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The Marriage Truce Sara Craven 2

The Marriage Truce Sara Craven 2

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Published by: sweety198520 on Dec 09, 2012
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12/11/2012

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THE MARRIAGE TRUCE SARA CRAVEN MILLS AND BOON THE MARRIAGE TRUCE1SARA CRAVEN CHAPTER ONE ' ARE you telling me that Ross is here—staying in the village? That he's come back and you didn't warn me?' Jenna Lang's face was ashen, her eyes blazing. 'Oh, Aunt Grace—how could you?' 'Because we didn't know until a couple of days ago— not for certain.' Mrs Penloe's kindly face was crumpled with worry as she looked pleadingly back at her niece. 'I thought—I hoped—it was just a bitof village gossip, and Betty Fox had got it all wrong. After all, it wouldn't be the first time.' She shook her head. 'It never occurred to me that Thirza could really be so insensitive...' 'Ross's besotted stepmother—in whose eyes he can dono wrong?' Jenna's voice was icy with bitterness. 'The woman who blamed me forthe break-up of our marriage? Oh, I can believe it.' 'I suppose she's bound to be loyal,' Mrs Penloe said, trying to be fair. 'After all, he was only seven whenshe married his father—another one with too much charm for his own good,' she added grimly. 'And that's sure to create a bond. Although that's no excuse for whatshe's done...' 'What's Thirza doing back in Polcarrow, anyway?' Jenna demanded.'I thought she was supposed to be spending the whole year in Australia.' 'Too hot and too many insects,' her aunt said distractedly. 'Or so she claims. Interfered with her inspiration. She came back about three weeks ago.' 'Brilliant timing.' Jenna laughed shortly and mirthlessly. 'She always knew how to pick her moments.' 'She claims she had no choice.' Mrs Penloe hesitated. 'Apparently Ross's been really ill—picked up some ghastly virus on his last trip. When he was discharged from hospital he needed somewhere to recuperate.' She sighed. 'Knowing Thirza, I don't suppose she gave Christy's wedding, or your role in it, even a secondthought.' 'No,' Jenna said bitingly. 'I'm the one who'll have to seriously reconsider.' 'Oh, Jenna, my dear—you're not going to leave—go back to London?' Mrs Penloeasked anxiously. 'Because Christy would be devastated. And it's all my fault. Iknow I should have said something. I suppose I hoped it might all —go away.' 'Orthat I might never find out?' Jenna asked ironically. 'Hardly likely when Thirzawill probably bring him with her to the wedding.' 'Oh, Jenna—surely not even Thirza...'
 
THE MARRIAGE TRUCE SARA CRAVEN MILLS AND BOON2Jenna shrugged. 'Why not? She's capable of anything. And I presume she's been invited?' 'Well, yes, but we never thought she'd come. We thought she'd still be in Australia.' Mrs Penloe ran a hand through her greying curly hair. 'Oh, what amess. Why couldn't Christy have chosen a June wedding instead? Ross would be long gone by then. And the weather would have been better, too,' she added, momentarily diverted by the threatening sky with its ragged, hurrying clouds framed bythe drawing room window. 'Not that it matters, of course, compared with the sheer embarrassment of Thirza's behaviour. 'Surely she could have found a good nursing home somewhere—and don't tell me that Ross can't afford it, for he earns a fortune and probably has the best health insurance money can buy. Or she could havelooked after him in his own home—wherever that is now. Anything rather than this.''Maybe it isn't too late for that, even now,' Jenna said slowly. 'Do you thinkUncle Henry would talk to her— persuade her?' 'Darling, that was the first thing Ithought of. All he said was that Thirza might be his cousin but she was a law unto herself and always had been.' She drew a long breath. 'Also that he had enough on his plate with the bills for the wedding, and that as you and Ross had been divorced for two years it could be time for you both to move on.' She paused,giving her niece another pleading look. 'And I suppose, in a way, he does have apoint.' 'I'm sure he's right,' Jenna said. 'But, unfortunately, it's a point- Ihaven't reached yet. Because it wasn't just the divorce...' She slopped, bitingher lip. 'I know, dearest, I know.' Mrs Penloe hunted for a handkerchief and blew her nose. 'So much sadness—and no one could expect you to forget...' 'Or forgive.' Jenna's voice was stony. She got to her feet, reaching for her brown suede jacket. 'I'm going for a walk, Aunt Grace. I need to think, and some fresh air might help.' 'Fresh air?' Mrs Penloe echoed. 'It's blowing a force eight gale outthere.' But her protest fell on deaf ears. Jenna was already heading out of theroom, and a moment later Mrs Penloe heard the front door bang shut. She sank back against the sofa cushions and indulged herself with a little weep. She had every sympathy with Jenna, but she was also the mother of a beloved daughter who was getting married in three days' time, and who might find herself walking up theaisle of the village church without her only cousin in attendance behind her. ‘Iwant to find you back at square one for the sake of a family wedding.' Jenna lifted her hands. 'That's all in the past, I promise. Now all I care about is the present—and the future.'
 
THE MARRIAGE TRUCE SARA CRAVEN MILLS AND BOON3Brave words, she told herself now, staring sightlessly at the grey horizon. AndI might—just—have got away with them. If only Ross hadn't come back... She couldn'tbelieve the pain that had seized her—torn at her when she'd heard the news of hisreturn. Or how easily her carefully constructed edifice of control and self-belief had crumpled. She wasn't suffering from some reality bypass. She'd always known it was inevitable that she and her ex-husband would meet again one day. But she'd hoped desperately that the meeting would be far, far in the future, when she might finally have come to terms with his betrayal of her. Yet it seemed it was to be here and now—in this remote Cornish peninsula which she had always regarded as her personal haven. It was to Trevarne House that she'd come as a scared ten-year-old after her mother's death, to the care of her aunt and uncle, leavingher father free to assuage his own grief by abandoning the desk job he hated androaming the world as a troubleshooter for the giant oil company he worked for.And here, on her mother's soil, she'd put down faltering roots in the Penloes' kind, easy-going household, while she and Christy, both only children, had foundin each other the sister they'd always wanted. And when, a couple of years later, her father had been killed in a freak accident when his car tyre had burst ona tricky mountain road, she had been absorbed seamlessly into the family as another daughter of the house. All the same, she'd thought long and hard before accepting Christy's invitation to the wedding, in spite of their childhood vow. Eventually she'd allowed herself to be swayed by the knowledge that Thirza Grantham,the only potential fly in the ointment, was on the other side of the world. Where Ross himself was to be found had been anyone's guess. She went out of her wayto ignore the scraps of information that filtered through concerning his whereabouts. Impossible, of course, she'd discovered, to cut him out of her awarenesscompletely. To forget, as she longed to do, that he'd ever existed. For that she'd need some kind of emotional lobotomy, she thought broodingly. Resides, therewas evidence of him everywhere. The photographs which he sent back to his agencyfrom every trouble spot in the world were still winning him prizes and awards with monotonous regularity. 'It can't be a real war,' someone had once joked. 'Ross Grantham isn't there yet.' No, his profile was far too public for her to be able to exercise any kind of selective amnesia where he was concerned, and somehow she had to live with that.

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