Copyright © Nicola Marsh 2020
Published by Nicola Marsh 2020
All the characters, names, places and incidents in this book have no existence outside the imagination of the author and have no relation whatsoever to anyone bearing the same name or names and are used fictitiously. They’re not distantly inspired by any individual known or unknown to the author and all the incidents in the book are pure invention. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in any form. The text or any part of the publication may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of the publisher.
The author acknowledges the copyrighted or trademarked status and trademark owners of the word marks mentioned in this work of fiction.
First Published by Harlequin Enterprises in 2004 as THE WEDDING CONTRACT.
World English Rights Copyright © 2020 Nicola Marsh
Bohemian, free-spirited Amber Lawrence owes her father, big time. So when he’s on the verge of losing the family’s carnival, she agrees to an outlandish proposal from the shark trying to rip apart her dad’s dream.
She’ll marry the uptight lawyer, in exchange for enough money to save the carnival and open her dream aromatherapy shop.
Successful, stubborn Steve Rockwell always uses logic. But entering into a marriage of convenience for the sake of his dying grandmother might be the dumbest thing he’s ever done. Especially when feelings enter the equation and he discovers Amber’s keeping a secret…
Can this mismatched couple overcome their differences and come up smelling like patchouli?
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About the Author
Steve Rockwell didn’t have time for fun. Not unless it suited his purpose and didn’t distract him from more important matters, like making money.
“Can I help you?” A hand touched his arm, halting him.
Annoyed at the intrusion, he stopped mid-stride. The sooner he completed today’s business at the dingy Gold Coast theme park and flew back to Sydney, the better.
“No, I’m fine.” His impatience faded as his gaze met an inquisitive pair of hazel eyes, the likes of which he’d never seen before. They weren’t green or brown but an incredible combination of the two, with gold flecks thrown in for good measure. Not bad, if you liked that sort of thing. Personally, he had a penchant for blue where women were concerned.
As for her loose, gypsy-like clothes in vibrant colours…strange garb, but what did he expect at a carnival?
“You seem to be lost.” Her soft voice belayed the age-old weariness he glimpsed in her peculiar eyes.
He stared at the hand resting on his sleeve, noting the short nails and callous on the third finger, the antithesis of the women who usually grabbed him with their perfectly manicured talons.
He stepped away, surprised to discover he missed her brief touch. The relentless Queensland heat, which he couldn’t stand, must have melted his brain.
“I’m here to see Colin Lawrence. Isn’t that his office over there?” He pointed to a small, ramshackle portable building on the outskirts of the grounds, past the whirling rides, the popcorn stand and the Ferris wheel.
She quirked an eyebrow at him. “He’s not in. Can I help?”
Despite her sass, he almost laughed aloud at the thought of doing business with the waif dressed in layers of flimsy, floating material.
“Not unless I need my palm read.”
He noted the sudden defensive posture as she folded her arms. The action outlined her breasts and he had an irrational desire to discover what other hidden delights lay beneath the layers.
Her eyes narrowed. “I’m sure I’d have no trouble in telling you your fortune.”
The barb hit home. So the lady liked to spar? He would have little trouble accommodating her. It was what he did best. He wasn’t a partner in one of Sydney’s most prestigious law firms for nothing.
“Go ahead, Madame Zelda. Give it your best shot.” He thrust out his hand, keen to see her reaction.
She ignored his outstretched palm. “Not out here. Too public for what I have to say. Why don’t you come into my lair?”
Now that was the best offer he’d had all day.
He followed her, admiring the gentle swishing of the long skirt around her ankles. She wore sandals, an anklet and a silver toe-ring and he briefly wondered if they completed her outfit or she favoured that sort of thing all the time. He’d never been a fan of jewellery, especially the bizarre piercings many women liked these days. In fact, he’d hazard a guess she sported a navel ring to match the one wrapped around her second toe.
“Do you intend to come in or are you going to stand out there all day admiring my feet?” She held open a purple drape and gestured inside, a cheeky smile tugging at the corners of her mouth.
That mouth. Outlined in a sheer, pink gloss, it sent his imagination into overdrive. The midday sun must have addled his brain more than he thought. Since when did he ever mix business with pleasure?
He brushed past her and entered the gloom. “Who said I was admiring anything?”
“I see all,” she said, sitting behind a small table covered in red satin. “So, truth time. Show me your palm.”
Feeling utterly ridiculous and wondering what the hell he was doing in a claustrophobic tent at a run-down theme park, he unfurled his fingers.
As soon as she touched him, he knew. This mystery woman had grabbed his attention the first minute he’d laid eyes on her and he would have followed her anywhere to find out more.
“Okay, Miss Know-all. Am I an open book?”
She peered into his palm, turning it from side to side. “Mmm...Interesting.”
With her attention focused on