The Man Ban - Nicola Marsh Page 0,1

silence that bordered on awkward. She may not be the most extroverted at the best of times, but she could hold her own in social settings. But something about this guy had her on edge, and she didn’t like it. Not his fault he was gorgeous and charming; her latent insecurities made her want to rush to the bathroom and check her hair and makeup.

“Well, if you have any further sari emergencies, you know where to find me,” he said, pointing at the head table, set below the stage. “I’m chivalrous that way, in case you were wondering.”

“I’m not,” she muttered, earning another grin. “Besides, you should be thankful I didn’t slap you for fixing my sari when I didn’t ask for your help.”

His eyebrows arched in surprise at her snark as he held up his hands in apology. “You’re right. My bad. I’ll see you later.”

Harper bit back a sigh as she watched him stride toward the foyer, all long legs and impressive shoulders shifting beneath a perfectly fitted kurta. She’d been envious when Nishi had told her what the guys were wearing; the slim-fitting pants and flowing top combo looked a lot more comfortable than the saris chosen for the women. She’d been in a perpetual state all day for fear of tripping over and causing the unraveling Manish had mentioned. But she had to admit the bridesmaids looked stunning in the cream silk shot through with gold thread, and she’d never felt so glamorous, even if she was one step away from a revealing disaster.

She’d been curt with Manish to the point of rudeness, and he hadn’t deserved her brusque treatment. She blamed her nerves. This job meant everything to her, but deep down she knew better.

His perfection rattled her, and a man hadn’t unnerved her in a long time.

Not that it mattered. Once this wedding was done, she’d probably only see him at the occasional function Nishi and Arun hosted: birth of their first child, baptism, that kind of thing. By then, she’d feign forgetfulness of their first meeting.

What Manny thought of her didn’t matter. She had a job to do, and with the revelers soon lining up for the food, that’s where her focus should be.

Bold men with unusual slate eyes should be forgotten.


“Manish, why are you sitting here talking to your old grandmother when you could be mingling and finding a wife?”

Manny slid an arm around Isadora Gomes and squeezed gently. “Because you’re my plus-one and the most beautiful woman in the room.”

“Get away with you.” Izzy, as he’d called her since he could talk, slapped his chest but bestowed a warm smile on him. “I’m not getting any younger, you know, and it will be the happiest day of my life when you marry.”

And the worst of his, considering he had no intention of ever entering the constricting bonds of matrimony.

“We’ve had this conversation many times, and it always ends the same,” he said, pecking her cheek. “So let’s enjoy Arun’s wedding without the lecture, okay?”

Izzy puffed up in outrage, as expected. “I do not lecture. I merely point out you’re forty and single when you could have your pick of women and make me a great-grandmother before I journey into the next world.”

“Heard it all before.” He rolled his eyes, a reaction that served to narrow hers.

“Manish, you need a wife.”

“I need peace at the end of a long shift in the ER, so coming home to a nagging wife who resents my job because it takes me away from lavishing her with attention . . . no thanks.” He shook his head, earning another narrow-eyed glare from a determined Izzy.

“You are too picky.”

“And you are too fixated on marrying me off when I’m more than happy with my life.”

It was the truth. He loved saving lives in a bustling ER in an inner-city Melbourne hospital, he loved his contemporary apartment in Prahran, and he loved being able to date freely.

His grandmother tsk-tsked. “Happiness comes with sharing your life with someone.”

“Or from a bottle.” He raised his glass, quarter filled with two-hundred-dollar whiskey. He hated to think how much Arun had spent on this wedding. The bride’s parents might’ve paid for it, but Arun had contributed more than six figures if his boasting to a resident at the hospital had been right.

Manny would rather invest in real estate. Or a luxurious car. Just as many sleek curves without the hassle.

“You’re incorrigible.” Izzy whacked him on the chest again, but she snuggled closer