Escape for Christmas

Escape for Christmas by Ruth Saberton

Book: Escape for Christmas by Ruth Saberton Read Free Book Online
Authors: Ruth Saberton
Tags: Romantic Comedy
Hotel. She’d almost booked them into the spa too, but managed to restrain herself just in time; after all, they’d have the gorgeous roll-top bath to play with, wouldn’t they? Once her Barclaycard had taken a serious hammering, Gemma had tucked it carefully back into the piano strings, returned upstairs and curled up next to Cal.
    “Jaysus, you’re cold,” he’d muttered, pulling her close and wrapping his arms around her, which had been the last thing she’d remembered until the sun had crept under the curtains and tiptoed across her pillow. It was the unaccustomed sensation of warmth that woke Gemma. Stretching out her foot to locate Cal’s whereabouts, she encountered only chilly sheets rather than the chunky hairy leg she was expecting.
    Gemma opened her eyes and was shocked to see that it was daylight and that Cal, who generally started baking at half five, was long gone. A flask of tea, two halves of the handcuffs and a note on the bedside table were the only evidence that he’d ever been there at all. She scowled at the handcuffs as the events of the previous night came flooding back in all their humiliating glory. Then she remembered her Christmas surprise, which cheered her up hugely. Yawning, and hugging this lovely secret close to her heart, Gemma hauled herself into a sitting position and reached for the note.
    Morning Santa! Didn’t want to wake you – too scared what else you might have in mind! JOKE! Don’t forget, birthday lunch for Daphne up at house. Drinks in library at half eleven. Xxx
    “Feck,” said Gemma. “Feck! Feck! Feckety-feck!”
    She felt like the Hugh Grant character at the start of Four Weddings and a Funeral. How could she have forgotten that today was Lady Daphne’s seventieth birthday lunch? Angel and Laurence had been planning it for months; all kinds of exciting guests had been invited and Gemma had been commissioned to make the cake. Lady Daphne, a law unto herself and one of Gemma’s favourite people on the surface of the entire planet, had demanded a Victoria sponge with seventy candles, pink icing and hundreds and thousands. Laurence had been aghast.
    “Ma, you can’t have that!” he’d exclaimed when Lady Daphne had placed her order. “You’ve got all your guests coming; they’ll be expecting something really spectacular!”
    “Thanks,” Gemma had said. She was off screen, so the cameras hadn’t caught her flipping Laurence a V, but Angel saw and grinned.
    “Don’t be so rude, Loz. Everyone wants a Pengelley cake these days, and retro birthday cakes are fun. Maybe we could have jelly and ice cream too?”
    “Oh yes!” Lady Daphne had nodded delightedly. “We must!”
    “Sorry, Gemma,” Laurence had apologised. He’d run a hand through his long treacle-coloured hair and looked increasingly worried as his mother had gone off on a tangent, planning sausages on sticks and cheese-and-pineapple hedgehogs. This was the antithesis of the sophisticated brand he was trying to build for Kenniston Hall. “But you know what I mean, Ma,” he’d continued. “The Duchess of Ermingham and Lady Barrington-Smythe will expect something classic.”
    “Who says I’m inviting them?” Lady Daphne had said airily, and Laurence had looked shocked.
    “But they’re you’re oldest friends! You were debs together and they were your bridesmaids.”
    “So maybe I’m a bit tired of them, darling? Susie Smyth is a dreadful bore – and Annabelle slept with your father. Although it saved me a job, I’ve never quite forgiven her.”
    This comment had quickly become an Internet sensation and one of the classic moments of Bread and Butlers . Laurence’s eyes and mouth had been ovals of horror as his mother had then proceeded to not only air the family’s dirty laundry in public but iron it too. Then she’d gone on to announce that rather than the genteel guest list that her son had envisaged, she was inviting the builders, her pals from the local pub, the neighbouring

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