- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
She had barely slept, and, getting up at the crack of dawn, she had called her mother, Liz. Reassured she was fine, Jules had spent the past few hours in a state of nervous anticipation. Unable to eat breakfast, she had consumed numerous cups of coffee, her whole attention focused on the appointment she had to keep at twelve.
She glanced at the slim gold watch on her wrist - almost noon. Time to keep her appointment with Randolfo Carducci. The name alone was enough to make her nervous, but realistically she knew as the executor of her father's will he was her last hope.
Personally she would rather live in abject poverty than take a penny from her father's estate, she thought, straightening her slender shoulders and walking into the marble foyer of the building. But she was not prepared to risk the chances of her mother making a full recovery from her breast cancer operation for the sake of a few thousand pounds.
In Jules' mind her father owed her mum that much.
It had been the age-old story. Liz, as a naive eighteen-year-old, had met and fallen madly in love with Carlos Diez at a polo match in the Cotswolds; he had been a visiting Chilean polo player and a much older man. Liz had been pregnant and married within months, and Jules, born in England, was the result. Carlos had continued on the polo circuit and when he had finally returned to take mother and baby back to his ranch in Chile, the marriage had not lasted six months.
Her mum had confided in Jules, when her own youthful engagement had broken up, that her charming husband had freely admitted he'd had a mistress in Santiago, and he'd had no intention of remaining celibate while travelling the world playing polo. Liz had returned to England with her baby. She had basically run away and a quick divorce had followed.
Jules did not blame her mum. Her own experience with her father had been a disaster. Offered a holiday in Chile at the age of fourteen, she had leapt at the chance of meeting a dad she had never seen since she was a baby, and had no memory of. Immediately she had developed an enormous crush on the neighbouring rancher's son, twenty-year-old Enrique Eiga. Encouraged by her father, she had visited Chile each summer and had been engaged at seventeen and set to marry Enrique at eighteen before she had woken up to reality and broken the whole thing off. She had never been back to Chile or spoken to her father in the seven years since, and she would not be here now if it weren't for her mother.
Reception lay through a set of wide glass doors, and she caught a glimpse of her reflection as she passed through them, and held her head a little higher. Not bad, she told herself. Jules had opted to wear a cream knee-length linen skirt, with a loosely tailored short-sleeved linen jacket to match. She had woven her long hair into a French braid, and with the addition of fine-heeled sandals lending height to her average five feet five she thought she looked smart and businesslike.
The receptionist was a young man, and his appreciative glance swept over her as she stated her business.
"Señor Carducci is expecting you.' He smiled and added in Spanish, "Lucky dog," unaware Jules understood, and her lips twitched as he ushered her into an elevator adding, "His secretary will meet you and escort you to his office suite."
Jules said, "Thank you," with a smile. It never ceased to puzzle her why men seemed to find her attractive. After all, because she was a chef and with her mother ran a successful bakery, her figure was more lush than lean, and so she dressed to disguise the fact. Her features were even, and she had inherited her mother's pale complexion, and large, unusually brilliant green eyes, but her hair revealed her mixed parentage, a dark auburn with a tendency to curl wildly unless strictly controlled.
It was a short journey, two floors, but long enough for Jules suddenly to be stricken with another attack of nerves. The elevator door slid open and she stepped into a deeply carpeted hall, and utter silence.
Jules looked around. There was no secretary in sight, and only one door as far as she could see, directly opposite the elevator. She waited, minutes passed and another glance at her watch showed it was past twelve. Was Carducci playing some kind of diabolic mind game? She wouldn't put it past him, and in a way she didn't blame him. He had called her out of the blue five months ago and proposed she reconcile with her father; three more calls had followed and she had ignored his every suggestion.
Mainly because, by an appalling coincidence, it had been at the same time as her mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Jules had received the first call from Randolfo Carducci the week before her mother's operation had been scheduled. A call telling her that her father had a slight heart attack, nothing serious, he was not in hospital, but Randolfo thought Jules should maybe visit, or at least call her father. In his opinion it was time father and daughter buried their grievances and made up.
She had been so surprised at hearing a voice from the past that she had said she would try, and the call had ended amicably.
The next call had been on the eve of her mother's operation. Carducci had told her that her father had another much more serious attack, and was hospitalised, and he had arranged a flight for her from Heathrow to Santiago at ten the following morning. The ticket was waiting for her at the airport.
Jules had abruptly turned his offer down, as she had wanted to be at her mother's side when she had her operation. The conversation had ended far from amicably. The third call had been over a week later, to inform her father was dead, and the date of the funeral had been brutally blunt. Still Jules had declined to attend, more worried about her mother's recovery ...
Jules knew how it must look to Carducci, a daughter not speaking to nor visiting her father and not turning up to his funeral! But perhaps when she explained the circumstances he would be reasonable.
Still the thought of seeing him again filled her with unease. Randolfo had been staying at the ranch when she had arrived as a teenager visiting her father for the first time. An Italian with business interests in South America, apparently he had visited the ranch the previous year at the request of his stepmother Ester. Ester was the sister of Jules' father and technically she supposed Rand was her cousin but no blood relation.
At twenty-seven he had already been a highly successful businessman, and engaged to a Chilean girl - the stunningly beautiful Maria. He had met Maria in Santiago when she had been singing in a nightclub and trying to make a name for herself in the music business. Coincidentally it had turned out that her mother had lived and worked as the cook on the Eiga ranch, next door to the Diez ranch that Randolfo visited.
To the young Jules he had seemed a different generation altogether, too uptight to be a friend - an acquaintance at best, and a disapproving adult at worst. Personally she had been unable to imagine what the young, trendy Maria had seen in him. But later she had found out ...
Excerpted from His Inherited Bride by Jacqueline Baird Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted September 16, 2013
Posted November 22, 2010
No text was provided for this review.