Second Chance with the Millionaire

By: Penny Jordan

The fat little pony whickered a greeting as Lucy opened her door, Cinders winding herself sinuously round her ankles. She dealt quickly with the feed before wandering disconsolately back to the Dower House.

The next morning she was awake early, disturbed by the unfamiliar pattern of the sunlight across her face. Groggily she opened her eyes and then winced as her stiff muscles made their protest. At least here in the Dower House she would not have to coax a sulky range into life before she could have any breakfast.

It was too early to wake the others and, once showered and downstairs, Lucy found herself enjoying the unfamiliar solitude. The kitchen, so airy and well equipped after the Manor’s, made her spirits lift slightly, and as she sipped her fragrant hot coffee she went over her plans for the day. She had arranged to meet Mrs Isaacs up at the Manor at nine, which meant that for once Fanny would have to get the children’s breakfast. Shrugging away a faint feeling of guilt, she reminded herself that after all Fanny was their mother.

* * *

By eleven o’clock the clean jeans and T-shirt she had come out in were streaked with dust and grime. Her skin felt hot and sticky, her body was aching.

‘I think we’ll take a break,’ she suggested to Mrs Isaacs.

‘A good idea. I’ll go down and make us both a cup of tea.’

Mrs Isaacs had been gone for about five minutes when Lucy heard the car, the shock of the unexpected sound drawing her to the window.

It was a large BMW, and it was stopping right outside the front of the house. A tremor of nerves seized her stomach as she watched the tall, dark-haired man emerge from the driver’s seat.

Saul! Funny that she should recognise him so immediately when for weeks she had tried to conjure up his boyhood features without success.

He was wearing a lightweight pale grey suit and looked, if anything, more European than American; dark enough to pass for an Italian, although perhaps rather too tall.

As she watched, Lucy saw Tara emerge from the side of the house, leading Harriet. The little girl was talking earnestly to the pony, who seemed oblivious to her mistress’s attempts to get her to hurry. In fact Harriet seemed more interested in the juicy grass beside the drive than Tara’s commands.

Lucy saw Saul move warily towards the little girl, the face which had seemed almost grim as he got out of the car softening slightly.

Tara had frozen at the sight of him, clinging desperately to Harriet’s reins. Amused, Lucy watched as Saul’s attempts to make friends were fiercely rebuffed, amusement changing to alarm as she realised that Tara was starting to cry. What on earth had Saul said to her?

Quickly she ran downstairs and out on to the drive, just in time to hear Tara crying out tearfully, ‘You are horrid after all. Very horrid!’

Saul’s hands were on Harriet’s bridle, and Tara was desperately trying to tug the pony away.

As she saw Saul’s face change, Lucy bit her lip. Now, with the amusement gone from his eyes, he looked very cold and alien.

Neither he nor Tara was aware of her until she called out sharply, ‘Tara, that’s enough.’

Tears flooded the brown eyes as they met Lucy’s.

‘Well he is,’ Tara insisted stubbornly. ‘You said he was nice, but he isn’t.’

Saul was looking at her now, and Lucy felt the colour burn up under her skin as she realised what a dreadful picture she must present, her face stained with dust and completely free of make-up, her hair all tangled and untidy.

‘Saul! How lovely to see you.’ Ignoring Tara for the moment, she forced herself to smile the poised, self-confident smile she had learned so carefully, but it faded quickly when she realised he wasn’t smiling back at her, his eyes as cold and grey as the North Sea as he looked her up and down and then without a word turned back to Tara.

‘I wasn’t really trying to take your pony away, you know,’ he told her. ‘I was just trying to make friends with her, that’s all. She’s far too small for me, but she reminds me of a pony I had when I was a little boy.’

Amazingly Tara stopped crying, her eyes widening as she whispered, ‘Did you?’

‘Yup. He lived on my uncle’s farm, and I used to visit him during my vacations.’

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