His bid for a bride(5)

By: Carole Mortimer

Skye frowned her irritation at his familiarity. ‘I don’t remember asking you to sit down,’ she snapped. ‘In fact, I don’t remember inviting you here at all,’ she added rudely.

Falkner looked completely unperturbed by this rudeness, blond brows rising over mocking blue eyes. ‘You have such a surfeit of visitors already, is that it?’ he drawled mockingly.

She could feel the angry colour in her cheeks now. Damn him. How dared he come here and mock her?

‘I’m sorry, Skye.’ Falkner gave a self-disgusted sigh. ‘That was unforgivable.’ He grimaced.

She blinked back her sudden tears, angry with herself for showing even this much of an emotional weakness. ‘A reporter, claiming to be my brother, got in here the day after—a few days ago,’ she amended. ‘He even got a photograph of me before they realized their mistake and managed to throw him out—’

‘Skye, I know all about that. And the photograph appeared in the newspapers several days ago,’ Falkner acknowledged heavily.

She shrugged dismissively. She hadn’t seen the photograph herself, hadn’t looked at a newspaper in days, but she knew it couldn’t have been in the least flattering. She also knew she didn’t care.

‘Since then I’ve refused all visitors,’ she told him woodenly. ‘Which begs the question—’ she suddenly realized sharply ‘—how did you manage to get in?’ She frowned suspiciously.

Falkner grinned. ‘By using my natural charm and diplomacy?’

Skye gave a disbelieving snort; she wasn’t aware this man had any natural charm, let alone diplomacy.

‘I asked you a question when I arrived, Skye,’ Falkner reminded briskly. ‘You’re over the concussion, and your broken ribs are mending nicely, so isn’t it time you checked out of here?’

She glared at him resentfully. ‘I wasn’t aware a medical degree was one of your many accomplishments!’

Skye was totally aware that since the accident that had excluded him from the showjumping circuit three years ago this man had turned his hand to playing the stock market, that everything he touched seemed to turn to gold. Maybe he should have been named Midas rather than the unusual Falkner!

‘You might be surprised at some of my “accomplishments”,’ he bit back tersely, before instantly making a visible effort to relax. ‘Although a medical degree isn’t amongst them,’ he conceded dryly. ‘The truth is, I had a lengthy conversation with your doctor before I came in here—’

‘You had no right—’

‘I have every right, Skye,’ Falkner harshly cut in on her indignation, sitting forward slightly on the chair. ‘Skye, I realize that I’m probably the last person you expected to see today, that you wanted to see,’ he accepted heavily. ‘But the fact of the matter is—’ He broke off, running an agitated hand through the blond thickness of his hair.

‘The fact of the matter is…?’ Skye prompted warily, suddenly extremely suspicious of Falkner’s motive for being here.

She personally hadn’t seen this man since that day over six years ago, but she knew that her father had continued to have a working relationship with the younger man until the time of the accident three years ago, that her father’s liking and respect for Falkner had deepened as he’d first fought his way back from his horrendous injuries, to move on to make a success of himself in another field.

Her father…

Pain shot through her like a knife just at the thought of him, once again closing her eyes, although she couldn’t manage to shut out the memories that had brought her to this point in time.

When had everything begun to go wrong for them? She had lain here this last week trying to make sense of it all.

There was no denying it had been a bad year for all the O’Hara family. Uncle Seamus’s wife had walked out on him after five years of marriage. Uncle Seamus had always been a little too fond of the family product, and his drinking bouts had become more frequent, usually ending in blazing rows, if not actually fisticuffs, with his younger brother, Connor. But with Skye’s help that situation had eventually calmed down, Uncle Seamus apologetic and shame-faced, the two men, to Skye’s relief, once again friends.

Only for something even more disastrous to follow.

Six months ago O’Hara Whiskey had been in serious financial difficulty, rumours quickly following of her father’s possible misconduct.

And then had come the worst blow of all. That fatal night a week ago…