Imperfect Penelope (Wild Crush)

By: Sami Lee


Many thanks to Tamara, Roslyn and Theresa for the names Mr. Rumplepants, Trevor and Maleficent. They wrote the cat’s personalities for me. To Val, beta reader extraordinaire, for steering me away from a pile of quicksand (otherwise known as an awful plotline) in the very early stages of the book. And also a huge thank-you to Jess Dee for the thoughtful critique, the encouragement and most of all for letting Greg use her impressive catalogue of cuss words.

Chapter One

Gregory Danvers headed towards Summer’s Retreat, wondering how it had come to this. He was only thirty-three years old. He was a thirty-three-year-old man who exercised daily, ate his vegetables and wasn’t an ounce overweight. He didn’t smoke. He’d cut down significantly on his single-malt-scotch habit, which had admittedly gotten out of hand a while back. But that dark part of his life was over. These days, he was as clear-headed as could be.

He hadn’t expected to be blindsided by his doctor at a routine checkup. I don’t like the look of this blood pressure. After monitoring it for twenty-four hours and subjecting him to some intense questioning, Dr. Stevens had deduced the most likely cause of his condition was stress, which she wanted him to reduce with lifestyle changes.

He’d moved from the bustle of Sydney to Leyton’s Headland precisely to get away from the pressures—and the disappointments—of his old life. Working fourteen-hour days had been the norm for him his entire career until he’d come here. Now sometimes he worked as little as ten hours a day. He shouldn’t be stressed.

He reached the glass doors of Summer’s Retreat and stood out front for a few seconds. Questioning himself, which he rarely did. It was Dr. Stevens’s advice that had compelled him to come. You need to do something about your lifestyle, take another look at your diet. Find ways to relax. Meditate, take up yoga. Slow down, Mr. Danvers. That’s my advice. I’ll see you in two weeks and if these numbers aren’t better, we’ll talk medication.

The last thing he wanted was to be on medication, yet the idea of him meditating was so ridiculous Greg had at first dismissed the woman’s suggestion. He didn’t think natural medicine was much more than some herbal mumbo jumbo. However, he was here and he had come to trust Summer Campbell, with whom he’d remained friendly after they’d gone on a blind date neither of them had wanted to go on. The lack of romantic chemistry hadn’t bothered Greg. After the fiasco of his almost marriage he wasn’t going there anyway.

He went inside, causing a little bell to ring. It was an old-fashioned touch that was quintessential Leyton’s Headland. He’d moved from the city almost a year ago, but apparently he hadn’t slowed his pace to Small Town yet. Hopefully Summer could help him with that.

Greg’s heart sank when the woman who emerged from the back of the clinic was not Summer. Instead it was her business partner, Penelope Irving. She strode out to the reception area, lithe and graceful and all smiles. She had an aura about her that drew the eye and made a man’s attention stick whether he wanted it to or not. Greg’s pulse jumped before he could stop it.

When she recognized him her smile faltered. Greg kept his expression impassive and willed his pulse to be normal. He had no business reacting at all to her just because she had a way of moving that made Greg want to watch her do it. If she were someone else, he’d be pleased to have a physical response. It had been a while since…well, it had been a while. If Penelope Irving were any other woman, he would probably have asked her out by now.

But she wasn’t any other woman. She was the woman who’d broken his little brother’s heart.

“Oh. Hello.”

She’d frozen to the spot, staring at him. She folded her hands behind her, then in front, before moving them to her sides and leaving them hanging there. Obviously, she was uncomfortable. If she had any conscience at all she ought to be. Although the jury was still out about her having a conscience.


She grimaced at his use of her full name, which he’d expected. She’d introduced herself as Penny the night they’d met on that ill-fated double date, when Greg had been set up with Summer and Penny had begun her seduction of his brother, the way-too-trusting Bryan. Greg knew she preferred the shortened version of her name. He took a childish satisfaction in not using it.

“Gregory,” she said, with not a flicker of irony in her expression. “What can I do for you?”

“I’m looking for some naturopathic advice and I thought I could speak to Summer.”

“She won’t be in for a while. She’s taking time off before the wedding.”

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