Opposites attract in this unforgettable favorite from New York Times bestselling author Sherryl Woods
Victoria Marshall was an incurable romantic with her antique shop and rustic farmhouse, love poems and yesterday’s fashions. She was yearning for a Prince Charming to sweep her off her feet. The dashing Tate McAndrews fit the bill, but alas, the IRS representative overseeing her audit had the soul of a stuffy realist.
Tate was so…sensible, so practical…without an impulsive bone in his gorgeous body. How could she yearn with such heated longing for a man her mind knew was wrong for her? Could they share more than a brief romance without driving each other crazy? Love, Victoria knew, would find a way.
Tears streaming down her pale cheeks, Victoria flipped off the television by remote control and reached blindly for the box of tissues beside her on the huge brass bed. When her groping fingers met the empty slot, she muttered a soft expletive, tossed the useless container across the room and wiped away the tears with the back of her hand. Now, Voyager always did this to her.
“You’d think by now I’d be prepared, wouldn’t you?” she said to the fluffy gray cat that was purring contentedly in her lap. How many times had she sobbed as a resigned Bette Davis pleaded with Paul Henried not to ask for the moon, when they already had the stars? Surely more than a dozen.
Of course, it wasn’t just this movie that affected her that way, she noted ruefully. She’d cried through everything from Jane Eyre and Camille to Terms of Endearment. She’d even been known to sniffle a little when two obviously long lost lovers were reunited in a shampoo commercial.
Being a sentimental, hopeless romantic in a world of hardened cynics sometimes seemed to be a wretched curse. She recalled with more than a little dismay the number of times her embarrassed dates had exited a movie joking that they might be able to buy her diamonds, but they doubted they could afford to keep her supplied with Kleenex. Well, to hell with the emotionally uptight men of the world, she thought darkly. They’ll all probably wind up with much deserved ulcers.
Climbing out of bed, she ignored Lancelot’s outraged cry of protest at being displaced from his comfortable spot in her lap. After she pulled on the long, old-fashioned skirt and scoop-necked blouse she’d found during her last secondhand store excursion, she wandered barefoot into the kitchen. The fragrant scent of lilacs and freshly mowed grass was drifting in with the spring breeze that ruffled the curtains on the open windows. This was her favorite room in the decrepit old farmhouse she’d bought and begun remodeling bit by bit the previous year. Her parents had nicknamed her home Victoria’s Folly, but once they’d seen what she’d accomplished with the kitchen, even they had to admit there was hope for the place.
Like the rest of the house, the kitchen had wide-plank hardwood floors, but in here she had stripped away layers of paint and wax and had polished the wood to a soft gleam. The huge windows, cleansed of the thick grime that had accumulated during years of neglect, now let in so much light that the room seemed bright even on the grayest Ohio winter day. She had scoured the once disreputable looking white tile countertops until they sparkled. The crumbling walls had been patched and painted a cheerful yellow, against which she had hung shiny copper pots and pans. She had refinished the round oak table and chairs in the middle of the room herself. And in the center of the table stood an antique blue-and-white water pitcher filled with daffodils from her garden.
“Okay, old guy, what shall we do about lunch?” she asked the cat who was now staring at her patiently from the sun-warmed windowsill. “Tuna? Liver? Chicken?” She waited for a responding meow. There was none. “You’re not helping, Lancelot.” She opened a can of the liver he seemed to love, wrinkled her nose in disgust and put it in his dish.
“You have no taste, cat,” she said, as he arched haughtily and then made his way slowly to the dish of food she’d placed on the floor.
While Lancelot methodically devoured the liver, Victoria searched in the back of the huge, walk-in pantry for her picnic basket. The day was too incredibly gorgeous to waste one more minute of it indoors. She filled the wicker basket with chunks of Gouda and cheddar cheese, two freshly baked poppy seed rolls she’d bought at the bakery on her way home from her antique shop the previous afternoon, a bottle of chilled mineral water and a container of strawberries. She tossed a dog-eared volume of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poetry in on top, took her floppy, wide-brimmed straw hat from the peg by the back door and set out across the rolling field behind the house. Lancelot, through with his meal, trailed at her heels sniffing hopefully amid the buttercups for the scent of a field mouse.
When she reached the huge, ancient oak tree that shaded the back corner of her property, she spread out her red-checked tablecloth and settled down for her picnic, barely noticing the taste of the food as she lost herself in the sad, poetic spell Browning had woven.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
For the second time that day, she felt misty-eyed. Would she ever love someone this much, she wondered despondently. Nothing in her twenty-eight years indicated that she had the potential for such deep emotion. Certainly none of the men she’d met up until now