Recovering a memory breaks more than a heart
Chantal Chevalier’s secret love is the magical splendour of Chateau Vauquelin.
She’s determined to win the interior design contract if only to stop the once magnificent estate from being restored into a bland playground for the rich and famous.
However, persuading the new owner isn’t easy.
The last thing Alessandro Kirkwood needs is the distraction of a contractor who is more likely to run off to the Azores, than to finish the job.
But he can’t resist the vivacious French designer or her ideas…until a series of strange incidents reveals a secret neither one of them wants to disclose.
A tantalising glimmer of turquoise winked in the morning sun. Mentally cursing the thick coat and scarf that restricted her movements, Chantal stretched up as far as she could, not daring to let go of the ladder completely.
Almost there. She could feel the fine shards of paint on the tips of her fingers. If only she could reach a little further to peel the layers of dull white paint away and find her first piece of concrete evidence as to what the room had once been like. Well, at least sixty years ago. Going back five centuries would take a bit more work.
“What the hell are you doing?”
The angry American male voice startled her. She snatched her hand away and placed her fingers back on the metal rung. The sudden movement caused the ladder to rock precariously. Her heart leapt into her throat. She touched the wall to steady the ladder, but only succeeded in tilting it back the other way.
Putain. This was going to hurt. She pushed herself away from the metal rungs and hoped it wouldn’t fall on her. For a fraction of a second she felt as if she was floating down to the ground. At least if she died it would be in splendour. She glimpsed a movement behind her, reflected in the large picture window of the magnificent 16th century chateau. Then the ground came up to meet her. Hard.
The parquet flooring forced the air out of her lungs so fast the shock overrode the searing pain. She lay there for a moment, winded. Tentatively, Chantal moved her limbs and relaxed when she realised nothing was broken.
A man stood by her feet, a beanie hat pulled tight over his ears, reminding her she was no longer alone. Tension gripped her body again. From her position on the wooden floor she could only see the guy’s face. His grey eyes perused her body in the most insolent way. Finally they reached her face and their gaze clashed.
She knew how she must look, sprawled across the floor, her coat burst open. It was then she remembered her choice of jumper that morning and did a mental eye-roll. ‘Interior decorators do it all over the house’ was proudly emblazoned over her chest. A humorous gift from a friend. Not what she’d normally wear, but its thermal properties made the top the most practical garment for the job in today’s freezing temperatures.
He grinned. He actually grinned, unbelievable.
His eyebrow raised just a fraction. “Were you planning on showing me more?”