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FROM HERE TO PATERNITY The bachelor and the baby! Lisa hadn't planned to fall in love. If only she hadn't accepted an invitation to be Angus Hamilton's guest and found herself in a different world, seduced by glamour, a jet-set-life-style… and Angus! She'd become an accidental mistress-and now she was accidentally pregnant!But Angus was more interested in living it up than in settling down. Yet suddenly he was delivering Lisa's baby-and loving every minute! Had fatherhood turned a dedicated playboy into perfect husband material?FROM HERE TO PATERNITY – men who find their way to fatherhood by fair means, by foul or even by default!
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“I am not going to be your mistress.”

“Why not?” he asked in a low, furious tone. “What do you want? Marriage?” And when she didn’t answer, he carried on relentlessly. “Marriage is not for me.”

“And children?” Lisa flung at him.

“...are for other people, and good luck to them. I am offering you as much commitment as I’ve ever offered any woman. Take it!”

She could feel his eyes burning into her, but she refused to meet them. Did he expect her to abandon everything so she could spend an indefinite length of time living on a knife’s edge...?

FROM HERE TO PATERNITY—romances that feature fantastic men who eventually make fabulous fathers. Some seek paternity, some have it thrust upon them, all will make it—whether they like it or not!


is Trinidadian and was brought up on the twin islands of Trinidad and Tobago. She was awarded a scholarship to study in Britain, and went to Exeter University in 1975 to continue her studies into the great loves of her life: languages and literature. It was there that Cathy met her husband, Richard. Since they married, Cathy has lived in England, originally in the Thames Valley but now in the Midlands. Cathy and Richard have three small daughters.

Accidental Mistress

Cathy Williams


IT WAS raining very hard. Lisa Freeman pulled her coat tightly around her, wishing that she had had the sense to wear something waterproof instead of her thick navy blue coat which now seemed to be soaking up every wretched drop of water and growing heavier by the minute.

She also wished that she had had the sense to take a taxi to the airport instead of foolishly counting her pennies and deciding in favour of the bus, because the bus had been running late, so that she had spent the entire journey agonisingly looking at her watch every five minutes to make sure that she wouldn’t miss the plane. It had also deposited her further away from the terminal than she had expected, which had meant braving the rain with no hat, no raincoat, one suitcase and her hand luggage.

She dumped the suitcase on the pavement so that she could consult her watch for the millionth time and also give her arm a rest, and comforted herself with the thought that soon she would be flying away from all this appalling weather. Flying to sunny climes—or at least it would be sunny if the newspaper weather listings were anything to go by. Spain, she had read the day before, was warm. Not hot, because it was, after all, January, but warmer than wretched England with its never-ending clouds and wind and sleet and rain and depressing promises of more to come.

Through the driving rain, the airport terminal loomed in front of her, and she began to feel a little panicky. It was the first time she had ever been overseas. It was difficult to try and think back to exactly when she had started contemplating a holiday abroad.

Certainly, as a child, she never had. Her time had been spent on the road, traipsing behind her parents as her father went from one job to another, settling down in cheap rented accommodation, only to be uprooted just when their lives appeared to be taking shape.

It wasn’t something that she had resented—at least not until she was old enough to realise that friends would never be a permanent fixture and that the only company she could rely on was her own.

Both her parents were now dead, but the legacy of the nomadic childhood they had subjected her to must have been more tenacious than she would ever have believed possible, because only within the last three years had that ferocious desire to be in one place, to be safe and secure, eased up sufficiently to allow daydreams of other countries to enter her head.

And until now, at the ripe old age of twenty-four, and in an era of cheap foreign travel, she had still never managed to get around to going anywhere out of the country because there had always seemed to be something better to spend her hard-earned money on.

Every year, for the past three years, she’d told herself that she would treat herself, every year she’d religiously collected a mouth-watering pile of brochures on places ranging from the Mediterranean to the Seychelles, every year she’d given herself a long, persuasive lecture on how much she would dearly love a break abroad, and every year she’d worked out the costs.

It had never been feasible. Anywhere like the Seychelles was out of the question. She’d only got the brochures because the pictures were so alluring. And the Mediterranean, while within the scope of her finances—just—had always been so carefully considered, each pro and con meticulously worked out, that in the end she’d always abandoned the idea. The spot of decorating in the living room surely needed doing before a two-week fling on the Costa del Sol. Then there was her car.

Her car, for the past three years, had always seemed to need some expensive repair work just when her savings had reached their optimum in the building society. She had begun to suspect that the heap of slowly disintegrating machinery had a mind of its own and the mind was telling it to make sure that its driver did not vacation abroad and leave it unused for two weeks.

But this time things had worked out for her.

She heaved the suitcase off the pavement, realising that it felt even heavier now that she had rested her arm for a few minutes, and thought about that envelope that had slipped into her letterbox three months before.

Never having won anything in her life before, and then suddenly winning a trip abroad had made it doubly exciting.

She smiled at the memory of it, stepped off the pavement with her eyes firmly focused on the terminal building ahead of her, which, through the driving rain, was only a blurred outline, and then what happened next became a somewhat confused sequence of events.

Had she slipped on the wet road? Had she stupidly not looked where she was going? Or had the driver of the car been as blinded by the rain as she had?

She just knew that she saw the car bearing down on her, moving quite slowly, although from where she was standing it seemed like a hundred miles an hour, at precisely the same time as the driver saw her step in front of it. There was a horrendous squeal of brakes and she felt a sharp burst of pain as the car swerved, but not enough to stop it from glancing against her leg.

She lay on the ground, unable to move, and all she could think was that she was going to miss her holiday. She had spent every waking hour looking forward to it and now she was going to miss it. She didn’t even stop to think that she was lucky—that things could have been worse.

Her leg was hurting badly, with a red-hot pain that made her grit her teeth, and in between the pain she had images of the plane taking off and merrily winging its way to sunny climes without her, and depositing all of its passengers onto the tarmac at the other end, less one, because here she was, lying on the ground, with what felt very much like a broken leg. Or at any rate a leg that wasn’t going to do much walking for a little while yet.

She moaned heavily, noticing that quite a crowd appeared to have gathered around her and also that her suitcase had thoughtfully split open and was revealing its cargo of sodden clothes to whoever cared to look.

‘I’ve called an ambulance from my car phone,’ a voice said from next to her and she turned her head slowly towards it. ‘It will be here any minute.’

The onlookers were crowding in to hear what was said, and the man, whoever he was, made a swift, authoritative movement with his hand. They shuffled back and within a few minutes most of them had dispersed.

Lisa looked at him. He had black hair, plastered against his face because of the rain, although that didn’t appear to bother him unduly, and the lines of his face were harsh and aggressive. Aggressive enough to have sent the circle of bystanders skittering away.

He looked down at her and the fuzzy, fleeting impression of someone quite good-looking crystallised into the most amazingly masculine face she had ever seen in her life. His features were hard, his eyes startingly blue, the face of a man born to give orders.

‘Are you an airport official?’ she asked faintly, and a glimmer of a smile curved his mouth.

‘Do I resemble an airport official?’ he asked. He had a nice voice, she thought, deep, lazy, with an undertone of amusement running through it that lent it a certain indefinable charm.

She heard the wail of the ambulance pelting towards them.

‘I hope it stops in time,’ she said with weak humour, no longer thinking of the missed holiday, simply relieved that she would soon be able to have some wonderful, numbing injection to take the pain away, ‘or else there will be a few more broken bodies lying around than they’d bargained for.’

The man, who was still bending over her and was not an airport official—stupid question really since she could see his expensive grey suit underneath the flaps of his overcoat and since when did airport officials wear expensive grey suits?—laughed. He had, she thought, closing her eyes and feeling rather light-headed and faint, a rather nice laugh as well. Warm and rich and vaguely unsettling. Or maybe the pain was just making her hallucinate slightly.

Then, through the swimming haze, she heard voices and the sounds of things happening and she felt someone carefully examining her, feeling her leg—but so skilfully that it didn’t hurt—and then everything moved quickly. Painkillers were administered, she was carried by stretcher into the back of the ambulance, still with her eyes closed, and that was all she remembered.

The next time she opened her eyes she was on a small bed, in a small room, with a doctor bending over her and a thermometer sticking sideways out of her mouth.

‘I’m Dr Sullivan,’ the man said, smiling, while the nurse who was standing next to the bed whipped the thermometer out of her mouth, looked at it, and then shook it so vigorously that Lisa, staring, felt quite faint. ‘Do you remember how you got here?’

She dragged her attention away from the nurse, now writing up some notes. ‘Hit by a car,’ she said with a faint smile.

While clutching my battered suitcase, she could have added, and feeling terribly thrilled at the prospect of a holiday abroad.

‘You’ve suffered a fracture to your leg,’ the doctor said, ‘and quite a few bruises which will look far worse than they feel. I need not tell you that you were very lucky indeed.’

‘I would feel luckier if it hadn’t happened in the first place,’ Lisa said seriously, and the young doctor threw her a bemused look before smiling politely.

‘Of course you would, my dear,’ he said kindly, straightening up and consulting his watch. ‘But unfortunately these things happen. It does mean, however, that you’ll be with us for a couple of weeks, while everything knits back together. Nurse will show you where everything is, and I shall be back to have a look at you later on today.’

Nurse was smiling efficiently and as soon as the doctor had left she fussed around the bed, pointing out where the alarm call was, the light switch, the television switch, and then she said, as she was leaving, ‘You have a visitor, by the way.’

‘A visitor? What visitor?’

The nurse smiled coyly, which only served to deepen Lisa’s bewilderment.

‘I thought he was your young man, actually. He travelled behind the ambulance to the hospital and he’s been waiting here ever since.’

Lisa would have liked to ask a few more questions, including what had happened to her suitcase, last seen baring its contents to all and sundry, but the nurse was already leaving and in her place walked the man who had been bending over her on the road. Her visitor. The man with no name who had taken control of everything until the ambulance had arrived.

She looked at him as he shut the door quietly behind him and felt a quiver of pleasure surge through her. She also felt quite surprisingly shy and tongue-tied and she had to make a huge effort to tell herself that she was being silly.

She was a grown woman now. No longer the child trailing behind her parents, no longer the gauche adolescent with no experience of the opposite sex, no longer the young girl deprived of that network of giggling contemporaries who dropped her eyes and pulled away the minute a boy started taking an interest in her. Those years were behind her now. She told herself that quite firmly and felt better.

She furtively eyed her visitor as he pulled the one and only chair over to her bed, sat down, and proceeded to give her the full benefit of his attention.

‘I believe the last time we spoke no introductions were made,’ he said, and his voice was precisely as she remembered. Dark and somehow inviting you to give all your attention back to him. Willing it, in fact. ‘How are you feeling?’

He had dried out. His hair, she saw now, was thick and black, as were his eyelashes, and he had removed his coat and jacket and rolled the sleeves of his white shirt up to the elbows, so that she could see his forearms, with their sprinkling of fine dark hair.

‘Fine,’ she said. ‘A bit restricted, but I suppose I’ll get used to that in due course.’

‘I’m Angus Hamilton, by the way,’ he said with a smile, stretching out his hand to her and then grasping hers so that she felt her skin tingle, and she hurriedly shoved it away under the starched sheet as soon as she could.

‘Lisa Freeman,’ she said, blushing slightly. ‘Nurse said that you came here after the accident. There was no need, really.’

‘Oh, but there was every need.’ He sat back in the chair, which seemed far too small to accommodate him. ‘You see, it was my driver who knocked you over. I’m afraid he didn’t see you soon enough. You stepped out in front of the car and he tried to brake in time. The rest is history.’ He was looking at her intently as he said all this, his blue eyes fixed on her face.

‘Oh.’ She paused. ‘I should have used the pedestrian crossing,’ she said frankly. ‘I was in a dreadful rush, though.’ She thought about the wonderful holiday and her frantic preparations and felt a lump of regret swell in her throat. ‘What happened to my suitcase?’

‘I collected the lot and gave it to the nurse. Were you on your way to catch a plane?’

‘Lanzarote.’ She was normally quite a self-contained person but right now she felt emotional, with tears brimming up behind her eyes.

‘I’m really very sorry,’ he said, and to her embarrassment he reached into his pocket and extracted a fresh white handkerchief which he handed to her. ‘I have no idea what happens in a situation like this, but I’m sure that some compensation can be reached. I’ve sorted out this room for you and naturally I shall make sure that whatever money has been lost on your holiday is forwarded to you.’

‘Y-you sorted out this room?’ Lisa repeated, stammering.

‘Your stay here will be private.’

‘There was no need.’ She looked at him, aghast. It had crossed her mind that being the sole occupant in a room in a very busy hospital was a bit peculiar, but it had never occurred to her that someone else might have paid for it.

‘It was the least I could do,’ he said, frowning.

‘Well, it’s enough.’ She looked at him firmly. ‘I can’t possibly ask you for any kind of financial compensation for an accident that was partly my fault and partly the fault of the heavens opening up.’ In fact, thinking about it, it was probably more her fault than the fault of the weather because she hadn’t been looking where she was going. She had stepped out from between two parked cars, intent on getting to that terminal before her arms gave out completely.

‘Don’t be a fool,’ he told her, but sounded more perplexed and irritated than angry.

‘I’m not. I don’t want any money from you.’

‘And what about your holiday?’

Lisa shrugged and pictured herself lying by a pool somewhere with a tinge of regret. ‘It was too good to be true anyway,’ she said on a sigh. ‘I won it, you see. I entered a competition in a magazine and won it, so it’s not really as though I’ve lost any money or anything.’

‘You won it?’ He made it sound as though having to enter competitions to get holidays was something utterly unheard of and she said, defensively,

‘I can’t afford one otherwise!’

She looked at him properly, not at his physical appearance, but at his clothes, his shoes, his watch, and she realised that, although she had no idea what he did for a living, whatever it was paid well because he exuded that air of confidence and power that came to people who had a great deal of wealth. Not the sort of man that she would ever have met under normal circumstances, nor the sort that she would have wanted to meet. A man destined to lead women up garden paths. From the pinnacle of inexperience, she felt sure that she had summed him up correctly.

‘Which is all the more reason...’

‘On no condition will I accept money from you! I was in the wrong and I would have a guilty conscience if I felt that I had swindled you out of money.’

‘I can afford it, for heaven’s sake!’ He was beginning to look as though she had taken leave of her senses. ‘You’re not swindling me out of anything!’


‘Are you always so stubborn?’ he asked, with a faintly mystified look. ‘I must say it’s a new experience to want to give money away only to find it flung back in my face.’

He gave her a long, slow smile that was so full of unintentional charm that she felt her head begin to swim a little. Had she ever met a man as potent as this one was? she wondered. Was that why he was having this heady effect on her? Maybe the fact that she was stuffed full of painkillers had something to do with it. All that medication would have thrown her system out of focus, might be making her responses go awry. She blinked and looked at him and still felt as though something tight was gripping her chest.

‘Do you work?’ he asked at last, curiously. ‘Does it not pay enough for you to have a holiday now and again? When was the last time you had a holiday?’

‘I might be stubborn,’ Lisa said tartly, ‘but at least I’m not nosy.’

‘Everyone’s nosy,’ Angus said, looking at her with a mixture of curiosity and amusement.

‘Oh, are they? What a strange world you must live in, where everyone’s nosy and willing to accept money wherever it comes from and whatever the circumstances.’

He looked even more vastly amused by that and she felt the colour crawl up into her face, making her hot and addled. For a second she was the fourteen-year-old girl in her party frock again, anxiously waiting at the front door for her first date to arrive, hoping that he wouldn’t notice the packing cases, still only halfunpacked in the small living room, assured by her parents that she looked lovely, but knowing deep down that she just looked plain and unexciting. She was only ever exciting in her mind. In reality, she knew that she was shy and reserved and that any self-confidence she had acquired over the years was really only a thin veneer.

‘I hope you’re not laughing at me,’ she said now.

‘Laughing at you?’ His dark eyebrows shot up. ‘Someone with such admirable principles?’

He was laughing at her. He was thinking that she was gauche and ingenuous and naïve and heaven only knew what else besides.

‘Well,’ she said, trying to sound composed, ‘in answer to your questions, yes, I have got a job, yes, I suppose I could just afford to go abroad now and again—well, once a year, anyway—but something would suffer, and as a matter of fact I have never been on a holiday.’

‘You have never been on a holiday?’ He sounded incredulous and she glared at him defensively.

‘That’s right,’ she snapped. ‘Is it so unheard of?’

‘Largely speaking, yes,’ he answered bluntly. He was looking at her as though he had come across a strange species of creature, believed extinct, which, against her better judgement, made her stammer out an explanation of sorts.

’M-my parents travelled around the country a lot... My father didn’t...didn’t like to be in one place for too long... nor Mum... They—they liked the feeling of being on the move, you see...’

‘How thoughtful of them, considering they had a child. Are you an only child? Have you any sisters? Brothers?’

‘No. And my parents were wonderful!’ she said hotly. True enough, they had been thoughtless—a conclusion she had arrived at for herself a long time ago—but in a vague, generous way. Was it their fault that she had come along? Out of the blue when her parents were already in their early forties?

‘And now your one opportunity lands you up in hospital.’ He shook his head ruefully, swerving off the subject with such expertise that she was almost taken aback.

‘I think fate is trying to tell me something,’ she conceded with a little laugh.

Outside, night had fallen, black, cold, starless. The bright, fluorescent overhead bulb threw his face into startling contrast, accentuating his perfectly chiselled features. She wondered how she looked. The doctor had said that she had a few bruises, which probably meant that her face was every colour of the rainbow, and her hair, which had dried, would look straggly and unkempt.

For a moment she felt a burning sense of embarrassment. It was a bit like bouncing into your favourite film star on the one day of the year when you hadn’t put on any make-up and were suffering from a bad cold.

She couldn’t remember the last time she had been bothered by her looks—or rather her lack of them. She had stopped looking into mirrors and wistfully longing to see a tall, big-busted blonde looking back at her. She had come through that awkward, insecure adolescence and had emerged a sensible, down-to-earth woman who could handle most situations.

Now, though, lying here on the hospital bed, Lisa felt plain. Too pale, too fine-featured ever to be labelled earthy or voluptuous, hair too brown, without any interesting highlights, breasts too small.

‘Where exactly do you work?’ he asked.

‘Are you really interested? You mustn’t feel that you’ve got to be kind or that you’ve got to stay here with me for an appropriate length of time.’

‘Stubborn,’ he drawled, leaning back in the chair and folding his hands behind his head, ‘and argumentative.’

Argumentative? Her? When was the last time she had argued with anyone? Not for years. She had always been quite happy to leave the arguing to the rest of the world.

‘I am neither stubborn nor argumentative,’ she defended heatedly, then smiled a little sheepishly because her tone belied the statement. ‘I just wouldn’t like you to feel that you should stay here and chat to me simply because your driver knocked me over.’

‘I never do anything unless I want to,’ he said matter-of-factly. ‘I certainly do not profess interest in people unless I am genuinely interested in them.’

‘In that case, I work at a nursery.’

‘Lots of screaming children?’ He didn’t look as though the idea of that was in the slightest appealing and she wondered again about his lifestyle. She had never even thought to ask herself whether he was married or not. Somehow, he didn’t give the impression of being a married man. Too hard, perhaps, too single-minded. Certainly, if his expression was anything to go by, he didn’t have much to do with children and he liked it that way.

‘Not all children scream,’ Lisa pointed out reasonably. ‘And when they do there’s usually a cause. Anyway, I work at a garden centre—Arden Nurseries, if you must know.’

She would have to ring Paul and tell him what had happened. He would be as disappointed as she was. He had been thrilled when she had won the holiday. He was always telling her that she worked too hard, but in fact she enjoyed it. She loved plants and flowers. If she hadn’t left school at seventeen to enter the workforce, she would perhaps have stayed on and studied botany at university.

‘And where do you work?’ she asked.

‘An advertising firm,’ he said. ‘Hamilton Scott.’

‘How interesting.’ She smiled politely. ‘And what do you do there?’

‘Are you really interested?’ he asked, mimicking her. ‘You needn’t feel that you’ve got to ask.’ He laughed and then said, watching her for her reaction, ‘You look charming when you blush.’

His vivid blue eyes skimmed over her face and she didn’t quite know what to say in response to his observation. This type of lazy, sophisticated flirting—if that was what it was—was beyond her. But then he worked in advertising, the glamour industry, and she worked in a garden centre, spending half her time with her hands covered in soil and compost, wearing dungarees, and with her shoulder-length hair carelessly tied up.

‘I own the company,’ he said casually. ‘My father founded it, ran it down with a handful of spectacularly bad decisions, and since then I have rebuilt it.’ He was still smiling, and underneath the smile she could see the glint of ruthlessness, the mark of a man to be feared and respected and courted.

‘How nice,’ she said, for want of anything better to say, and he laughed aloud at that.

‘Isn’t it? It doesn’t impress you a great deal, though, does it?’

‘What doesn’t?’


Lisa went bright red and then felt annoyed because there was something deliberately wicked about his teasing, as though she intrigued him, and not because she was sexy, or stimulating, but because she was novel, a type that perhaps he had never encountered before, or at least never to speak to. In short, in his world of twentieth-century glamour and sophistication, she was a dinosaur.

‘I am always impressed when people do well,’ she said coolly. ‘My boss, Paul, started the nursery with a loan from the bank and a desire to work hard, and he made a success of it, and that impresses me as well. But mostly I’m impressed with people for what they are and not what they achieve. A person might have a nice car and live in a grand house and travel in great style, but if he isn’t a good person, caring and thoughtful and honest, then what’s the point of all the rest?’ She meant it, too, although, hearing herself, she realised that she sounded, ever so slightly, as though she was preaching.

‘And money means nothing to you?’ He lifted his eyebrows fractionally and again she had the impression of being observed with curiosity and interest rather than the magnetic pull of attraction.

‘Only in so far as I have enough to get by.’

‘And you don’t yearn for more?’

‘No. I presume, though, that you do?’

‘Not more money, no,’ he said slowly, as though the question had never been put to him before. ‘I have more than enough of that. What I find stimulating is to scale the heights I have imposed on myself.’ He paused and then asked, changing the subject, which was a bit of a shame, because she had found herself hanging onto his every word, spellbound by his personality even if the feeling wasn’t mutual, ‘How long will you be in here?’

‘About two weeks,’ she answered. ‘With any luck, less. I would prefer to convalesce at home.’

‘And you have someone there to look after you? A boyfriend perhaps?’ The half-closed blue eyes watched her in a way that made her want to fidget.

‘Oh, no,’ she said airily, ‘not at the moment.’ Implying that she was sort of resting in between bouts of heavy romance, which was so far from the truth that it was almost laughable.

Robert, her last boyfriend, had worked in a car firm and had wanted marriage, a terraced house, two point four children and steak every Friday. She had been appalled at the prospect and had broken it off, but since stability was what he had been offering and stability was what she had always desperately wanted she had been puzzled at her immediate response when it had been offered. A break, she had thought then, will do me good. That had been two years ago and the break now seemed to be of a more permanent nature than she had originally intended.

‘My friend lives just around the corner, but I can manage on my own anyway.’

‘Can you?’

‘Of course I can,’ she said, surprised. ‘I always have.’

‘Yes.’ He looked at her thoughtfully. ‘I expect you have.’ He stood up and began rolling down his sleeves, before slipping on his jacket and thrusting his hands in the pockets. ‘I find that rather sad, though.’

‘Don’t feel sorry for me,’ Lisa said rather more acidly than she had intended. She shrugged. ‘It’s a fact of life. It’s important to know how to stand on your own two feet.’

‘Do you really believe that or is that the consolation prize for a life spent on the road?’

She flushed and looked away.

‘Not that that’s any of my business.’ His voice was gentler as he smiled and said, again, how sorry he was about what had happened. He handed her his card, plain white with his name printed on it, and the name of his company, and his fax number as well as three more work numbers, and an intricate abstract design at the bottom which she thought probably meant something, though what she couldn’t think.

‘Call me if you change your mind about the compensation I’m more than willing to give you,’ he said, and stopped her before she could open her mouth and inform him that she wasn’t about to change her mind. ‘Money might well mean nothing to you, but after this you could do with a good holiday somewhere and I would be happy to pay for it.’

‘All right,’ she said, propping the card against the glass of water on the table next to her.

‘But you have no intention of availing yourself of the offer...’

‘None whatsoever,’ Lisa agreed, and he shook his head wryly.

He walked over to the door and then paused.

‘I’m away for the next ten days,’ he said, ‘or else I would come and look in, and please don’t tell me that there’s no need or I’ll wring your neck.’

‘I don’t think I could cope with a sore neck and a fractured leg as well,’ she said, smiling. He had only been with her half an hour, if that, but seeing him standing there, with his hand on the doorknob, his body already half turned to leave, she felt a sudden, inexplicable pang which surprised and disoriented her.

She couldn’t possibly want him to stay, could she? she wondered. Wouldn’t that be altogether pathetic when he had come on what was, essentially, a courtesy visit? She should never have told him all that stuff about her parents. She seldom shared confidences, least of all with a stranger, and now she felt as though he was walking off with a little bit of her tucked away with him, and she didn’t like the feeling.

‘Goodbye, Lisa Freeman,’ he said. ‘You’re really rather a remarkable girl.’

‘Goodbye, Angus Hamilton,’ she replied, and when she tried to add a witty comment to that, as he had, nothing came out. She just continued smiling as he closed the door behind him, and then she pictured him striding along the hospital corridor, gathering admiring glances from all the nurses and female patients, walking purposefully towards his car, ready to be chauffeured back to his apartment or house or mansion or wherever it was he lived, because she hadn’t the faintest idea.

The mental scenario so overtook the thought of lying by a non-existent pool in the sunshine that, after a while, she shook herself and wondered whether perhaps she was missing the company of a man in her life rather more than she had consciously thought.

She had her little flat, a modern, one-bedroom place on a nicely kept estate a few miles from the nursery, so that travelling to and from work wasn’t too hazardous a prospect in her unreliable Mini. She had her friends, most of whom lived locally, and she carefully tended those relationships because in a world with no family friends became your only standby. She especially treasured them because friendships had been so hard to form as she’d roamed with her parents.

She hadn’t felt the absence of a boyfriend in her life. Why, then, had she been so stupidly invigorated by this man—someone whom she had never met in her life before, a man who lived in an orbit as far removed from hers as Mars was from the planet Earth?

She hadn’t thought that she was lonely, but—who knew?—perhaps she was.

Paul, her boss, had been trying for ages to arrange a blind date between her and his cousin, whose credentials seemed to be that he was a nice chap and supported the same football team as Paul did. Maybe, she thought, buzzing the nurse for some more painkillers because her leg, which had been feeling fine, was now throbbing madly, she would give him a go.

That settled in her mind, she eyed Angus Hamilton’s business card and then shoved it inside the drawer of the beside cabinet, where it was safely out of sight and safely out of mind.

Then she got down to the overdue business of ringing her closest friends, who sympathised with her bad luck and promised to visit with magazines and flowers and grapes—what else? She also phoned Paul, who soothed and clucked like a mother hen and told her that there was no need to rush back to work until she was ready, but could she tell him where that number for the delivery firm who were supposed to have delivered some shrubs that morning was, because they hadn’t and he intended to give them an earful?

Then she settled down, closed her eyes and spent the night dreaming of Angus Hamilton.


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