In Separate Bedrooms(5)

By: Carole Mortimer


Contrarily, Mattie hoped for no such thing. Although, in the circumstances, she knew it was a pretty useless hope.

‘Probably next weekend—if you do decide to bring Harry to us,’ she dismissed briskly. ‘Now, if you will excuse me …?’ She looked at him pointedly as he still blocked her exit.

‘Certainly.’ He stepped neatly aside.

Mattie couldn’t get out of the room fast enough. Her chest felt as if it were going to explode from lack of air.

So that was Jack Beauchamp.

Well, he was good-looking enough, she would give him that. Charming too, if you ignored all that staring he did. Her mother appeared to like him too. But then, her mother liked and trusted nearly everyone, even the young kennel-maid who had stolen money from her the previous year, so that was no recommendation, either.

But how could Mattie possibly have even guessed that her leaving those cards for The Woofdorf all over the offices of JB Industries would result in the man himself turning up here to board his dog over the Easter weekend? She couldn’t, came the obvious answer.

But she was certainly going to have some explaining to do to her mother once Jack Beauchamp had left!

Because the man she had described to her mother earlier as a womaniser and a greedy pig—and even he had suggested, albeit mockingly—that such a man should be taken out into the streets and publicly whipped, was none other than Jack Beauchamp himself!





CHAPTER TWO


‘WHAT an absolutely charming man,’ Mattie’s mother turned from waving to Jack as he drove away in the red sports car a little time later.

Mattie had very good reason for thinking otherwise. And, in all fairness to her mother, Mattie thought, perhaps she ought to tell her what those reasons were.

‘So natural and friendly, despite his obvious wealth. No side to him, as your grandfather would have said,’ Diana added affectionately. ‘Anyway, he’s booked Harry in for four days over the Easter holiday, so we’re almost fully booked up now for that period. I have to admit—Mattie, what is it?’ She suddenly seemed to become aware of her daughter’s less-than-enthusiastic expression.

Confirming that Mattie looked as sick as she felt! Because only an hour ago she had been describing that charming man in a totally different way to her mother. Not that Mattie went back on one single thing she had previously said about Jack Beauchamp, she just knew she wouldn’t be able to leave her mother in ignorance as to his identity.

She drew in a deep breath. ‘I had no idea you pronounced the name Beauchamp as Beecham,’ she began slowly. ‘If I had I—well, I—’ She would have what? No matter how you pronounced the man’s name, he was still everything she had said he was; not only did he have four girlfriends that she already knew about, but it turned out he had a family of his own too!

‘Mattie …?’ Her mother frowned at her suspiciously. ‘Mattie, what have you done?’ she prompted warily.

‘Done?’ Mattie repeated, her voice slightly higher than usual, then clearing her throat to bring it down in tone. ‘What makes you think I’ve done something?’ she said over-brightly, deciding that coming clean to her mother wasn’t going to be easy to do, after all.

‘Because I know you too well, Mattie,’ her mother admitted worriedly. ‘I also know that you’ve been getting into one scrape or another all your life … What does it matter how you pronounce Jack Beauchamp’s name?’ she asked slowly.

It mattered a lot when you glanced in your mother’s appointment book for today and saw no connection between the name Jack Beecham—her mother had obviously spelt the name as it had been spoken to her over the telephone—and Jonathan Beauchamp, of JB Industries!

‘It doesn’t,’ she sighed. ‘Not really. But— Oh, Mum, you’re right; I’ve done something awful!’ She gave a pained grimace.

And when Jack Beauchamp found out exactly what it was she had done he was unlikely to bring his dog anywhere near her mother’s boarding-kennels!

‘Do you want to talk about it?’ her mother pressed gently, accustomed over the years to her daughter’s acts of impetuosity—followed by Mattie’s inevitable feelings of regret.

Talking about it was the very last thing Mattie wanted to do! But she really didn’t have a choice in this case. ‘I suppose I’ll have to.’ She sighed heavily.

‘Does it merit coffee or hot chocolate?’ her mother probed; in the past, coffee had always been chosen for a minor indiscretion, hot chocolate for a really major one!

Mattie looked forlorn. ‘In all honesty, I think this one may call for a glass of whisky!’