Primrose Park – Christie Barlow

The hot summer sun was shining in the cloudless sky as Molly McKendrick indicated right and turned her convertible Beetle into the magnificent driveway of the most exquisite hotel she’d ever set eyes on. She smiled to herself; this was home for the next few days and even though she was attending a work conference she was wholeheartedly looking forward to throwing herself into her time away from her busy daily routine. Driving around the car park she saw the hotel was busier than she’d imagined, and after finally noticing a parking space under a weeping willow tree at the side of the lake she pulled in and closed the roof of her racing-red car before cutting the engine. The day was glorious, and she had the next few hours free to herself before she attended an introductory meeting for the course ahead. Molly was a qualified vet with her own practice and animal hospital over in the town of Glensheil. For as long as she could remember, her career had been her life, striving to be the best in her field and working ridiculously long hours. But lately, after a number of misbehaved dogs had come through her surgery doors, she’d decided to add another string to her bow and offer a service that benefited herself and her clients: dog behavioural classes. That was why she was at the hotel today, to learn from some of the best in the field. Before climbing out of the car Molly took a quick look in the mirror. She pushed her sunglasses to the top of her head and dabbed on a little lipgloss. She looked different today; there were no green scrubs to be seen or white clogs on her feet. Her hair wasn’t scraped back off her face; instead, her glossy auburn curls fell loose past her shoulders. She’d applied a little make-up and her skin glowed and her eyes sparkled. With a quick squirt of perfume she declared herself ready and stepped out into the fresh air. As well as the new business venture, Molly had also begun to give a little more thought to her personal life.


The majority of her friends were married with children and she had to admit she’d begun thinking about her own future more and more. It wasn’t as though she was unhappy with life; she had everything going for her – her own home, a car she loved, a successful business and just the best friends. But she couldn’t help feeling that she was missing that special someone in her life to curl up with on cold winter nights or amble along to the pub with in the summer, but she just never seemed to meet the right person. Tilting her face up to the sun, Molly murmured to herself, ‘This is the life.’ She couldn’t wait to get checked in and hopefully within the next twenty minutes she’d be enjoying a chilled glass of wine, sitting in the sunshine admiring the magnificent grounds of this spectacular hotel. Just as she was about to close the car door, she heard her phone ringing from inside her bag. It was her friend Isla, no doubt checking whether she’d arrived safely. She’d call back once she’d settled in, Molly thought as she stuffed the phone back in her bag and stepped backwards. ‘Woah! Steady!’ Molly spun around and apologised profusely. ‘Oh my God, sorry! I wasn’t looking where I was going.’ The man standing in front of her was looking down at the ground. Molly had knocked his holdall clean out of his hands. There, scattered on the ground from his open bag, was a pair of pristine white Calvin Klein boxer shorts. How bloody embarrassing for them both. Without thinking, Molly bent down to pick them up and so did he.

Bang! Their heads bumped, and Molly made a noise like a punctured balloon. ‘Shit, sorry again,’ she said, instantly feeling the red blush in her cheeks. Standing up straight, she rubbed her head, feeling absolutely mortified. Then she met the dark eyes of the handsome stranger standing in front of her, the warmest of smiles lifting the corner of his mouth. ‘I never thought coming away for a few days would involve losing my pants and concussion before I’d even checked in,’ the guy said, with a spark of humour and a glint in his eye. Molly swallowed, then her mouth dropped open. She knew she was catching flies but couldn’t help it. She was too busy getting lost inside his deep hazel eyes that were staring back at her. There was only one word to describe the man standing in front of her: hot! Dear God, you have answered all my prayers. Molly was praying those words were just whirling around her head and hadn’t actually left her mouth. She blinked slowly. She wasn’t sure if she even believed in love at first sight … until now. Taken by surprise, she lost herself for a moment. His features were perfect: slim and muscular. Molly had already glimpsed his strong arms that fitted into his tight white shirt very nicely.

His tousled brown hair was thick and lustrous and he had an almost perfectly symmetrical face that stopped you in your tracks. This encounter felt like a scene from a movie. Any minute now, Molly thought, he was going to sweep her off her feet and kiss her like she’d never been kissed. ‘Are you okay?’ he asked, staring straight at her. ‘You seem a little dazed.’ ‘Lovestruck’ is what Molly wanted to reply, but thankfully her brain was working quicker than her lips. ‘Yes, why wouldn’t I be okay?’ He pointed to her head. ‘We bumped heads.’ She flapped her hand in front of her. ‘That was nothing.’ He was grinning at her. ‘Glad to hear it.’ Their eyes diverted back to the boxer shorts once again. He stretched out his hand. ‘I’ll get them this time.

I wouldn’t want any more injuries on my account.’ Molly watched as the handsome stranger bent down once more, quickly scooped up his possessions and stuffed them back in the top of his holdall. ‘That’ll teach me to fasten up my bag.’ ‘And it will teach me to look where I’m going.’ Even though Molly was extremely glad she hadn’t been looking where she was going. ‘I hope there are no lasting effects …’ He nodded towards her head. Already knowing there were lasting effects, Molly realised she was going to think about this stranger for a long time. She bit down on her lip to try and suppress her smile and knew she was acting like a schoolgirl with a crush. What the hell was happening here? Taking the bull by the horns – ‘Maybe…’ She was about to say, ‘Maybe we could grab a drink together?’ ‘Maybe,’ he interrupted, his dark eyes glistening and locked on hers. But she didn’t finish her sentence, and he turned and walked away, leaving a burst of adrenalin electrifying her heart, which was racing at a pace she hadn’t experienced in a long while. Shit, what was happening to her? For a split second, she closed her eyes and inhaled his woody masculine smell then breathed out, only to discover, when she opened her eyes, he was looking back over his shoulder smiling. Molly was mesmerised – surely he must have felt that too? The attraction between them was off the scale. The last time Molly had felt that instant connection was when she discovered David Beckham’s Instagram and she’d lost a whole night’s sleep scrolling through every image he’d ever posted. David was hot but of course she was never going to pull him in this lifetime or the next and it didn’t help that he was married to someone equally famous and beautiful. Molly knew she wanted to know more about the mystery man.

In fact, she wanted to know everything about the man who had just disappeared inside the hotel. ‘Damn, I didn’t even get his name,’ she muttered under her breath.

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Updated: 27 May 2021 — 14:47

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