A diamond for Christmas
Flora Morgan is determined to honor her best friend’s dying wish, even if it means relocating to England and accepting the challenge to try to fix Alex Trevelyan’s broken heart.
Except brooding musician Alex, her best friend’s brother, isn’t interested in Flora’s help. She may be beautiful, but he’s no charity case! Until it becomes clear that he isn’t the only one who needs saving. And perhaps he’s the key to showing this beautiful breath of fresh air that love can be found in the most unexpected of places!
Excerpt © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
To my darling Flora—confidante, cheerleader and anchor to my universe,
So this is weird, right? Me speaking to you from the grave. But I wanted to get all my thoughts down on paper because I knew I’d get all choked up and make a mess of it if I tried to say it out loud. So here goes…
I know this is a lot to ask, but please don’t be too sad now that I’ve gone. I feel as though I’ve made peace with what’s happened to me and I’d hate to think of my passing as something that would hold you back from living your own life to the full. I’ve had a good and happy existence. All twenty-eight of my years have been blessed with love and wonderful experiences and my life’s been all the better for having you in it, Flora.
I’m so proud of you for all that you’ve achieved. I always knew you’d be successful in whatever you did, but your drive and determination have astounded even me. I know you probably won’t take a minute to step back and see the enormity of what you’ve accomplished, but get this: you truly are an incredible person, as well as the kindest, most generous woman I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing.
Which leads me on to two favours I have to ask of you, Flora. Firstly, and I know it’s a biggie, please look out for Alex now that I’m not around to do it any more. As you know, I was the only family he had left and I hate to think of him being alone in the world. He wouldn’t admit it—I think he was trying to protect my last few weeks on earth so they’d be stress-free—but I think someone broke his heart recently and he’s really hurting.
Secondly, check your breasts for lumps EVERY DAY. Or, even better, get a gorgeous sex-god to do it for you *wink*. Don’t make the same mistake I did and shrug cancer off as something that happens to someone else. Someone older. Or less busy.
You have such a good heart, Flora. You deserve to be happy, so go easy on yourself, okay?
I love you.
Your best friend for ever,
FLORA MORGAN CAUGHT the tear on her finger before it fell onto the precious, now rather crumpled, piece of paper she clutched in her hand. She’d carried the letter around with her ever since it had dropped through her letter box nearly a month ago, and she’d taken it out regularly since then to read it, hoping to conjure Amy’s spirit during her weaker moments.
She missed her friend so much it made her heart physically ache. She had no idea how she was going to live her life without having Amy around, always ready to jolly her out of a funk and lift her spirits with one of her rousing pep talks.
But she was going to have to. Because her best friend was gone.
The hum and chatter of Bath’s famous Pump Room restaurant faded away as she lost herself in some of the happy memories she’d shared with Amy during the six years they’d known each other. They’d met at their first jobs after graduating from university, sitting side by side in cramped, scruffy cubicles at the blue-chip company based in Glasgow that had selected them for their highly competitive fast-track programme. They’d hit it off immediately—their mutual love of order and precision drawing them together like paper clips to a magnet. Sharing both the professional and personal exciting highs and painful lows over the years that followed had cemented their tight friendship.
Folding the letter carefully away into the Italian leather handbag she’d bought herself for a birthday present, Flora took a deep breath to centre herself. Now wasn’t the time to get all emotionally tangled up. She needed to focus on her reason for being here today and for that she needed to have her wits about her.
Not that her reason for being here today had turned up yet.
Sitting up straighter, Flora became aware of a burst of movement over at the maître d’s desk and she turned to see that her companion for afternoon tea had finally arrived. Eighteen minutes late. But then who was counting?
Shaking off her lingering melancholy, she straightened the neckline of her silk blouse and smoothed her fingertips over her eyebrows to make sure they were both still following the required curve. They were.
Standing up, she tried not to notice how out of place Alex Trevelyan seemed in jeans that looked about ready to lie down and die, black Chelsea boots with scuffed toes and a crumpled leather jacket. She doubted very much that he’d even glanced in the mirror that morning considering how his mussed-up chestnut-brown hair fell over his cobalt-blue eyes and what must have been a week’s worth of stubble darkened his prominent cheekbones and square jaw.
A few years ago, his just-rolled-out-of-bed sexy musician charisma would have been irresistible to her naïve, overly optimistic self, but not any more. She’d learnt her lesson about men like that the hard way. If she dated anyone these days, she went for smart, business-orientated men who were just as focused on their careers as she was. Though, as Amy had regularly pointed out, that was probably why she’d remained mostly single for the last couple of years. Which Flora was fine with. She didn’t need a man to fulfil her.
As he drew nearer, Alex’s bloodshot eyes ringed with dark circles made her heart squeeze. She mentally berated herself for being so critical of his appearance when the poor man’s twin sister had died barely a month ago. He was obviously still grief-stricken.
She’d only seen him briefly at the funeral; he’d turned up at the last second wearing casual grey trousers and a bright blue shirt that had been open at the neck and glaringly free of a tie. To be fair, Amy hadn’t wanted them to wear the usual black mourning clothes. Afterwards, he’d been busy with the vicar and a group of people whom she’d guessed were old friends of the family. She, in turn, had been caught up talking to mutual acquaintances of her and Amy’s. By the time she’d looked round to offer her condolences to Alex he’d disappeared, not even turning up at the wake afterwards. She’d guessed he’d been too upset to face any more sympathy from strangers.
Amy’s words swam across her vision—I was the only family he had left. He needed her support and kindness right now, not her judgement.
Relaxing her posture so that her hands fell neatly to her sides, Flora gave Alex her warmest smile as he finally navigated past the last couple of linen-covered tables and came to a halt in front of her. Taking a deep breath, she was just about to launch into the short monologue she’d composed in her head about how pleased she was that he’d agreed to meet her so they could talk about Amy and support each other during such a difficult time, when he leaned past her to pick up her glass of mineral water and proceeded to chug the whole lot of it, not even acknowledging her presence until he’d satisfied his thirst.
‘That’s better,’ he gasped, slamming the glass back down onto the table before finally turning to face her with a wink. ‘Don’t let anyone talk you into drinking whisky after four pints at the pub. It’s a life event catalyst.’
She stared at him, aghast.
Instead of looking contrite, he yawned loudly into his hand. ‘Sorry, I’ve only just got up. Late night.’
Flora swallowed back her shock before replying, ‘It’s three o’clock in the afternoon.’
He smiled, his expression one of wry audacity. ‘Like I said, late night.’
This wasn’t the grieving, broken man she’d been expecting to turn up today and the incongruity was playing havoc with her composure—something that made her really uncomfortable.