Picnics and Promises
Clover Blume’s chance of becoming better acquainted with Jonathan Spalding away from the mayhem of her busy restaurant is threatened when the groomsman escorting her to her sister’s wedding is delayed.
Jonathan lives the good life. One thing his money hasn’t managed to buy and that’s a woman to love—one worthy of his mother’s approval. Is the auburn-haired beauty partnering with him at his best friend’s wedding finding a way into his heart?
But what will it cost for Jonathan to realize that it profits him nothing to gain the world, yet lose his soul?
And the girl.
TAKING CARE TO MIND HER manners, Clover Blume conversed with those seated around the Levens Hall dinner table. She laughed softly at the appropriate time and spoke only when spoken to, as her sister, Maggie, had instructed, all the while doing her best to ignore the empty seat beside her.
Was he late? No longer coming?
Disappointment anchored itself in the depths of her stomach. Surely not the latter? Jonathan Spalding, her future brother-in-law’s best friend, was to be her bridal party partner for Maggie and Davis’s wedding tomorrow. If he ever showed. He’d already missed the rehearsal that afternoon, but had promised Davis he’d be there tonight.
So where was the man?
With over four hours of travel between London and the bottom corner of the Lake District, one would think Davis should know whether Jonathan would make it tonight or not. But Maggie had whispered to her earlier that Davis had been unable to contact Jonathan since speaking to him around three o’clock when the MIA groomsman had promised Davis he was about to leave London. Five hours ago.
He should’ve been there by now.
Davis tapped his crystal wineglass with the side of his fork, drawing everyone’s attention with the ping. He rose to his feet. “I guess my best friend is planning to arrive at this dinner fashionably late, although knowing him, he’s still stuck in London working on the new merger deal that delayed him this morning, and making more money than he’ll know how to spend. No wonder the guy is still single; he’s married to his job.” Davis smiled as his gaze roamed the table.
Clover watched him keenly. Were his jokes a mask to hide his concern over his friend?
She shifted her gaze to stare at the flames licking the brick walls of the flue in the fireplace behind Davis. The anchor in her belly dragged with a rising wave of nausea. What if Jonathan had been involved in an accident on his way? The roads were icy outside; the weather frightful. And who knew how fast he’d be driving to get to Levens Hall, especially behind the wheel of that fancy black sports car she’d often seen him pull away in from her restaurant. Along with yet another leggy beauty in a long line of women that had been his dinner dates at The Silver Spoon. Goodness, the man had a lot of female friends.
She looked forward to being the one on his arm tomorrow night, even if it were only in a bridal procession capacity…the few short seconds’ walk up the aisle on entering the drawing room with its walnut paneled walls and vivid red silk damask curtains where the ceremony was set to take place. And the same walk back out again. Of course, they were seated at the same table for the reception, next to each other. Hopefully he wouldn’t miss that dinner, too.
Ever since that first time she’d met him in her restaurant nearly a year ago, Clover had yearned for an opportunity to get to know him better. Nothing had turned up. Until now. But with the number of gentry and socialites attending this momentous affair, it likely wouldn’t take Mr. Spalding long to have his arms hooked around not one, or two, but a bevy of beautiful women. She paled in comparison to the females who seemed to be his taste.
“The purpose of this dinner tonight wasn’t only because we’re happy to feed all our guests here in my family home, but also for Maggie’s sisters to get to know the groomsmen escorting them at the wedding.”
Davis’s voice pulled Clover from her musing.
“You ladies were all strangers to my cousins and friends,” he continued, “with the exception, of course, of Heather and my little brother, Paxton, plus Rose and Joseph, my friend and designer. I trust that’s changed for the rest of you over the past few hours. But please, no more romances blossoming, all right? With three more weddings on the horizon…Rose, Heather,” he focused on Holly, “sorry Christopher was unable to make it… I think my future father-in-law needs a break.”
Dad raised his glass. “Hear, hear.”
Mom nodded, as did Davis’s parents, Earl and Countess Rathbone. After all, they, too, faced another wedding in the summer with Heather and Paxton.
Laughter swirled around the table, rising up toward the ornate pressed ceiling, the coats of arms of England, Scotland, France, and Wales, receiving the mirth.
Davis rested his hands on the table and leaned closer to Clover. “I’m sorry you haven’t been afforded the same opportunity to get to know Jonathan, but I’ve no doubt he’ll make it up to you when he arrives.”
If he arrives.
Maggie reached for Davis and touched his arm. “Try him again, before you say a blessing over the meal.”
Davis nodded. He pulled his cell phone from his shirt pocket. “Excuse me for a moment.” He took two steps away from the table. Device to his ear, his face brightened when, clearly, Jonathan answered on the other side.
After speaking to his friend for a few moments, Davis returned to the table. “Good news, Jonathan is safe and sound. Bad news is he’s still stuck in London, unfortunately waylaid with this merger. He’ll be driving up tomorrow.”
You know how good a story is when all you want to do is slap the main character to make him see sense. This is one of those stories. But then, what do you expect in the next of the thrilling seven sisters books? From cover to cover, Clover and Jonathan’s story is one to be enjoyed over and over again.