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- Second Chance Romance
- Shared Past
- Opposites Attract
- He Falls First
- Love Triangle
- Matchmaking Father
Comfrey ended the engagement four years ago. Now Nick is back, reigniting all her old feelings. Can she resist him a second time?
Four years ago Comfrey turned her back on the high-class life she had been raised in and her equally high-class fiancé--knowing he loved the life she had found suffocating. Excited to be moving forward with her new permaculture homestead, and sure she is finally over him, she is shocked to find Nick standing on her doorstep.
Nick had no plans to see Comfrey again after she broke his heart, but his boss, who happens to be her father, has other ideas. Tasked with convincing her to come back to the fold, he finds that loving her is something he may never get out of his blood. Now he just has to convince her that they have a future together.
Intro into Chapter One
Intro into Chapter One
Nick Belmont had ditched the Chinese take-out he had planned to order and stood instead on his boss’s front porch on a Friday night. Bryant Huxley, of Huxley Cosmetics, never worried about presuming on his position as CEO. The fact that he was the father of the woman Nick had almost married four years earlier, didn’t help.
Despite the fact that Channing had run off, ending their engagement nearly four years earlier, and devastating Nick in the process, he had been in the Huxley home several times for social occasions—one of the questionable perks of working for her father. Usually it was for a large dinner party—which Clarissa Huxley was famous for—but tonight it would only be the three of them, which was a little worrisome. Why would they need a private meal with Nick?
The house’s Doric columns lining the front of the white two-story structure looked as imposing and pretentious as their owners, especially since the front walk was flanked with two white lion statues—Nick could image how they would freak out trick-or-treaters at Halloween if they hadn’t been familiar with the house before. He pressed the doorbell and heard a loud gonging inside, announcing his arrival. The Huxleys didn’t do anything in a small way.
It was kind of strange that with all of the other household staff and formality at the Huxleys’ house that Clarissa hadn’t insisted on a maid or butler to open her doors instead of deigning to answer it herself. But there she was greeting him in her slinky white dress.
“Nicholas! It’s been far too long since we had you over. I hope you’re doing well? Bryant has mentioned how happy he is with the work you’ve been doing.” Clarissa had never lacked for conversation and may even have preferred to be the one providing nearly all of it. In that, and several other ways, she and Nick’s mother were cut from the same cloth.
Nick crossed with her through the spacious foyer and into the parlor where Bryant was already shaking a drink in the stainless-steel container.
“Nick, my boy, how are things going for you with the latest contract?”
“Very nicely, thanks. I have a little fine tuning to do on the one for Walmart, but it should go back to them on Monday. How are you, sir?”
“Wonderful, I knew you were the man for the job.” He poured the clear drink into a glass and added an olive.
“He always has been,” Clarissa came in behind him and looped her arm around his, her flowery perfume wafting up to surround them both. “Would you like an aperitif?”
“Thanks, but just club soda for me. I’ll be returning to that contract when I get home.” Nick had learned long before that he didn’t handle alcohol well and intended being on his best behavior in his boss’ home.
“Take a seat.” Bryant settled on the buttery brown leather sofa across from the wingback chair that Nick chose and took a sip of his martini. “Now tell me about this contract.”
Clarissa put up with the shop talk for nearly ten minutes before shifting the discussion to how Nick’s family was doing. She’d never had much patience for business discussion.
“Mom is well. She’s busy, you know, with the fundraiser for the Boston Center for the Arts.” It had always been her favorite of the several committees she was involved with.
“Yes, she said it was taking up all of her time—she’s such an asset to them. And you, what have you been up to? Dating anyone right now?”
And they were back to that topic. Clarissa liked to keep an eye on Nick, to know what was going on with his social life, as if she expected the daughter who rejected him would suddenly realize her mistake and come hurrying back to beg his forgiveness—as though it happened only last week. She never said anything negative to him if he happened to be seeing someone when she asked, but when he took any young woman to social events, Clarissa always slighted her, treating her like dirt, as if his date had ruined things for Channing and Nick.
Channing hadn’t needed another woman as an excuse to cut him out of her life.
“I haven’t had time to date lately. Work is keeping me very busy right now. Maybe after the rush to finish contracts for the Christmas season is over I’ll have more time for a social life.”
“Of course. It must be very lonely in your apartment, all by yourself every night.” Her expression was sad, even sympathetic, but the light in her eyes said otherwise.
“It can be quiet, but it’s easier to be productive without distractions.” Not that he wouldn’t welcome a distraction of the female kind—heaven knew it had been too long since he’d met anyone he really connected with.
The cook came to the doorway and silently signaled to Clarissa.
“It looks like dinner is ready.” Clarissa stood smoothly, gliding ahead of the men into the dining room and came to a stop beside her chair at one end of the long dining table, waiting for her husband to help her with it.
Once the Cobb salad was set in front of them, Clarissa picked up the subject again. “I’m glad to hear that you’re not involved with someone, as that could make your next assignment rather complicated.”
Nick paused before lifting the fork to his mouth, suddenly wary. “Why?”
“What she means,” Bryant elaborated, “is that we would like your help with a special project, which will require you to be away for a little while.”
“But if anyone can get it done, it’s you, Nicholas. We know you’re up for anything, right?”
Nick didn’t like the direction this was going. “What do you need?”
Clarissa sighed heavily. “It’s Channing.”
He stopped any pretense of eating; really not liking the vibe he was receiving. “What about her?”
“She’s settling in, building a house, planting trees, planning to get goats, believe it or not, though I had to ask my source to make sure that hadn’t been a typo. And she’s started seeing someone who is almost suitable for a change. Not the best family, but a good one, respectable job, even if it is several rungs below what she deserves. I’m afraid she’s going to stay in Kansas instead of coming home.”
Nick felt his heart squeeze in pain at the thought of Channing finding another man to make a life with. Why was it that even after four years he hadn’t been able to stop caring about her? He was pleased that his voice sounded unaffected when he spoke again. “What do you expect me to do about it? She’s apparently happy.” Without him.
“She’ll listen to you. She’s had four years to get this rebellious phase out of her system, and it’s time she came home and did her duty. Time she married you.” Clarissa touched his arm as though she were offering comfort, instead of causing pain.
Like he would trust her after the agony she had put him through. “Look, Mrs. Huxley—”
“Now, Nicholas, I know the past is the past,” Bryant interrupted, “but we all know she really ran away from her responsibilities in the company, not from you. Clarissa and I have tried to convince her to come home, but what she really needs is someone her age, someone with powers of persuasion to show her that what she needs is here, not in that backwater town, and we know she loved you—if you had just gone after her when she first ran, she would have come right home to marry you as planned. We’ll provide you with travel expenses, and you can continue your work in Crystal Creek. There’s a company in Kansas City with whom I’d like you to pound out a contract since you’ll be in the area anyway. You just need to remind Channing of all of the good things she’s missing by living there.”
“We wanted to get that out of the way so we could enjoy dinner. We can talk about it more afterward, while we have our dessert.” Clarissa shot him a smile that said she expected him to capitulate.
It wasn’t as if Nick hadn’t tried to find Chance in those first few months, but she had gone off grid—literally. By the time she had resurfaced again, he had moved on. He did want to see his Chance again. Except that she wasn’t his anymore, and hadn’t been for far too long.
It was a ridiculous idea, him chasing after her, trying to convince her to come back. He knew it wouldn’t work—she was as headstrong as anyone. Besides, she had left him with nothing but a note to explain when she broke off their engagement. She hadn’t even had the decency to tell him to his face.
He wouldn’t do it. He could tell them no—it wasn’t as if his job as a corporate attorney included retrieving rebellious grown women.