About the Book
International bestseller Jill Mansell weaves a heartwarming tale of love, family and friendship in her latest novel
1. A brief encounter that could have become so much more…if only everything were different
2. Step-sisters, bitter rivals in every area except one—by unbreakable pact neither will ever steal a man from the other
3. A love triangle that starts out as a mess of secrets and mix-ups, and only gets worse from there
Friendship, family ties, crossed wires and self-discovery, second chances and first impressions
Completion on the purchase of the flat took place at eleven o’clock the next morning. Clemency, who had texted Sam to let him know the money had gone through, spotted his car pulling up outside the office ten minutes later.
“Oh my God, what are you doing?” Ronan, who’d been concentrating on his computer screen, jumped a mile and almost sent his coffee cup flying across the room.
“Sorry, Sam’s on his way in.” Having flung her arms around him from behind, Clemency planted her freshly lipsticked mouth on Ronan’s cheek before realizing that was where people who weren’t boyfriend and girlfriend planted kisses. She did another one at the very corner of his mouth and said, “Shh, we’re young and in love. Don’t try to wipe it away, here he comes now. Pretend you haven’t noticed. And please look besotted…”
“With him or with you?”
The door began to open, and Clemency rested her cheek lovingly against the side of Ronan’s face. She laughed affectionately, as if he’d just said something romantic, then glanced up, let go of Ronan, and sprang back.
“Oops, didn’t see you there!” She beamed at Sam. “Sorry about that. Anyway, here you are, I’ve got the keys all ready for you.”
“Excellent.” Sam nodded briefly.
As she scooped them off the desk and handed them over, Clemency said, “And congratulations! You’ve got yourself a fantastic property!”
“Thanks.” Sam’s gaze flickered toward Ronan. “It looks as if congratulations are in order for you too.”
“Oh, right. Yes, early days. But it all seems to be going well so far.” Ronan paused and gave Clemency the kind of look she’d only seen him give other girls before today. She marveled at his skills. Wow, when he chose to use them, he really was rather impressive.
It also felt quite weird, suddenly finding herself on the receiving end. Anyway, concentrate. She pointed to the corner of Ronan’s mouth. “You’ve got a bit of lipstick…”
“Have I?” Ronan gave her another of those smiles. “You’re going to have to keep yourself under control while we’re in the office.”
Clemency said flirtily, “Or I could stop wearing lipstick.” She turned to Sam. “You haven’t told Belle, have you?”
His tone was even. “You asked me not to.”
“Thanks. I’ll do it in the next day or two. It’s a sister thing,” she explained. “She’s got you now, so it won’t really matter, but Belle always had a bit of a crush on Ronan.”
“She’ll be fine,” said Ronan. “That’s all in the past. Belle’s got herself sorted out, and you’ve got me.” He paused, his eyes sparkling as he surveyed Clemency. “Seriously, I still can’t believe how right it feels. We should have done this years ago.”
Phew. He sounded as if he actually meant it.
“Well, I’ll be off.” Sam held up the key. “Thanks for this. I’ll see you soon.”
“Definitely,” said Ronan. “We should all go out together for dinner one night.”
They watched as Sam left, heading off in his car to his brand-new apartment.
“Well?” Ronan spread his hands and looked at Clemency. “How did I do?”
“Very well. I’m impressed.”
He winked. “They always say that.”
She tutted. “You’re such a cliché.”
“Hey, I do it with irony. And fun. That’s how I get away with it.”
“Why are you looking at me like that?” Clemency regarded him with suspicion; they were on their own now.
“Just practicing. This is my seductive expression. We want it to be right, don’t we? We need to be believable.”
“You are believable. You’re doing great.” There was a box of tissues in her desk drawer. Beckoning him closer, Clemency pulled out a tissue and began wiping away the lipstick mark at the corner of his mouth.
“I think I should probably kiss you,” said Ronan.
“Kiss me? Why?” She refolded the tissue and assiduously removed the last remnants of Ruby Crush.
“So we’ve got it out of the way.”
“But I already kissed you just now. See?” Clemency showed him the crimson-stained tissue.
“That wasn’t a kiss.” Ronan turned her to face him properly. “This is a kiss.”
And there, in the otherwise empty office, he slid his arms around her waist and gave her the kind of proper kiss that was worlds away from her earlier lip-printing one.
Gosh. Yet more skills. This felt…real.
Then again, it was a while since she’d last been kissed in any meaningful kind of way; maybe she’d just forgotten how nice proper kissing could be.
“There, done.” Pulling away as his phone began to ring, Ronan said, “This could be fun after all. Hello? Yes, Mr. Arundel, I can come over right away. That’s no problem whatsoever.”
It wasn’t until he was in the back room collecting his jacket and car keys that Clemency realized the mail had been delivered. Instead of coming into the office and leaving it on the main desk as she usually did, Kate had left the collection of letters sticking through the letter box. Which presumably meant she’d glimpsed the two of them enjoying their moment together and had decided to discreetly leave them to it.
Oh well, never mind.
“Right, I’m off to see the Arundels. Wish me luck.”
The Arundels were finicky but very rich. Clemency blew him a jokey kiss. “You’ll be magnificent.”
As he swerved past the desk, Ronan ran a playful index finger down her spine. “I always am.”
About the Author
With over 10 million copies sold, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jill Mansell writes irresistible and funny, poignant and romantic tales for women in the tradition of Marian Keyes, Sophie Kinsella and Jojo Moyes. She lives with her partner and their children in Bristol, England.