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Saving Grace

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«Saving Grace» - Кэрол Мортимер

Carole Mortimer is one of Mills & Boon’s best loved Modern Romance authors. With nearly 200 books published and a career spanning 35 years, Mills & Boon are thrilled to present her complete works available to download for the very first time! Rediscover old favourites – and find new ones! – in this fabulous collection…Taming the ruthless tycoon…Enigmatic property developer Jordan Somerville-Smythe is ruthless when it comes to business. So when he books in to Charlton House to check out the development potential, it’s under the pretence of being a guest.Landlady Grace Brown is as beautiful and enchanting as her country house. And Jordan is surprised by his strong reaction to her—the protectiveness he feels and the claim he wants to stake! But will Grace forgive his deceit when she discovers Jordan’s true plans for her home?
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Saving Grace Carole Mortimer

www.millsandboon.co.uk

Table of Contents

Title Page

PROLOGUE

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

EPILOGUE

Copyright

PROLOGUE

‘OUCH, Tim,’ came the wounded cry. ‘I told you not to do that!'

Silence followed the protest, and the man who had unwittingly stumbled upon the two hesitated among the undergrowth and bushes that shielded them from his view. And him from theirs.

Jordan had stopped his car and got out on to the roadside on impulse, drawn by the perfect blanket of snow in the field, the fine horse-chestnut trees in the middle of it all still weighed down by their bounty of conkers.

He wasn't even sure what had made him stop, didn't normally notice his surroundings that much. But even the most hardened cynic—and some would say he was one!—couldn't remain untouched by the beauty of the Lake District, even in November, and Jordan had finally succumbed to the perfection of this snowy-white field, pulling his car over to the side of the road before crossing over the verge and walking across the crunchy snow.

‘Tim, if you do that again, we're going home,’ that voice complained huskily.

He certainly hadn't expected to stumble across a pair of lovers in the snow! Surely they could have chosen somewhere a little more comfortable—and dry!—for their meeting?

So much for his impulse. What was that saying—he couldn't remember it exactly, but something to do with ‘stopping along the way to smell the roses'? The season was all wrong but, even so, the first time in years he had done something so completely out of character, and he almost fell over a couple of lovers in a passionate tryst!

He decided to chance a glance at the couple, trapped as he was among the foliage. He didn't want to be caught here if the couple decided to go any further in their lovemaking!

Identical red bobble-hats were pulled low over their ears to keep out the cold, blue duffel coats buttoned up to the throat, blue jeans tucked into black wellington boots.

The two boys might almost have been twins except that the one on the right was taller by at least a foot. But the faces beneath the red woollen hats were both finely drawn, almost delicate-looking, a smattering of freckles across small pointed noses. Obviously the two of them were brothers. The village of Grasmere wasn't too far from here, so they had probably escaped up here to play.

As the taller of the two boys held out a conker suspended on a piece of string, the reason for his earlier protests became obvious: his opponent, now wielding a slightly larger conker, didn't pull his punches!

Jordan felt a constriction in his chest, a yearning for—for what? he scorned himself. How could he possibly feel wistful for something that had never been his?

The larger of the brothers had his conker smashed into pieces with the first forceful strike this time, shaking his head when the younger suggested they thread another conker on to his string and have a re-match. From the look of the broken conkers at their feet, the older boy had suffered a humiliating defeat.

He pocketed the knotted string before bending down to pick up a handful of snow, quickly moulding it into shape before launching it at his unsuspecting brother.

The snowball fight that followed was fast and furious, with both opponents collapsing into each other's arms in a fit of the giggles after five minutes, their clothing, hats, and faces covered in melting snow, mittens protecting their hands from the worst of the cold.

Once again Jordan felt that tug inside, these two young boys’ pleasure in each other's company evoking feelings of deprivation inside him, feelings he had tried so hard to fight over the last two years, but which were becoming more and more difficult, rather than easier, to dampen down as time went on.

If he was honest, and it seemed he had to be, that had been one of the reasons he had wanted to get away for a while. Rhea-Jane and Raff were wonderful, couldn't have made him feel more wanted, but he was still a third person, who had to be an intrusion into the intimacy of their lives.

So he had chosen to come away on this business trip himself rather than sending one of his assistants. It was probably going to be a waste of his time, but it was a valid excuse to get away at least. He had even felt guilty about needing the excuse, knowing it was ridiculous, but Rhea-Jane, his well-meaning young sister, tended to be over-protective of him since she had married Raff, not wanting him to be on his own now that she had moved out of the home they had shared in London since their parents died. She had even gone so far—horror of horrors!—as to introduce him to several women she thought might make him a suitable wife.

He didn't want a wife, suitable—whatever that might be!—or otherwise!

But he wanted something, he was willing to acknowledge that. Something. And he didn't know what it was—just knew he had an aching inside of him, an emptiness that couldn't be filled by Rhea-Jane and Raff, or their darling daughter Diana, and certainly not by some woman presented to him as suitable wife material!

These two boys, as they played together so innocently, somehow had, for all Jordan's wealth and comfortable lifestyle, so much more than he did. But at thirty-two he could hardly expect that same anticipation of the promise of the future that such youth was bound to have. Indeed, he wondered if he had ever had it.

The two boys were brushing the snow from themselves now, their faces aglow, grinning with the satisfaction of the battle.

The older boy glanced at a watch that seemed to be hidden between the cuff of his duffel coat and the snow-damp mitt; hopefully it was a waterproof one, or he would be in trouble when he got home!

‘We had better get back.’ He spoke in a voice that, although husky, didn't seem to have broken yet, but perhaps he was a little young for that.

The younger boy made a face. ‘Oh, do we have to?’ he protested.

His brother looked regretful. ‘You know we do.'

‘I suppose so.’ The younger one sighed, not at all enthusiastic.

‘Come on,’ the older boy encouraged brightly. ‘I'll race you back!'

The challenge had no sooner been offered than it was taken up, the smaller boy turning—luckily in the opposite direction to where Jordan still stood!—and running off towards the village.

Jordan watched as his brother deliberately gave him a good head start before giving chase.

Jordan was finally able to emerge from his hiding-place, well aware that in London his behaviour would have been looked upon with suspicion. Who would understand the explanation that he had been gazing upon a stolen childhood?

Was that really what he was looking for? Of course not, he chided himself. That time had gone and could never be given back to him.

As the two boys had gone by the time he looked in the direction they had run off to. Except for their footprints in the snow, the disturbed snow from their snowball fight, they might never have been here at all.

Except that seeing them had had an effect on Jordan that couldn't be dismissed as easily. That aching emptiness inside him was becoming so vast it was starting to control him rather than the other way around.

The last thing he felt like doing was going on with the business of visiting, and being charming to, the aged spinster Miss Grace Brown. She was sure to be a fluffy old dear who couldn't even begin to deal with a businessman of his calibre, and the idea of talking her into selling the ‘ancient pile’ that had probably been in her family for generations, so that he might make it into a leisure complex, somehow now left a nasty taste in his mouth. Most of the people who knew him—or thought they did—wouldn't recognise this emotion in him at all, would think he had gone soft. And maybe he had.

He gave one last wistful glance in the direction the two boys had taken, before turning on his heel and walking purposefully back towards his parked car, the mantle of Jordan Somerville-Smythe firmly back in place.

Or almost …

.

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