Authors: Kate Perry
Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #General, #Contemporary
Once Upon a Dream
A Summerhill Novel
Praise for Kate Perry’s Novels
“Perry’s storytelling skills just keep getting better and better!” –
Romantic Times Book Reviews
“Can’t wait for the next in this series…simply great reading. Another winner by this amazing author. “
–Romance Reviews Magazine
“Hot! Recommended!” –
“Exciting and simply terrific.”
“Kate Perry is on my auto buy list.”
–Night Owl Romance
“A winning and entertaining combination of humor and pathos.”
Other Titles by Kate Perry
Once Upon a Dream
© 2014 by Phoenix Rising Enterprises, Inc.
Cover Graphic © Slava Basovich Photography
Formatting by Polgarus Studio
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
This book is dedicated to you. You’re my inspiration, and I’m grateful for you every day.
Special thanks to my sister, who read the song I wrote for this book, proclaimed it “weak sauce,” and then wrote me one to use instead. She even sang it for me. The kid’s got skills.
Extra sweet kisses to Katie. She does so much for me, but it’s her ever-present smile and cheery attitude that I love the most.
And for my Magic Man. He’s more rogue than prince, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Summer heard her mother’s voice at the oddest times—like pre-dawn, while she sat alone in the kitchen, having a cup of tea before going to the office. Sometimes Tabitha gave her advice from her new home in heaven. Sometimes she recited Summer’s special story.
Once upon a time, there was a girl born to the king, who’d grown up away from court, in the shadow of the king’s other daughters. But she was the only one born of love, and therefore she was magical.
One day, the girl would have it all: the castle and the dresses—and Prince Charming, of course.
Unable to help herself, Summer reached into her briefcase. She pulled out the newspaper she’d saved from the previous week that had a picture of her prince in the society column, from the opera’s opening gala.
If only he knew she existed.
But that was going to change. She’d made a vow three weeks ago on her birthday that she was going to make Ryan Huber notice her. Once he got to know her, he’d see she was the right woman for him.
She just hadn’t done anything yet.
was going to change, too. As soon as she found a way to talk to him.
Not that he was hard to find—he worked for an investment firm down the hall from her law offices. It was just that every time she tried to talk to him, her tongue twisted in her mouth and nearly choked her.
Instead, she watched him from afar and collected the random articles when he was in the society pages for the events he attended. Her sisters would have pointed out that she was being creepy, and that was precisely why she hadn’t told them about him.
Opening her briefcase again, she took out a red pen. Slowly, she made a large outline of a heart around Ryan’s picture, going over it several times until it was solid and undeniable.
“You’re up early, Summer, even for you,” Jacqueline Summerhill said as she glided in.
was exactly what the Countess of Amberlin did. She had an enviable grace, not to mention elegance, even in a robe before six in the morning.
Jacqueline glanced at Summer as she filled a cup with the coffee Fran left on the table every evening. “You’ve been working long hours lately.”
“I have a merger I’m wrapping up.” Actually, since her birthday, she’d been going to work early hoping to run into Ryan in the hallway. She thought if she timed it right, she’d run into him in the elevator.
Jacqueline sat at the head of the table and set the leather bound journal she always carried on the table. “Is that the paper? Early, isn’t it? May I see it?”
She flushed, putting her hand over Ryan’s face to hide the heart she’d drawn. “I—”
Jacqueline reached for it, her brow rising as she saw a picture of a man with a fat, red heart surrounding his head.
Summer put a hand over her mouth, her face burning. She shouldn’t feel embarrassed, but having the Countess of Amberlin see her childish pursuit made her cringe. What was Jacqueline going to think?
“Are you dating this man?” Jacqueline asked.
She peeked from between her fingers. “No.”
“But you want to.”
“The red heart around him gives that away, doesn’t it?” Summer murmured.
“It was a fair clue.” Jacqueline smiled softly. “Are you very upset?”
That she hadn’t gone out with him yet? “It’s my own fault.”
“How is that, darling?” Jacqueline frowned. “Did you introduce her to him?”
Summer frowned, too. “Introduce who?”
“Ryan Huber.” Jacqueline tapped at the page. “To Sondra Fawkes.”
“Sondra …” She leaned to see what Jacqueline pointed at.
In the picture, a brunette stood behind Ryan. Only her face showed, but even blurry it looked pretty.
Summer looked at the caption. She hadn’t bothered to read it before.
Ryan Huber and his girlfriend Sondra Fawkes at the opening of La Traviata.
“Girlfriend.” Spots swam before Summer’s eyes. She put her hands on the table to brace herself.
Jacqueline touched her arm. “Were you seeing him and didn’t know about this woman?”
She shook her head. “He just works in my building, for an investment firm at the other end of the floor. I’ve never actually talked to him.”
Jacqueline didn’t say anything.
Summer winced. “I know. It’s rather odd, isn’t it?”
“Only a bit.” Jacqueline smiled. “It appears you fancy him.”
“I do.” Words she’d wanted to say to him since the first day she’d seen him.
“Perhaps he isn’t the one you’re supposed to be with.” Jacqueline lifted her cup to her lips and sipped.
Not the one she was supposed to be with? Summer frowned, unable to grasp that. Of course she was supposed to be with him. She loved him. She touched the paper. “May I take this?”
“Of course.” Jacqueline watched her with a Sphinx-like gaze that saw too much. She had an unnerving ability to not just look at a person, but to see into them.
Feeling exposed, Summer quietly gathered the paper and stuck it in her briefcase. She mumbled a goodbye, aware of Jacqueline’s concerned gaze following her out the door.
Em barged into Summer’s office unannounced, the way she always did unless Summer was with a client. “Are you working?” the receptionist asked. “I thought we could go to lunch early. I’m starving.”
“You’re always starving.”
“I’ve got a medical condition.” She grinned happily, rubbing a hand over her protruding belly. Em’s sunny disposition had only intensified since she and Joe had married and became pregnant. They had a happily ever after Tabitha would have been proud of.
Summer never begrudged Em’s happiness, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t jealous.
“What is all this?” Em leaned over the desk and looked at the papers spread over the surface.
“Nothing.” Summer began to gather up all the pages she’d printed out. A person could find a lot of information online. Between Ryan’s bio and the few newspaper articles she’d found, she felt armed for battle. She just didn’t need anyone else to know it. “You don’t want—”
Em lifted a page. “Ryan Huber. Is this research for a case?”
“Kind of.” She hid the newspaper article with the heart around his face under a stack of folders. Em was her friend and had gone through her own issues until she’d found Joe, but some things a professional woman just didn’t do.
“And what’s this?”
Summer’s face burned, looking at the parchment paper her friend held up. It was the drawing of the wedding dress her half-sister Rosalind had designed for her. She held her hand out. “Give that to me.”
Em handed the drawing over, her brow furrowed suspiciously. “What sort of case involves a wedding dress?”
“I thought you were hungry.”
“Now I’m curious. It must be hormones.” She propped herself on the edge of the desk and crossed her arms. “You might as well tell me. You know I won’t relent. Besides, I’m your best friend. You have to tell me.”
“I don’t think that’s how it works.”
“Sure it is. You just haven’t had that much experience with best friends.”
“And you have?”
“I’ve embraced the inevitable easier than you have.” Em smiled at her, patient and relentless.
Sighing, Summer gave in. Resistance was futile. “I want to marry Ryan. The man in that picture. The wedding dress is motivation.”
Em looked at the grainy photo of Ryan again. “You want to marry the guy who has his arm around this brunette?”
“So this woman is his sister?” Em asked optimistically.
“His girlfriend.” At the look her friend gave her, Summer rushed to say, “But I’ve done a little research and it seems that they haven’t been seeing each other for that long. In the beginning stages of a flirtation, anything can happen.”
“Joe and I didn’t technically even have a date before he proposed to me.”
“He’s not going to propose to her once he meets me.” She’d never met anyone more perfect than him, and it took thirty years to meet him. What if she never met anyone else? Panic choked her. She couldn’t let him go now that she knew who he was. “He’s my Prince Charming.”
“Have you been sniffing the dry erase markers?”
“I’m serious, Em. He’s my Prince Charming. I know it. He’s perfect. I knew it the moment I saw him.”
Em’s gaze softened. “And especially when you kissed him?”
“I haven’t kissed him yet.”
“So you like talking to him, though?” her friend asked hopefully.
Summer frowned. “What are all these questions about? It’s like an inquisition.”
“You haven’t even talked to him, have you?” Em gaped at her. “And I thought
was insane when I was pursuing Joe.”
“You weren’t pursuing Joe,” Summer pointed out. “You wanted Ben.”
“Exactly. Look at how that turned out.”
She stared pointedly at Em’s rounded belly.
Her friend cradled her stomach. “This happened because Joe showed good sense and wouldn’t relent. Left to my own devices, I’d be a mess. Which is why I need to play devil’s advocate here.”
She shook her head. “I know what I want, and Ryan is it.”
“What happens if you don’t have anything in common?”
“Do you and Joe have things in common?”
“Yes,” she answered unequivocally. “And I’ll remind you that I’d picked a different man, who I also thought was perfect, and he was the least perfect man I’d ever met. When Ben kissed me …” She shuddered, making a face.
“This isn’t the same thing,” Summer said as she stood and slipped her sweater on.
“Because what? The only
I see is that he’s seeing someone else and you’ve never even talked to him. How do you even know him?”
“He works for the investment firm down the hall.”
Em shook her head. “Please take me to lunch and explain the rest of this to me. I think feeding us both will be a good thing.”
“Let’s go.” She wrapped the scarf Rosalind had given her around her shoulders.
“I like that on you,” Em said as they walked through the office and to the elevators. “You should wear more color. All you ever wear is black.”