Authors: Megan Mulry
Copyright © 2013 by Megan Mulry
Cover and internal design © 2013 by Sourcebooks, Inc.
Cover design by Jennifer K. Beal Davis
Photography by Jon Zychowski
Model: Danielle Day
Stylist: Brynne Rinderknecht
Sourcebooks and the colophon are registered trademarks of Sourcebooks, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems—except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews—without permission in writing from its publisher, Sourcebooks, Inc.
The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious or are used fictitiously. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.
All brand names and product names used in this book are trademarks, registered trademarks, or trade names of their respective holders. Sourcebooks, Inc., is not associated with any product or vendor in this book.
Published by Sourcebooks Landmark, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc.
P.O. Box 4410, Naperville, Illinois 60567-4410
Fax: (630) 961-2168
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
If the Shoe Fits / Megan Mulry.
(trade paper : alk. paper) 1. Young women–Fiction. 2. Aristocracy (Social class)–Fiction. 3. Love stories. I. Title.
Devon Heyworth cracked one eye open into the shrouded, artificial darkness of the hotel room. One of several bodies passed out in the huge suite groaned from somewhere to his left. He let the palm of his hand reach across the smooth surface of his large bed’s empty sheets and stretched. Waking up in Vegas was always entertaining.
“Shit.” A flat American voice broke the silence as a woman sat up quickly from one of the four white leather sofas. “My shift starts at seven. I have to hustle.”
“Seven what? It’s still morning, isn’t it?” Devon asked with a lazy scratch of his fingers through his two-day growth of beard.
“What? It’s six thirty at night.” She laughed as she flipped on a lamp on the side table across the room. Devon watched with detached interest as she pulled on her tight tank top and then bent over to get a better look around for her pants.
“Not possible,” Devon answered easily, stretching out on the huge bed. “I have a wake-up call scheduled for two. I have a flight to London at four forty this afternoon and I never miss a flight.”
“Are you for real?” The woman—Devon thought her name was Clarity or Chastity or something equally unlikely—was laughing at him. She had great dark-and-stormy eyes that were even better with that smudge of tarty mascara. A good-time girl. And from the look on his friend Archie’s face, passed out behind her on the couch, the two of them had had a good time.
She stood up and pulled the curtains wide, the blistering glare destroying Devon’s mirage of his control on life. She pointed her finger at the lowering sun. “That is the west. That is the setting sun. I may be a cocktail waitress, but I grew up on a farm and I know how to tell time. You might be an earl—”
He rolled his eyes. “I am not really an earl—”
“Whatever! All your friends call you The Earl—”
“It started as a joke—”
“Oh, never mind!” She was losing patience.
He liked women like this. She’d had her fun and she was ready to carry on. Good.
“Okay.” He peered at the clock and then picked up the phone next to his bed. “Hi, this is Devon Heyworth. Is it six thirty in the morning or the afternoon?”
Calamity shimmied into her tight black pants. She put both of her hands on her hips and shook her head in Devon’s direction. “Fucking Brits. Incredible.” She leaned over the couch after picking up her purse, and kissed Archie lightly on his forehead. He patted her behind and off she went.
“It was fun, Earl,” she said as she passed near where he was sitting at the edge of his bed, now in shock. “Have a good trip back to London.”
“Thanks. Yeah, it was a lot of fun. Bye… Verity!” She smiled when they both realized he’d just recalled her name, then she laughed and pulled the door shut behind her.
He was in such deep shit. If he missed his brother’s wedding because he was partying in Vegas with a bunch of layabout ponces and cocktail waitresses, he was going to be flayed. Devon picked up his cell phone and called the concierge people at American Express. A female voice introduced herself as Diane.
Talking while he threw everything into his leather duffle, he pulled on a pair of jeans and a wrinkled black T-shirt.
“Hey, Diane, this is Devon Heyworth. I think I just missed my Virgin Atlantic flight from Vegas to London. Yeah…” He went into the bathroom, brushed his teeth, then used his forearm to rake his toiletries into his bag. He pulled on his trainers and took one last look around the hotel room.
“Hold on one second—” Devon put the phone against his chest and yelled across the hotel suite, “Hey, you scallies! I have to get back to London for the rehearsal dinner. You’d better be there by Saturday for Max’s wedding.” Three heads lifted slowly from couches and beds, nodded, then flopped back asleep.
Devon headed out the door to the elevator and resumed his conversation. “Yeah, I might lose you when I get in the elevator. Okay, here’s the deal, whatever it takes… I have to be in London by tomorrow afternoon.”
“Yes, absolutely, sir.” He listened to the click of a computer keyboard on the other end of the line and tried to ignore his reflection in the brass elevator doors that had just closed in front of him. He pulled a pair of mirrored sunglasses out of the side pocket of his bag, double-checked that he had his passport and wallet, then raked his fingers through his hair. The sandy blondish-brown mass was practically touching his shoulders, and his mother would give him shit for looking like a shaggy rock star in all the wedding photos in
But at least he would be in attendance.
“We don’t have any private jets available until… oh, wait… okay! Here we go—” Diane was on it.
Devon was striding across the lobby of the Wynn hotel, smiling briefly at the concierge he vaguely remembered from last night. He’d been generous with a tip and she looked like she had appreciated it. While he half listened to his cell phone, Devon veered over to his new best friend behind the concierge counter and whispered, “I need a car to the airport right now. Can you get that for me, love?”
She smiled and nodded and clicked a few taps on her keyboard. “Out front now, Mr. Heyworth,” the Wynn concierge whispered.
From his phone, Diane was explaining, “There is a flight to Dusseldorf that leaves Las Vegas at eight forty-five. If you can get to the airport
, I think you’re good. You only have a carry-on as usual, right?”
He nodded his thanks to the hotel lady and continued out to the front of the hotel. “Yeah. Just the carry-on. So I change planes in Dusseldorf—”
“You will make a connecting flight that gets you into Gatwick at 7:30 p.m. It will be very close, but Dunlear Castle is close, yes?”
“Perfect. And a car to pick me up there?”
“Great… and thanks, Diane.”
“Always a pleasure, Lord Heyworth.”
He disconnected the call and smiled at the thought of the reliable Dianes of the world. He loved all the anonymous voices at American Express. Their sole purpose for the ten minutes he was in their orbit was to do whatever he wanted. And then he never thought about them again. He never understood why people opted for an office and a secretary and employees. What a bore. All those pesky attachments.
One of the Wynn courtesy limos pulled up in front of the sweltering chrome-and-glass exterior of the hotel and a large body-builder-type chauffeur jumped out. “Mr. Heyworth? Any luggage?”
Devon lifted his shoulder to indicate his carry-on. “This is it, thanks. Let’s go.”
Staring out the window at the passing mayhem that was the constant building and rebuilding of Las Vegas, Devon marveled at the nature of the American psyche. Bigger. Faster. Improved. So much immediate gratification. He looked forward to many years of enjoying the blessed freedom of being a single man in the twenty-first century with the ways and means to enjoy it for as long as he possibly could. Maybe forever.
He made the flight to Dusseldorf without a problem, slept most of the way, and made the connection to Gatwick easily. The car and driver met him as planned to take him to Dunlear Castle. After slipping in the back door, taking a thorough shower, and changing into a maroon velvet smoking jacket and proper trousers, he was ready to attend his brother’s rehearsal dinner.
The fact that he had missed the actual rehearsal in its entirety would just have to be chalked up to Devon being Devon.
“Could you two cut it out with all the swooning, please?” Devon grumbled at his older brother fawning over his fiancée, coming up behind them in the crowded living room.
Max Heyworth, the nineteenth Duke of Northrop, laughed as he swung around, keeping his arm around the slim waist of his fiancée, Bronte Talbott. “You’re late. Even Abby got here before you.” They were all still having drinks in the drawing room, the dinner gong set to ring in a few minutes, at nine. “And don’t tell us to cut it out… you’re just jealous.” Max tried to scowl.
“I hate to break it to you,” Devon said, grabbing a passing flute of champagne, “but I am so far from jealous—no offense, Bron.”
“None taken,” she said with a mischievous smile. “What kept you?” She widened her eyes at his just-showered, devilishly sexy appearance.
“Airport trouble in Vegas.”
Max snorted a quick laugh. “Is that what they’re calling it these days?” They’d all been in Las Vegas the previous weekend for Max’s bachelor party, and Devon and several of their friends had stayed on. Devon had managed to throw in a little business trip to rationalize extending his stay. “I’d call it man-whoring,” Max said.
Bronte nearly spit out her champagne. Max hardly ever spoke in anything but his crisp, Etonian British, both in terms of his vocabulary and his accent, so when he said things like
, Bronte always found it ten times funnier than if some guttersnipe like herself had said it. “Max!” She elbowed him.
“Look.” Devon shrugged, as if his
were simply a fact of life. “I’m twenty-eight and blessedly
, so there’s not very much that I’m holding back on. You two are just the typical about-to-be-married couple with this line of cock-and-bull about how great it is to be young and in love and all that. Spare me.”
His sister-in-law-to-be gave him a shrewd look, then smiled. “I couldn’t agree with you more, Dev. Enjoy your freedom while you’ve got it because someone’s going to come along and then you’re going to be just as idiotic and hog-tied as we are. I tried to put it off as long as possible.” Bronte turned to her fiancée and stared lovingly into his eyes. “But some things just can’t be helped.”
“Quit looking at him like that,” Devon chided. “It’s upsetting. I need to mingle. I don’t want any of that star-crossed nonsense to rub off on me. You two are distressing.”
They weren’t that distressing, Devon thought with an unfamiliar twinge of envy as he looked around the crowded reception room. Bronte Talbott was that rare bird who didn’t need a big, stinking three-ring circus to let the world know she was getting hitched. In fact, she’d been ready to do it at City Hall in New York, but his brother Max was traditional in his way. They were keeping it relatively small, but Devon of all people knew about relativity.
In this case, “small” meant that the rehearsal dinner was at the groom’s home, Dunlear Castle, a family pile that was a Grade I listed architecturally significant piece of British history. Mother-in-law-to-be was the formidable Dowager Duchess of Northrop (who was at that very moment sporting the full diamond parure that offset her angry gray eyes as she tried to stare Devon right out of the room for his tardiness). The flower girls were royal princesses. Max and Bronte were saying their vows not at Westminster Abbey or St. Paul’s Cathedral, but at their own Fitzwilliam Chapel, dating back to 1380. Yes, “relatively small.”
Devon scanned the room, noting the middle-aged couples and boring aunts and uncles looking just as they had on the previous seventeen social occasions at which he’d seen them in the past three months.
“Just point me in the direction of any single American dolls that might want a little
action and I’ll take it from here.” He winked at the loving couple.
“I think the seating arrangement might take care of that,” Bronte said with an answering wink.
The sound of the light dinner gong trilled into the room from the front hall.
Devon gave Bronte a quick peck on the cheek. “You look gorgeous as usual, Bron. And always looking out for me. Thanks.”
“You’re my fellow outlaw, Dev. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. Just get me on your mother’s good side and I’ll throw a few treats your way.”
A few minutes later, Devon was admiring his treat. Apparently, she was a department store heiress from Chicago who dabbled in the shoe business, but Devon was far more preoccupied with her generous cleavage and the revealing scoop neck of her dress that was barely concealing it, fringed in a devilish bit of mink.
She was talking animatedly to Devon’s cousin, James Mowbray, about his pending store opening in New York. Their conversation offered Devon plenty of time to look at the creamy white skin of her neck and the full turn of her shoulder that kept peeking out from the useless woven shawl that refused to stay put on her delectable upper arm. Before he could look away, he was caught in the act, as it were, staring longingly at her beautiful proportions. She was looking down at him somehow, even though they were both seated. He was taller by far, so how, he wondered, did she manage to look down at him?
“And you must be the brother of the groom? A bit difficult to rehearse without a best man, you know.” She took a sip of her champagne and set it down carefully in the sea of glasses and china and silverware that crowded the large round table. The delicate clatter and ping of the caterers and sommeliers and light conversation of everyone who had come to celebrate Max and Bronte’s wedding wafted around them.
Devon had been unconscionably late. He knew that Max and Bronte didn’t give a fig, as long as he showed up on the day with the rings intact. But clearly this was the type of woman who appreciated a splendid apology. He was happy to oblige.
“I am indeed. The very tardy, penitent,
brother of the groom. Devon Heyworth, best man, at your service.” He dipped his head in his best courtly manner. “And you are?”
“Sarah James. The very prompt, accusatory,
friend of the bride. Maiden of honor. Pleased to meet you.” She smiled, but it was a bit thinner than he’d hoped. She reached out her hand to shake his and he brought it to his lips in an absurdly romantic gesture, trying to catch her eyes with his, from his lower position.
She burst out laughing with such a surprising bark that conversation came to an abrupt halt at the rest of their table. His mother shot Devon a sharp, questioning glance, then raised one aristocratic eyebrow before resuming her conversation. Bronte tore her attention from Max and widened her eyes in silent question toward Sarah. Seeing that Sarah was perfectly capable of handling the perfectly rakish Devon, Bronte returned her attention to her fiancée as he continued the story about his recent trip to Budapest.