Planning the most talked about wedding of the year is enough to make engineer Frith Taylor break out in a cold sweat. She's used to construction sites, not wedding fairs! But estate manager George Challoner's offer of help is one that's too good to resist.
George may be the rebel of the prestigious Challoner family, but his insanely good looks are giving Frith wedding fever! Charm personified, he's making her feel things she hasn't dared feel before. Maybe her little sister's wedding won't be the only one Frith's planning...?
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I was having a good day until George Challoner turned up.
It had rained almost every day since I had arrived in Yorkshire, but that morning I woke to a bright, breezy day. By some miracle Audrey had started first time, and I hummed as I drove along the country lanes lined with jaunty daffodils to Whellerby Hall.
When I arrived at the site, Frank, the lugubrious foreman, had even smiled--a first. Well, his face relaxed slightly in response to my cheery greeting, but in my current mood I was prepared to count it a smile. Progress, anyway.
The ready-mixed concrete arrived bang on time. I stood and watched carefully as the men started pouring it into the reinforced steel raft for the foundations. They clearly knew what they were doing, and I had already checked the quality of the concrete. After a frenzied couple of weeks, I could tell Hugh that the project was back on schedule.
Everything was going to plan. I had it all worked out.
1. Get site experience.
2. Get job overseas on major construction project.
3. Get promoted to senior engineer.
And because I was an expert planner, I had made sure all my goals were Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound. I was aiming for promotion by the time I was thirty, an overseas job by the end of the year, and I was already getting site experience with the new conference and visitor centre on the Whellerby Hall estate.
True, things had got off to a shaky start. Endless rain, unreliable suppliers and a construction team made up of dour Yorkshiremen who had apparently missed out on a century of women's liberation and made no secret of their reluctance to take orders from a female. My attempts to involve them in team-building exercises had not gone down well.
For a while, I admit, I had wondered if I had made a terrible mistake leaving the massive firm in London, but my plan was clear. I badly needed some site experience, and the Whellerby project was too good an opportunity to miss.
And now it might all just be coming together, I congratulated myself, checking another grid off on my clipboard. I'd won a knock-down-drag-out fight with the concrete supplier, which might account for Frank's--sort of--smile and now we could start building.
Perhaps I could let myself relax, just a little.
That was when George arrived.
He drove the battered Land Rover as if it were a Lamborghini, swinging into the site and parking--deliberately squint, I was sure!--next to Audrey in a flurry of mud and gravel.
I pressed my lips together in disapproval. George Challoner was allegedly the estate manager, although as far as I could see this involved little more than turning up at inconvenient moments and distracting everyone else who was actually trying to do some work.
He was also my neighbour. I'd been delighted at first to be given my own cottage on the estate. I was only working on the project until Hugh Morrison, my old mentor, had recovered from his heart attack, and I didn't want to get involved with expensive long-term lets so a tied cottage for no rent made perfect sense.
I was less delighted to discover that George Challoner lived on the other side of the wall, his cottage a mirror image of mine under a single slate roof. It wasn't that he was a noisy neighbour, but I was always so aware of him, and it wasn't because he was attractive, if that's what you're thinking.
I was prepared to admit that he was extremely easy on the eye. My own preference was for dark-haired men, while George was lean and rangy with hair the colour of old gold and ridiculously blue eyes, but, still, I could see...