To Become a Bride

By: Carole Mortimer

PROLOGUE


‘MR NOBLE?’

He slowly opened one sleepy eyelid above an even sleepier, bloodshot eye. Only to raise the other eyelid, above an equally bloodshot eye, and find himself looking into the most amazing green eyes he had ever seen.

They weren’t the green he usually associated with eye colour, that faded colour that could look a hazelly grey, but the deep, deep green of a clear-cut emerald. High cheekbones sided a pert nose, the skin was clear and smooth, the mouth had a mischievous quirk to it even though it was unsmiling at this moment, and the chin pointed and raised determinedly.

The rest of the woman was harder to distinguish, Jonas realised a little irritably. A black baseball cap was pulled low over those amazing green eyes, her hair tucked neatly inside it, although the lashes that surrounded her eyes were dark and long. Black combat trousers were worn beneath a black fleece top, the latter zipped up to her creamy throat.

Obviously a young woman who liked to be taken seriously, he noted with amusement.

‘Is something funny?’ the woman prompted sharply.

‘Not at all,’ Jonas drawled dismissively, swinging long legs from over the arm of his chair to the floor before straightening in his seat.

‘Then I take it you are Mr Noble?’ the woman repeated abruptly.

He looked around the luxurious but otherwise deserted private lounge before glancing back up at the young woman with mocking brown eyes. ‘I would think that’s a pretty sure bet,’ he finally drawled caustically; he didn’t suffer fools any more gladly than this young woman appeared to!

Anger flared briefly in those dark green eyes, but was quickly brought back under control. ‘If you’ve finished your coffee—’ she looked down pointedly at the empty cup on the table in front of him ‘—your flight is ready to leave any time.’

He wasn’t sure he was going to be ready, in the full sense of the word, any time today. Despite the pint of strong coffee he had consumed since his arrival fifteen minutes ago! It had been a long night, involving no sleep, and flying off to God-knew-where, to meet a man he didn’t even know, was not high on his list of priorities at this particular moment.

But he had agreed—under pressure!—to today’s meeting yesterday when he’d received the telephone call from Jerome Summer, and he was a man of his word. So, despite the change of circumstances which meant he hadn’t actually been to bed yet, he had duly presented himself at this private lounge situated within the much larger complex of the airport. But that didn’t mean he had to like it!

He stood up, flexing tired muscles. ‘That’s some uniform you have there,’ he murmured derisively. If he had expected to be pampered by a sexy flight attendant on this short, but, his host considered, necessary flight, then he was obviously in for a disappointment!

‘Uniform?’ the woman repeated abruptly, looking down frowningly at her dark clothing. ‘These are my own clothes, Mr Noble,’ she told him coldly.

Obviously Jerome Summer ran a relaxed ship, Jonas acknowledged. It was none of his business how the other man dealt with his staff, but Jonas’s own experience had taught him that familiarity bred contempt; become too relaxed with someone who worked for you, and you were heading for disaster. His own secretary, Dorothy, was prime proof of that!

At almost fifty, over ten years his senior, Dorothy had taken on a motherly role in his life. And like most mothers with a grown-up son, she treated him with bullying affection.

However, this young woman didn’t quite fit into that category! Jerome Summer was in his early fifties, and the young lady was probably only in her late twenties. Which begged the question, what role did she have in Jerome Summer’s life that led to such familiarity…?

‘I’ll have to mention to Jerome that a flight attendant in a short skirt and silky blouse is much more conducive to comfortable travel,’ Jonas said silkily.

Dark brows rose over icy green eyes as his meaning obviously became clear. ‘For whom, Mr Noble?’

‘Why, me, of course.’ He grinned, some of the strong coffee at last seeming to kick into gear as he felt a rush of adrenaline. It would only be a temporary thing, of course, he acknowledged ruefully, but hopefully it would be long enough to get him through his meeting. ‘And if, as you say, the flight is ready, where is Mr Summer?’ he added frowningly. ‘Or is he already on the plane?’

‘Rome is at the estate, of course,’ the young woman replied caustically. ‘What would be the point of flying you there if Rome were already in town?’ she scorned.

‘Rome’, was it? Jonas acknowledged sceptically. Obviously very familiar! ‘I meant Danny Summer, of course,’ he corrected briskly. ‘I was told he would be meeting me here. He’s some sort of relative, I gather?’ he added hardly as the annoyance seemed to be increasing in the young woman’s expression.

The mischievously slanting mouth curved. ‘You gather correctly, Mr Noble,’ the woman drawled. ‘Do you have any luggage?’

‘Only this small case.’ Jonas bent down to pick up the compact black case that stood beside the chair he had been sitting in. ‘I’m not expecting to stay longer than a few hours,’ he added with grim determination. ‘Just until my—business with Mr Summer is completed.’

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