Anne Mather

Anne Mather by Sanja Read Free Book Online Page A

Book: Anne Mather by Sanja Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sanja
own specifications.'
    Drawing out his keys, he opened the doors and they stepped into a pile-carpeted hallway. Caroline's feet sank deep into the carpet and she stared about her in wonderment. If the mews cottage had been luxurious, this place was doubly so. The warmth of the central heating met you at your entrance while the air was kept fresh by a conditioning system.
    The hall was wide and high and a crystal chandelier hung above them. A fan-shaped staircase lay ahead of them leading to the upper regions of the house and everywhere was carpeted in this heather-mixture coloured pile. The walls depicted hunting scenes in hand-painted murals, and Caroline felt sure she would never know which of the numerous doors opening off the hall opened into where.
    Then a door at the far end of the hall opened and a middle-aged woman came hurrying through, a spaniel at her heels. The spaniel made a beeline for Adam, barking excitedly and wagging its short tail.
    'Meet Mrs Jones and Nero,' said Adam, laughing at Caroline. 'Mrs Jones, this is Miss Sinclair.'
    'How do you do, miss,' smiled the motherly little woman. 'And what a surprise this is,' she exclaimed, looking at Adam indulgently. 'But it's very glad we are to see you again, sir. Jones is chopping logs over at the woodshed just now, but he'll be back directly if you want to see him.'
    'That's all right, Mrs Jones,' said Adam, removing his overcoat.
    'The fire is lit in the lounge, just in case you wanted it,' went on Mrs Jones. 'If you'd like to go in there I'll bring you some tea just as soon as the kettle boils.'
    Mrs Jones was round and fat and jolly, and Caroline took an immediate liking to her. As for Nero, he was a bundle of mischief and pranced round them as they entered the lounge. A big log fire burned in the grate and the room looked cosily inviting. Here the carpet changed to moss green while the low couches and armchairs were upholstered in dark red brocade. The wide windows overlooked the rear of the house where green lawns stretched down to a large swimming pool which had been emptied for the winter. Beyond the pool were tennis courts, but Adam drew the rich curtains across the windows as it was already quite dark, and switched on a tall standard lamp, thus curtailing Caroline's gaze.
    'This is the only room in the house where there is an open fire,' he remarked as she seated herself on one of the couches near the fire. 'It's simply that I enjoy seeing a real fire now and again.'
    'Oh, so do I,' agreed Caroline, a sense of well-being stealing over her.
    Adam came to sit beside her, and Caroline wondered whether he had any idea of the effect he had on her. She thought gloomily that he probably considered her simply as a rather nice child to whom he was giving a treat.
    He stretched out his legs towards the blaze lazily and smiled at her.
    'This is the life,' he remarked, lighting two cigarettes and handing her one. 'Away from big business, trusts, high finance, land speculation. . .' He groaned and closed his eyes.
    Caroline smiled, looking intently at him. It was hard to conceive that on this man the livelihoods of several hundred employees rested. Just how many people depended upon his judgement? The Steinbeck Building housed a lot of different companies all owned by the Steinbeck Corporation and each one relied to a certain extent on Adam Steinbeck. He was the chairman of the board, he had the deciding vote if such a thing was necessary and he was responsible if there were any mistakes. She wished she had the courage to move closer to him and massage his temples. Aunt Agnes used to like her to do that; she said it soothed away all her tension.
    Suddenly there was a tap at the door and Mrs Jones entered with a tray of tea, sandwiches and hot homemade scones.
    Adam opened his eyes and sat up reluctantly. 'Thank you, Mrs Jones. Do you think we could have dinner at about seven-thirty?'
    'Surely,' she replied with a twinkle in her eye. 'Now, you have a nice hot scone, and

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