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Welcome to the intensely emotional world of

Margaret Way

where rugged, brooding bachelors meet their match in the burning heart of Australia …

Praise for the author

“Margaret Way delivers … vividly written, dramatic stories.”

—RT Book Reviews

“With climactic scenes, dramatic imagery and bold characters, Margaret Way makes the Outback come alive.”

—RT Book Reviews

An extremely handsome man entered the boardroom.

Aquiline nose—perfect to look down on people—finely chiseled aristocratic features, thick jet-black hair with a natural wave, extraordinary eyes the color of blue flame: immediate impact that would linger for a long time. He stood well over six feet, and was very elegantly dressed. A tailor’s dream. So sophisticated was his appearance it held them all speechless for a while.

But none was more transfixed than Cate.

Time collapsed. How vivid was memory! How powerful was the past!

For a fleeting moment she felt her breathing had stopped. Then, as air came back into her lungs, she knew such fright she thought she had actually fainted while still remaining conscious. Her whole body was shaking, her mind sliding out of kilter.

This is it, she thought.

The heavens had shifted. She knew he had taken her in at once.

Lord Julian Ashton Carlisle, Fifth Baron Wyndham.

The father of her child.

About the Author

MARGARET WAY, a definite Leo, was born and raised in the subtropical river city of Brisbane, capital of the Sunshine State of Queensland, Australia. A Conservatorium-trained pianist, teacher, accompanist and vocal coach, she found her musical career came to an unexpected end when she took up writing—initially as a fun thing to do. She currently lives in a harborside apartment at beautiful Raby Bay, a thirty-minute drive from the state capital, where she loves dining alfresco on her plant-filled balcony, overlooking a translucent green marina filled with all manner of pleasure craft: from motor cruisers costing millions of dollars, and big, graceful yachts with carved masts standing tall against the cloudless blue sky, to little bay runabouts. No one and nothing is in a mad rush, and she finds the laid-back village atmosphere very conducive to her writing. With well over one hundred books to her credit, she still believes her best is yet to come.

The

English Lord’s

Secret Son

Margaret Way

The English Lord's Secret Son - fb3_img_img_8e7628c8-a6b4-5a16-92c0-e97a0a4deec2.png

www.millsandboon.co.uk

CHAPTER ONE

SEVEN-YEAR-OLD Jules slapped a fist into his palm as Cate nosed the Beemer into the parking space vacated by a runabout so compact it could fit into the owner’s pocket.

“Good one, Mum,” he whooped.

“Talk about perfect timing!” Cate Hamilton had come to rely on her parking skills. At times like this they proved invaluable.

“That was ace!”

Ace had taken over from the battered awesome. Jules always liked to keep a pace ahead.

“Noah really looks up to you, Mum.” It was a source of pride to him. Noah, his best friend, was seriously impressed by Cate’s driving. Noah’s mother, a nice lady, had the really scary knack of either side swiping vehicles or on occasions reversing into them. She should have had a number plate bearing the warning: WATCH OUT. There were always scrapes and dents on their silver Volvo. Repairs were carried out. Back to Square One. It was a pattern pretty well set. Noah said his mother didn’t know how to explain it. His father had a hard time understanding it as well.

So did Cate. She often had coffee with Noah’s mother, who was a bright, intelligent woman, right on the ball, apart from her driving habits. She switched off the ignition, eyeing the busy road. At this time of the morning there were cars everywhere, causing a worrying amount of chaos. There didn’t appear to be any order on the part of the drivers. She had even begun to question the safety of the pedestrian crossing. People appeared to be in such a desperate hurry these days. Where were they going? What was so important every nanosecond counted? Surely nothing could be more important than the safety of a child? The difficulty was, parking spots were at a premium for the junior school. Small children, even big children, didn’t leg it to school these days. They didn’t even bus it. They were driven to and fro by their parents. Different times, worrying times. Or maybe that perception was a beat up by a media who seized on anything when there was a dearth of stories.

A recent coverage featured an attempted snatching of a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl. Even the police had been sucked in for a while until a child psychologist in their ranks pointed out thirteen-year-old girls were known to have a burgeoning need for attention. Some were more demanding and more inventive than others. That particular young lady had a future writing fiction.

Cate glanced at her son’s glowing face. The most beautiful face in the whole wide world to her. Not only beautiful, Jules was smart, really smart. Her one and only child. Pure and innocent. Her sun, moon and stars. Cate relished the moment of real joy, lifting a hand to acknowledge a departing driver, another mother, who fluttered curling, separated fingers in response.

It was a beautiful day, so bright and full of promise. A great time to be alive. Scent of trees. Scent of flowers, the heat amplifying the myriad scents to incense. Tangy taste of salt off Sydney Harbour. The Harbour, the most beautiful natural harbour in the world, made a splendid contribution to Sydney’s scenic beauty. No wonder Sydney was regularly featured as one of the world’s most beautiful and liveable cities. Few cities could boast such a glorious environment, a dazzling blue and gold world, with hundreds of bays and beaches of white sands, magical coves and waterways for its citizens to enjoy. To Sydneysiders it was a privilege to live within easy distance of the sparkling Pacific Ocean. Even the trip to school was a heart-lifting experience.

The great jacaranda trees that lined Kingsley Avenue on both sides were in full bloom. She recalled as a student it was a superstition among them that if a jacaranda blossom fell on one’s head, one would pass one’s exams. A fanciful notion and, like all fanciful notions, not one to count on. Nothing in life was as simple as that. Blossoms fell indiscriminately on heads all the time. This morning there were circular lavender carpets around the trunks, with spent blossoms fanning out across the pavement and the road.

Cate turned off the ignition. Only a short time to go now before term was over. The long Christmas vacation lay ahead.

Christmas.

Out of the blue her mind gave way to memories. She could never predict when they would invade her consciousness, frame by frame, unstoppable now, near obscuring her vision. A moment before she had been celebrating life. Now was not the time to allow dark thoughts to kick in. Yet inexorably she found herself going back in time to a place she knew from bitter experience was no place to go. Christmas across the world where it snowed instead of rained mauve blossom; where snow blanketed roofs and gardens, and frosted the trees, their skeletal branches outlined in white. For all the frigid air it was a world transformed. A fairy land.

Another time. Another place …

She had turned eighteen, an innocent at large, at the happiest, most exciting time of her young life, when the road ahead offered nothing but promise. She had thought at the time her guardian angel had to be watching over her, because it was then she fell helplessly, hopelessly, in love. The miracle of Destiny. She had revelled in the magic for long dreamlike months before all her happiness had been cruelly snatched away.

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