Trust Me

Trust Me

by Claire Lorrimer
Trust Me

Trust Me

by Claire Lorrimer


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A newly engaged young couple’s relationship is threatened by jealousy and danger . . . can love triumph against the odds?

It was love at first sight for Antonia ‘Toni’ Ward and her fiancé, Justin Metcalfe. The passionate couple holiday in Spain, but their whirlwind six-week romance is soon in jeopardy as jealousy threatens to tear them apart. Can Justin really be trusted?

When Justin sprains his ankle playing golf and ends up in a Spanish hospital, Toni meets Aaron Osborn, who suffered serious injuries after a horrific skiing accident which killed his wife. As Aaron and Toni’s friendship flourishes over the next few weeks, the young couple’s relationship comes under mounting pressure. Back in England Toni may only see Aaron as a friend, but he desperately wants to take Justin’s place – and will stop at nothing in his attempts to make Toni his own.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781780106496
Publisher: Severn House
Publication date: 09/01/2015
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: eBook
Pages: 192
File size: 1 MB

Read an Excerpt

Trust Me

By Claire Lorrimer

Severn House Publishers Limited

Copyright © 2015 Claire Lorrimer
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-84751-598-8


Late March

The Alfa Romeo drew to a halt a few yards beyond the pretty old-world cottage in Hook Norton where Antonia's parents, Joan and David Ward, were spending their retirement years. They were not expecting their daughter's visit on this sunny spring day, and were ensconced in basket chairs in front of the open windows of the little conservatory reading their Sunday newspapers.

Justin Metcalf, the young man at the wheel of his beloved sports car, turned to look at the anxious face of the girl he intended to marry.

'Are you absolutely sure this secrecy is necessary, babe? I mean, there's no reason why your parents will think me unsuitable, is there? Dad seems pleased to have me working for him so I'm not likely to be made redundant,' he added with a smile, 'and I earn enough dosh to keep us both in comfort, et cetera, et cetera. And I haven't a stain on my character!' He grinned disarmingly and his dark eyes twinkled, enhancing still further his good looks. 'I mean, my ma and pa are over the moon about you, Toni – said you were just the very girl they would have chosen for me. Ma was a bit disappointed that her precious son would not be having a "proper wedding", as she called it. She'd have liked St Margaret's and ten bridesmaids and the reception at Hampton Court or something.'

With a smile, he leaned over and kissed her cheek, adding: 'Mind you, she's quite taken with the thought that she can tell all her friends how romantic it all is – love at first sight and all that, and how we are so much in love we can't wait to be man and wife!'

Toni returned his smile briefly but then her look of concern returned. She took his hand in hers.

'Justin, we've been over this a dozen times and I thought you understood why I'm concerned. It's different for your parents; they are almost a generation younger than mine and they live a completely different kind of life. Mum and Dad are about as unsophisticated as yours are "with it". They are ultra-conventional – old-fashioned really – and it was difficult enough for them to come to terms with the fact that I'd virtually be leaving home for good when I went off to Leeds University. For weeks on end, they kept saying I was much too young to be living so far from home, mad as that must sound to you. I think my grandmother is more with it than they are. Besides, I know my mum, like yours, would want me to have a white wedding, and all that palaver. She and Dad would hate the thought of a hurried registry office wedding.'

Hearing Justin's sigh, she pressed her cheek to his. 'Don't worry, hon! Just let me go in on my own and break it gently to them. Then, when I come and fetch you, they'll know how much I love you and they'll see what a lovely person you are and maybe see why we don't want to wait ...'

Justin put his arms round her and pulled her as close as he could. A sudden smile lit up his face after he had kissed her. 'It isn't as if I'd got you pregnant – shot-gun marriage and all that!' He laughed. 'Just don't be away too long, Toni, or my patience will vanish and I shall have to come in and get you!'

He got out of the car and went round to open the passenger door for her. The air was warm, spring-like, and birds were singing and chattering in the cherry tree in front of the Wards' pretty little house. Primroses, celandines and a few early hyacinths filled the flower bed edging the road. A large ginger cat lay curled up on the doorstep, only deigning to move when the young woman walked up the brick path towards the front door.

With a sigh, Justin returned to the car but did not get inside. Instead he leaned against the bonnet, reflecting what an extraordinary thing Fate was. Meeting a girl, falling in love with her and knowing he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her were the very, very last things on his mind when one of his friends, Mike, had introduced him to Toni at a party. In the ensuing six weeks, seeing Toni every spare moment they could be together, he had finally admitted to himself that he had, quite literally, fallen in love at first sight.

Miraculously, it seemed, Toni reciprocated his feelings. When he told her after their fourth night of love-making that he wanted to marry her, she hadn't hesitated in replying that it was what she wanted, too.

Neither of them had had doubts or second thoughts. Everything about their relationship was as if they were two halves of a whole. Both were only children, both had done well academically and in sports: both loved dancing and skiing, and Justin, who was a ten handicap golfer, was over the moon when Toni reported that it was one of the very few activities that her father, once a keen golfer himself, had taught her how to play.

'Let's get married right away – no point in waiting,' Justin had suggested as the weeks went by. He took her to meet his parents, who lived in a fabulous penthouse flat in Grosvenor House. His father, Philip Metcalf, had been enchanted with Toni – so unlike Justin's previous girlfriends, who were all society girls, immensely self-assured and mostly from affluent homes. Toni's quiet, rather shy gentleness had appealed to the older man whose wife, Shelly, was the very reverse. She spent her time beautifying her already beautiful self, and a great deal of money on fashionable clothes, shoes and handbags which made only one or two appearances before disappearing from sight. She was bright, amusing, a first-class bridge player and a good wife who, if she did not exactly worship her husband, certainly worshipped Justin, her good-looking, popular young son. Having met Toni, she was quite delighted and reassured by the fact that the girl was far too unsophisticated ever to try and put her, Justin's adoring mother, on the back burner.

Surely, Justin now thought as he waited for the front door to open and Toni to call him inside, her parents were not going to raise objections? Not that they could prevent the marriage even if they disapproved, but Justin was by no means certain that Toni would go against their wishes. Old fashioned and elderly though they might be, she loved them dearly.

Inside Cherry Tree Cottage, both Joan and David Ward were regarding their daughter with horror. For the third time, Joan Ward was saying, 'But darling, you can't possibly know this young man well enough after less than three months and ...'

'Mum, four months!' Toni corrected her, trying hard to keep her voice uncontroversial. 'And I am twenty-three years old and Justin is twenty-eight, so we aren't irresponsible teenagers. Anyway, all I'm asking is that you and Dad meet him, and then make your comments.'

David Ward regarded the flushed face of his only child and said to his wife, 'That's a reasonable request, my dear! After all, Toni is grown up now, and I think we shall all feel a lot happier when we've met the young man. Go and call him in, Toni, whilst your mother makes us all a nice cup of tea.' He put an arm lightly round his daughter's shoulders, adding: 'I don't have to tell you, darling, that we both love you very much, and our only concern is your happiness.'

Far from reassured, Toni went out to the car where Justin was still standing, a questioning look on his face. 'I'm afraid they haven't taken it very well!' she said. 'It's just as I thought it would be: "you haven't known each other long enough". I suppose it does seem a bit quick to them.' She reached up and touched his cheek, adding: 'If the worst comes to the worst, we could just get engaged. We don't have to get married next week, do we?'

She attempted a smile, but Justin's expression was far from happy.

'No, we don't have to, as you say, but what about my plans for our honeymoon? I wasn't going to tell you as I wanted it to be a surprise, but I've booked two weeks at that really cool Spanish golf hotel near Marbella. The dates coincide with your Easter break from that office of yours. When you saw the brochure and said it sounded marvellous if ever we could afford it, I decided to surprise you ...' He broke off, looking thoroughly dejected.

'Oh, Justin, I know I said it sounded wonderful, and I meant it – but I didn't realize you were going to book it – and so soon. Can't you postpone it ... till the summer, or something?'

'No!' Justin replied. 'I suppose it was silly of me but I've booked the flights as well as the hotel!' Then his face brightened. 'Even if we can't get married, we can still go on holiday, can't we?'

Toni managed a smile as she hugged him. 'I'm just so sorry about all this, darling. I really am! And your parents made me feel so welcome. Come on, let's go in. I know Mum and Dad will love you.' Linking her arm through his, she walked with him up the path to the front door.

Toni was not wrong in her belief that Joan and David Ward would approve of Justin. 'How could they not?' she said to him afterwards as they drove back to London. They'd insisted they would have nothing – absolutely nothing – against the marriage if the young couple were willing to wait at least until the end of the year. When Justin pointed out apologetically that he had somewhat jumped the gun and booked the honeymoon, they'd done their best to hide their shock but at least they did not raise any objections to the couple enjoying a holiday together.

'You could almost certainly get the hotel to give you two single rooms in place of the honeymoon suite,' Toni's mother suggested innocently. It was the one thing about the whole distressing afternoon that caused Justin to smile as he negotiated the slip road on to the M40 as they drove back to London.

'When your mother suggested single rooms, I understood how out of this modern world they are!' he said. 'I cannot imagine their reactions if they were to know how many hours we've spent making love, if not in your flat then in mine! Never mind, hon, it's very far from the end of the world. I shall buy you a ring and you will wear it and we shall have a breath-taking honeymoon in the bridal suite.'

All Toni's disappointment vanished in an instant as her heart filled with love and gratitude. Justin must have been hurt as well as disappointed by her parents' attitude towards their relationship, but as she had pointed out to him, it was not him they doubted so much as their worry that it was far too soon for her to know her own mind.

Nothing – nothing in the whole wide world, she told herself – could alter the fact that, wedding or no wedding, she belonged to Justin, body and soul, and that she could never love anyone else.


It was Easter day, Aaron Osborn's fifteenth day in hospital. His whole body was still covered with the bruises he had received when he'd fallen over the edge of the piste. Encased in a plaster cast so that he was unable to move, unable to understand the Spanish conversation coming from the television set at the end of his bed, he had no way to distract himself from memories of the frightening events which had brought him here.

Earlier in the day, the surgeon had warned him that despite the operation he had performed on his neck, the break was perilously close to the part of his spine which controlled movement, and that the slightest displacement could cause further paralysis.

Was he always to be dogged by bad luck? he asked himself bitterly. Two years ago, he'd thought his luck had taken a huge turn for the better the day he had met his future wife, Leena. Until then, although girls fell for his exceptional good looks and tall, athletic figure, as far as he was concerned, the subsequent relationships had been superficial, purely physical. One of the girls had accused him bitterly of being incapable of love, and he had realized this was true.

Aaron's thoughts now winged back to his childhood. The only son of two middle-aged Scots, his upbringing had started in Japan where both his parents taught English in Japanese schools. His arrival in their ordered lives had been unintentional and unwanted, and as soon as he was born, he'd been handed over to a Japanese nani.

By the age of six, he was bi-lingual and more inclined to use Japanese customs than those of his parents. At the age of seven, he was taken by his father to England and left with a hitherto unknown bachelor uncle who was to be his unwilling guardian. Packed off to a boarding prep school, he was teased and bullied by the boys his own age, who had quickly recognized his behaviour as different from their own.

Perhaps, Aaron thought now, he would not have achieved such excellent academic results had he been welcomed by his contemporaries. As it was, he'd concentrated upon his studies, his only escape from his loneliness. The pattern had been repeated at his public school, and his relationship with his bachelor uncle remained, by mutual agreement, almost as if they were strangers.

If anything, their relationship had worsened when his parents' quarterly payments for Aaron's keep stopped suddenly when they were killed in the great Hanshin earthquake which devastated the important city of Kobe where they'd lived. Nothing they owned had been insured and only enough money remained, after the earthquake, to pay for the few outstanding debts and for his parents' funerals.

Having seen them only once a year since he'd been sent to England, their deaths when Aaron was twelve years old had not caused him any grief. The reduction of his pocket money had affected him far more, and it had suddenly dawned on him that he would have to find a well-paid job when he left school if he was ever to get the things he wanted. By the time he left his public school with four 'A's at A-level, he had decided to become a lawyer.

During the subsequent three years reading law at university, Aaron had been obliged to take any job available during the holidays in order to fund his needs. His social life, therefore, was almost non-existent. Having obtained a first, on his tutor's recommendation, he decided to complete the remaining years of his training at the London School of Law.

While there, fellow students sometimes included him in their social lives, and Aaron was never without a girlfriend. With his dark hair, unusual grey eyes and tall, perfectly proportioned body, he could easily pick up a girl and discard her if she became too emotionally demanding.

His poverty was a constant source of irritation to him and he had resolved never to get married unless it were to an extremely wealthy wife.

Shortly after his twenty-sixth birthday, Aaron met Leena. He'd been a late addition to a formal dinner party given by a fellow student when one of the expected male guests was unable to attend. Leena Banerjee, the daughter of wealthy Indian parents, was by far the most attractive of the female guests and was seated on his right-hand side at the dinner table. She was not only beautiful but amusing in a sophisticated way, and from her conversation he'd gauged correctly that her parents were extremely wealthy, and that she was their hopelessly indulged only child.

Aaron had responded instantly to her barely disguised interest in him, and a few weeks later they became lovers, Aaron spending a great deal of time in Leena's fabulous king-sized bed in her penthouse flat in Mayfair. When he'd told his insatiable, demanding lover that he could not afford to spend so much time with her because of his studies, she swept such excuses aside and suggested they should get married.

Once he was reasonably certain that it was safe to do so, Aaron confessed his total inability to finance Leena's lifestyle, as he had two more years of studying to do before he could sit his final exams and start earning a living. As he had expected, Leena swept aside such obstacles to her desires, assuring him that her father had settled a huge allowance for her as he adored her and always made certain she had everything she wanted. She would take Aaron out to India to meet her parents, who she was certain would love him as much as she did.

Aaron had raised no objection. He'd always craved the kind of wealthy lifestyle that Leena had made clear she would be able to provide.


Excerpted from Trust Me by Claire Lorrimer. Copyright © 2015 Claire Lorrimer. Excerpted by permission of Severn House Publishers Limited.
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