The Doctor's Runaway Fiancée

BOOK: The Doctor's Runaway Fiancée
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A BOLTING BRIDE!

Sylvie Thorne doesn't believe in happily-ever-after. Tormented by a tumultuous childhood, the struggling baker's certain she did the right thing running from her perfect-as-a-prince Boston blueblood fiancé, leaving not a glass slipper but a brief text behind. She just never expected him to follow her.

Dr. Andrew O'Shea wants closure. To get it, he'll implement a plan. Three weeks with Sylvie in his Jackson Hole rental. Lots of togetherness, a little dialogue—and no sex. Twenty-one days to prove they're from two different worlds. Instead, one kiss shows him what they have in common—blazing chemistry that never died. Now Andrew's in trouble. Instead of laying the past to rest, he's thinking of the future—with his former fiancée.

All she had to do was give him back the ring.

Then he'd say goodbye and leave. Everyone had known they were wrong for each other. Everyone but Andrew. Now it seemed he finally figured it out. “It appears we're ready to close the door on the past.”

“It might feel that way to you, Sylvie. The problem is, I still want you. I believe more drastic measures are needed.” He stepped closer.

Her heart thudded. “What kind of measures do you have in mind?”

“Immersion therapy,” he said. “I will immerse myself in your life. I obviously didn't know you before. What better way to get you out of my system than to become acquainted with the real you?”

“How long will that take? A couple of days—”

“I'm here for three weeks.”

Given their history, that seemed little enough to ask. So why did her pulse quicken at the thought? “I think it's best if we keep physical intimacy to a minimum.” She crossed the room to put space between them, but he followed her.

“Come on,” he said, taking her hand. “I'll help you pack.”

“Where am I going?”

He gave her a sexy smile. “You're moving in with me.”

* * *

Rx FOR LOVE: Just following doctor's orders...

Dear Reader,

I have to admit I'm not much of a cook. Never have been and likely never will be. But I do love to bake. I especially love to go on Pinterest and see all the different ways cakes can be decorated.

While the fancy stuff is way outside of anything I could ever hope to attempt, I am amazed and awed by what those artists can create. I say artists, because to me that's what men and women with such talent are—cake artists. It is this admiration for those talented individuals that led me to create Sylvie. She was a fun character to write, and I hope you enjoy her story!

Happy Reading!

Cindy Kirk

The Doctor's Runaway Fianc
é
e

Cindy Kirk

From the time she was a little girl,
Cindy
Kirk
thought everyone made up different endings to books, movies and
television shows. Instead of counting sheep at night, she made up stories. She's
now had over forty novels published. She enjoys writing emotionally satisfying
stories with a little faith and humor tossed in. She encourages readers to
connect with her on Facebook and Twitter,
@cindykirkauthor
, and via her website,
cindykirk.com
.

Books by Cindy Kirk

Harlequin Special
Edition

Rx for Love

The Doctor's Valentine Dare

The M.D.'s Unexpected Family

Ready, Set, I Do!

The Husband List

One Night with the Doctor

A Jackson Hole Homecoming

The Doctor and Mrs. Right

His Valentine Bride

The Doctor's Not-So-Little Secret

Jackson Hole Valentine

If the Ring Fits

The Christmas Proposition

In Love with John Doe

Montana Mavericks: What
Happened at the Wedding?

Betting on the Maverick

The Fortunes of Texas:
Cowboy Country

Fortune's Little Heartbreaker

The Fortunes of Texas:
Welcome to Horseback Hollow

A Sweetheart for Jude Fortune

The Fortunes of Texas:
Southern Invasion

Expecting Fortune's Heir

Visit the Author Profile page at
Harlequin.com
for more
titles.

Get rewarded every time you buy a Harlequin
ebook!
Click here to Join Harlequin My Rewards
http://www.harlequin.com/myrewards.html?mt=loyalty&cmpid=EBOOBPBPA201602010002

To Patience Bloom, my wonderful editor, whose presence in my life has made it so much richer.

Chapter One

S
ylvie Thorne gazed into the beauty-shop mirror and forced herself to breathe. Seven seconds in, then out for eleven. Almost immediately, the panic ebbed.

Two hours earlier she'd given Cassidy Duggan, owner of the Clippety Do Dah Salon, free rein to cut and color her hair. While Cassidy was as nontraditional with hair as Sylvie was in cake designs, there was no better stylist in Jackson Hole.

“What do you think?” Cassidy fussed with a stray strand of hair and smiled expectantly.

“I look...different.” An understatement to be sure, but the best Sylvie could muster.

As she continued to study the unfamiliar reflection, Sylvie reminded herself she was the one who'd asked for a change. She'd grown bored with the hairstyle she'd had since high school. The upcoming wedding of a friend had been the gentle shove she'd needed to try something different.

Two hours ago she'd walked in with wavy copper-colored hair hanging in loose curls halfway down her back and put herself in Cassidy's experienced hands.

“Sleek and sophisticated.” Daffodil Prentiss, the hairstylist from the next booth, punctuated her proclamation with an approving nod.

Sleek and sophisticated.

While those two words were rarely tossed in her direction, Sylvie cocked her head and opened her mind. “I like it.”

The waves had been straightened and the blunt cut hair now barely reached her shoulders. The muted copper strands, while still the predominant color, had been replaced at the ends by several inches of soft honey blond.

“Are you sure?” Cassidy asked, apparently troubled by her less-than-enthusiastic response. “If you don't like it, I can—”

“Exactly what I wanted.” Sylvie spoke more decisively this time. “And the change I was looking for.”

“I didn't want to go too crazy.” Cassidy tapped a finger against her bright red lips. “If you get home and decide this isn't enough of a change, we could try some cerulean blue. I think the color would make those violet eyes of yours really pop.”

“No blue needed.” Sylvie spoke quickly. “This is perfect.”

Because of the nontraditional bakery products produced in her Mad Batter kitchen and the boho-chic styles she preferred to wear, Sylvie was aware many saw her as “quirky.”

Now, at least according to Daffodil, she looked sleek and sophisticated. Who'd have thought that was even possible?

“Stellar job,” Sylvie assured Cassidy. She rose from the salon chair and gave the stylist a hug.

While Cassidy ran her credit card, Sylvie chatted with Daffodil. After adding a generous tip, she stepped out into the bright summer day and let the sunshine warm her face.

She ran her fingers through her hair, gave her head a toss, feeling suddenly light and carefree. It was as if she'd shed the weight of the past along with her hair.

As early September was still too early for skiers to begin their descent on Jackson Hole, the downtown foot traffic was relatively light. Sylvie found herself glancing down the walkway, looking for someone she knew, eager to show off her new do.

Hair and friends were quickly forgotten when her gaze settled on a dark-haired man at the end of the block. She studied his profile as he read the menu posted in the window of the Coffee Pot Café.

Sylvie's breath froze. She brought a hand to her throat.
Andrew.

Her heart slammed against her rib cage, then began to thud heavily. A roaring filled her ears. She told herself it couldn't be him. Andrew O'Shea lived in Boston, two thousand miles away. Yet something about this man was all too familiar.

In their months together she'd often told Andrew that he wore wealth and privilege like most men wore a favorite coat. He'd laugh as if she'd made a joke.

While it was true he came from money and never had to do without, as a physician he'd been passionate about improving the lives of others. Working as a concierge doctor allowed him to practice medicine while still having time to dabble in the family business.

As she stared unblinking at the man, a wave of yearning washed over her. The sensation was so strong it brought tears to her eyes.

“Sylvie?”

Stifling a groan, she blinked back the tears before turning.

Josie Campbell, her closest friend and bride-to-be, touched Sylvie's arm. “Is something wrong? You had the strangest expression on your face.”

Sylvie glanced down the street and discovered Andrew's doppelgänger had vanished. She offered an easy smile. “For a second I thought I saw someone I knew.”

Josie followed the direction of her gaze. She was a pretty woman with honey-blond hair, clear green eyes and a diamond the size of Grand Teton on her left hand. “What does she look like?”

“He.” Sylvie waved a dismissive hand. “Tall with dark hair. I'm sure it wasn't him.”

“Tall and dark, huh?” Josie brought a finger to her lips. “Would it be accurate to add
handsome
to that description?”

Andrew was indeed handsome. But he was in Massachusetts, not strolling the streets of Jackson.


Handsome
would be accurate. If we're talking about your fiancé.” As a tall, broad-shouldered man headed straight for them, Sylvie's words slid into a smile.

With Josie's back to her fiancé, she didn't see his approach.

“Noah is very handsome.” Josie's lips curved. “I'm supposed to meet him at the church. We're—”

Dr. Noah Anson stopped his future wife's words by spinning her around. When her mouth opened in a surprised shriek, he kissed her soundly.

Josie's arms wrapped around his neck and he gently stroked her back as the kiss ended. The look of love in Noah's eyes took Sylvie's breath away.

The yearning she'd experienced moments earlier returned with the force of a tsunami.

Expelling a happy sigh, Josie slanted a teasing glance at her future husband. “Before we were so rudely interrupted, I was saying Noah and I have an appointment with Pastor Johnson at the church. With the wedding less than a month away, there's still a few loose ends we need to tie up.”

Noah kept an arm around Josie's waist, gave Sylvie a nod. Then he inclined his head, two lines forming between his dark brows. His gaze narrowed. “There's something different about you today.”

“It's the hair.” Josie smiled her approval. “With all our talk about hot guys, I forgot to say how much I love, love, love the cut. And the color is simply fabulous. Cassidy, I presume?”

Sylvie fingered one of the short silky strands. “Who else?”

The Clippety Do Dah Salon might have a cutesy name, but Cassidy Duggan produced sophisticated results.

“Looks good on you.” Noah paused, the words Josie had uttered moments earlier appearing to finally register. “What hot guys?”

“Why, you, of course, darling.” Josie rose on tiptoes to brush a light kiss across his lips. “And some guy Sylvie spotted that she knew.”

“On first glance he looked familiar,” Sylvie clarified. She waved a dismissive hand. “It wasn't him.”

It couldn't be Andrew.
There was no reason for him to be here.

Still, an uneasy feeling settled over her shoulders and Sylvie found herself scanning for the once-familiar face all the way to her shop.

* * *

Later that day, Dr. Andrew O'Shea wandered into Hill of Beans in downtown Jackson and ordered a coffee. He took the cup of the Ethiopian blend to a table by the window.

It felt strange to be dressed in blue jeans and a polo on a weekday. Back in Boston, Andrew rarely wore jeans. But as he packed for his trip to the land of cowboys and rodeos, he'd tossed in a pair.

The last thing he wanted was to stand out. His plan was to remain inconspicuous until he figured out how best to approach Sylvie.

Andrew had thought about simply popping into her shop. He'd already scouted out her location, so that remained an option. But interrupting her during a business day didn't feel right, and he was a big believer in going with his gut.

Still, he wouldn't wait much longer. He'd flown in yesterday. This morning he'd eaten at a local café, the Coffee Pot, and planned his strategy. He was past ready to put to bed the tangled emotions he'd carried with him the last few months. Once he got the answers he sought, he'd return to Boston and move on with his life.

When Sylvie had run off shortly before their wedding, he was stunned. He'd called around, but no one seemed to know where she was, but neither were they surprised. Apparently Sylvie had a reputation for being capricious.

Andrew had decided to give her a few days to come back on her own. Before twenty-four hours had passed, his legs were knocked out from under him a second time. He learned a close childhood friend was dying. All the pain of Sylvie's leaving had been pushed aside while he dealt with a more immediate crisis.

Shortly after his friend passed away, he'd read an article about the Jackson Hole Wine Auction and Food Festival. A local cake artist, Sylvie Thorne, had been featured.

Andrew had discovered she'd relocated to Jackson Hole. He just hadn't realized how much seeing her smiling face in that magazine would affect him. His world, which had been off its axis since Sylvie's leaving, had tipped even further. It still hadn't fully righted itself.

Even if Sylvie's name hadn't been mentioned, Andrew liked to think he'd have recognized her work in the full color photograph of the multilayered wedding cake with the fondant skull. Even when they'd been together and she was still developing as a cake artist, she'd had a recognizable style.

He recalled the cake she'd made for his birthday shortly before she left. It had been a three-layer castle—a Spamalot version—with crooked turrets and gargoyles with big toothy grins.

Cradling the mug in his hands, Andrew stared out the window. He now sat only blocks from the place where she created her masterpieces.

He had to admit he wasn't sure how it was going to feel to finally be face-to-face with his runaway fiancée.

Andrew lifted the strong brew to his lips and took a long sip. One thing was certain—he'd come for answers.

He wasn't leaving Wyoming without them.

* * *

Sylvie eased the ancient minivan to the curb a block down from Benedict and Poppy Campbell's home in Spring Gulch. Instead of hopping out, she remained in the vehicle and tried to recall just why she'd accepted an invitation to the backyard barbecue.

She rarely attended dinner parties or barbecues as a guest. But then, she didn't meet friends at the Coffee Pot Café after church on Sundays, either. Heck, she didn't even go to book club, though reading was a favorite pastime.

Part of the reason for her reticence had to do with not growing up in a world where people had dinner parties or barbecues. She hadn't known book clubs even existed. As a child, she hadn't known anyone who read for pleasure.

Sylvie and her mom had been too busy trying to survive to think about books. Subsisting on groceries bought with food stamps, their “home” had been a run-down apartment courtesy of public housing.

When her mother took off and left her when she was thirteen, Sylvie had discovered that life was even worse in foster care.

She pushed the painful memories aside and reminded herself those times were over and done. When she'd moved to Wyoming, she promised herself no looking back. She'd stuck to her vow.

With the exception of earlier in the week, when she thought she'd seen Andrew on the streets of Jackson. That night, she'd pulled out her engagement ring and done some reminiscing.

Though her heart still ached whenever she thought of him, Sylvie still believed that leaving Andrew had been the right decision.

Keeping his ring, however, had been wrong.

It didn't matter that the three-carat diamond had been her last connection to him.

It didn't matter that the ring wasn't a family heirloom.

It didn't matter that she had a good reason at the time for taking the piece of jewelry with her. She'd feared Andrew might be so distraught over her leaving him that he might fling the ring, one that had been specially designed for her, off the Longfellow Bridge and into the Charles.

Sylvie closed her eyes briefly. The trip down memory lane had dumped her spirits into the basement. Would it really be so horrible to drive off? No one had seen her. There was still time for a quick getaway.

The only reason she hesitated was that this party was for Josie. Her friend had made it clear she wanted her maid of honor to attend.

Giving in to the inevitable, Sylvie opened the van door. She stepped out, careful not to brush up against the dusty side of “Ethel,” the 1996 Dodge Caravan she'd purchased shortly after arriving in Jackson Hole.

Though some of the light blue paint had peeled and there was a dent in the back from a shopping cart gone wild, the van started like a dream. Once she'd had the seating in the back removed, it had a good-sized cargo area for hauling cakes.

As Sylvie gazed over all the shiny vehicles lining the street in this affluent Jackson Hole subdivision, it struck her that Ethel didn't fit in here any more than she did.

Sylvie glanced down at her skirt with its orange, red and black diagonal stripes and hesitated. For tonight's festivities she'd coupled the skirt with gladiator sandals and a black tank. Skin showed from a few inches above her belly-button ring to just below her navel.

This barbecue would bring together the movers and shakers of Jackson Hole. She'd be as out of place here as she'd have been in Andrew's world.

Coming tonight had been a mistake.

Sylvie was reaching for the door handle when Tim and Cassidy Duggan pulled behind her van in a shiny red SUV, boxing her in. She heaved a resigned sigh, then walked over to greet Cassidy and her husband.

Marriage and motherhood hadn't changed Cassidy. The hairstylist wore a bright blue skirt with an animal-print tank. The bold pairing eased Sylvie's trepidation about her own outfit.

BOOK: The Doctor's Runaway Fiancée
12.45Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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