Second Chance with the Millionaire(5)

By: Penny Jordan

Despite all these sensible thoughts Lucy could not quite stifle the apprehension burgeoning to life inside her. As yet they had no idea when Saul would arrive, but she was being meticulous about vacating the Manor just as quickly as she could. She was also being meticulous about what she took with her—only the furniture which had been her mother’s and nothing more.

Fortunately the Dower House was furnished, although somewhat haphazardly as up until quite recently it had been tenanted, but no doubt the furniture that had been her mother’s would make it seem more like home.

With the help of Mrs Isaacs, their daily, Lucy had already cleaned the house from top to bottom. Nearly all the rooms needed redecorating and she had promised herself that this was a task she would tackle just as soon as she had time. With the income from the trust funds her father had established for Oliver and Tara they would be able to manage financially—just about. Oliver’s school fees would take a large slice of these funds, but Fanny had been adamant that her son must go to prep school at the start of the new term, as had been planned.

The school which had been chosen was George Martin’s old school, and even though privately Lucy thought it was almost an extravagance to pay out such a large sum of money annually just so that Oliver could be educated at her father’s old school, she had not had the heart to oppose Fanny.

It was her opinion that of the two of them Tara was the cleverer and inwardly she was determined that when the time came Tara would somehow be given the same opportunities as her brother. Fortunately at the moment that was one problem which could be shelved, unlike the jumble of packing cases now littering the ballroom floor.

She and Mrs Isaacs had brought them here mainly because of the large area of empty floor space, and tomorrow morning Mr Isaacs and his two large sons were going to drive up from the village with their van and spend the day transporting the cases over to the Dower House.

From the ballroom window it was possible to look right across the park that surrounded the house and Lucy caught her lip between her teeth as she glanced at the view. They had almost the same view from the Dower House, which was surrounded by a very pleasant garden.

With hindsight Lucy could recognise that her father’s decision to divorce the Dower House and a certain amount of land from the main house had probably originated with Oliver’s birth; even then he must have been planning to do everything he could for his illegitimate child, she thought wryly. But, in doing so, there was no getting away from the fact that he had stripped the Manor of anything that might usefully have been sold to provide its new owner with funds. The farmlands had now all gone, the last few acres having been sold just prior to her father’s death.

Those paintings which had not been sold previously to cover death duties had been auctioned at Sotheby’s eighteen months ago, along with the few good antiques they had left.

Now the house had a forlorn, neglected air, almost an air of desolation and desertion. What on earth Saul would do with the place she had no idea. Sell it most likely; she could not see how he could do anything else.

Sighing faintly she turned away from the view and surveyed the packing cases. She had written in chalk on each one what it contained, meticulously refusing to pack the Meissen dinner service or what was left of the family silver. Those went with the house and she was determined that they would stay with it.

Whatever wealth the Martin family had once possessed from trade and a sugar planation in the West Indies had been dissipated by the time of the First World War, and since then the family had survived by gradually selling off its assets. It was true that her father had held several directorships which had brought in a reasonable income, but the house simply devoured money.

The same Martin who had added the Georgian frontage to the house had also commissioned the Dower House, and its Georgian elegance had always appealed to Lucy. She knew their solicitor found it strange that it had been left to her and not to Fanny, but Lucy understood the reason why.

Her father had thought that the security of the family would be safer in her hands than Fanny’s and indeed her stepmother was, in some ways, very much another child. She had leaned on George Martin during their marriage and Lucy suspected that now she would lean on her.

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