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Tangled Hearts

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«Tangled Hearts» - 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…Pursuit of the forbidden…It’s been ten years since Sarah Harvey has been permitted to see her only nephew. So now that the boy has defied his father and come to visit, Sarah vows to do everything she can to make their reunion happy and long lasting. Even if it means facing brooding—and devastatingly sexy—Garrett Kingham again… Sarah has always been in love with Garrett. But after his convenient and destructive marriage to her late sister, pursuing her feelings for Garrett is strictly forbidden…
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Tangled Hearts Carole Mortimer

www.millsandboon.co.uk

Table of Contents

Title Page

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

Copyright

CHAPTER ONE

‘ARE you my mother…?’

Sarah looked up from the half-completed canvas of the sea before her, her polite denial never uttered as she looked up at the pale youth beside her. He looked about fifteen or sixteen, wearing faded denims and a tight T-shirt, a faded denim jacket thrown over one shoulder in the heat of the day and held there by one finger. Thick blond hair grew almost down to his shoulders, streaked with white where he seemed to have spent hours in the sun. And green eyes, he had green eyes; Garrett Kingham’s eyes.

The last time she had seen Jason, for this surely had to be him, he had been five years old, a boy with troubled green eyes, having been deeply disturbed by the discord between his parents. He had become a handsome youth, still a little gangly, but she had no doubt the lean, tall body would fill out during the next few years and he would be as muscular as his father.

Garrett Kingham. She could still remember the look on his face the last time she had seen him, the disgust expressed there as she ran at him kicking and screaming, punching futilely against his broad chest at his decision to take Jason away with him.

And now Jason had come back. She could hardly believe it!

‘Sorry.’ The youth gave a self-conscious grimace, suddenly looking very young. ‘You couldn’t be my mother, she’s dead, and you’re far too young to be my mother. I—–It was just that you looked like I remember her,’ he added sheepishly.

‘Jason—–’

‘You know my name!’ His eyes narrowed suspiciously. ‘Who are you?’

Sarah put down her brush, picking up a paint-spattered cloth to wipe her hands. ‘Who did you come here to see?’ she prompted gently.

‘My grandfather and—you have to be my Aunt Sarah,’ he realised in some relief. ‘For a moment I thought I was seeing a ghost.’

Amanda would be a ten-year-old ghost by now. For that was how long her sister had been dead. In fact, the similarity between herself and Amanda was only superficial; both had thick black hair, deep blue eyes, and small slender bodies, but their features could only be called vaguely similar. But Jason had only been five when his mother died, and possibly the similarity between the sisters now seemed more than it actually had been.

She gave her nephew a dazzling smile, standing up. ‘Yes, I’m your Aunt Sarah,’ she confirmed brightly. ‘Have you been up to the cottage yet? Your grandfather is going to be pleased to see you.’

Jason shook his head, looking a little nervous now. ‘There’s no one there.’

‘He said something earlier about walking into the village for his tobacco,’ she dismissed lightly. ‘Why didn’t you let us know you were coming? Does your father know you’re here?’ she added warily; Garrett Kingham had never been particularly fond of his wife’s family, and she had no reason to suppose that had changed over the years.

Jason didn’t answer, his hands thrust into the back pockets of his denims as he turned to look out at the sea. ‘Can you surf here?’ He frowned at the gently falling waves against the sand.

‘No,’ she laughed regretfully. ‘Although we do have windsurfing.’

He nodded, turning back to her. ‘Is it always this windy here?’ he asked ruefully.

‘The east coast of England is known for it,’ she acknowledged with a grimace. ‘Jason—–’

‘Do you think my grandfather is back yet?’ he cut in firmly. ‘I’d really like to see him.’

‘He’ll want to see you too.’ She quickly packed away her things. ‘But you have to tell me whether or not your father knows you’ve come here,’ she persisted.

A mutinous expression marred his youthful good looks.

‘I’m sixteen—–’

‘Not until next month,’ Sarah reminded him gently, very much afraid Garrett Kingham had no idea where his son was. And from what she remembered of him he wouldn’t take lightly the news of Jason being here.

‘I’m old enough to make my own decisions,’ insisted Jason stubbornly.

She would be very interested to know what decision he had made that had brought him here, but now didn’t seem the time to ask him, his manner being defensive to say the least.

Sarah’s initial instinct had been to hug him, but he was at an age where such a show of emotion would only embarrass him. And so she continued to act calmly, as if it was perfectly normal for the nephew she hadn’t seen for ten years to arrive so unexpectedly.

‘Could you carry this for me?’ She held out her canvas. ‘Careful,’ she warned. ‘It’s still wet.’

‘Hey, this is good,’ Jason admired in some surprise. ‘Are you an artist?’

‘No,’ she denied, tucking her easel and chair under her arm, smiling her thanks as Jason bent to pick up her box of oil paints. ‘I’m not the struggling-in-the-garret type,’ she derided. ‘No pun intended!’ she added drily. ‘I’m an art teacher during term time, I only “struggle” during the holidays!’

Jason gave a wary frown. ‘You don’t look like a schoolteacher.’

Sarah was familiar with this reaction from children of Jason’s age; schoolteachers represented an authority they were beginning to resent. ‘School teachers aren’t wearing denim cut-offs and bikini-tops in America?’ she teased.

‘Not in class, anyway,’ he drawled.

‘Neither would I,’ she mocked, as the two of them walked side by side across the beach towards her home that overlooked the sea. It was more of a cottage than a house, with three small bedrooms and a bathroom above the sitting-room and kitchen. She knew that Jason and his father lived in a house in Malibu, for she had excitedly read Amanda’s glowing description of the house and swimming-pool when her sister first moved in there with Garrett Kingham over sixteen years ago, and it had sounded like a wonderful place to the impressionable ten-year-old she had been then. She was sure the cottage would seem very small to Jason in comparison; Amanda had certainly been dismayed by the smallness of it on the few occasions she had come home for a visit after her marriage. But it had been Sarah’s home all her life, and she loved it.

‘It isn’t just the way you’re dressed.’ Jason still frowned. ‘You don’t look old enough to be a teacher.’

She gave him a teasing look. ‘I’ve never yet been mistaken for one of my pupils!’ She pushed open the cottage door, stacking all her equipment in a tiny room off the hallway. ‘Have you eaten or can I get you something now?’ She looked at her nephew expectantly.

‘I’ve eaten,’ he shruggingly refused, looking around him interestedly. ‘Thank you,’ he added awkwardly as she continued to look at him. ‘Maybe you are a teacher after all,’ he said ruefully.

‘Maybe I am,’ she nodded, eyes twinkling deeply blue. ‘How about a drink?’

‘Coke?’

‘If that’s what you’d like.’ She led the way to the kitchen at the side of the cottage, the outside wall of the room dominated by a large window so that the beach and sea were still visible. ‘Sit down.’ She indicated the bar-stools that were tucked tidily under the breakfast bar in front of the window. ‘Have you come far?’ she asked conversationally as she opened the refrigerator door.

He smiled, suddenly looking boyish instead of the man he had been trying to appear since his arrival. ‘You’re persistent, aren’t you?’ He took the can of Coke, ignoring the glass, sipping thirstily from the can.

‘And you’re evasive,’ Sarah frowned.

‘Do you think my grandfather will be much longer?’ he asked curiously.

If he had been one of her pupils evading an answer in this way she would have known how to handle him, but he was the nephew she hadn’t seen for ten years, and she was so pleased to have him here that she didn’t want him to leave again because she had probed too deeply too fast. No doubt he would tell them what he wanted to, in time. But one thing she was already sure of: his father didn’t know where he was, and knowing Garrett Kingham as she did she knew he was sure to be furious when he found out Jason had come to them.

‘I’m sure he’ll be home any minute now,’ she assured Jason, surprised that her father wasn’t already back. ‘Now—–’ She broke off as the front door slammed shut. ‘That will be him now.’ She smiled encouragingly at Jason as he suddenly looked nervous.

‘I thought you would still be down on the beach, Sarah,’ her father greeted her smilingly.

He was short like her, his black hair liberally sprinkled with grey, his eyes a warm, twinkling blue. ‘I walked down to join you when I got back from—–’ He came to a halt in the doorway as he saw she wasn’t alone, his eyes widening with anticipation as he got a good look at their visitor. ‘Jason?’ he said half eagerly, half disbelievingly.

Jason had stood up slowly at his grandfather’s entrance, and now he wiped his hands nervously down the sides of his denims. ‘Grandad,’ he nodded abruptly, swallowing hard.

Sarah felt an emotional lump catch in her throat at the way her father’s face lit up at the sight of his only grandchild. He had talked a lot about Jason, since he had had more time to sit and brood over the past after his retirement a year ago, and she knew how much he had missed seeing his grandchild grow up, doing all the things with him a grandfather liked to do. If only she had had children, maybe he wouldn’t have felt Jason’s loss so deeply—no, she wouldn’t dwell on what hadn’t been, like her father; she would enjoy the fact that they had Jason with them now.

‘Don’t grandads get a hug in America?’ her father teased Jason, who was waiting expectantly.

The boy moved awkwardly into his grandfather’s arms, taller than the older man by several inches, even at only fifteen. He was going to be as tall as his father one day—–Sarah’s delight faded a little as she acknowledged she was going to have to let Garrett Kingham know where his son was. And as soon as she did that, he would come and take Jason away from them again.

‘—–and so I thought you must have changed your mind,’ she heard her father say fondly.

Sarah eyed the two suspiciously as they stood apart now. ‘Changed his mind about what?’ she frowned.

‘Er—how about a cup of tea, Sarah, love?’ her father evaded.

‘Dad!’ She looked at him sternly, sure now that the two of them had been up to something she knew nothing about.

‘Let’s not argue in front of Jason when he’s come to see us after all these years—–’

‘Dad, you—–’

‘It’s like this, Aunt Sarah,’ Jason cut in, in a self-possessed voice that sounded too old for his almost sixteen years. ‘I telephoned Grandad yesterday and asked him if I could come visit the two of you.’

Now that Sarah gave it some thought she supposed she had noticed an air of excitement about her father since she got in from shopping yesterday afternoon, but she had imagined that to be because Mrs Potter from the village had called in to spend a few hours with him while she was out. Her father and Glynis Potter had been seeing a lot of each other over the last few months, and because she knew her father felt embarrassed about having a ‘girl-friend’ at his age she hadn’t ever mentioned that she knew about the two of them. Now it seemed her father had been keeping something much more serious than his friendship with Glynis from her!

‘Why didn’t you tell me?’ She sighed her disappointment in him.

‘Now don’t upset yourself, Sarah,’ he soothed. ‘I couldn’t be sure Jason would really come here, and I—I didn’t want to disappoint you if he couldn’t make it after all.’

Her expression softened as she guessed he would have been the one unable to bear the disappointment if they had made preparations and then Jason hadn’t arrived. She could see it in his eyes now as he looked at Jason, knew he hadn’t been able to put it into words that Jason might visit because until he had seen Jason sitting in the kitchen waiting for him to come home, it had all seemed as if it might just be a dream.

‘Okay, you two conspirators,’ she teased. ‘What was the plan?’

‘You see,’ her father grinned at Jason, ‘didn’t I tell you she’s a good sport!’

She didn’t feel much like a ‘good sport’, not when she knew Garrett Kingham was going to be furious when he found out they had known since yesterday of Jason’s visit and hadn’t chosen to inform him. Oh, she hadn’t technically known about it, but she knew Garrett Kingham was never going to believe that.

‘I’ll make the tea,’ her father offered brightly now that the moment of danger had passed. ‘You two go and sit down in the other room.’

Their sitting-room also doubled as the room where her father designed and built models of old sailing ships, as her sewing-room, and sometimes as an art studio. Nevertheless it was clean and comfortable, and Sarah only had to move a couple of books from chairs to make room for them all to sit down.

Jason seemed more relaxed too now. ‘He’s just as I imagined he would be,’ he grinned.

Had Garrett Kingham ever looked as boyish as his son did now? she wondered. She doubted it. The younger son of Senator Kingham—the elder son Jonathan having followed in the career of his father and also become a senator in recent years—Garrett Kingham had been born with a golden spoon in his mouth, had gone to all the best schools, and then to the world-famous Harvard, before deciding to make a career for himself as a film director. He had fought family opposition, the prejudice towards him from others in the profession, to become one of the most ruthlessly successful directors Hollywood had ever known. And he hadn’t done any of it by being nice, let alone boyish!

Garrett Kingham had been twenty-three when Amanda had brought him home as her husband, but to the ten-year-old Sarah he had already seemed old, had already clawed his way half-way up the ladder of success, the hardness of his eyes letting everyone know that he clearly intended to make it the rest of the way up, no matter who got in his way. His marriage to Amanda had been one of the things that got in his way.

Her sister, much against her parents’ wishes, had gone off to Hollywood at the age of eighteen to ‘find success and happiness’. Six months later she had arrived home as Garrett Kingham’s bride and expecting his baby!

Sarah had watched as her parents did their best to welcome the worldly, cynical young man into their family, and Amanda had seemed happy enough with the way things had worked out, but Sarah couldn’t hide the fact that she didn’t like her new brother-in-law one bit. He had seemed to be looking down his aristocratic nose at them all the time, even insisting he and Amanda stay at a local hotel when there was a perfectly good third bedroom at the cottage that they could have used, that had always been Amanda’s room. Not that Garrett had seemed in the least concerned with the obvious dislike of a ten-year-old; he had ignored her where he possibly could.

No, even though Garrett had only been eight years older than Jason was now when she first met him, Sarah knew he had never been boyish, had probably never been young at all!

‘We’ve thought of you often over the years,’ she told Jason huskily.

‘You never missed a single birthday,’ he acknowledged gruffly. ‘Or Christmas.’

Although Garrett Kingham had never encouraged their interest in Jason after he took him away, they hadn’t thought he could possibly object to the small gifts they sent Jason on his birthday and at Christmas. The gifts were never returned, and several weeks later they would always receive a thank you letter from Jason. It had been the only contact they had had with him over the years.

‘Here we are.’ Her father came in with the tray of tea. ‘I brought you another Coke, Jason,’ he told him, sitting down to gaze at the boy fondly as Sarah poured the tea. ‘I always knew you would look like your father,’ he said ruefully. ‘Even as a baby you had none of the Harvey colouring.’

Jason’s expression was suddenly guarded, as if he sensed criticism.

‘I think it’s as well he inherited Garrett’s height,’ Sarah put in lightly, anxious to reassure Jason that her father hadn’t meant anything by his observation. ‘We Harveys aren’t known for our stature!’ She mocked her father’s and her own lack of inches, relieved when Jason gave a relaxed grin. ‘You never did tell me what plans the two of you had made for meeting today?’ she reintroduced casually.

Jason shrugged. ‘Dad’s in England making a film, and I thought it would be nice to come see the two of you.’

Garrett Kingham was actually in England! Sarah’s hands clenched in reaction to that piece of information. Ten years ago she had no longer been a child, and yet she had flown at Garrett Kingham like a wild thing; she hadn’t seen him since that fateful day. And she didn’t want to see him again now, although surely with Jason here that was inevitable.

‘He brought you over with him for a holiday?’ she asked interestedly.

‘Because he had to,’ Jason corrected harshly. ‘Unfortunately for him he couldn’t dump me on Uncle Jonathan and Aunt Shelley like he usually does because they’re away themselves at the moment.’

There was a wealth of bitterness in the words, and Sarah wondered just how often Jason had been ‘dumped’ on his aunt and uncle over the years. Too many times, by the sound of it.

Ten years ago Garrett had made it clear that any effort they made to see his son would be rebuffed, and for Jason’s sake, because they didn’t think it fair to place that sort of burden on such a young child, they had respected that decision, no matter how much it had hurt them to do so. Now that Jason was old enough to make his own decisions about such things it seemed he felt differently about his grandfather and aunt. She was glad, although she knew Garrett wouldn’t be.

‘I’m sure he doesn’t just “dump” you, Jason,’ she reproved gently. ‘He has to work, after all. And I’m sure your aunt and uncle are very nice.’

‘They’re okay,’ he dismissed. ‘But Dad doesn’t have to work; he has enough money not to.’

‘Don’t you think thirty-nine is a little young to retire?’ she chided.

Anger flared in the brilliant green eyes, and Sarah could see that the last thing Jason had expected was that she would actually defend his father over this. But she wasn’t taking anyone’s side, was just trying to show Jason that there were always two sides to everything. Secretly she thought it was a good thing that Garrett had been forced to bring his son with him this time, and not just because it gave them the opportunity to spend some time with Jason; it sounded to her as if the two of them spent too little time together even when Garrett was at home.

‘He—–’

‘I’m sorry I missed your bus arriving, Jason,’ his grandfather cut in with a warning glance at Sarah. ‘Usually it’s late, and I thought I had left home in plenty of time to meet you off it, only to find when I got to the village that today of all days it had been early!’

So that was why her father had decided to go down to the village mid-week for his tobacco; usually he took a walk down on a Saturday! ‘I gather the two of you missed each other,’ she said drily.

‘Mm,’ her father grimaced. ‘By the time I reached the village the bus had long gone, and Mrs Hall at the shop didn’t know if a young man had got off it or not. I thought perhaps Jason had changed his mind and not come after all.’

Once again her throat filled emotionally at the way her father looked at his grandson. Her father had always been a wonderful parent, had always had time and love for her and Amanda, and he should have had half a dozen grandchildren he could spoil by now. But Amanda had only had Jason and she—her pupils were her children!

‘I asked directions to the cottage at the gas station,’ Jason explained. ‘They said it would be quicker if I followed the coast round, so I walked along the beach.’

‘It is quicker that way,’ his grandfather nodded. ‘But all that sand makes my old legs ache!’

‘Don’t pay any attention to him, Jason,’ Sarah derided. ‘He’s been telling me how old he is for the last twenty years!’

‘And she’s never let me get away with it,’ her father grimaced. ‘Believe me, after living in a houseful of women all these years it’s nice to have another male in residence for a while.’

Sarah’s eyes widened as she looked at the two of them. ‘Jason intends staying with us?’ A day visit was one thing, but she didn’t think Garrett Kingham would allow anything else.

‘If that’s all right with you.’ Jason was at once on the defensive.

‘Of course. I just—–’

‘The spare room is always ready for guests,’ his grandfather assured him jovially. ‘Did you bring any clothes with you?’

Jason nodded, still watching Sarah warily. ‘I left my back-pack outside,’ he answered slowly.

The last thing she wanted to appear was the spoiler of all their fun, but even so… ‘Does your father know where you are?’ she asked with firm control, demanding an answer this time.

Jason flushed. ‘He’s away in Scotland for a couple of days with the owner of the studio. I was sick of sitting around in a hotel room, so I gave Grandad a call.’

‘But even so—–’

‘Jason, why don’t you go and get your things and take them upstairs,’ his grandfather suggested lightly. ‘It’s the room on the right at the top of the stairs.’

Jason looked about to argue, and then he nodded reluctant agreement, his mouth set rebelliously as he went outside.

‘I know you’re angry, Sarah,’ her father soothed before she could speak. ‘But when he called me yesterday the lad was upset; what else could I do but invite him to come here?’

‘You know I don’t mind the fact that he’s here,’ she admonished. ‘I’m as pleased to see him as you are. I just think you should have acted a little more responsibly and—–’

‘How could I tell Garrett when he isn’t even at the hotel?’ he reasoned.

‘You could have left a message for him,’ she pointed out gently.

‘All right,’ her father admitted irritably. ‘I’ll admit that I was so excited at the thought of seeing Jason again after all these years that I may have acted a little selfishly. But it isn’t too late to leave a message at the hotel for Garrett now; Jason said he isn’t due back for a couple more days. I didn’t see why the lad should be bored waiting for him at that hotel when he could be with us,’ he added persuasively.

Her father was worse than Jason, and despite his sixty-six years he seemed about the same age at the moment, excited at the prospect of having Jason stay with them, if only for a few days. Sarah doubted if either of them would listen if she pointed out that it was probably because all Jason would have to do if Garrett brought him with him was sit bored around hotels, that Garrett thought it best if he stayed with his aunt and uncle at these times! Not that she thought Garrett was right completely; heaven forbid she should think that man was right about anything! But he was Jason’s father, and he was going to be worried about him once he learnt of his disappearance.

She stood up decisively as Jason came back into the room, eyeing them both suspiciously. ‘Don’t look so worried, Jason,’ she said lightly. ‘All we’ve decided is to leave a message at the hotel for your father telling him where you are.’

She made no comment as he mumbled the name of one of the most prestigious hotels in London; where else would Garrett Kingham stay, the famous film director, son and brother to Washington senators!

As soon as she got through to the hotel and asked to leave a message for Mr Kingham there was a strange clicking noise on the line and then a very short ring before the receiver was picked up the other end. ‘Hello, I—–’

‘Who is this?’ demanded a gravelly voice that was definitely American-accented.

But not Garrett’s voice, thank goodness! ‘I wanted to leave a message for Mr Kingham,’ she said awkwardly, completely disconcerted, having expected to speak to the receptionist. ‘But there seems to have been some sort of confusion, because the operator—–’

‘What’s the message?’ that gravelly voice demanded again, and Sarah instantly formed an image of a six-and-a-half-foot giant with the build of Arnold Schwarzenegger—but without the intelligence that man had displayed when she had seen him on a chat show several months ago!

‘If you gave me a chance to finish speaking I would tell you,’ she said in her sternest schoolteacher voice, receiving silent attention for her effort. ‘Could you please tell Mr Kingham that Sarah rang, and that—–’

‘Sarah who?’

This conversation wasn’t going at all as smoothly as she had hoped, and she was glad she was out in the hallway and didn’t have an audience to her embarrassment. The man on the other end of the telephone line had the finesse of a bulldozer! Although he probably had a point: Garrett Kingham probably knew a hundred women named Sarah—all of them intimately.

‘Sarah—–’ She hesitated. If she said Sarah Croft then Garrett probably wouldn’t realise who she was; she doubted he had troubled himself to learn that his once-sister-in-law had been married and divorced since they had last met. ‘Sarah Harvey,’ she decided firmly. ‘Could you tell him Jason is with us, and that—–’

‘You’ve got the kid?’ The gravelly voice was instantly alert, making Sarah wonder if she could possibly have underestimated his intelligence just because she didn’t like the sound of his voice.

She bristled indignantly. ‘His name is Jason. And yes, he’s with us. I wanted to—–’

What do you want?’ the man growled.

Sarah gave a start at the aggression. ‘If you would just let me finish speaking instead of—–’

‘I think I should warn you that you aren’t being clever, that the kid’s old man is angry, very angry, so if you—–’

‘No more angry than I am, let me assure you,’ she snapped furiously. ‘Now would you kindly tell Mr Kingham that Jason is with us, and that if he wants him he’s going to have to come here and get him!’ She slammed the receiver down, glaring at it indignantly, as if it were its fault she had just been spoken to so rudely. She was shaking because she was so angry, had never been spoken to in that aggressively rude way before.

Jason looked up at her searchingly as she went back into the lounge with controlled violence, pacing the room, still too angry to sit down. ‘What happened?’ he finally asked wearily.

Her eyes blazed with fiery blue sparks as she turned to face him. ‘I’ve just spoken to the rudest man—–’

‘Dad?’ He looked anxious. ‘But he isn’t supposed to be back—–’

‘It certainly wasn’t your father,’ she snapped. ‘If it had been I would have known how to deal with him. This man sounded like an all-in-wrestler and heavy-weight boxer rolled into one—–’

‘Dennis,’ Jason said knowingly.

Dennis?’ she repeated incredulously, trying to see the owner of that voice answering to such a name—and failing. Killer, sounded more appropriate! But he must have been a baby once; how could his mother be expected to know he would grow up to resemble a gorilla?

‘What did he say to you?’ Jason’s eyes were narrowed questioningly.

She was about to launch into a word-for-word account of the conversation when she remembered what Dennis had said about Garrett being very angry concerning Jason’s disappearance. She had no idea when Garrett was going to come for his son, and she didn’t see why Jason should be in a state of apprehension until he did deign to do so.

‘I just didn’t like his manner,’ she avoided. ‘But he said he would let your father know you’re staying with us.’

Jason frowned. ‘He didn’t say anything else?’

She gave a rueful smile. ‘I’m afraid I didn’t give him chance to; I slammed the phone down!’

Jason raised amused brows. ‘I bet Dennis just loved that!’

‘I really couldn’t give a—care less about what Dennis loves,’ she dismissed. ‘Now, how about the two of you helping me get a meal ready, and then we can all sit down and have a chat?’

They had fun all crowded together in the kitchen, tripping over each other most of the time. Jason was a little uncertain what to do at first, which reminded Sarah that he probably didn’t do any of these things for himself at home, that Garrett Kingham probably had a houseful of servants to do things for them. Jason seemed to find it all the more fun because of that.

It was an enjoyable meal, her father in his element with his grandson there, the two of them managing to draw out more information about Jason’s life with his father without being too obvious about it. He certainly didn’t sound like an underprivileged child, but his visit here today meant he obviously felt something was missing from his life. Sarah only hoped Garrett Kingham realised that was his reason for coming here before venting his ‘anger’ on anyone.

If Jason found their cottage cramped after the spacious luxury he was used to he didn’t show it, and was already sleeping like a baby by the time Sarah checked on him on the way to her own bed. Her father had gone up to his room at the same time Jason had, mainly, Sarah was sure, because he didn’t want any more lectures on how irresponsible his behaviour had been concerning Jason. Jason had acted impetuously, but her father had known better than to agree without first consulting Garrett, and he knew it; Sarah considered she had said enough on the subject to make him realise that.

She smiled indulgently as she prepared for bed. Her father really was incorrigible! He—–She fastened her robe over her cotton pyjamas as she heard the sound of a car stopping outside; it was almost midnight!

It was a clear night, and silhouetted against the moonlight was the tall figure of a man with silver-blond hair. Garrett Kingham…

.

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