Liz Fielding - The Secret Wedding.doc - Romance - Moonlight_Soul

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                       The Secret Wedding
                         by Liz Fielding

                      Chapter One: Part One

                   Begin your story at a moment
                   of crisis, a point in time when
                  your character’s life is about to
                             change forever.

                     — Mollie Blake’s Writing
                        Workshop Notes


    Tom Garrick couldn’t believe he was doing this. He wrote
  bestselling thrillers for men. His readers didn’t want emotional
   guff polluting the action. Women were included for the sole
     purpose of providing sex and sympathy while they fixed
    up his hero’s wounds. And to bump up the body count. He
                        almost smiled. Almost.

   "The books are still selling really well — " his publisher had
      told him " — but you seem to have lost that wonderful
    humanity the women readers loved. Get back in touch with
    your feminine side, Tom." The man hadn’t been making a
     suggestion. He’d meant it. "Women buy a lot of books."

      Tom didn’t have a feminine side. Not anymore. As for
    spending his weekend being lectured on how to raise the
     "sigh" factor in his books... He said something rude, his
   mood deteriorating as he maneuvered his sports car toward
   the gothic pile that was the venue for a weekend workshop
         with bestselling romance novelist Mollie Blake.

    He repeated his curse, stocking up against his entry into a
                sugar pink, expletive-free zone.

     Mollie Blake was not happy as she shifted gears, grinding
   the motor slightly. She didn’t do signings, or talk shows, and
                              she sure as heck didn’t do workshops. But when your
                           sweetheart of a publisher had promised a friend, had gone
                           down on his knees, had been desperate enough to offer the
                            loan of his precious car because it had a phone and she’d
                                              never be out of touch...

                                  Late, she put her foot down on the accelerator.

                            Tom cruised the packed car park. The venue, at least, was
                               a bonus. The hotel had once been used as the set for
                              low-budget horror movies and the weekend might be
                           considerably enlivened by devising grisly literary ends for
                           other members of the workshop. He grinned. He’d think up
                                  something really special for Ms. Mollie Blake.

                           Mollie’s car phone rang and her heart gave a little lift as she
                            pressed the hands-off button to answer it. "Hi, sweetheart
                            ... " Then, "Can you hold on a minute, darling? I need to

                           Spotting a space, Tom shifted into reverse. Maybe he could
                            get a book out of this workshop and his grin deepened as
                                  he considered a title. A Shroud in Pink Lace?

                           "What the — " He was jolted out of pleasurable thoughts of
                           mayhem and murder by an ominous thunk and the sound of
                             breaking glass. The positive thoughts evaporated; he’d
                              gotten it right the first time. This was going to be the
                                                weekend from hell.
                                      hapter One: Part Two

Climbing out of the car to check the damage, prepared to be reasonable on an I’ll-pay-for-mine,
      if you’ll-pay-for-yours basis, he turned to check the damage and swallowed hard.

  His old Aston Martin was built like a tank and had scarcely sustained a scratch. But he’d hit a
hundred thousand pounds worth of black Porsche and he let slip a phrase that he usually confined
                               between the covers of his books.

"Ditto." The woman who’d been at the wheel of the Porsche didn’t look up from her examination
 of the damage, but her voice gave him a moment of hope. Soft, slightly husky, the sound settled
  low in his vitals, stirring something that his mind reached for, but just slipped past the edge of

  He shrugged, let it go. And fought to contain a smile. It wasn’t all bad news. Bent over the
buckled rear of the car in a short, close-fitting skirt, the lady displayed a physical framework to
match all that classy German engineering. Her face was hidden by a pale curtain of silver-blond
 hair that shimmered in the light spilling from the entrance to the hotel, but the rest of her was a
                                          feast to behold.

Her legs alone were enough to give a man straight-to-hell ideas — if a man was in the market for
 that kind of thing. But she was the kind of woman that any one of his heroes would be glad to
             have hanging off his left arm and maybe, in the interests of research....

"Tell me," she asked, pre-empting him, without bothering to look up. "Just what kind of idiot are
you?" The softness had been illusory. Not that she had raised her voice. Simply endowed it with
  an edge of sarcasm that would have cut through steel. Well, in her place, he guessed he’d be
                                    feeling a little touchy.

                      "I don’t know," he said. "How many kinds are there?"

   Mollie groaned inwardly. As if it wasn’t bad enough that he’d done untold damage to poor
 Jerry’s precious car, the man was a relic from some cliché-ridden romance. Ignoring the pick-
                   chat up line, she straightened, unimpressed with Mr. Cute.

 But she couldn’t escape the clichés. Even in the darkness of the car park she could see that he
 was tall, with mile-wide shoulders. A car door opened nearby and in the brief burst of light she
  saw that he was grinning, his mouth lifting at one corner in a way that left her momentarily
                                         floundering ...

   "Didn’t you see me?" she snapped, irritably and diverted her gaze to his car, pushing away
           disturbing memories. "Doesn’t that heap of junk have a rear view mirror?"

  "Heap of junk?" Now Tom was offended. "My car, madam, is a hand-built '60s classic. The
                                      finest — "
                                 The Secret Wedding
                              Chapter One: Part Three

  "Classic? That’s another word for old, right?" Then she seemed to forget about insulting his
pride and joy and reached into her car to pick up the squawking handset. "Harry, sweetheart, I’ll
         call you in the morning. Miss you..." She made kissy noises into the receiver.

The lady was spoken for, it seemed, and for once Tom found himself wishing it were otherwise.
Which didn’t improve his mood. "And what do you use your rearview mirror for, sweetheart?"
 he inquired softly, as she switched off the phone and gave her attention to the more immediate
                             problem of the car. "Fixing your hair — "

  "Oh, please!" Then, "But what can you expect from a man who drives an outdated car except
                         old-fashioned, chauvinistic ideas to match?"

 "Fixing your hair while you’re on the phone chatting to your boyfriend?" he concluded. "You
                  won’t be his best girl when he sees the damage to his car."
She ignored the taunt. "Just give me your insurance details and shift that superannuated heap out
   of the way so that I can park," she said. "I’m going to be late for my weekend workshop."

                 "Workshop? You’re going to the Mollie Blake thing? Me too."


                          She sounded skceptical. He didn’t blame her.

  "Absolutely. Can’t wait," he said, making a virtue out of a necessity. "So, why don’t we go
    inside and trade dents in comfort? I’m sure we can sort this out amicably over a drink."

                                 "Can’t wait," she echoed, faintly.

Tom parked, grabbed his bag from the boot and they reached the hotel doorway at the same time.
 As he pushed the door open and held it for her, she turned on automatic to thank him, and the
                                    light caught her face.

  That’s when he remembered where he’d heard the voice before. Younger... Sweeter... She’d
changed, changed beyond recognition, but a man wasn’t likely to forget the voice of the woman
he’d married. Even if the marriage had lasted barely long enough for the Registrar’s signature to
                                     dry on the certificate.
                                    Chapter Two: Part One

  Keep the conflict simple. Make sure the reader knows what’s going on. Ask yourself...Is this
                        strong enough to sustain the length of the story?
                           — Mollie Blake’s Writing Workshop Notes

  "Thank you..." Mollie Blake took the door, waited for him to follow her into the light of the
 foyer, waited for him to fill in the blank of his name. But he hadn’t moved out of the shadows.
 Said nothing. "Are you all right?" The last thing she wanted was to get cozy with this man, but
   when he still didn’t move, she became concerned. "Did you get a whiplash or something?"

  "Yes, that is, no..." Tom stopped, gathered himself. "I’m fine," he said carefully. It was a lie.

He wouldn’t have known her if they’d passed in the street. Hadn’t quite remembered a voice not
 heard for more than five years. But the eyes... He would never forget a pair of liquid gray eyes
                                  that had once bewitched him.

    Mary Harrington had been soft, sweet, an absurdly young 20-year-old, with mousy hair,
   lingering baby fat, and shoulders rounded from her attempts to disguise her height. Over-
                protected by dominating parents, she’d been dangerously naïve.

                                   Not his type of girl. No way.
 Shy and sweetly innocent and never-been-kissed, at least not the way he’d kissed her. Maybe
        that was part of the attraction for a girl kept on too short a leash. The danger.

And his excuse? That he’d been captivated by something fresh, untouched, that had shone from
                      her? No one had believed that. Not for a minute.

                            "Mary." He said her name. That was all.

 Mollie caught her breath as every cell in her body went on red alert, responding with a familiar
 rush of adrenaline to the softness of her name on this man’s lips. Her real name. Mary. No one
  had called her that in so long. Only... She gave a choked cry as he stepped inside, let the door
                                      swing shut behind him.

 "Tom?" She said his name hesitantly, half lifted her hand to his face as if to touch it, reassure
herself that he was real and not some figment of her imagination. Then, as the light fell full onto
 his face, the blood drained from hers and reality kicked in. The last time she’d seen him he’d
  been shouting to be heard over the angry voices, her tears, as she’d been surrounded by her
  family and bustled away from the Registrar’s Office they’d chosen for their secret runaway
        wedding. Swearing that he’d be back, that nothing, no one, could keep him away.

                                        Five years ago.
                                     Chapter Two: Part Two

He’d been struggling then, a newly published author, with an edge of danger to lend him glamor.
He’d matured, taken on polish along with the fame, the streetwise edge had been smoothed from
                                his voice and he looked...great.

                                      But he was still a liar.

                                 "It’s been a long time," he said.

  She choked back the words gathering in her throat. The "Where were you? I waited but you
                                    didn’t come" words.

"Not long enough," she replied and he flinched as if she’d hit him and how many times over the
  years had she dreamed of doing just that? There was no pleasure in it, she discovered, as she
turned and walked away, dropping her bag beside the hotel desk. Just an overwhelming sadness.

  "Not one more tear," she whispered shakily, as she gripped the pen, filled in the form. "‘Not

                                      "I’m sorry, madam?"

"Nothing." Nothing. What a joke! Everything, more like it. The weekend was a mess. Jerry’s car
  was mess. That was Tom Garrick for you. He could make a mess just crooking one of those
expressive eyebrows. But she’d get the car fixed, just as she’d fixed her battered heart. It would
 look okay. Work efficiently. Only she would know the difference, that it would never be quite
                            the same again, never be quite perfect.

                                           "Mary — "

                                 She swung round to face him.

"I’m busy, Mr. Garrick." She picked up her bag, but he beat her to her key and he clearly wasn’t
going to surrender it until he’d got whatever it was he wanted. "Please, Tom! What do you want?
                                     What are you doing here?"

Tom heard the desperation in her voice. The unspoken plea for him to leave her alone. Well, he
          would. But not until he’d got some answers. He was entitled to answers.

   "My editor thinks I need to woo my women readers," he said, relieving her of her bag and
  heading for the stairs. "He’s hoping that the brilliant Mollie Blake will pass on a few of her

                                      "‘Don’t count on it."

                      He glanced back. "You think I’m wasting my time?"

"No, you’re wasting mine. Please give me my key." He handed it over without a word. "And my
                                    The Secret Wedding
                                 Chapter Two: Part Three

"You shouldn’t be carrying anything this heavy. Has your mother put padlocks on all your — ?"
 He’d been going to say underwear, but remembered the kissy-kissy phone call. Obviously not.
 She wasn’t wearing his ring and Tom wondered if her boyfriend knew she was still a married
                          woman. Maybe the boyfriend didn’t care.

            "This is my room." She stopped, but pointedly, did not unlock the door.

He wasn’t ready to move on yet. "Why didn’t you ever bother with a divorce?" he asked. "I was
                                 sure daddy would insist."

 If he was hoping to provoke a reaction, crack the cool façade, he failed miserably. She slid the
key in the lock, opened the door and picking up her bag in the same smooth movement, shut it in
  his face. Despite everything, he knew that given the choice, he’d still have rather been on the
                                         other side of it.
 Mollie leaned back against the door, fighting the weakness, the temptation to fling it open and
race after him, demand to know if it had been worth it. She shut her eyes, as if to shut him out of
             her mind, her heart. She wasn’t that gullible girl he’d married. No way.

  According to the program left in Tom’s room, there was to be a reception to meet the famous
Mollie Blake before dinner. The noise of the crowd rose to meet him as he went downstairs, but
that wasn’t why he paused. Mary was ahead of him, stunning in a long sea-green silk tunic worn
 over a pair of chiffon trousers that billowed transparently around her legs. And heels as high as
                                             the Andes.

 As if sensing his presence, she glanced back and for a heartbeat he saw through the expensive
 designer style to the girl who’d smiled so shyly at him and stolen his cynical heart. Uncertain,
 awkward, way out of her depth. And he reached out, took her arm, felt its warmth beneath his

For a moment they were transported back five years, to a party getting out of control, when he’d
 seen how scared she was and whisked her out of harm’s way... Then someone turned and saw

                              "Look, she’s here! It’s Mollie Blake!"

Tom turned to the eager faces of the women surging towards them, saw the momentary panic in
  hers. "No," he said, stepping forward, to protect her. "This isn’t Mollie Blake. This is — "


                        Her sharp interjection was a millisecond too late.

                                        " — my wife."
                                   Chapter Three: Part One
  Use dialogue to move the story along. Use it to create tension, misunderstandings, to reveal
                                    character to the reader.
                         — Mollie Blake’s Writing Workshop Notes

"Mollie, I’m Rachel Gibson. We spoke on the telephone. I didn’t realize you were bringing your
    husband with you." Rachel turned to Tom. "I had no idea that you and Ms. Blake..." She
foundered on the confusion of the names. "I’ve seen you on television of course and my husband
                                     adores your books."

 He smiled but before he could engage her, divert her from Mary, she said, "I’m so sorry about
    your room, Mollie. I thought you were coming alone. I’m afraid the two of you will be
                                   desperately cramped..."
  Tom let her twitter on, even though she was mistaken. His concern was all for Mary. She was
 riveted to the spot, her luminous gray eyes filled with panic exactly as they had been when he’d
first seen her... "Ms. Gibson. Rachel," he said, in an effort to stop the woman. "I’m afraid you’ve
                                            made a — "

 "No!" Mary’s hand tightened on his arm, warning him not to go on. And that’s when the truth
                        struck him with the force of a sledgehammer.

There was no mistake here. Only the one he was making. Mollie... He remembered now that her
               mother had called her that. Mary Harrington was Mollie Blake.

 The girl he’d run away with — secretly married, then lost — was the brilliant, reclusive young
                     woman who’d taken the publishing industry by storm.

               Which went a long towards explaining why she was publicity shy.

 After her first book was published, he and Mollie Blake had been invited to share the stage at a
literary festival together. An unlikely pairing, but one the organizers felt had mass appeal. But it
had never happened. She’d cried off with "family problems." Well, he could understand that. Her
                                family had always been a problem.

                        "Will that be all right, Mollie? Shall we do that?"

                          She clearly hadn’t taken in Rachel’s question.

   "That’ll be fine," Tom said, quickly, rescuing her. He hadn’t been listening, either, but his
                           answer seemed to make the woman happy.

"I’ll see to it. Now, Mollie, everyone is simply dying to meet you." He watched anxiously as she
   was swallowed up in a throng of eager fans. That’s how he’d lost her before, as she’d been
                    circled by her family, cut off from him, swept out of reach...
                                     Chapter Three: Part Two

"Are you here to research a book, Mr. Garrick?" He dragged his attention from the stranger who
 was his wife, his heart sinking as he saw the eager face of a reporter from the local newspaper.
  Mollie Blake was certainly getting the celebrity treatment. "Or are you just here to give your
wife the benefit of your wide experience? She doesn’t usually do this sort of thing, does she? Is
that why your marriage has been kept such a secret?" she continued with a barrage of questions,
                         her eyes alight with the prospect of a "big story."

 "It’s not a secret." It was a matter of public record like any marriage. "My wife simply prefers
not to live in the media spotlight," he said, enjoying the novelty of the word "wife." He was sick
  of the publicity too, but he’d dredge up something outrageous to keep the reporter satisfied.
         "‘Can I get you a drink — " He glanced at her name badge and smiled, "Lucy?"
                           Mollie pushed her dessert around her plate.

                                    "Not hungry, sweetheart?"

                          "Don’t call me that. I’m not your sweetheart."

She’d insisted that it wasn’t necessary, but Rachel had rearranged the seating plan so that "her
 husband" could sit by her. And he was still legally that. ‘Til death do us part, she’d promised.
  And she’d meant it. They’d said she was stubborn and stupid and they were probably right.
Maybe if her parents hadn’t tried to force her into a divorce she’d have given in and signed the
papers. But he hadn’t bothered with it, either. She’d never understood why. It had been too late
                     by then to prove her father had been wrong about him.

Tom leaned towards her, his jacket brushing against her sleeve in a gesture of such intimacy that
 she felt naked. He could do that to her with just a look. His eyes were so eloquent. They said, I
                           see you — in my mind I’m touching you...

    As her fork clattered to the floor, he caught her hand, held it to still her shaking fingers.

                                   "Nervous, Mary?" he asked.

                                   "Not nervous. Angry. And ...

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