THE ITALIAN DUKE’S WIFE
PENNY JORDANHARLEQUIN PRESENTS 2529BY ROYAL COMMAND
Her leg was aching badly, and she was beginning to regret not having chosen to
spend her ﬁrst night closer to Naples. Where on earth was she? Nowhere near where she
was supposed to be, she suspected. The directions for the small village set back from the
coast had been almost impossible to follow, detailing roads she had not been able to ﬁnd
on her tourist map. If John had been here with her none of this would have happened. ButJohn was not with her, and he was never going to be with her again.She must not think of her now ex-
ﬁance´, or the fact that he had fallen out of love
with her and in love with someone else, or that he had been seeing that someone else behind her back, or that virtually everyone in her home village had apparently known
about it apart from Jodie herself. Louise, so Jodie’s friends had now told her, had made it
obvious that she wanted and intended to have John from the moment they had beenintroduced, following her
parents’ move to the area. And Jodie, fool that she was, had
been oblivious to all of this, simply thinking that Louise, as a newcomer, an outsider, waseager to make friends. Now she
was the outsider, Jodie reﬂected bitterly. She should have
shallow John was when he had told her that he loved her ‘in spite of her leg’. She winced as the pain in it intensiﬁed.
She was never going to make the kind of mistake she had made with John again.
From now on her heart was going to be impervious to ‘love’—
yes, even though thatmeant at twenty-six she would be facing the rest of her life alone. What made it worsewas that John had seemed so trustworthy, so honest and so kind. She had let him into her life and, even more humiliatingly painful to acknowledge now, into her fears and her dreams. No way was she going to risk having another man treat her as John had done
one minute swearing eternal love, the next...And as for John himself, he was welcome to Louise, and they were obviouslysuited to one another, too, since they were both deceitful cheats and liars. But she,coward that she was, could not face going home until the wedding was over, until all thefuss had died down and until she was not going to be the recipient of pitying looks, thesubject of hushed gossip.
‘Well, let’s look on the bright side,’ Andrea had said lightly when she had realisedJodie was not going to be persuaded to abandon her plans. ‘You never know—
you mightmeet someone in Italy and fall head over heels in love. Italian men are so gorgeously
sexy and passionate.’
or any kind of men
were off the life menu for her from now on,Jodie told herself furiously. Men, marriage, love
she no longer wanted anything to dowith any of them.Angrily Jodie depressed the accelerator. She had no idea where this appallingly
bumpy road was going to take her, but she wasn’t going to turn back. From now on there
would be no U-turns in her life, no looking back in misery or despair, no regrets aboutwhat might have been. She was going to fac
e ﬁrmly forward.
David and Andrea had been wonderfully kind to her, offering her their spare roomwhen she had sold her cottage so that she could put the sale proceeds towards the houseshe and John were buying
which had not, with hindsight, been the most sensible of things to do
—but she couldn’t live with her cousin and his wife for ever.
Luckily John had at least given her her money back, but the break-up of their engagement had still cost her her job, since she had worked for his father in the family business. John was due to take over when his father retired.