Amanda Browning - Jonas Berkeley's Defiant Wife.doc

55 views67 pages
Published on 31 Jan 2013
Sometimes the world could change in an instant. One moment everything was exactly the way you planned it to
be, and the next it had become a place you barely recognised. This was how it was for Aimi Carteret that sultry
summer evening, and it was the second time it had happened in her sometimes turbulent life.
Just moments before the second cataclysmic event that was to cause such havoc occurred, she was sitting at the
large dining table of Michael and Simone Berkeley, enjoying the friendly banter. Beside her sat their son Nick, a
man of genuine warmth and kindness. He was a renowned surgeon, like his father, and his father before him.
Opposite were Nick’s sister Paula and her husband, James Carmichael.
Six months ago Aimi had been employed by Nick to organize his hectic life. Besides operating, he had lecture
tours, guest appearances on all forms of media, and had even begun to compile a family history. She worked from
the study in his home, but did not live in. That was something she never did. Her work and her private life never
Not that she had much of a private life, but that was by choice. Her life had changed dramatically nine years ago,
and the mad social whirl she had enjoyed to the fullest had been left behind and never regretted. Guilt had sobered
the outrageous teenager, and she had vowed to turn herself into someone she could be proud of.
She had thrown herself headlong into studying history at university, but making a career out of it had been hard.
So she had learned all the skills she needed to become a personal assistant, and had been temping for a high class
agency ever since. Coming to work for Nick had allowed her to use her grounding in history, and help him with his
research. She had, after much hard work, found a niche for herself where she was able to feel a degree of peace.
If her old friends could see her now, they would barely recognise her, Aimi thought to herself. She didn’t wear
make-up, when once she had used it to enhance her large green eyes, always kept her shoulder-length blonde hair
smoothed into a pleat at her nape, and preferred smart suits and casuals to modern fashions.
When she had been at university, she had even worn glasses. Plain glass, of course. They had been a ploy used to
keep people at a distance. She had been at university to work, not play. Her playing days had ended with a tragedy
she would never forget. All she had wanted to do was blend into the background and be left alone.
It seemed strange now to remember how outrageously she had once flirted with the opposite sex. Having
inherited her looks from her actress mother, Marsha Delmont, Aimi had had no trouble attracting men, and had
enjoyed their company, but she had never taken them seriously and never had any deep relationships with any of
them. Her life had been about having fun, but after Austria and the terrible events that had happened there, that had
all ended. She had spent the years since proving she could be a person of value.
Her life was the way she wanted it. She was here in her official capacity as Nick’s assistant, but his parents had
welcomed her into their home in the country as a friend. The plan was for her to look through the books and papers
in the study for relevant material for Nick’s book, but all Nick’s family would be coming to a barbecue tomorrow,
for their annual bank holiday weekend get-together, and he had insisted that she join in the festivities.
Sitting at the table, listening to the conversation, sometimes taking part, she was glad she had agreed to come.
This was how normal people behaved with each other, and it was a poignant reminder for Aimi, who had once
thought endless shopping, wild, glamorous parties where drink flowed like water and everything was loud laughter
and music was the only way to live. That Aimi would have considered this deadly dull, but the Aimi of today
bitterly regretted that she hadn’t wised up sooner. Such was the benefit of hindsight. It showed you what might have
been, and damned you with the knowledge that you could never go back.
In those final few minutes before her world would be knocked off its axis and sent spinning into space for a
second time, everyone was laughing at something Paula had just said. Aimi found it so funny, her eyes were
watering and her stomach ached. It was as she was using her napkin to wipe her eyes that the distant chime of the
front doorbell permeated the room.
Unlock document

This preview shows pages 1-3 of the document.
Unlock all 67 pages and 3 million more documents.

Already have an account? Log in
Simone Berkeley looked at her husband in mild query. ‘I wonder who that could be,’ she said to the room at
‘Were you expecting anyone, Mum?’ Paula asked, only for her mother to shake her head.
Moments later, they all heard the sound of footsteps coming towards the room and everyone looked expectantly
towards the door. It opened seconds later and a tall, dark-haired man stepped into the room, grinning at the sea of
‘I hope you left something for me, you pack of gannets!’ he exclaimed cheerfully, and his remark was met by
cries of delight.
The family immediately leapt to their feet as one, leaving a bemused Aimi to swivel round in her seat and
examine this late arrival. She had heard of Jonas Berkeley, of course, the oldest son, who owned a high-powered
company and lived a jet-set lifestyle which took him off to all corners of the globe. His name was often in the
newspapers, sometimes for his work, but more often for the latest woman in his life. Naturally he had an open
invitation to the family gathering, but nobody had expected him to be able to make it. Hence their surprise and
Her own surprise was her response to him, which was totally unexpected. The instant she laid eyes on him,
something stirred in the depths of her. All her senses appeared to leap to attention, as if her whole being recognised
and responded to something in him. His laughter as he greeted everyone sent shivers down her spine and the rakish
sparkle in his startlingly blue eyes dried her mouth.
For all her wild youth, Aimi had never actually experienced such a blatantly physical response to anyone in her
twenty-seven years. She was suddenly made very much aware of the blood pulsing through her veins and the rapid
beating of her heart. All at once her smile faded away and it was then, as Jonas Berkeley glanced from one member
of his family to another, that their gazes locked.
She could actually see the moment when he was stopped in his tracks, and her heart lurched anxiously. Something
elemental forked through the air between them, only to be broken when his sister claimed his attention, yet there had
been time enough to see the predatory gleam which had entered his eyes. Shocked and disbelieving, Aimi turned
away, pressing a hand to her stomach.
Oh, my God, she thought dazedly. What had just happened? Silly question, Aimi, you know darned well! She had
just experienced the pull of an immensely strong sexual attraction, and her whole body was quivering as a result. It
was the very last thing she had expected, for she had worked hard to keep the attractive, outgoing side of her nature
under control—to be the complete antithesis of her former self in every way. Which was why she had eschewed all
forms of romantic entanglement. No man had ever made her control slip.
Until just now, that was. Without a word he had broken through her defences, making her feel things she did not
want. She didn’t know why it had happened now, only that she had to make rapid repairs so the damage did not
show. Telling herself to be calm, she breathed slowly until she felt in control again. Now she should be able to give
the appearance of calmness, although in reality she was still trembling inside.
A hand touched her arm and she jumped, looking up to find Nick beside her.
‘Come and say hello to my brother. I’m eager for him to meet you,’ Nick invited, and Aimi’s heart fluttered
anxiously at the thought of looking into those amazing eyes again so soon. However, there was one little part of her
that needed to check out if it had really happened or if she had imagined it, so she smiled, as if the ground hadn’t
just rocked, and stood up.
As she took the half a dozen steps to where Jonas Berkeley stood within the circle of his family, Aimi had the
weirdest sensation that she was walking down a predestined path. A momentary sense of caution whispered, Go
back, yet a stronger force kept her moving. She couldn’t stop her eyes from rising to meet his and, the instant that
happened, once again the air seemed to become positively charged, making it difficult to breathe properly.
‘OK,’ Nick declared, noticing nothing amiss, and made the introductions. ‘Aimi, this strapping fellow is my
brother, Jonas. Tall, handsome and disgustingly wealthy, he’s also a bit of a Casanova, so you have been warned.
And this young woman is my indispensable assistant, Aimi.’
Unlock document

This preview shows pages 1-3 of the document.
Unlock all 67 pages and 3 million more documents.

Already have an account? Log in
Jonas’s teeth flashed white as he smiled directly into her eyes and held out his hand. ‘Hello, Nick’s indispensable
Aimi. I’m very pleased to meet you,’ he greeted her in a voice whose low timbre was an unexpected delight to her
Aimi gasped silently, more than a little unnerved to know she was still feeling the full force of the man’s
charisma, despite her hasty repairs to her defences. He oozed supreme male confidence and sexual allure, and it was
stunning. Knowing she was not as cool as she would like to be, she hesitated fractionally before taking his hand, and
knew she had been right to do so when his fingers closed around hers. The contact sent a wave of tingles up her arm
and throughout her system, causing the tiny hairs to rise. Her faint start was absorbed by his hand, which tightened
on hers momentarily.
‘I’m pleased to meet you, too,’ she returned politely, glad to hear that she at least sounded normal. Easing her
hand free, she coiled her fingers into her tingling palm. ‘Nick talks of you often.’ It was true, though he had never
said what a charismatic man his brother was. Probably because he never saw him that way. Women would see a
whole different side to him. A side she would have preferred to remain in blissful ignorance of! Whilst she might
admire a man’s looks aesthetically, she tried to never allow herself to be moved by them. Today, though, something
was going badly wrong and she didn’t like it.
‘Ah, that would be the reason my ears have been burning lately,’ Jonas joked lightly, his mouth tweaking into a
boyish grin. ‘So, how long have you been working for Nick?’ he asked and, as he did so, his eyes took in the grey
pencil skirt and white blouse she was wearing, despite the stifling summer heat. There was a quizzical glint in his
eye when he met hers again.
‘Six months, give or take,’ Nick informed him, smiling at Aimi. ‘I tell you, everyone could do with an assistant
like her!’
His brother looked from one to the other. ‘Is that so? Do I detect more than just a working relationship here?’ he
enquired, and Aimi got the distinct impression that it was not an idle question. He wanted to know just how involved
his brother was.
Nick laughed and shook his head. ‘Good Lord, no! Nothing like that! She’s brought order to the chaos of my life.
Isn’t that right, Aimi?’
‘I do my best,’ Aimi agreed uncomfortably, wondering if Nick realised he had just as good as told his brother she
was not off limits. From the wry amusement in Jonas’s eye, he knew it, and knew that she did, too.
‘What made you decide to visit this weekend? Did you find yourself between women?’ Nick asked with a
surgeon’s precision, and Aimi had to stifle a sudden urge to grin.
Jonas raised a lazy eyebrow at her, ignoring his brother, and smiled. ‘Delicately put, Nick, as always. I did
happen to find myself with an unexpectedly free weekend. But I don’t think it’s going to be as disappointing as I
first thought!’
Fully aware of what he was implying, Aimi’s eyebrows rose. She might not play the field any more, but she
hadn’t forgotten how the game was played. ‘Oh, I’m sure it will be,’ she insisted, smiling back coolly.
His head tipped. ‘You think so? Funny, I usually find something to keep me amused.’
Nick snorted. ‘Typical Jonas! Don’t you think it’s time you grew up? You’re thirty-four. You should be looking
to settle down and start a family.’
‘I’ll leave that to you. I’m happy with my life the way it is.’
‘At least I’m looking! You just keep dating those beautiful airheads! What on earth do you see in them? You
can’t even have an intelligent conversation with any of them!’ Nick insisted doggedly.
‘Shame on you, Nick!’ his sister broke in on what appeared to be an old argument. ‘Jonas can date whatever sort
of woman he likes. Just because he’s bound on cutting a swathe through the female population doesn’t mean he
won’t settle down eventually. He’ll do that when he’s good and ready.’
Jonas sighed in the face of such heavy-handed criticism from his nearest and dearest. ‘Thanks for making me
sound like a heartless Lothario, Paula.’
Unlock document

This preview shows pages 1-3 of the document.
Unlock all 67 pages and 3 million more documents.

Already have an account? Log in

Get OneClass Notes+

Unlimited access to class notes and textbook notes.

YearlyBest Value
75% OFF
$8 USD/m
$30 USD/m
You will be charged $96 USD upfront and auto renewed at the end of each cycle. You may cancel anytime under Payment Settings. For more information, see our Terms and Privacy.
Payments are encrypted using 256-bit SSL. Powered by Stripe.