.” She looked around at the building, a slight smile on her lips as she thought of the past three month’s frantic training. The crash course she’d taken had involved most basic building work, and she had passed the final exam with flying colours. Of course, it helped when you didn’t have any distractions from the male sex and knowing that she was buying a renovation project had spurred her on too. But she had also been surprised at how much she had enjoyed the course. “I’ve already had someone in to do the electrics and basic plumbing and as for the rest, well, I’ve got the skills. I’ve trained and anything that’s new to me, I’ll learn on the job. It’ll be a breeze.” She was firm and he looked at her again.

She was so pretty and petite he could hardly believe what she was saying. Her gritty stubbornness held his attention.

“Trained or not, you’re going to need some scaffolding. You can’t keep carrying boxes of slates and crochets up onto that roof. They weigh a ton and it’ll take you months to finish if you have to constantly go up and down that ladder. Are you intending to live here while you do it up?” He took the ice pack from his head, felt the egg sized bump tentatively and winced. It was now throbbing painfully and glowing a livid purple under his fingertips. “Great. I bet that looks attractive! Hmm, I don’t know what Katia is going to make of it when I tell her a mad English woman fell out of the sky and landed right on my head. No one will believe it.” He muttered finally after putting the ice back for a few more minutes.

Elspeth ignored the latest insult and let curiosity get the better of her.

“Who’s Katia? Your girlfriend?” She queried, looking at him with sudden interest.

Leo stared at her upturned face and bit back the desire to reach out and touch her velvet cheek.

“Sort of… no actually she’s not my girlfriend. We’ve known each other a long time, we’re just friends and… look, it’s too hard to explain, but no, she’s not my girlfriend. We just go out together sometimes. There’s not a lot of younger company around here.” Leo looked very uncomfortable as he spoke.

Elspeth blinked slowly.

“Oh? I thought I saw someone younger than you walking along the river last week. Come to think of it he looked a lot like you too.” She felt her own bump under the ice and groaned as the pain lurched through her head.

“That was probably Claude, my brother. We are very alike and some people even mistake us for twins, but as I keep telling him, it’s quite obvious that I am the better looking.” Leo smiled widely and Elspeth thought that he was probably right. She couldn’t imagine anyone on earth being better-looking than Leo. He carried on. “He mentioned that we had someone new to the area, that’s why I came down to say hello. He's actually three years younger than me.” He reached out and pulled her hand away from her head.

 “And how old would that be?” Elspeth was direct. She looked down. He was still holding her hand. His warmth surrounded her fingers, as he gently massaged her palm with his thumb. A strange feeling wriggled in her stomach and for some reason she didn’t want him to let go.

“Twenty-eight. How about you? And how did you say your name? Elspet…th, Elspet?” His perfect English floundered for the first time as he looked over her features and then down to the hand he was massaging.

Elspeth smiled as he struggled with her name.

“Twenty five, same as your brother, and call me Elsa, it’s easier if you can’t say ‘th’, a lot of French people seem to have trouble over it.” She said helpfully. “Look, I’m sorry I fell on you, but thanks for being my crash mat. I might have been seriously hurt otherwise. Even if it was your fault I fell in the first place.” She qualified.

He took a deep breath and dared to look at her again.

“You’re welcome. And I’m sorry I moved the ladder without telling you. Do you think you’re going to be okay now? I must go home to change. Katia wants to go out later and I find things easier if she’s kept happy.” He let go of her hand reluctantly and stood up, frowning again as he said the words.

Elspeth wondered why he was now so uncomfortable, but didn’t have the courage to ask this time. He looked almost annoyed at being made late. Well, she wasn’t going to delay him any longer.

“I’m fine now. Go on, go home and change. Have a nice time out. Maybe I’ll see you around.” She gazed up at him, her eyes wandering slowly over his worn pale jeans and linen shirt that hinted at a very toned body beneath, suddenly wishing he wasn’t leaving. She frowned at herself, feeling very shallow. She’d run away to France deliberately to avoid men and here she was, with the first man she’d met properly since arriving, already eyeing him up and looking at his attributes. She cursed herself silently.

Leo had stopped frowning.

“I’ll come back first thing in the morning and check you’re okay. Please don’t go up the ladder again tonight, just in case you become faint again. Do you have a phone here in case you feel ill?” He waited until she nodded then dug a hand in his jeans pocket. He pulled out a card and handed it to her. She looked down at the thickly embossed rectangle. His name and mobile phone number stood out in a dark purple on the cream card and she noticed an email address at the bottom but there was nothing else. She slipped the card onto the small table beside the settee.

“Thanks, but I’m sure I will be fine.”

Leo looked out of the small window towards the setting sun and turned to put the now wet paper towel in the sink. He paused there a moment and then added. “Do you want me to pour you that vodka before I go?”

She considered for a second, thinking that it would delay his departure, but the thought of alcohol on top of an already aching bruise was too much bear. She wrinkled her nose as she spoke.

“No, I think I’ll give it a miss tonight. I’m going to have enough of a headache without any extra help.” She smiled up at him, and his arctic eyes were suddenly blazing at her.

He walked straight back to her and squatted down in front of the settee, the muscles in his thighs straining the soft denim of his jeans. Gazing at her for a long moment, his blue eyes scorching into hers, he pulled in a long breath.

She dropped the paper towel in surprise at his sudden intensity and it fell wetly onto the floor between them. Then he reached forwards slowly, touching her face with long, gentle fingertips, his broad shoulders tense inside his shirt as he bent his head nearer to her.

He hesitated for a second longer and Elspeth took a sudden breath, her heart thumping madly, as his intention became perfectly clear.

He dipped his head lower, his lips brushing hers lightly for a second and her chest heaved as his mouth pressed tenderly onto her own. He moved his hand gently over her cheek and down to her neck, tipping her head back as his tongue parted her willing lips, almost blistering the fragile skin and leaving her gasping as he lingered for a few seconds more before he moved away again.

“Sorry.” He breathed at her quietly, his eyes twinkling, obviously not sorry at all. “After tasting them a while ago, I just couldn’t resist another sample.” And he stood up again and strode out of the mill without a backward glance.

 

Leo put his hand on the rail next to the millrace and vaulted over the gate. He strode along the track leading into the forest. He pushed the hair up from his brow, taking care not to touch the huge lump that he could almost see in his periphery vision, and wondered why he was sweating so much, it was hardly a steep path.

The trees closed in around him, their shade suddenly cooling the air, but at the last moment, he turned and looked back at the mill. It stood pale grey and solid beside the shimmering river. Why on earth was she doing the place up on her own? She just didn’t look or sound the type, her accent told him that she was very well educated and she was obviously far too tiny, too dainty for manual work. He shook his head slightly. He would never understand the British, they were definitely a strange race.

He trudged on through the forest, his heart feeling heavier with every step. He glanced down at his watch and groaned. He was already late and he could hear, even now, the tongue lashing that Katia would be giving him in ten minutes. He hoped Claude would be there to deflect any major arguments. Katia seemed calmer when Claude was about. It was himself that drove her to distraction. Sometimes he annoyed her deliberately, just to make life more interesting, but he did not feel like winding her up today.

He had wanted to stay with the strange English woman. He had really only gone down to the mill to say hello because Claude had told him that the new neighbour was young, blonde and beautiful. While he would have visited anyone to welcome them, he doubted he would have rushed if Claude had said she was middle-aged and ugly.

Elspez? He tried her name in his head and pursed his lips, shook his head and tried to say her name aloud.

“Elspet…th.” Damn. There were very few things in English he was unable to master but the final ‘th’ had long been a problem.  He smiled at how easily she made the change to Elsa for him.

And she certainly wasn’t middle aged and ugly. He had wondered before he had seen her, Claude’s taste in women certainly was not like his own. For goodness sake, Claude thought that Katia was nothing short of Goddess like, while he almost shuddered at the sight of her. It wasn’t that she wasn’t beautiful, it was just that her features were all so hard and sharp, no softness at all and Leo liked a softer more welcoming look.

He laughed out loud at himself as he thought what a fool he had been for thinking the woman was dead. He hadn’t realized until he felt her nipple peak under his hand, that she was merely stunned. He’d been momentarily shocked at her reaction, but quickly realized that it must have been involuntary. She had been nearly unconscious.

He thought of Elsa half lying on the lumpy sofa, her small nose covered in a splatter of pale freckles and her short blond hair laid flat to her head in a sort of pixie style. Her soft brown eyes looked almost wrong with the hair and he would have thought it was dyed except that her perfectly arched eyebrows were only a shade darker. Her lips were full and soft red, just parted over even white teeth. Apart from the bump, she was incredibly pretty. In fact, she was too pretty for words and his heart had leapt stupidly in his chest. He had had to look away quickly or he would have kissed her.

And then he had kissed her anyway.

He didn’t know what he was thinking of, but she was suddenly so irresistible that he just could not resist, it was impossible. He smiled to himself as he thought of how her lips had responded. Surprised and slightly stiff, then suddenly as soft as slowly melting chocolate. He put his forefinger to his own still tingling lips, then rubbed them lightly to stop the weird sensation.

He almost tripped over a tree root as his mind wandered from his route and the perspiration sprang to his forehead again. He wiped his brow carelessly on his sleeve and winced as he touched the bump too hard. He would keep his promise to go and see her in the morning, maybe he would even get to kiss her again. His smile widened, if he were early perhaps there would be even more than a kiss on offer. He knew it was wrong to deceive her, but if she meant a pleasant diversion for the next month, from the overbearing Katia, he’d give in to it.

I hope you have enjoyed this first chapter of A Fallen Fortune and want to continue reading about Leo and Elspeth. If you would like to purchase the book, please click here or on any of the images.

Other books by Jackie Williams

Regency Romance

Silence of Scandal/A Murderous Masquerade/A Gallant Gamble

Military Romance

Running Scarred/Scarred Beginnings/Forever Scarred/Scarred Horizon/Scarred Survival

Contemporary Romance/French Themes

A Fallen Fortune/Echo Beach/Treasured Dreams

Shorter Reads

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The Garden of Eden

Contemporary romance/New Adult

A Perfect Summer/Silent Treatment/Tinted Lenses/Delicious Desires

Jackie's Naughty Side

A Hole in One

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