Molly Charles

Contemporary Romance Author

Chasing Galahad


                FROM CHAPTER ONE

       Ty McHugh didn’t believe in fate. Or karma. Or in any of life’s grand designs or small coincidences. If pressed, he might agree that what goes around comes around, that was a basic rule of business. But his philosophy was simple. Life was a tough game. You played to win. Always to win
       Losing was unthinkable.
       Yet, the idea that success wasn’t all it was cracked up to be had begun to niggle at the back of his mind like a nasty secret, as dismally persistent as the London rain that crept inside the collar of his jacket. He’d just closed two business deals here that would net him millions, yet the achievement didn’t thrill him as it once had. In fact, it made him question what he really wanted out of life. 
       He brushed off both rain and doubts, hitching a label to his uncertain mood. Boredom.
       At the moment, though, anticipation surged through him as he gripped the brass door handle to Sedgewick James’ Mayfair antiques shop. Ty looked forward to seeing his unlikely friend. Sedge would twist his arm to buy some pricey object, offer a cup of tea that Ty would decline, and then Sedge would dig for gossip. For a while, Ty’s boredom would take a hike.


       Appearing to shrug off tender memories, Sedge cast the Fabergé egg a loving glance. “Exquisite work. The diamonds are quite fine.” He sighed. “Priceless, really.”
       “Priceless?” Ty paused. “But, you do have a price.”     
       “Perhaps.” Sedge’s eyes narrowed speculatively. “Though it might be more than you’re willing to pay.”
       “What do you mean?”
       “Attend my charity bash tonight.” Sedge nodded at the list on his desk. 
       Ty shook his head. “No way.”
       “Why ever not?”
       “Not my style, Sedgewick. You know that.”
       “You mean you might have to wear formal attire?” A mischievous smile lurked on Sedge’s lips.
       Ty grinned, nodding. “I’m not a tuxedo kind of guy, Sedge.”
       “You’re wrong there, McHugh.” Sedge ran an appraising eye over Ty’s form, as if he were evaluating an armoire. “You’re a handsome devil, even in those appalling dungarees and pullovers you favor. You have the looks of an Italian rock star.”
       Ty’s lips curled. “The hell I do.”
       “You do, with all that messy black hair and those wicked eyebrows. You would look quite dashing in formal attire.”
       “Unhuh. Well, flatter me all you like, I’m not going to your party. Now, what do you want for this egg?”
       “I’m not sure I’ll let you have it at any price.”
       Amused, Ty raised his eyebrows. “Why?”
       “Besides your absence of passion, you obviously have no compassion either.” Sedge’s nose twitched.
       “I’ll make a donation. Okay? Let’s change the subject. I’m looking for a pool table for my Connecticut place. Any ideas?”
       “Let me think. I spotted one in the catalog for Harvey’s Auction--” Sedge glanced up at an impressive burl wood clock chiming the half hour. “The auction! Good Lord, I forgot. I was supposed to meet Zephronia there half an hour ago.”
       Ty’s gaze had settled on the clock. He jerked to attention. “Who?” he asked, suddenly tense.
       “My niece.” Sedge fussed with the papers on his desk.
       “Adopted niece, actually. An American.” Sedge’s face brightened for a moment and then he frowned. “Oh dear, I really can’t leave now. So many loose ends.”
       Impatient, Ty tried again. “Zephronia who?”
       Sedge stood and looked around as if he had misplaced something. “Zephronia Halliday. Why?”
       Ty clenched the egg tightly. “No reason.”
        Zephronia Halliday.
       The name exploded in his head, sparked a frisson of anger in his gut.  His insides erupted with feelings--all of them bad. Resentment was the strongest, turning his saliva acrid. Old pain that he thought had long since dissipated surged through him. Most disturbing of all, a disquieting burst of excitement slipped into the tumult. 
       Then came a vision of exotically long legs. The flash of a brilliant, tentative smile. Was she still as beautiful? Still as damnably sexy? The pain slid away, and a deep ache gripped his heart. To his dismay, he felt stirrings in his groin.
       How had he ever convinced himself he’d gotten Zephronia Halliday out of his system?

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