The Ultimate Surrender(2)

By: Penny Jordan

And it hadn’t helped either that in those early days of her marriage Marcus had been so plainly disapproving of her youth and the fact that she and Richard had married so quickly. But, although she had been sensitively aware of Marcus’s disapproval of their marriage, Polly had refused to let either him or Richard see it or guess how much it hurt her—for Richard’s sake.

Right from the start, when they had met, Polly had sensed how much his older cousin’s approval meant to Richard. Both boys had gone to the same school and had grown up more as brothers than cousins—and since Richard was the younger of the two of them, if only by some eighteen months, it was perhaps natural that he should have put Marcus on something of a pedestal.

Because of her own upbringing—she had been orphaned at four and brought up by her father’s sister and her husband—Polly had been acutely conscious of not wanting to do anything that might cause a rift between the two cousins. If Marcus’s approval was important to her darling, beloved, wonderful Richard, then she was certainly not going to do anything to prejudice it, even if that meant keeping her own unhappiness about the way Marcus was reacting to their marriage to herself.

‘For God’s sake, Rick, she’s nothing but a baby,’ she heard Marcus expostulating to her husband when neither of them was aware that she could hear them.

‘She’s adorable and I love her to bits,’ she heard Richard responding happily to his cousin.

Marcus sighed, and she was just able to imagine the tight, reined-in look of irritation that must be on his darkly handsome face. It was hard to believe that someone like Marcus could ever understand how it felt to be as deeply in love as she and Richard were with one another.

After their marriage she moved into the small flat that Richard was renting—a tiny place, but with an attic with that all-important north-facing light that artists valued so much. Because Richard was a presently struggling and as yet unknown young artist, who she just knew was one day going to be so famous…and rich…

Right then they were just about managing on the small allowance Richard got from his parents plus the little bits of money he earned from commissions—mostly from his parents’ friends. And then, of course, there was the money she earned as a secretary. It wasn’t a lot but it was enough…just…and when Richard and Marcus sold Fraser House…

And then it happened…an accident…a trick of fate. During the late wedding gift Marcus had given them—a weekend stay in a very, very luxurious country house hotel—either because the shellfish had not been quite as fresh as they should have been or she had imbibed too much champagne, or both, there was a night when Polly was violently ill. Richard was so generously sweet and loving in the way he looked after her—and soon after she was feeling well again…

But a short time later she totally disgraced herself by dashing into the tiny bathroom of their flat, right past Marcus, who had called to see Richard about the problems they were having in finding a buyer for Fraser House, and it was Marcus who first pinpointed the potential cause of her malaise by announcing to Richard in sharp tones of condemnation, ‘My God, Rick, if she’s pregnant…’


As the tears of nausea and shock filled her eyes Polly started to shake with anxiety.

What would they do if Marcus was right? She and Richard couldn’t afford a baby. They could barely afford to support themselves.

She was scarcely able to touch a mouthful of the special meal she had prepared for Marcus—trying out ambitious new recipes was her hobby. Her aunt was a good cook, and with neither of her own daughters remotely interested in learning her culinary skills she had concentrated on passing them on to her eagerly interested niece.

Naively, perhaps, Polly had never considered the possibility of becoming pregnant—at least not so soon.

Whilst she was in the kitchen she could hear the two men talking together, their voices carrying to where she was working.

‘For God’s sake, Rick,’ she heard Marcus demanding sharply, ‘what the hell were you thinking about? She’s little more than a baby herself…’

‘I wasn’t thinking…You don’t when you’re in love,’ she heard Richard responding simply.

‘In love!’ Marcus almost snarled. ‘You might be that but I doubt that either of you knows what real love is all about.’

He left shortly afterwards, ignoring the cheek she timidly offered him to kiss, his shark-grey eyes almost black with the intensity of his anger.

‘I don’t think that Marcus likes me very much,’ she forced herself to confess to Richard a little later. They were sitting on their small shabby sofa and Richard was trying to playfully spoon-feed her what was left of the rich chestnut roulade she had served the men for their pudding. Just the smell of it turned her stomach, never mind what the taste would do, but at this stage she was still reluctant to confront the truth.

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