Second Chance with the Millionaire

By: Penny Jordan

She wasn’t going to add that privately she had not been in agreement with her father’s actions, but without raising her voice she added significantly, ‘He did after all have certain responsibilities.’

Saul looked at Tara and then equally softly told her, ‘In the last few months of his life your father raised almost two hundred thousand pounds from selling off everything that was unentailed—that’s an awful lot of money to support one widow and her child… Or are you telling me that you’re included in those responsibilities? Hasn’t anyone ever told you about the pleasure of being self-supporting, Lucy?’

She could feel her face sting, but even if Tara had not been looking on there was no defence she could honourably make. How could she tell him of her promise to her father to keep the family together, to look after not only the children but Fanny as well?

‘I’ll take you to meet Mrs Isaacs.’

She caught the flash of bitterness in his eyes as she refused to respond to his barb, but what else could she do? She had not realised how bitter he would be about her father’s actions, but without betraying the secret of Oliver’s birth there was nothing she could do.

She maintained a cool distance while she introduced him to Mrs Isaacs, hesitating before offering to show him round the house. Mrs Isaacs was a warm-hearted soul, but a devout gossip, and she didn’t want it to get round the village that there was bad feeling between herself and Saul, which would be the conclusion Mrs Isaacs was bound to leap to if she did not make the offer.

‘I think I remember the layout pretty well. And I do have the plans so I don’t think I’ll get into too much trouble. Thanks for the offer though.’

He was dismissing her, Lucy thought irately; making it plain that he had no desire whatsoever for her company—or her presence in what was now his house.

‘I’ll see you at lunch time then.’ Try as she might she could not quite keep the corresponding stiffness out of her own voice, and as he dipped his head in acknowledgment she recognised that he was entitled to the mockingly victorious smile that twisted his mouth.

As she had half expected, when she got back to the Dower House Fanny was still in bed. She wondered what the children had had for breakfast.

Concealing her exasperation, Lucy went up to warn her about their visitor.

‘What’s he like?’

‘Tall dark and handsome,’ Lucy responded flippantly, and then realised that it was quite true; and more than that there was a masculine strength about him that she found inordinately appealing.

Appealing? Nonsense! She was letting the fact that the responsibility for Fanny and the children weighed heavily on her shoulders get to her.

It took her almost half an hour to persuade Fanny that she ought to join them for lunch.

‘You’ll have to meet him sooner or later,’ she reminded her stepmother. You don’t want people to talk.’

It was a good ploy and one that brought a petulant frown to her stepmother’s forehead.

‘How on earth are we going to feed him, Lucy?’ she demanded. ‘These Americans are used to eating well, you know.’

‘And so he will,’ Lucy responded tartly. ‘We’re having asparagus from the garden, fresh salmon, and strawberries and cream.’

The salmon had been a gift from one of their neighbours, a retired colonel who had been a close friend of her father and who lived alone.

‘I suppose the salmon was from Tom Bishop?’ Fanny shook her head. ‘That poor man. You know, he really should marry again Lucy… Living all alone in that huge house, spending all his time fishing…’

∗ ∗ ∗

At one o’clock on the dot Saul rapped on the front door. Lucy, who had been working nonstop from the moment she walked in the house, determined that there was no way he was going to be able to look as slightingly on her meal as he had done on her person, paused in the hallway and then called to Tara to let him in.

‘Take him into the drawing-room to your mother,’ she instructed the little girl, ‘and then go and tell Oliver to come downstairs.’ Oliver was in his bedroom, organising his possessions.

She had been so busy she hadn’t even had time to change, but now, from the safety of the kitchen where she was checking on the light sauce she had made to go with the salmon, she heard the drawing-room door and judged it was safe to dash upstairs and do something about her appearance.

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