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Уильямс Кэтти

A Daughter For Christmas

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Конец ознакомительного фрагмента.


‘I DON’T want to wear a dress.’ Amy looked at the blue and white polka-dotted dress neatly laid out on the bed and folded her arms.

‘It’s a lovely dress, Ames.’ Leigh was reduced to pleading.

‘I want to wear my jeans and a jumper.’

‘But that’s what you stay around the house in!’

‘We’re only going out for a burger,’ Amy said, with a little too much logic for Leigh’s liking. ‘No one dresses up for a burger.’ There had been a time when she would willingly have donned any item of clothing Leigh put in front of her, but recently she had developed strong preferences, something Leigh had found charming, the sign of a strong and independent mind. Until now. Now she just wanted Amy to look right, like the beautiful little girl that she was.

‘Anyway,’ Amy said stubbornly. ‘I’m much too old for that dress.’

‘It’s a very pretty dress.’ Leigh could sense defeat in the air and she waved the dress around despairingly. ‘OK, a compromise. You can wear the jeans but not that jumper. You can wear the jeans with the orange jumper.’

Amy looked as though she would throw that out as well, but eventually she nodded. ‘And my lace-up boots?’

‘Why not?’

Did all mothers have to go through this? Leigh wondered. Parental responsibility had been thrust on her, and now she wished she had paid closer attention to how Jenny had handled her daughter. She vaguely recalled that the strict approach had not been used, but would she have given in in these circumstances?

She remained where she was, kneeling on the floor, while her niece got into her jeans, a blue denim polo shirt and the orange jumper, and decided that Amy looked very fetching after all. Not quite The Little House on the Prairie style, but cute. Cute and trendy. And Nicholas Kendall would probably have no one to compare her to, anyway. She doubted if he knew anyone under four feet and ten years of age.

‘Hat?’ Amy asked, pulling out a black, fake-fur-lined number from the darkest corners of her wardrobe. Leigh shrugged and nodded and gave up the battle completely.

‘You look sweet,’ she said, rising to her feet then almost falling over again because of the sudden attack of pins and needles in her legs. She stamped her feet to get rid of them.

‘Thanks.’ Amy smiled and made a face which was supposed to resemble sweet but looked more like a grimace. ‘Your friend must be someone special,’ she said. ‘You’re wearing a skirt again.’

‘He’s not my friend,’ Leigh said hastily, glancing in the mirror and deciding that ‘sweet’ was probably the best she could hope for as well in her swinging green and brown skirt and her baggy brown jumper. She had tried to add on a few years by sticking on a string of pearls, her only concession to jewellery, but she still only managed to look like a teenager. ‘He used to know your mum,’ she said, playing with the truth rather than resorting to an out and out lie.

Amy didn’t say anything. She was getting better when it came to any mention of Jenny. For months her eyes had filled up when her mother had been mentioned, but now the present was gradually forming its own layers over memories of the past. Children were resilient, Leigh had been told at the time. In many ways they handled grief far better than adults because they never tried to hide their mourning or to put on a brave face.

‘She never mentioned him to me,’ Amy said, following Leigh out of the bedroom and conversing with her back.

She could be surprisingly grown-up in some of her responses. Leigh supposed that was a function of being an only child.

‘Maybe she did and you forgot,’ Leigh answered, without turning around. ‘It doesn’t matter anyway. It was very nice of him to ask us out.’ Nice? Ha. If only. Nicholas Kendall couldn’t be nice if he spent ten years studying it at university.

They went to Covent Garden on the Underground, and reached the restaurant with time to spare.

It was busy. The background music was loud, and people seemed to be on the move constantly—waiters and waitresses with huge trays, which they held expertly with one hand, people coming and going and generally paying no heed to the idea that Sunday was a day of rest.

Конец ознакомительного фрагмента.

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