Ivory Innocence

Ivory Innocence by Susan Stevens Read Free Book Online Page A

Book: Ivory Innocence by Susan Stevens Read Free Book Online
Authors: Susan Stevens
using the walk as a subtle lesson, and she thought Janey had forgotten her temper until they returned to the house, when the child refused to go anywhere near the back lawns. Instead she dragged Ivory into the kitchen, where Mrs. Barnes was busy washing vegetables.
    "I made some fresh lemonade this morning," the housekeeper said. "It's in the fridge. Help yourselves. And, Miss Andersen, would you mind putting some in that big glass jug, with some ice, and taking it out to the visitors, please? They'll be glad of a cold drink, I expect."
    Ivory prepared the jug, added tinkling ice and put it on a tray with three tall glasses. "Coming, Janey?"
    The child shook her head, so Ivory went alone to the poolside where Corin sat beneath the sunshade wearing a pair of blue trunks. He was a little overweight, and his skin glowed pink in patches. On the edge of the pool his sister sat dabbling her feet in the water and watching as Matthew swam with effortless power, drops of water sparkling from his brown arms. So he had let himself be persuaded, Ivory thought darkly.
    "Miss Andersen, you're a mind reader," Corin said with a grin as she set the tray on the white table. "How did you know I was dying of thirst?"
    "I'll have one, too!" Carla called peremptorily. "Only put some vodka in mine."
    "Her majesty commands," Corin said drily. "Anyone would think she was already mistress here."
    The jug seemed to slip in Ivory's hand, slopping lemonade onto the tray. "Mistress? How do you mean?"
    "Lady of the manor. That's what she'll be when she marries Matthew."
    "I'll get the vodka," Ivory said, and hurried away. Matthew couldn't marry that girl! she told herself furiously, startled by the stab of jealousy that ran through her. Jealousy? Ridiculous! It was Janey she was concerned for. Didn't Matthew know what marriage to Carla might do to his daughter?
    When she returned with the bottle of vodka, it was obvious that some altercation had taken place. Carla sat slumped opposite her brother with a childish scowl, and Matthew looked like a storm cloud. He stood by the table wearing a pair of brief white shorts that made his tan look even darker, his well-muscled body still glistening wet and his hair plastered round a grim, set face.
    "Thank you, Ivory," he said quietly, taking the bottle from her. His fingers brushed hers, sending a jolt-like an electric shock up her arm. With one twist of his wrist he undid the cap and poured nearly a quarter of the contents into a glass, adding a dash of lemonade. "Is that about the right strength?"
    "Darling," Carla purred. "You're being beastly. How was I to know your new little nanny was too precious to walk to the house and back? A servant is a servant, as far as I'm concerned."
    "But do you have to drink alcohol at this hour?" Matthew returned tightly.
    Ivory smiled bitterly to herself. For one mad moment she had thought he was angry on her account, but actually he was annoyed by Carla's drinking habits. It wouldn't do to have the lady of the manor addicted to alcohol.
    The redhead pouted seductively. "Sorry, darling. But it's not really early. It's almost five o'clock. Share some with me, yes?" She poured half the contents of her glass into Matthew's and leaned sinuously across to add some to Corin's drink, managing to display an alarming amount of cleavage. "Let's all have some. Does nanny want to join us? Oh, dear, we're short of a glass. Or will you take it straight from the bottle, Miss Andersen?"
    "I wouldn't dream of robbing you of any," Ivory said sweetly, and turned on her heel to walk unhurriedly away. She heard Corin chuckle behind her.
    That evening, when the gong sounded at seven forty-five, Ivory did not go down at once but waited until eight o'clock. Then she made her way to the dining room dressed in a simple skirt and blouse. Matthew was waiting by the door. His blue eyes narrowed as he watched her approach. Though he was fully dressed, she could not help remembering the darkly tanned skin

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