A Pretend Engagement

A Pretend Engagement by Jessica Steele Read Free Book Online

Book: A Pretend Engagement by Jessica Steele Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jessica Steele
why wouldn't he? Their parents had owned it. Leon Beaumont opened his mouth to ask another question she was sure she wouldn't want to answer either, but she butted in first. It made a change.

    `Talking of staying, how long were you thinking of staying on here?' she asked, and felt herself go a touch pink. She saw his glance on her delicate colouring, saw his glance go to what had once been described as a very kissable mouth, and she hated him when he ignored her question and made an observation instead.

    `You're looking guilty about something?' he questioned grimly. `What have you done?"

    'Nothing!' she denied hotly. `Honestly. you're the most, most...' she got stuck for a word `...most I've ever met!' Oddly then, his lips twitched, as though she amused him.

    'Though his smile never made it. Abruptly she dragged her eyes from his well- shaped mouth. 'it was a quite innocent question,' she defended. 'I like to know where I am. If I have some idea of how long you intend to be here, then I'll have some idea of what to do with regard to the catering arrangements.' She was starting to feel a fool. `Just how long are you staying?' she demanded. As if she expected an answer! She didn't get one.

    `I' m on holiday,' was as much as he revealed. And that annoyed her.

    `It's November! Why can't you holiday abroad like everybody else?' she snapped, exasperated.

    `I've done the "abroad" bit,' he answered, and while she was wondering what the penalty was for fratricide she felt like murdering her brother-Beaumont went silkily on, `You've got something against my holidaying here'

    Who am I to complain? I'm only the skivvy! This was helping Johnny keep his job? `No, of course not,' she swallowed her ire. `I feel very lucky that Johnny...' Bother, she should have said John. Too late now." Er -Johnny Metcalfe thought of me when he wanted emergency-cover. It's just that I should hate to let him down should a job offer come before your-um-holiday is over. Naturally I'd honour my contract with John Metcalfe first. He was insistent that I didn't let you down...' Oh, grief, was she laying on John Metcalfe's efficient reliability too thickly? 'There's more bacon there if you'd like...'

    `You sound as if you're fond of him, as if you'd do anything for him?'

    Varnie had had quite enough of Beaumont' observations. `Well, I've always found him to be a man of the highest integrity.' She found she was spreading more on- grief, she was sounding like a talking reference.

    `You're in love with him?' Blunt, to the point. `No, I'm not!' she denied, realizing that perhaps she had been singing Johnny's praises a little too highly. She tried for the middle ground. `He's a very nice person, that's all, and I'm very fond of him.'

    `But not in love with him?'

    Varnie gave him an exasperated look. `I said not!' she exploded. And, before she could stop herself, `And, contrary to your opinion that I might fancy you-I'm off men, quite severely. right now.' And, with barely veiled innuendo. `In particular men to whom the state of marriage means nothing!' There, pick the bones out on that!

     

    He did. But to her further annoyance chose not to see her remarks as a dig at him for his disgraceful goings-on-that woman-what was her name?-Antonia King-was still living with her husband, for goodness' sake. `Some man refused to marry you?' Beaumont leaned back in his chair to enquire coolly.

     

    Varnie sent him a filthy look for his trouble. She didn't mean her! She meant him! `It didn't get that far,' she erupted. `I found out he was married!' She looked away in disgust. Had she really openly just told Leon Beaumont that'? For goodness' sake! Okay, she accepted that to be a successful businessman probably meant having ,in investigative mind, an enquiring mind, a mind that determined to find out that which he did not know. But...

     

    He proved it. `You dumped him`?' Honestly, this man! `Quicker than that!' she snapped. And, having had, quite sufficient of his

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