Ivory Innocence

Ivory Innocence by Susan Stevens Read Free Book Online

Book: Ivory Innocence by Susan Stevens Read Free Book Online
Authors: Susan Stevens
book down and leapt to her feet.
    "I don't want to read it! Anyway, it's Sunday. Nobody has school on Sunday. You can't make me—" She stopped short, suddenly dropping to the ground with her eyes on the house.
    Glancing round, Ivory saw three people coming onto the terrace: Matthew, a redheaded girl wearing a brief wraparound dress, and behind them a young man whose likeness to the girl marked them as brother and sister, though his hair was darker.
    "Oh, hell!" Janey muttered, shocking Ivory. "It's Carla."
    "You mustn't use such language," Ivory gasped. "Where on earth did you learn that?"
    Janey merely stared at her with mute defiance.
    Sighing, Ivory saw that Matthew had not headed for the poolside as she had thought but was bringing the visitors toward the lime tree. She scrambled to her feet, brushing at the seat of her jeans, and Janey dodged away to run behind the one-story wing where the Barneses had their private accommodation.
    "I see my daughter's being her usual sociable self," Matthew said with a wry smile and a disapproving glance at her jeans. "Miss Andersen, I'd like you to meet Carla Forsythe and her brother Corin. Our neighbors, in a manner of speaking."
    Wondering why the name Forsythe rang a distant bell in her mind, Ivory shook hands. The redheaded Carla gave her a withering look from green eyes, but her brother smiled warmly, holding Ivory's hand longer than was necessary.
    "Good grief, Matthew," he said. "Nannies didn't look like this in my day. Miss Andersen, I'm delighted to meet you. When may I enroll in classes?"
    "Don't be ridiculous, Corin!" Carla snapped. "I thought we were here for a swim. Matthew, darling, do change your mind and have a dip. Don't be an old bear."
    She drew Matthew away, and Ivory watched them go. They made an attractive couple, Carla clinging tightly to the tall man's arm, her bright hair almost brushing his shoulder.
    "I only wish we had a pool at the Manor," Corin said, and shrugged. "Ah, well. See you later, Miss Andersen."
    As he strolled off toward the pool, Ivory saw his sister throw off her wrap dress to reveal her golden body clad in the tiniest triangles of white material. The costume made Ivory's bikini seem like a coverall, and she was sure that Carla's swimsuit would be transparent when wet. Unwilling to be a spectator to what was obviously a brazen invitation scene, Ivory went in search of Janey, feeling irritable.
    The little girl stood on the front drive, viciously digging a deep rut in the gravel with the scuffed toe of her shoe. The fact that the gravel was showering over the red sports car that stood on the drive appeared coincidental, but Ivory knew it was not.
    "Janey, stop that at once! You'll scratch the car. And you're ruining the drive when Mr. Barnes spent all morning raking it."
    Janey stopped her antics, but threw back her head and scowled. "I don't care. I hate her!"
    "Janey." Ivory crouched down beside the child, an arm about the thin waist. "It's no good saying you hate people. If she's your Daddy's friend—"
    "She's after him," Janey declared. "Everywhere we go, she turns up. She even came out to Australia once."
    "Friends do visit each other," Ivory said, but she wondered exactly what Janey meant and where she had heard expressions like "after him" spoken in such meaningful adult tones.
    "I saw him kissing her!" Janey said. "On the verandah, at Wallaroola station. I was supposed to be asleep, but I saw them. And she lives near here. That's why Daddy came, so he could be near Carla."
    Ivory stood up, a frown creasing her brow. Surely Matthew had not been having a relationship with Carla before his wife died. But why not—he was a Kendrake, wasn't he? The Kendrakes cared for nothing and no one. Bitter thoughts filled her mind… on account of Janey, and of Matthew's dead wife, who had been betrayed.
    To calm Janey down, she took her for a walk in the woods that cloaked the edges of the grounds. She pointed out the different flowers and trees,

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