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Jacqueline Baird_Wife-Bought and Paid For

Jacqueline Baird_Wife-Bought and Paid For

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Published by berber13
Jacqueline Baird_
Jacqueline Baird_

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Published by: berber13 on May 21, 2013
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WIFE: BOUGHT AND PAID FORBY JACQUELINE BAIRDPROLOGUEPenny ran lightly across the field, leapt over the fence into theold stable yard, and headed straight for the back door of thehouse.She was late and Veronica would kill her. Penny had promisedto return before five to babysit her half-brother, while herstepmother went to the hairdresser.But her boss in the antique shop had been late getting back,and then Penny had bumped into her best friend, Jane Turner,the local vicar's daughter, and Jane's brother Simon.Simon had just returned from a trekking holiday in theHimalayas. A year older than the girls, he was full of hisexperiences, and waxed lyrical about his prowess as amountain climber. Jane was delighted because her older sister Patricia, who wasmarried and lived in New York, was coming home on holidaynext month, and bringing her new baby with her. Penny waspleased for her friends but it had delayed her even more.'Sorry, sorry,' Penny yelled as she dashed into the rear porchthat led to the kitchen.Veronica stood, baby James in her arms, blocking her way.'About time! I'm going to be late and you know how importantthis dinner is tonight. We have invited Mr Maffeiano and his PA,and with a bit of luck not only will Maffeiano buy the land, andsolve our immediate money worries, but also he might bepersuaded into going into business with Julian. It could be themaking of your father, and heaven knows we need the incometo keep this place up.'It was the familiar moan, and Penny shrivelled a little inside.Veronica wasn't a bad person; in fact, when she had firstmarried Penny's father Julian eighteen months ago they had goton well.It was only when Veronica had given birth to a baby boy tenmonths later, and begun talking of when James would inheritthe estate, and her husband had disabused her of the notion,
 
informing her Haversham Park was always left to the oldestchild, irrespective of sex, that she'd changed.Penny's own mother had died of cancer when Penny wasthirteen, and for a while her father had been depressed. Butfour years later he had met and married Veronica.'Well, take him, for heaven's sake! I have to dash,' Veronicasnapped.'Sorry, Veronica,' Penny apologised again, reaching out andtaking James into her arms. She adored her brother. But,casting a glance at her stepmother, she could not help thinkinguncharitably that it was amazing how quickly Veronica had lostinterest in Penny, and to some extent the baby, when she'drealised her husband wasn't as wealthy as she'd thought.'Sorry isn't good enough..we really do need the money. Workingin that dusty junk shop for a gap year before going to universitywill nowhere near cover the cost of keeping you at college forthree more. Your father will have to pay. Heavens! We can'teven afford a caterer! Feed James, and put him to bed, thenkeep an eye on Mrs Brown's cooking. The woman is far too oldto work and she flatly refused to take James for me, saying shewas too busy. The nerve of the woman.''Okay,' Penny agreed as Veronica swept out. Penny sighed withrelief as she walked into the kitchen.'She's gone and left you holding the baby again,' Mrs Brown,the live-in housekeeper, remarked grimly.'I don't mind.' Penny grinned at the older woman and slipped agurgling James into his high chair, then set about preparing hisbottle and food."Brownie", as Penny called her, had lived at Haversham Parksince before Penny was born and Penny could not imagine thehouse without her. Much as Veronica complained about thewoman, she had not tried to get rid of her.However, this was probably because Brownie worked for asmall salary and, more importantly, Veronica did not cook... Infact Veronica's one aim in life, as far as Penny could see, was tolook good and be part of what she called the social scene. This
 
apparently, entailed flitting back and forward to London fordinners and charity balls.Penny grimaced; it was a ball that was responsible for tonight'sdinner. Veronica had persuaded her father to take her to anexclusive charity event in London. As luck would have it,Veronica had bumped into an old friend of hers, a businessman,and had introduced him to Penny's father. One thing had led toanother, and apparently the man was interested in purchasingland, perhaps for a golf course.Personally Penny could not see the point but, as her father hadexplained, there was no money in farming any more, and theyneeded money. Veronica was right; this was an idealopportunity for Julian to make some money and her fatheralmost always bowed to what Veronica wanted, Penny thoughtruefully.Who could blame him? He was a man in his fifties with abeautiful young wife and he just wanted to keep her happy.But Penny took heart in the fact they would still keep the homeshe loved, a stone-built Tudor-styled house set in five acres of parkland, and she began feeding James with a smile on herface.Once he was fed and happy, Fenny left James with Brownie andset the large oak table in the dining room with the finestdamask cloth and silver cutlery. Then, with a brief glance at herwrist-watch she dashed back to the kitchen.A sleepy James stretched out his arms to her and she swepthim up in hers, giving him a cuddle and a kiss.'Bed for you, little man,' she murmured, and strolled out intothe hall. Her foot was on the bottom step when the front doorwas flung open. Penny stopped and turned. Veronica was backquick.'Ah, Penelope and my favourite boy.' Her smiling father walkedtowards her.Oh, my God! She stifled a groan. The guests had arrived early,over two hours early by Penny's reckoning!*******

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