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A past she wants to forget, a secret that will change everything and a hunky guy who should have known better.
It’s no secret that Katrina Quinn has been caught having an affair with her hunky co-star. Hounded by the press she has escaped to Yorkshire, England and the remote seclusion of Copse Cottage. It’s a house packed full of junk and memories—far too much for one woman to handle.
For odd job man Ryan Taylor, being hired to clear clutter while ogling one of Hollywood’s hottest stars seems like easy money. A good way to escape his jealous, drunken girlfriend, Eve, who seems intent on making his life a misery. But Copse Cottage is haunted with his happy past, stirring anew his longing for the girl he used to call the best in the world.
A stolen beat-up suitcase is going to change everything—secrets will be revealed, hearts will be broken all over again and the biggest mystery of all will finally be answered.
“Right, well, can I do something to make it better? Do you need to have some time off? I mean, we’ve been working day in and day out for, what, close to two weeks now—”
“No,” he was insistent, an edge of hardness to his voice. “No,” his tone softened. “Really, I’m much better being here.”
“What’s the matter, Ryan?” I asked, my voice softened. Now I looked at him closely I could see he was hurting.
“Nothing, Katrina, really, it’s nothing—but thanks, for, you know, asking.”
“Yeah, no worries. Just let me know if I can help at all.”
“Well…” He paused for a few moments then shook his head. “No, no, I don’t think you can. Thanks anyway. I’ll get these sorted and I’ll try to be less arsy from now on.”
“It’s okay”—I smiled—“I’ve been just as bad myself, I’m sure. We’ll call a truce?”
“Sure.” He grinned then went to carry on down the steps but stumbled, tumbling down the last few, the bag of rubbish slapping him in the face.
“Oh, bloody hell, Ryan. Are you all right?” I dashed down the stairs and manoeuvred around him.
“Ryan,” I called again, absolutely petrified. “Ryan, are you okay?”
I lifted the bag off his face and he took a deep breath.
“I hit my head but I’m okay.”
“Can you sit up?” I crouched beside him, and when I saw he was struggling to get upright I slipped my hands under his arms to help him.
“Oooh that’s nice,” he purred, then giggled like a little girl. “But it doesn’t part tickle.”
He’d definitely given his head a good bump.
“Let’s see where you bumped your head.” I reached out and ran my hand over his forehead, a definite lump forming on the right. “Oh, that’s nasty. I’ll get you some ice.”
“Okay, cutie.” He giggled again.
It was a weird sound coming from a grown man but it was something I’d heard a lot when we’d played together as kids. It ripped at my heart. I took a deep breath and ran to the kitchen. In the freezer I found a pack of frozen peas that might have been well past eating stage but they’d make a decent salve for a bashed head.
When I got back to the stairs, Ryan wasn’t there.
“Where are you, Ryan?” I called. I looked in the front room and glimpsed him on the front lawn, zigzagging with the refuse bag.
“Ryan! Ryan, come here!” I yelled. “Before you do yourself a mischief.”
“Oh, shut up, Janie-wanie.”
I stood in stunned amazement, then he fell over. I ran over to him.
“Oh, my head,” he groaned. “Katrina, I feel sick.”
“Oh, dear, I think you might be a little concussed.” I sighed with relief. Clearly he was less than compos mentis.
“I’d better take you to A & E—you’ve had a nasty fall.”
“Oh, I’m sure I’ll be fine. Sure, I’ll be fine, sure I’ll be— What was I doing again?”
“You’re going to hospital with me.”
“Are you ill?” he asked, stroking my arm.
“You could say that. Come on.”
“Okay, I will do when I work out which leg I need to move first.”
It was a trial getting Ryan into a taxi—he kept wanting to get into his van but I couldn’t let him drive—he could barely steer a sentence let alone a vehicle. He asked me several times in the back of the taxi where we were going, called me Mum a couple of times then lay his head on my shoulder.
“Ryan, come on, don’t go to sleep now. I can’t let you, not until you’ve been checked out by a doctor.”
“But I’m tired, sweetie.”
“I know you are, but we’re almost at the hospital and you need to stay awake.” I jiggled my shoulder and he folded his arm over my body.
“Ryan, come on now,” I growled, panic growing. “You can’t sleep.”
He made a strange gurgling sound in the back of his throat and shifted his hand right over my breast.
“Ryan,” I gasped. “What are you doing?”
“Keeping myself awake.” He moved quickly—before I could move or take it in, his lips were on mine.
I was stunned into indecision. My body was all for deepening the kiss, my hands were itching to run into his hair and add pressure to our kiss, my back wanted to arch and push my breasts farther against him and my mouth was ready to thoroughly explore his. However, my mind was completely against all of it. My mind held onto the facts. Apart from being seriously mentally incapacitated by his fall he was also the one man in Thornleydale who could work out who I was by my kiss. So I pushed him back.
Luckily, the taxi pulled up just then, and I got to bundle Ryan out of it and into the hospital foyer. He seemed to have completely forgotten the kiss. However, I hadn’t. I felt as light on my feet as Ryan. I vibrated, my skin hummed and I wanted to scrub at it, to stop it reminding me how good it had felt to have Ryan’s arms around me.
He was seen quickly by a triage nurse—they didn’t mess about with head injuries. After some tests and the administration of some painkillers he was ushered in to see a doctor.
“Well, Ryan, you’re going to be okay but you do need to take it easy until the dizziness wears off. No more heavy lifting for a few days.”
“Right.” He nodded then winced.
“Thank you, doctor, I’ll get him home.” I smiled with relief.
“Just one more thing, Ms Quinn.” He smiled, running a hand through his salt and pepper hair. “Could I have your autograph?”
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