To Have a Husband

By: Carole Mortimer

“You deeply resent a lot of things, Harriet—but mainly me!”

His mouth twisted disgustedly before he continued, “Could that be because I’m the one who pointed out your boyfriend’s little sideline in blackmail?”

Harrie felt the remaining color drain from her cheeks. “You—”

“I don’t think so, Harrie,” Quinn whispered grimly as he effectively prevented her hand from slapping the hardness of his cheek.

Harrie was completely unprepared for what happened next. She didn’t even have time to avoid Quinn’s mouth as it came down to possessively claim hers, his arms moving assuredly about her slender waist as he pulled her body in close to his.

Her limbs had all the response of jelly, knowing she would have fallen if it weren’t for the strength of Quinn’s arms.

What was she doing?

This man was her enemy!

Quinn had just kissed her. And far from being outraged and disgusted at the unprovoked intimacy, she found that every part of her body seemed to tingle and feel alive….





PROLOGUE



‘IF I cross your palm with silver, are you going to tell me I’m going to meet a tall, dark, beautiful stranger?’

Harriet’s second reaction to this less than respectful remark to her role as Gypsy Rosa, Fortune-teller, was—you are a tall, dark, handsome stranger!

It had been her second reaction—because her first had been ouch!

After being stuck in this tent at the Summer Fête most of the afternoon—a typically damp, English June afternoon—these were the first free few minutes she’d had for a much-needed cup of tea. This man walking in here without warning had caused her to spill most of the hot liquid over her hand!

‘You are Gypsy Rosa, aren’t you?’ the man prompted mockingly at her lack of reply.

Lord, she hoped so, otherwise her fashion sense badly needed working on! She certainly didn’t usually wear flowery skirts that reached to her ankles, or low-necked white blouses designed to reveal rather than hide her cleavage. And her make-up wasn’t usually so garish, the red gloss on her lips matching the varnish on her nails. She also wore huge hoop earrings at her lobes, and her hair was completely covered by a bright red scarf.

Her only saving grace, as far as she was concerned, was that the lack of lightning in the closed-in tent, as well as making it stifling hot, also made it impossible for anyone to see her properly, and so recognise her. At least, she hoped it did!

Her sister Andie usually took over this role at the Summer Fête, and loved every minute of it, but this morning her sister had woken with the beginnings of flu. Everyone else, it seemed, already had their role to play at the fête, and so it had been left to her to—reluctantly—become Gypsy Rosa.

Until the last few moments, it hadn’t been too difficult. She’d lived in the village most of her life, and knew all of the people who lived here, so it wasn’t too hard to predict romances, weddings, even births in some cases, and the rest of what was said she just made up to make it sound more interesting.

Until the last few moments…

Because even in the subdued lighting of the tent, she knew she had never seen this man before!

Although she could obviously see he was tall. And dark. And his physique seemed to imply he was muscular as well as handsome. He was certainly a stranger, of that she was sure!

‘Please sit,’ she invited in the husky voice she had adopted for her role of Gypsy Rosa, indicating the chair opposite hers at the table, surreptitiously putting her mug down on the grass at her feet before wiping her wet hand on her skirt beneath the table—otherwise she would be crossing his hand with tea!

Close up she could see him a little better; he had dark hair and light-coloured eyes, either blue or grey. His face all hard angles, his chin square and determined, he wore a dark suit and a white shirt. Well, she could tell one thing just from looking at him—the way he was dressed, he had no more expected to be at a village fête this afternoon than she had expected him to walk into her tent to have his fortune told!

‘It started to rain again,’ the man drawled, looking across at her, his brows raised derisively.

Ah. In other words, he wouldn’t be in here at all if he hadn’t needed to step inside out of the rain that had dampened a lot of the afternoon!

She held back a smile at this disclosure: at least he was honest.

‘I’m afraid it takes a little more than silver nowadays,’ she murmured throatily. ‘The board outside tells you it costs a pound.’

‘That’s inflation for you,’ he acknowledged dryly as his hand went into his trouser pocket to pull out a pound coin and place it on the table between them.

‘Would you pass it to me, please?’ she invited—for what had to be the fiftieth time this afternoon!

It was amazing how many people, even though they knew it wasn’t a real ‘Gypsy Rosa’ inside this tent, still came in here hoping she would tell them some good news. Although it seemed rather sad to her that it appeared to be the lottery most people hoped to win nowadays rather than wishing for anything else good that could possibly happen to them.

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