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Authors: Katie Oliver

And the Bride Wore Prada

BOOK: And the Bride Wore Prada
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She’s dated Mr Darcy…now it’s time for Gemma to prepare to say ‘I do’! And the Bride Wore Prada is the sensational first book in Katie Oliver’s long-awaited ‘Marrying Mr Darcy’ series, the follow-up to her best-selling ‘Dating Mr Darcy’ trilogy.

Also available by Katie Oliver

Prada and Prejudice

Love and Liability

Mansfield Lark

And the Bride Wore Prada

Katie Oliver

www.CarinaUK.com

Contents

Cover

Blurb

Book List

Title Page

Author Bio

Dedication

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Chapter 50

Chapter 51

Chapter 52

Chapter 53

Chapter 54

Extract

Endpages

Copyright

KATIE OLIVER

loves romantic comedies, characters who ‘meet cute’, Richard Curtis films, and Prosecco (not necessarily in that order). She currently resides in northern Virginia with her husband and three parakeets, in a rambling old house with uneven floors and a dining room that leaks when it rains.

Katie has been writing since she was eight, and has a box crammed with (mostly unfinished) novels to prove it. With her sons grown and gone, she decided to get serious and write more (and hopefully, better) stories. She even finishes most of them.

So if you like a bit of comedy with your romance, please visit Katie’s website,
www.katieoliver.com
, and have a look.

Here’s to love and all its complications...

To my wonderful readers, who've supported me, encouraged me, and told me how much they enjoy my stories, this one's for you. With thanks to Clio Cornish, my fabulous editor, and to the writers at Carina UK for their unstinting support and friendship.

Chapter 1

‘Flight 6072 to Inverness – Two-Hour Delay.’

Natalie clutched her Vuitton cosmetics case and stared at the electronic arrivals and departures board in dismay. She glanced over at her husband Rhys. ‘That’s us, then.’

Rhys took her arm and led her over to a row of seats – horrible, crowded,
uncomfortable
seats – in Heathrow’s British Airways departures lounge.

‘Nothing for it but to wait,’ he told her. ‘Have a seat and I’ll go and fetch us a coffee.’

With a sigh, she sank into a chair. The skies outside the airport were a gloomy, lowering grey, and despite her warm coat and boots and the promise of Christmas in the air, Natalie felt the chill in her very bones.

‘You know, Rhys,’ she grumbled, ‘we could be in the Galleries lounge right now, drinking martinis, if we’d only flown first class.’ She looked at him hopefully. ‘You could still upgrade our tickets.’

‘It’s a short flight,’ Rhys pointed out. ‘Hardly worth paying double. And it’s a bit early for martinis. Besides,’ he reminded her as he glanced round the crowded airport, ‘we can’t be extravagant with our expenditures. Dashwood and James department stores are still regaining their footing. We don’t want the press saying that we’re wasting company money.’

‘But it’s
our
bloody money,’ Natalie said crossly, and sneezed. ‘Yours and mine! We own half the company.’

‘Twenty-five percent,’ Rhys corrected her. ‘And don’t forget ‒ public perception is very important. It’s all about financial restraint.’ He lifted his brow. ‘What’ll you have, coffee, or tea?’

‘Coffee,’ Natalie answered, her expression sulky. ‘Cream. One sugar. If you think we can afford it.’

He didn’t answer; he’d already turned and plunged into the crowds to fetch their coffees.

Public perception
.
Financial restraint
. Crikey, Natalie thought irritably as she fished out a wodge of tissue from her jacket pocket and blew her nose – bloody allergies – she and Rhys had been married less than six months, and already she was beyond tired of those words. It was annoying, living one’s life under a glass dome, having one’s every move watched and criticised—

A commotion just ahead caught Natalie’s attention, and she glanced up. The click and whirr of flashbulbs and the sound of raised voices carried across the airport.

Natalie frowned. What in the world—?

Through the crowd she glimpsed a woman with a glossy fall of dark-red hair and a tiny black dress clicking purposefully across the airport in a pair of dagger-sharp heels. Next to her, a man, his eyes hidden behind sunglasses and his dark hair stylishly cut, linked his arm through hers.

Oh my God, Natalie thought, startled. It couldn’t be. But it was. It was Gemma Astley and Dominic Heath!

‘Dominic,’ one of the reporters called out as he lunged in front of the rock star, microphone outstretched, ‘is it true that you and Gemma are getting married soon?’

‘Yeah.’

‘When?’ a female reporter shouted. ‘Have you set a date?’

‘No comment.’

‘Is it true there’s to be a secret wedding at your Scottish estate in Inverness?’

‘Not much of a secret if you lot know about it, is it?’ Dominic shot back. ‘Now fuck off.’

Natalie stood and waved to catch his eye – he and Gemma were headed for the VIP lounge, no doubt – but the throngs of people and camera-wielding paparazzi around them made eye contact all but impossible.

‘Dominic!’ she called out. ‘Gemma!’

But they neither saw nor heard as they swept past. Disappointed, Natalie sank back down in her seat and wondered if it were true.

Were Gemma and Dom finally getting married?

If so – and if they’d be on same the flight to Scotland with her and Rhys – then perhaps the four of them could get together for a drink, or dinner.

Or perhaps not. After all, Natalie reflected with a frown, Gemma hadn’t bothered to share this latest news with her, nor had she invited them to the wedding. No surprise there, really; after all, she and Gem hadn’t spoken in nearly four months. But they used to tell each other
every
thing.

And it really hurt to be excluded.

Oh well, Nat reminded herself, at least she and Rhys would be spending the holidays with her good friend Tarquin at his family’s castle in the tiny village of Loch Draemar in the Scottish Highlands.

It promised to be a fun and relaxing few weeks of roaring fires, delicious food (hopefully minus turnips or haggis), and brisk walks across the heath, not to mention nice long fireside chats with Tark and Wren, and she was really looking forward to it.

She looked up as a family trundling wheeled suitcases behind them trudged past in Gemma and Dominic’s wake. ‘I want a sweet, Mummy,’ a little girl with ginger hair complained. ‘You said I could have an ice lolly.’

‘Sam, it’s two degrees outside,’ her mother said, exasperated. ‘You can’t possibly want an ice lolly.’

‘But, Mummy, I do. And you
prom
ised.’

‘You
did
promise,’ a slightly older boy pointed out. ‘In the car, you said Sam might have one if she only stopped singing “The Wheels on the Bus” for five bloody minutes—’

‘That’s enough out of both of you,’ their father interjected. ‘Come along, or we’ll be late boarding our flight.’

As they walked by and merged into the crowds, the ginger-haired girl still sulking, Natalie eyed them wistfully. How lovely to have a family of your own, she thought. A sweet little girl or boy – or perhaps, one of each – for whom she could buy lots of darling little outfits, and lots of darling little shoes, and lots of darling little toys...

She sighed. She really, really wanted a baby. And although Rhys was amenable to the idea, he thought it best that they wait a bit, and enjoy being a couple before they started a family. After all, he’d pointed out, they’d only just got married. And although Natalie knew he was right in theory ‒ that they should travel and dine out and enjoy one another’s company before they added children to the mix – still, the pull of motherhood grew stronger within her every day.

Her sister Caro had a new baby. Such a sweet lamb little Phillipa was, too – so soft and cuddly and smelling of baby powder and...well, to be honest, Natalie thought as she wrinkled her nose, of poo, sometimes. She didn’t much look forward to
that
. Still – the image of Rhys, bent over a changing table as he put a nappy on their baby girl or boy, made her absolutely melt...

‘Excuse me. Sorry to bother you, but...aren’t you Natalie Dashwood?’

Startled out of her reverie, Natalie looked up to see a woman with short-cut brownish hair and blue eyes regarding her quizzically. A laptop bag hung off her shoulder.

‘Well, I
was
,’ Natalie said, her expression guarded. ‘I’m Natalie Dashwood-Gordon, now. Sorry, have we met—?’

She smiled in apology. ‘Oh, no. Only...I spotted you across the way and thought I recognized you. I saw you waving to Dominic Heath just now.’

Natalie nodded. ‘I tried to catch his eye, but with all the paparazzi...’

‘Yes, horrible buggers, aren’t they?’ The woman indicated the empty seat next to hers. ‘Do you mind? It took me two bloody
hours
to get through the security lines.’

‘Of course not. Please, sit down. My husband’s just gone to fetch some coffee.’

‘Ah, yes. Rhys Gordon. You two are married now, aren’t you? I read about it in the tabs,’ she added as she slid the laptop strap from her shoulder and sat down.

Natalie nodded politely. ‘Yes. We got married five months ago.’ She sneezed again. ‘Sorry,’ she apologized as she withdrew another tissue from her pocket. ‘Allergies.’

‘Quite all right, I have them too. So you’re still practically newlyweds! How lovely.’

‘Yes. It’s almost five months now.’

‘Congratulations.’

‘Thank you.’

The woman leant forward. ‘Correct me if I’m wrong, but you tied the knot at Dominic’s family home in – oh, where was it—? Warwickshire?’

‘Yes. We had a lovely wedding at Mansfield Hall.’

‘The photo spread in
Town and Country
was gorgeous,’ she agreed. ‘Still,’ she added with a tiny frown, ‘getting married at your ex-boyfriend’s family home... That must’ve been a bit awkward.’

‘Not really,’ Natalie said, with a trace of defensiveness. ‘It’s true Rhys and Dom don’t like each other, but they managed to be civil for the duration of the wedding reception.’

‘Well, that’s something, I suppose.’ The woman glanced in the direction of the VIP lounge. ‘Rumour has it that Dominic and Gemma are off to Scotland to get married in a secret wedding ceremony.’

‘Is that right? I wouldn’t know.’

‘Really?’ She regarded Nat in mild surprise. ‘But I thought...well, aren’t you and Dominic’s fiancée good friends?’

Natalie hesitated. ‘We are. Well, we were. But we’ve...lost touch.’

‘Ah,’ she said, her face etched in sympathy. ‘Running in loftier circles now, is she?’

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