Second Chance with the Millionaire

By: Penny Jordan

Physically both Tara and herself took after their father’s family, Lucy thought, eyeing her half-sister sympathetically. Both of them had the deep brown Martin eyes and strikingly contrasting blonde hair. And the elegant profile, which family rumour said had led to an eighteenth-century Amelia Martin being propositioned by the Prince Regent. It was because she had turned him down that the family had never received a title, or so the family story went, but how much truth there was in it, Lucy did not know. Perhaps, when she had researched a little more of the family’s history, she might find out.

Eighteen months ago she had started to sift through the family papers, trying to make some order of them, and it was then that she had first conceived the idea of writing a novel based loosely on her family’s history. Now, that one novel was threatening to develop into three or four, and next week in fact she was due to go to London to talk about this possibility with the publishers who had expressed an interest in her initial manuscript.

She had been lucky there—there was no doubt about that; her mother’s family had connections in the publishing world. Her cousin Neville was a partner in a firm of publishers—not the one she was dealing with, but his father had made the recommendation for her, much to Neville’s disgust; he was no doubt hoping she would fall flat on her face, if she knew Neville, Lucy thought wryly.

She had got over her crush on her cousin many years ago, and all that was left was a healthy wariness of the man he had become. Occasionally he indulged himself in light-hearted flirtatiousness with her—more to see exactly how vulnerable she might be to him than for any other reason. Neville was extremely conceited and never liked losing an admirer. His father and her mother had been brother and sister, and Lucy retained a deep fondness for her uncle and his wife.

‘Tara, please stop that noise… My head…’

Fanny’s protest broke through her reverie, making her realise that Tara was crying in earnest now, while Oliver scowled and kicked disconsolately at one of the packing cases and Fanny pressed a fragile hand to her forehead.

‘Lucy, I must go and lie down… My poor head…’

Knowing that she would make faster progress with her stepmother out of the way Lucy made no demur, summoning a smile and a few words of sympathy, while at the same time producing a handkerchief for Tara’s tears and warning Oliver not to ruin his shoes.

‘Come on, it won’t be that bad,’ she comforted Tara when Fanny had gone to her room. ‘You’ll like the Dower House.’

‘Yes, but what about Harriet?’

Harriet was Tara’s exceedingly plump little pony, and for a moment Lucy frowned, not following the thread of her half-sister’s conversation.

‘Well I’m sure Harriet will like it, too,’ she told her. ‘She will have that lovely paddock all to herself.’

‘But Richard says that we won’t be able to keep her. That you won’t be able to afford it…’

Richard was the junior partner in her father’s firm of solicitors and Lucy frowned at the mention of his name. For several months now he had been making it plain that he wanted more from her than the casual relationship they presently enjoyed.

Only the other week he had mentioned marriage, adding that the fact that her father had left the Dower House to Lucy in her sole name would mean that on marriage she would have a very comfortable home to share with her husband.

The reason her father had left the house to her was that he didn’t want any gossip to arise from the fact that he was leaving the bulk of the money he had realised, from selling everything that wasn’t entailed, in trust for Oliver and Tara, with the income to go to Fanny until the children reached their majority. Lucy had been less than impressed that Richard should choose to mention marriage only when he realised what her father had left her.

She wondered if Richard was also aware that she had as good as promised her father that both children and Fanny would have a home with her as long as they needed it. Richard did not like children, and neither Oliver nor Tara liked him. Anyway there was not the remotest possibility of her marrying him. To put it bluntly, sexually he left her stone-cold. As did most men. So much so that she had reached the grand old age of twenty-five without a single passionate affair to look back on. Was that the fault of her lifestyle or her genes?

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