Lucy Ashbrook finds a pleasant diversion when she visits the Regent’s Park Bird Sanctuary to sketch the different birds that live there. Birds aren’t the only pleasing thing she finds, though. A certain Sanctuary worker, Oliver Barrow, has stolen her heart. But Lucy’s father will have none of it. No daughter of his will marry a common laborer.
Oliver Barrow loves everything about his work at the Sanctuary. The birds, the trees, the ponds… a certain young miss who mesmerizes him. Miss Ashbrook is beautiful and sweet and shares his love of birds. But Oliver has a secret that just might get in the way of anything more than friendship developing between them. And he can’t share that secret with her. Not yet.
How can Lucy ever convince her father of Oliver’s worth? That love isn't just for the birds?
When his hand settled at the small of her back as before, Lucy took a quick breath. Honestly, how did the man have the ability to nearly cause her to swoon when his hand wasn’t even actually touching her skin? As they approached the bench, Lucy’s boot caught on a protruding root in the ground.
“Oh!” Arms flailing, she teetered forward and back, trying not to fall. Strong arms wrapped around her from behind, pulling her close.
“Miss Ashbrook, are you hurt?”
If she said yes, would he keep holding her? Tempting. But not truthful. “No. I’m fine. Simply clumsy. Thank you for rescuing me, though.” She waited. Any moment now he would release her, and the warmth of their bodies pressed together would be gone.
But he didn’t.
“You’re welcome.” His face brushed against the back of her neck. The sensation so soft, so light, she nearly thought she’d imagined it. But when he breathed warm air on her skin, stirring small wisps of hair that had pulled loose from the pins beneath her hat, she knew. Knew that he had touched her. Nuzzled her. Breathed in her scent.
Loosening his grasp, he turned her around. Now face to face, his dark eyes and deep dimple were in view. And quite, quite close. Heart thudding, mouth dry, Lucy swallowed hard. “I…”
He stepped away and dropped his arms to his side. “Please forgive me. I’m not sure what… that is, after I caught you, I just…”
“It’s fine, Mr. Barrow. No harm done. Truly.” If you only knew!
“Since we are becoming, if I might be as bold as to say, friends, do you suppose we could address each other by our Christian names?”
A smile tugged at her lips. “I would like that. Very much.”
“In that case. I’m Oliver.”
“Nice to make your acquaintance, Oliver. I’m Lucy.”
“Lucy. What a charming, lovely name.”