Lucy Bright can't believe it when she's plucked from secretarial obscurity and transformed into the pampered fianc�e of a slick retail guru. But then she discovers it was all a publicity stunt! Rushing away from the media frenzy, she bumps--literally--into the arms of delicious tycoon Nathaniel Hart....
Spooked by their instantaneous chemistry, Lucy flees--but Nathaniel is determined to find his barefoot beauty. Though all he has is one very expensive red designer stiletto to help him!
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November 01, 2010
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Excerpt from Mistletoe and the Lost Stiletto by Liz Fielding
The only sound in the room was the clatter of motor drives as tycoon, Rupert--just-call-me-Prince-Charming-- Henshawe's press conference was hijacked by his fianc�e, Lucy--I-feel-like-Cinderella--Bright as she tugged off her engagement ring and flung it at him.
Every lens in the room zoomed in on the bright splash of blood where the huge diamond found its mark on Henshawe's cheek.
The gathered press pack--city newsmen, financial pundits, television news teams--held their collective breath.
They'd been summoned to a full dress press conference by the Henshawe Corporation. Whatever Henshawe did was news. Good news if you were one of his shareholders. Bad news if you happened to be on the receiving end of one of his corporate raids. At least until recently.
The news now was all about how he'd changed. How, having met his 'Cinderella', he had been redeemed by love and was no longer Mr Nasty, but had been transformed into Prince Charming.
This was much more like it.
'Why?' Lucy demanded, ignoring the cameras, the mikes, dangled overhead, pushed towards her face. The larger than life-sized images of herself, wearing her own custom-made originals of the Lucy B fashions, being flashed across a screen. All she could see was the man on the podium. 'Why did you do it?'
Stupid question. It was all there in the file she'd found. The one she was never meant to see. All laid out in black and white.
'Lucy! Darling...' Rupert's voice was deceptively soft as, using the power of the microphone in front of him, he drowned out her demand to know why her? 'These are busy people and they've got deadlines to meet. They've come to listen to the plans I've been making, we've been making, for the future of the company,' he stressed. 'Not a domestic tiff.'
His smile was tender, all concern for her. It was familiar, reassuring and even now it would be so easy to be sucked in...
'I don't know what's upset you but it's obvious that you're tired. Let Gordon take you home and we'll talk about it later, hmm?'
She had to fight the almost hypnotic softness of his voice. Her own weakness. Her longing for the fairy tale that had overtaken her life, transformed her into a celebrity, to be true.
She had a Lucy B fan page on Facebook, half a million people following her every word on Twitter. She was a modern day Cinderella, whisked from the hearth to a palace, her rags replaced with silken gowns. But Prince Charming's 'bride ball' had been a palace-generated crowd-pleaser, too. There was nothing like a royal wedding to keep the masses happy.
It was exactly the kind of stunt to appeal to some super-smart PR woman with a name to make for herself.
'Talk!' she hurled back as someone obligingly stuck a microphone in front of her, giving her equal voice power. 'I don't want to talk to you, Rupert Henshawe! I never even want to see you again.' She held up the file for him to see. So that he would know that there was no point in denying it. 'I know what you've done. I know everything!'
Even as the words left her mouth, Lucy sensed the mood in the room change. No one was looking at the podium now. Or Rupert. She'd stolen his limelight. She'd stormed into this plush hotel, her head exploding with the discovery that her new and exciting life, their engagement, the whole shooting match, was nothing more than a brilliantly executed marketing plan. The focus was now on her as she put an end to a sham smoke-and-mirrors engagement that was as false as his 'new man' change of heart.
Rupert Henshawe had no heart.
But, as the attention of the room shifted to her, it belatedly occurred to Lucy that this might not have been her best move.
In the months following her whirlwind romance with her billionaire boss she had become used to the press, but this was different. Until now she'd been supported every step of the way, whether the interviews had been personal or about her new role as the face, and name, on his re-branded chain of fashion stores.
When she'd gate-crashed this press conference, she hadn't had a thought in her but to confront the man who had so shamelessly used her.
Now the focus point of every lens, every eye in the room, she suddenly felt alone, vulnerable and all she wanted to do was escape. Escape from the lies, the cameras, the microphones. Disappear. But, as she stepped back, attempting to distance herself from Rupert, from everyone, she stumbled over someone's foot.
She put out a hand to stop herself from falling, grabbing at someone's lapel. There was the ominous sound of cloth ripping and, as she turned, instinctively, to apologise, she discovered that her retreat was blocked by a wall of bodies.
And the man whose lapel she was clinging to was now hanging onto her, pulling her towards him, shouting something into her ear as she was jostled, pushed by other newsmen trying to get closer, photographers shouting to attract her attention.
She forgot all about apologising, instead yanking her arm free. Someone tried to grab the file she was carrying. She used it to beat him off, swinging the tote bag she was carrying to clear a space, provoking a blinding series of flashes as the photographers caught the action.
Another hand made a grab for her in the scrum, catching the back of her coat. One of the buttons flew off and she nearly went down again, but the sight of two of Rupert's bodyguards elbowing aside journalists and cameramen alike as they made their way towards her sent a shot of adrenalin surging through her veins.
Until now she'd only seen the gentle side of Rupert Henshawe, had believed that he was truly her Prince Charming. But she was carrying proof of just how ruthless the man could be in pursuit of his ends and he wasn't going to let her leave with that.
Of course they would make it look as if they were rescuing her from the press scrum, but denouncing him in public, on camera, had put her on the other side.
She'd seen his eyes, the truth behind the soft words, the smile, and she knew that he'd do whatever it took to keep her quiet.
Swinging her tote again in an attempt to batter her way through the enclosing wall of bodies, she managed to make a little headway but then someone grabbed her wrist, a camera lens caught her a sharp blow on the temple and, head spinning, she staggered back.
There was a yelp loud enough to be heard over the bedlam as her stiletto heel encountered something soft and yielding.
As the man behind her backed off, swearing creatively, an apology was the furthest thing from her mind. A gap opened up and she didn't hesitate. She dived through it.
'Twas the season to make money.