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000122......A Wife in Waitin............Jessica steele

000122......A Wife in Waitin............Jessica steele

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Published by Gobi Navam

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Published by: Gobi Navam on Feb 05, 2012
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------------------------------------------------------------------------*A Wife in Waiting**By**Jessica Steele*CHAPTER ONEJosy looked through a window of the cross channel ferry and let go ashaky sigh. Albeit that she would be back from France by christmas, shehad made the break, had made that decision to leave the home she hadshared with her father and, hopefully, to start a new kind of life.Although she had to admit that she felt ext remely nervous about whatlay in front of her, Josy could not help but be pleased that she hadmade the decision she had-long delayed though that decison had been. Infact so delayed that it was still a wonder to her that Dacre Banchereauhad waited all this while. Particulary since she had agreed to take thejob for only six months. She realised she had the family connection tothank for that.Abruptly she switched her thoughts away from that family connection, andmused instead on how few were the decisions she had ever had to make.She reckoned she could count them on the fingers of one hand.Her first decision, though panicky, had been to stay home and keep housefor her widowed father when she had left school. Some years later sheand her twin, Belvia, had reached twenty-one and had come into aninheritance from their much loved mother who had died when they weresixteen.Josy had bought a car, and decided also to purchase a horse. Dear, dearHetty-it had been a wrench leaving her, but the next six months would goquickly, and Tracey up at the commercially run stables where Hetty waspermanently housed had promised to look after her as if she were herown, and Josy knew she could trust her.Her lovely brown eyes clouded over as thoughts of the stables inevitablytriggered off other memories-memories she did not wish to dwell on butmemories which she could not always turn her mind from, memories thatreturned so constantly to crucify her.It had been up at the stables where she had met Marc, a shy, unassumingFrenchman.Marc had worked there,. Shc had meet him and had made the biggest
 
decision of all. Last year in early June she had married him..She choked down a knot of emotion. They had gone to his parents in avillage some miles from Nantes for their honeymoon-but before they hadbeen married twenty-four hours Marc was dead. He had been killed in ariding accident and had been dead over ten months now-eleven in twoweeks' time and still she was haunted by her own inadequacies.She tried not to think about it, to concentrate on this new life she haddetermined that she must make for herself. She knew that she would nevermarry again, yet at twenty-three she felt that she had to gett out andstart to do something with her life. She did not want to go on being herfather's housekeeper. And, after the despicable way he had used her butmore outrageously her sister Belvia-for his own devious ends, Josy feltshe owed him nothing.It was partly for Belvia too that she had decided to leave England for awhile Belvia, who had been so wonderfully good to her. This was Belvia'sfirst year of marriage, and to Josy's mind her sister more than deservedthat she did not have to worry about her. It was important to Josy thather twin had this time with Latham, her husband, completely worry-free.Dacre Banchereau, Marc's cousin, a banker whom she had met only once,had been in England on business at the end of September and had made acourtesy call on her. Whereas her French was the schoolgirl variety, andall but forgotten through lack of use, Dacre had spoken English withbarely a trace of an accent. And, when all her life she had been plaguedby a most disabling and unwanted shyness, she had somehow found Dacrefar easier to talk to than most other strangers she'd met.It could have been, of course, that because he had been a guest in herhome she had felt honour-bound to make something of an effort-goodmanners pushing her to invite him in and offer him refreshment.All her inhibitions had been out in full force, however, when, glancingat her over the rim of his coffee-cup, he had enquired kindly, "You arewell, Josy?"She did not like to have anyone's personal attention on her. "Yes, ofcourse ." she'd replied stiffly.But, before she had been able to think up anything to say that wouldtake his by now steady scrutiny from her, he'd replaced his cup in hissaucer and remarked, "You are very pale-do you get out in the air?""There's the garden. The shopping. The-the?' Her voice faded."You still have your horse at the stables," he put in quietly, when sheseemed totally stuck for words."Hetty. Yes," she replied stiltedly."You manage to ride her every day?"
 
She did not want him questioning her; she wanted him to go. But he was aguest, was Marc's cousin and, though he was ten years older than herhusband's twenty-five years, she knew from her conversations with Marcthat there had been a bond between the two as of brothers."No," she replied."Every other day?" Dacre suggested."No," she replied again. And, to save him asking, Every week, everyother week? went on, "I haven't ridden at all since I came back-fr-fromFrance, I mean."There followed a quite lengthy pause, and again she wanted the tall,good-looking Frenchman gone. But all at once, as she watched, she wouldhave sworn that he lost some of his colour. There was certainly a traceof shock in his voice anyway when abruptly, bluntly, he questionedharshly, "You are with child?""No! No ." she denied sharply, crimson colour staining her previouslypale cheeks. "I?' She turned her head from him, anguish again crucifyingher. "No," she said once more, her voice a mere whisper this time. Oh,how she wished that she was with child-that she was pregnant. Oh, ifonly that were so then she would be rid forever of this torment of guiltat the fact that she had been unable to give herself to Marc."Forgive me; please don't be distressed!"Josy came away from the torture of her memories to see that Dacre nolonger appeared shocked, but was looking truly regretful that he hadupset her."It-w-was a natural assumption, I suppose," she managed to reply, hergood manners holding up when what she wanted to was dash from the roomrather than stayin what she felt was a strained atmosphere.She flicked a nervous glance to the watching, observing, grey-eyed man.He seemed to be missing not a thing. Then suddenly, as she looked athim, he smiled a smile of such charm and ease that she stared at him infascination and all at once forgot to feel strained."But you still like horses?" he commented in friendly fashion, swiftlychanging the subject back to horses."Oh, yes, I love them." She smiled shyly back, once more finding himeasier than most to talk with. Then she saw a light of something almostspeculative come into his eyes. lt worried her a little.But his expression was relaxed when unhurriedly he questioned, "Iwonder-and I hope you won't mind my asking-if you could help me?""Help you?" she queried. "How?""It's to do with a couple of horses I own," Dacre replied. "I live in a

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