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Chapter One

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'I can't do this.' With a trembling hand Suzy Harte tore the white veil from her head, leaving her auburn hair with odd wisps which stuck up in the winter breeze. 

'What?' her mother wailed, pale grey eyes widening in surprise. 'Don't be so ridiculous. You can't change your mind now!' 

Suzy peered up at the imposing nineteenth century church, its tower looming darkly. The chiming of the bells resonated in the stillness, and a light spray of snow fell from the luminous sky. All of the other people, the guests, were already inside, waiting for her.  

'It's your wedding day!' Suzy's mother hissed. 'Your father and I have spent a small fortune on making sure this will be the most special day of your life!' 

Suzy bunched the netted veil into a ball and tossed it into the air, watching as the wind scooped the material up and it floated along before the end caught and dragged across the top of nearby headstones.  

'I don't want to marry Simon.' Suzy shivered in the wintery chill. Whose idea had it been to wear a strapless dress without anything to cover her arms?  

'You should've thought about that before!' Her mother plonked her hands on her tiny, satin covered hips. 'You were always a selfish child and you've grown into a self-centred young woman. There's nothing wrong with Simon Prendergast, he comes from a well-respected family. He has money, Suzanna.' 

Suzy's pink-glossed lips rose in derision. 'I am not self-centred! Simon may have money, Mother, but he also has a lover. This, incidentally, I only discovered this morning.' 

Suzy's mother gasped, her hands flying to her own rose-bud mouth. 'How do you know?' 

Suzy's manicured fingers wrenched open the ridiculously miniscule wrist bag her mother had forced her to use for carrying the ring in, and yanked free her mobile phone. Quickly, she tapped the screen and passed it to her mother, absurdly relishing the paling of the latter's face. 

'That's Nathaniel,' she explained to her silent mother. 'Simon's lover. As you can see from that sordid photo, Simon likes Nathaniel very, very much!' 

The older woman's lips disappeared into a thin line as she handed the phone back to her daughter. 'You didn't sign a pre-nup.' 

'And?' Suzy shrugged, returning the phone back to the silly bag. 

Her mother's eyes narrowed. 'Get yourself in that church and marry the cheating bastard so you can divorce him and take him for all he's worth.' 

Suzy laughed drily, her green eyes blazing. 'Mum, always the opportunist. You never fail to leave me with lower expectations of you.' 

'You could earn yourself a couple of million pounds, that's nothing to scoff at!' 

Suzy picked up the mass of frothy white skirt layers and began to make her way around the side of the church. 'You make me sound like a prostitute!' 

Her mother snapped at her heels. 'I'm not saying that, darling. You were having sex with him without getting anything in return. If you marry him, you can treat the sex as a step towards saving for your future! Stay with him for a year then wring him dry!' 

Suzy span back to face her mother and waggled a finger in her face. To her annoyance tears built up behind her eyelids. The hot tears sprung free, no doubt collecting mascara on their descent down her cheeks. Roughly she rubbed them away leaving her hand smudged with black. 'How can you think like that, Mother? I happen to love Simon so I'm not going to screw him, not in any sense.'' 

'No,' replied her mother sarcastically. 'You'll just let Nathaniel do that.' 

Suzy surprised herself when she felt the sting of skin against skin. Her palm tingled from the sharp contact with her mother's cheek. Her mother clasped a shocked hand to her smarting cheek, her mouth forming a shocked 'o' as her cheek began to turn pink. Silently, Suzy turned and continued towards the back of the church, along the path leading to the car park. 

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