Closing the bedroom door, she saw Heaton crossing the stable yard. It was the first time shehad seen him dressed in anything but a suit and she stopped and stared. He was wearing a brown wax jacket with a bottle green jumper underneath, khaki combat-style trousers similar to her own and brown walking boots. She sighed and shook her head. It looked as though he was one of those men who looked fabulous in everything they wore. She reached for her mobile phone, pulled on a waterproof jacket, and grabbed her car keys before going downstairs to join him.
“You’ll have to move the seat back,” she said as she unlocked the Mini.
He got in and moved the passenger seat so far back that he might as well have been sitting
on the back seat. She looked around at him, couldn’t help herself, and laughed.
“Sorry. I wanted something small and cheap to run.”
He pulled a comical expression. “I was looking to see if you had a sunroof that I could stick
my head through. Maybe we should go in the Land Rover?” She nodded and he got out. “I’ll
just get the keys from Des.”
She got out, locked the car, and saw him emerge from Des’ office. The two of them crossed
the stable yard to the huge Land Rover.
“You’ll have to give me directions to where we start from,” he said as they got in.
Twenty minutes later, he pulled in at a small car park. “I haven’t been up here for years. You
don’t walk too fast, do you?”
“No. There are two routes we can take. Up to what I call the big rock, which is eight
kilometres there and back. Or up to the stone circle, which is five. Maybe five would be
enough for today?”
He smiled. “I think so.”
He locked the Land Rover, they climbed over the stile, and walked up onto the footpath
which ran through the heather.
“It’s lovely up here, isn’t it?” He halted after a few paces, hands on hips, and looked around
“If you need to stop and catch your breath just say.”
“Thanks. I’m not very fit. Walking between my office and the house isn’t really enough.”
They set off again at a slower pace.
“Where did you go to university?” she asked.
“Cambridge. The Heatons have always gone there. I was halfway through my final year
when I learned that my father had cancer. I still have no idea how I got through my finals.
The last time I saw him, he didn’t know who I was, so I do understand what it’s like.
Unfortunately, he had run the estate like there was no tomorrow. I went into his study the
day after the funeral and found drawers full of bills, invoices, and tax demands. Some went
back years. It took years to pay all the creditors and the tax bill was astronomical. I’m still
struggling to make ends meet and when the idea was put forward of opening the house up to
coach tour parties, well, you saw what I was like. I apologise if I was rude to you. It’s no
excuse, but I had to go to a funeral that day and I loathe funerals.”
“I hate funerals, too, and I wouldn’t like complete strangers traipsing through my home so I
can sympathise. But there are tours booked for the next three months and Lady Heaton is
scheduling additional daily tours because so many coach tour operators want to add the
abbey to their list of stops. The way things are going, the abbey will soon have tours all year
He nodded. “I know, but I am not dressing up as a monk or in a suit of armour for anyone.”
She laughed. “What do people say to you when they ask what you do for a living?”
“When people find out I have a title it is a bit of a conversation killer. I think some people
have this idea that lords are all at least fifty, frequent gentleman’s clubs, and hunt, shoot and
fish. I do none of those things. I was twenty-two when I inherited the title; I’ve been working
to keep the place afloat ever since and I don’t want anything to spoil that.”
“It seems to be working, though.”
“Yes,” he agreed. “Just about.”
“Mum and Dad remember when you went down the mine instead of your father when he
“Really?” He gave her an incredulous frown. “Good God, I must have been only about twelve
or something. I wanted to go down with him but he wouldn’t let me. Then, when he had to
come back up I asked if I could go and he just waved his hand in agreement.”
“Mum said that you asked lots of very good questions and that Dad was impressed. That is a
huge compliment from my dad.”
“Were you ever down the mine?” he asked.
“No, I was never allowed, and it’s far too dangerous now. The nearest I got was the
museum. I’d liked to have satisfied my curiosity but I much prefer the open air.
Mum’s grandfather was killed in a pitfall and I think she always worried that the same would
happen to Dad. Now most of the time she thinks he’s dead.” She burst into tears. “Oh, God,
“Come and sit down.” Taking her arm, he led her off the path. They sat down in the springy
heather and she wiped her eyes. “You have to cry, and let it all out,” he told her gently. “I’ve
lost count of the number of times I’ve locked myself in the library and just…”
He pulled a comical expression as she stared at him. It was hard to imagine him crying his
eyes out but who knows how he reacted when he left the library after learning that his real
mother was a complete stranger.
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: 3 November 2016
Publisher: Crooked Cat Publishing
Sophia Nelson returns to her hometown in Yorkshire, England to begin a new job as
tour guide at Heaton Abbey House. There, she meets the reclusive Thomas, Baron
Heaton, a lonely workaholic.
Despite having a rule never to become involved with her boss, Sophia can’t deny
how she finds him incredibly attractive.
When she overhears the secret surrounding his parentage, she is torn. But is it the
attraction or the fear of opening a Pandora’s box that makes her keep quiet about it?
How long can she stay at the abbey knowing what she does?
About the author.
Lorna Peel is an author of contemporary and historical romantic fiction.
Her debut novel, ONLY YOU, a contemporary celebrity romance set in London, England,
was published in 2014. INTO THE UNKNOWN, a World War Two romance set in London,
the south east of England, and Ireland, was published in 2015 and reached Amazon’s top 20 best sellers in 20th Century Historical Romance. THE IMAGE OF HER, a romantic suspense set in rural England about a woman’s search for her birth mother, was published in May 2016. NEW BLOOD, a romantic suspense set in a stately home in Yorkshire, England, will be published on 3 November 2016.
Lorna was born in England and lived in North Wales until her family moved to Ireland to
become farmers, which is a book in itself! She lives in rural Ireland, where she writes,
researches her family history, and grows fruit and vegetables. She also keeps chickens (and a Guinea Hen who now thinks she’s a chicken!).
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