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117794597-penny-jordan

117794597-penny-jordan

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Published by Vidya Iyer

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Published by: Vidya Iyer on Dec 26, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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06/20/2014

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Mission Makeover
Penny Jordan
CHAPTER ONE
“N
O LUCIANNA
...? Where is she—trying to breathe life into some hopeless wreck of a car?”
 
Janey Stewart smiled at her husband's best friend as the three of them shared the informalsupper Janey had prepared.“No, not this evening, Jake,” she informed him in response to his wry question about her sister-in-law and the youngest member of the family, the only girl. Lucianna had arrived after her mother had already produced four sons, and, as a consequence of that and, more tragically, of thefact that Susan Stewart had died after contracting a rare and particularly virulent form of viral pneumonia when Lucianna was only eighteen months old, had grown up treated by her brothersand father almost as if she were another boy.“She's out,” she added in further explanation as he raised a questioning eyebrow. “Sayinggoodbye to John.”"Saying
 goodbye...
The big romance is
over,
then, is it?""Not exactly. John's going to work in Canada for three months. I suspect Lucianna wasrather hoping that he might suggest putting their relationship on a bit of a permanent footing before he left.""She hasn't a hope in hell," said David, her husband and Lucianna's eldest brother, who nowran the farm where he and Lucianna and the rest of the Stewart brothers had been brought up andwhere in fact Lucianna still lived."She's
never 
going to get herself a man whilst she goes around dressed in a pair of baggy olddungarees and—""It isn't all her fault, David," Janey interrupted him gently. "You and the others have hardlyencouraged her to be feminine, have you? And you've certainly done your share of helping tofrighten away potential men-friends," she pointed out mildly."If you mean I've made it clear that if a man wants Lucianna to share his roof and his bedwith him then it has to be with the benefit of a wedding ring, then what's wrong with that?""Nothing," Janey allowed, adding dryly, "But I seem to remember you worked pretty hard toconvince
me
that we ought to move in together before we were married...""That was different," David told her firmly."I hope this relationship with John does work out for Lucianna," Janey continued worriedly."After all, she's twenty-two now, not a teenager any more.""No relationship is going to work for her until she stops acting like a tomboy..." David toldher decisively, adding, "Perhaps you could give her one or two hints, Janey, point her in the rightdirection.""I've tried, but..." Janey gave a small shrug. "I think she needs someone to
 show
her,
not 
totell her, someone to build up her confidence in herself as a desirable woman and not—" She broke off and smiled teasingly at her husband's best friend. "Someone like you, Jake," she toldhim."Jake?" David hooted with laughter. "Jake would never look at anyone like Lucianna, not
 
after the women
he's
had running after him. Remember that Italian model you went out with,Jake, and that New York banker, and what happened—?"“Er...you're married to
me,
thank you very much," Janey reminded her husband firmly."Perhaps you aren't the right person, Jake, but she does need help of some kind from someone,otherwise I'm very much afraid she's going to lose John and she'll take it very hard.""He really means that much to her?" Jake frowned, his dark eyebrows snapping together over eyes of a particularly clean and sharp blue-grey colour, all the more striking set against thewarm olive of the skin tone he had inherited from his Italian grandmother and the thick dark hair that went with it.His height and breadth of shoulder he had inherited from his paternal relatives; the great-uncle from whom he had inherited the farm and manor house whose lands bordered on theStewarts' farm had been of a similarly impressive build."I rather fear so," Janey told him quietly. "She needs help, Jake," she added, "even if sheherself would be the last person to admit it, especially...""Especially to me," Jake concluded for her."Well, you do rather have the knack of making her bristle," Janey smiled.As the grandfather clock in the passageway struck the hour, Janey's smile turned to a smallfrown."John's flight will be leaving in half an hour and then Lucianna will be back.""Wanting a shoulder to cry on?" Jake asked Janey perceptively."Luce never cries," David informed him. "She's not that type."Really there were times when her husband could be maddeningly dense, Janey reflected asshe listened to David. One of the reasons Lucianna was such a tomboy, so uncomfortable aboutshowing her emotions, was that as a child she had been taught by her older brothers not to do so.It was a pity that Lucianna didn't get on better with Jake because he would certainly have been the ideal person to help her to understand why her relationships with men never developed properly. And it wasn't just that, as an extraordinarily charismatic and sensual man, he had theexperience, the know-how, the awareness to help her, he also rather unexpectedly and, in Janey'sview, very charmingly for such an intensely male man, had a very compassionate and caring sideto his nature as well, even though she knew that Lucianna would have begged to differ with her on that score."I really ought to be leaving," Jake was saying now as he smiled across the table at her andthanked her for the meal. "I'm expecting a couple of faxes through and—""Another multi-million-pound deal," David interrupted with a grin. "You'll have to becareful, Jake," he warned him teasingly, "otherwise you're going to be a multimillionaire by thetime you're forty and then you'll have every fortune-hunter in the district after you..."

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