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Authors: Gracie MacGregor

A Case For Trust

BOOK: A Case For Trust
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A Case For Trust

Gracie Macgregor

A Case For Trust
Gracie Macgregor

From Gracie Macgregor comes a new series about a family of lawyers, and the love against which they have no defence…

Head of the wealthy Mason dynasty, Matt Mason, is furious when his brother Justin cancels his wedding. Matt is convinced that the marriage celebrant, Philippa Lloyd, broke up the couple to claim Justin for herself, but if the interfering celebrant expects Matt to stand idly by while she wrecks all of his plans and his brother's future happiness, she's about to learn what happens when you tangle with the Masons.

is Matt Mason's problem? Everywhere Philippa turns, Justin's brooding, glowering big brother is there, making absurd accusations and delivering ridiculous threats – when he's not kissing her senseless. If not for the secret she's keeping for Justin, she'd avoid him and his toe-curling kisses like the plague. But Philippa doesn't realise how serious Matt is, and how far he is wiling to go. By the time the dust is settled, Philippa will not only be fighting for her livelihood, but also fighting for her heart.

Admitting he is wrong is one thing that Matt will never do, but when the truth about Philippa, Justin, and the wedding comes out, Matt will have to risk everything he holds sacred: pride, family, and professional reputation to repair the damage and claim the woman he loves.

About the Author

Gracie Macgregor shares a houseful of chaos with her teenage son and two ridiculous dogs. While her heart belongs to her hometown in Australia, her mind is frequently elsewhere, biding its time until her travel-itchy feet can catch up. Her idea of bliss is a big romance novel, a cool breeze, and a balcony overlooking Queensland's breathtaking Sunshine Coast … unless there's a chance the balcony can overlook Paris! She's been in love with love for as long as she can remember, and believes absolutely in happily ever after…as well as in taking responsibility for finding happiness in the everyday.


Like so many of my novel ideas,
A Case For Trust
started as some scribbles on the back of a rates bill envelope while I was waiting for my son to finish an appointment. Unlike most of my ideas, this one turned into a real story, written in snatches and grabs and without the long, indulgently uninterrupted stretches of time I took to write my first book. And for that I am indebted to the gracious and generous example of Helene Young, who never fails to amaze me in how she has juggled a stellar writing career with so many other commitments. When I'm hosting a pity party about being too busy to write, Helene's example shames me back to the keyboard.

Mary-Rose MacColl taught me the true meaning of generosity years ago, and the lesson is one I've carried with me ever since. I hope by having Pippa learn it in
A Case For Trust
, I'm helping pay the favour forward.

I'm also grateful Kate Cuthbert at Escape Publishing wasn't put off by my first-time efforts and offered me another contract. And I'm delighted to have had the pleasure of working once again with my editor, Belinda Holmes. Any mistakes or cringeworthy passages remain because I wouldn't take her advice.

In loving memory of my mother, and those long summers of reading.


About the Author


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18


Bestselling Titles by Escape Publishing…

Chapter 1


It was picture-postcard perfect. The cliff-top setting of the heritage-listed Byron Bay lighthouse was perfectly romantic. The timing of the vows that saw Brad and Alice become husband and wife as the setting sun flung its extravagant rainbow curtain across the horizon behind them was exquisitely managed. The gentle sea breeze that lifted tendrils of the bride's hair around her face as she lifted it for her new husband's kiss was the stuff of magic. Every girl's dream wedding. Hollywood-perfect.

Even the celebrant was perfect. Perfectly composed, perfectly cheerful, perfectly serene. She didn't fumble a word, never missed a beat as she led the congregation through the ceremony, her husky alto voice carrying perfectly all the way to the back row of guests where Matt was standing. She was perfectly gracious, perfectly sincere, perfectly in command of the proceedings. Didn't compete with the bride or draw unnecessary attention to herself, although that pocket-venus figure draped in an aquatoned jersey suit would always capture a man's eye, and her smile, when she turned on the full wattage as she drew the ceremony to a jubilant close, was easily as radiant as the bride's.

Who could imagine that warm, generous, glowing persona could hide a cold-hearted, scheming bitch intent on splitting up marriages instead of celebrating them?

But Philippa Lloyd, accredited marriage celebrant and unscrupulous fraud, had her sights set on a Hollywood ending of her own. It was a pity for her that Matt Mason knew what she really was and was about to throw all his considerable resources in the way of her ambition.

Matt grimly watched Philippa press her flawless cheek in congratulations, first against Alice's, then against Brad's, and he wondered if he was the only one who noticed how her hand gripping Brad's shoulder surely lingered longer than necessary. Alice appeared oblivious, laughing as her husband had to bend quite low to receive the diminutive celebrant's congratulations.

There was an easy familiarity between the three of them that set Matt's teeth on edge. He glanced away, irritated, only to notice the close inspection of his younger brother, Justin, was also fixed on Philippa. Damn it, where the hell was Lucy?

His brother's fiancée—ex-fiancée, he reminded himself—had not only turned up to the wedding despite her own recent and humiliating heartbreak, but had fulfilled her role as bridesmaid to Alice with quiet, responsible aplomb. If she cried a little freely during the exchange of vows, that was only to be expected. A week ago, she should have been the centre of attention herself. Would have been, were it not for Philippa Bloody Lloyd.

As if he'd called her name aloud, he watched the celebrant lift her head abruptly from the register she'd been arranging. She looked not at him but directly at Justin, who smiled easily in response and sauntered to her side. Matt watched his brother smooth a strand of long red hair that had escaped Philippa's severely professional knot back behind her ears. She looked self-conscious as she deftly pinned it back into place, her fingers brushing Justin's as his lingered near her cheek. The touch was fleeting, casual. If he hadn't known the truth they were hiding, Matt could have imagined them simply acquaintances. But the predatory look in Justin's eyes was all too familiar, and the blush that had coloured Philippa's cheeks suggested anything but innocence.

They spoke briefly, then Justin strode away through the crowd of well-wishers.
Good, send him packing, Ms Lloyd. It might save him, but it won't save you.
If it was the last thing he did, Matt would teach Philippa Lloyd not to mess with the Masons.


Pippa's eyes followed Justin through the crowd. She wished she could have sent somebody else to find Lucy but she knew the woman wouldn't want the other guests to see her tearful state, and Pippa trusted Justin to be sensitive to his former fiancée's distress. Pippa would have gone looking for Lucy herself but her first responsibility today was to Brad and Alice. It was time for them to sign the register, and she needed Lucy to add her signature as witness. God knows, the day must have been hard enough on Lucy; by rights she should have been there beside Justin, still flushed with newlywed radiance and honeymoon somnolence. They would find happiness one day, Pippa was sure of it. But there was no way Justin Mason was ready for marriage yet.

As a wedding celebrant, Pippa took her responsibilities very seriously. It would have been the easiest thing in the world to ignore the danger signals she'd read from her very first meeting with Justin and Lucy; would have been easier, and far more profitable, to have continued with the wedding plans. But Pippa believed in marriage. Despite her own experience, or perhaps because of it, she believed deeply and irrevocably in its sanctity, its social importance, its vital role in preserving families and supporting children. She was committed to helping marriages succeed beyond the official ceremony, so when she realised Justin Mason was taking his future commitment to Lucy less than seriously, she could not in all conscience proceed.

At their first meeting, ostensibly to interview Philippa for the role of their celebrant, Justin had flirted with her shamelessly. Lucy had laughed it off, but Pippa could read the hurt and insecurity in the other woman's eyes. On a pretext, she had called Justin for a private meeting to sound out his intentions, only to have him make a half-hearted pass at her.

It was clear that while Justin was fond of Lucy, he was chafing at the constrictions of commitment to one woman. The trained psychologist in Pippa diagnosed a simple case of immaturity: all his life, Justin had been surrounded by adoring women. His drop-dead-gorgeous physical appearance combined with the intrinsic cachet of being a member of the famous Mason family meant he had no sense of identity of his own that wasn't tied up in chasing, and being chased by, women. Success, money, friends and girlfriends had come easily to him all his life. He still lived at home because he had no incentive to do for himself. He'd never had to work for anything, had never spent any time alone to discover who he was and what he wanted, beyond the glamorous, affluent public persona he'd inherited as a Mason.

Privately, Pippa thought Lucy could be an ideal match for him, but Justin needed to grow up enough to make that choice for himself instead of falling into a marriage because it fit with some predetermined Mason life calendar of events. For Lucy's sake, Justin needed to choose her because he wanted her, not just because it was expected of him and she looked like the most suitable candidate for a future Mrs Mason.

Pippa had arranged another meeting with the couple, had gently suggested some marriage guidance and recommended a counsellor she knew could help them. But Justin had rejected her advice outright—he wasn't spilling his guts to some shrink with a cereal-packet certificate and a good line in patter—and anyway, the wedding was only two months away. It was too late to call things off. That was when Lucy had surprised Pippa with her quiet, dignified backbone. If Justin wasn't prepared to spend some time sorting through their issues, Lucy wouldn't marry him. The couple had glared at each other across Pippa's office until Justin eventually stormed out in fury at Lucy's uncharacteristic intransigence. It had broken Lucy's heart, Pippa knew, but better for her to suffer that heartbreak now than later, when dreams were irrevocably dashed, expectations betrayed, innocent children damaged …

And in fact, there was a good chance Lucy's heartbreak wouldn't be long-term. Justin had called Pippa a week later and arranged to meet her. To Pippa's surprise, he admitted he had been feeling uncertain about the wedding and the commitment it heralded. He was fond of Lucy, but he wasn't sure he could spend the rest of his life with her. Pippa had gently repeated her counsellor recommendation, and Justin had again rejected it: he wasn't opening up his heart and his life story to a stranger. But if Pippa was prepared to work with him, he would give it a try.

Pippa had hesitated. Providing marital counselling to clients of her celebrancy practice was a conflict of interest, against the code of conduct. But since they'd called off their wedding Justin was, strictly speaking, no longer her client. And while she had never practised as a psychologist, she did have the appropriate training and qualifications to help him. In the end she'd agreed, but she'd been firm in her own undertaking: she would meet Justin regularly as a friend, counsellor, adviser and relationship coach, but no money would change hands and if, in her opinion, he needed to see another professional, he would accept her recommendation without question and follow it.

BOOK: A Case For Trust
10.94Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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