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Awakened by Her Desert Captor

By: Abby Green

PROLOGUE

  THE PRIEST’S EYES widened as he took in the spectacle approaching down the aisle, but to give him his due he didn’t falter in his words, which came as automatically to him as breathing.

  It was a slim figure, dressed from head to toe in black leather, the face obscured by a motorcycle helmet’s visor. The person stopped a few feet behind the couple standing before the priest, and his eyes widened even further as a young woman emerged from under the motorcycle helmet as she took it off and placed it under one arm.

  Long red hair cascaded dramatically over her shoulders just as he heard himself say the words, ‘...or for ever hold your peace...’ a little more faintly than usual.

  The woman’s face was pale, but determined. And also very, very beautiful. Even a priest could appreciate that.

  Silence descended, and then her voice rang out loud and clear in the huge church. ‘I object to this wedding. Because last night this man shared my bed.’





                        CHAPTER ONE

  Six months previously...

  SYLVIE DEVEREUX STEELED herself for what was undoubtedly to be another bruising encounter with her father and stepmother. She reminded herself as she walked up the stately drive that she was only making an appearance for her half-sister’s sake. The one person in the world she would do anything for.

  Lights spilled from the enormous Richmond house, and soft classic jazz came from the live band in the back garden, where a marquee was just visible. Grant Lewis’s midsummer party was an annual fixture on the London social scene, presided over each year by his smiling piranha of a wife, Catherine Lewis—Sylvie’s stepmother and mother to her younger half-sister, Sophie.

  A shape appeared at the front door and an excited squeal presaged a blur of blonde as Sophie Lewis launched herself at her older sister. Sylvie dropped her bag and clung on, struggling to remain upright, huffing a chuckle into her sister’s soft, silky hair.

  ‘I guess that means you’re pleased to see me, Soph?’

  Sophie, younger by six years, pulled back with a grimace on her pretty face. ‘You have no idea. Mother is even worse than usual—literally throwing me into the arms of every eligible man—and Father is holed up in his study with some sheikh dude who is probably the grimmest guy I’ve ever seen, but also the most gorgeous—pity it’s wasted on—’

  ‘There you are, Sophie—’

  The voice broke off as Sylvie’s stepmother realised who her sister’s companion was. They were almost at the front door now, and the lights backlit Catherine Lewis’s slender Chanel-clad figure and blonde hair, coiffed to within an inch of its life.

  Her mouth tightened with distaste. ‘Oh, it’s you. We didn’t think you’d make it.’

  You mean you’d hoped I wouldn’t make it, Sylvie desisted from saying. She forced a bright smile and pushed down the hurt that had no place here any more. She should be over this by now, at the grand age of twenty-eight. ‘Delighted as ever to see you, Catherine.’

  Her sister squeezed her arm in silent support. Catherine stepped back minutely, clearly reluctant to admit Sylvie into her own family home. ‘Your father is having a meeting with a guest. He should be free shortly.’

  Then her stepmother frowned under the bright lights, taking in what Sylvie was wearing. Sylvie felt a fleeting sense of satisfaction at the expected wave of disapproval. But then she also felt incredibly weary...tired of this constant battle she fought.

  ‘You’re welcome to change in Sophie’s room if you wish. Clearly you’ve come straight from one of your...er...shows in Paris.’

  She had actually. A matinée show. But she’d left work dressed in jeans and a perfectly respectable T-shirt. She’d changed on the train on the way. And suddenly her weariness fled.

  She stuck a hand on her hip and cocked it out. ‘It was a gift from a fan,’ she purred. ‘I know how much you like your guests to dress up.’

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