SHE was not going to do the girly thing and burst into

tears, Jodie told herself, gritting her teeth. It might be

growing dark; she might be feeling sick with that familiar

stomach-churning fear that she had made a big

mistake — and about more than just the direction she

had taken in that last village she had passed through

what seemed like for ever ago; tonight might be the

night she and John should have been spending at their

romantic honeymoon hotel — their first night as husband

and wife…but she was not going to cry. Not

now, and in fact not ever, ever again over any man.

Not ever. Love was out of her life and out of her

vocabulary and it was going to stay out.

She winced as her small hire car lurched into a

deep rut in the road — a road which was definitely

climbing towards the mountains when it should have

been dropping down towards the sea.

Her cousin and his wife, her only close family since

her parents" death in a car accident when Jodie was

nineteen, had tried to dissuade her from coming to


"But everything’s paid for," she had reminded

them. "And besides…"

Besides, she wanted to be out of the country, and

she wanted to stay out of it for the next few weeks

during the build-up to John’s marriage to his new

fiance.e, Louise, who had taken Jodie’s place in his

heart, in his life, and in his future.

Not that she’d told her cousin David or Andrea, his

wife, about that part of her decision as yet. She knew

they would have tried to persuade her to stay at home.

But when home was a very small Cotswold market

town, where everyone knew you and knew that you

had been dumped by your fiance. less than a month

before your wedding because he had fallen in love

with someone else, it was not somewhere anyone with

any pride could possibly want to be. And Jodie had

as much pride as the next woman, if not more. So

much more that she longed to be able to prove to

everyone, but most especially to John and Louise

themselves, how little John’s treachery mattered to

her. Of course the most effective way to do that would

be to turn up at their wedding with another man — a

man who was better-looking and richer than John, and

who adored her. Oh, if only…

In your dreams, she scoffed mentally at herself.

There was no way that that scenario was likely to


"Jodie, you can’t possibly go to Italy on your own,"

David had protested, whilst he and Andrea had exchanged

meaningful looks she hadn’t been supposed

to see. It was probably just as well they were now in

Australia on an extended visit to Andrea’s parents.

"Why not?" she had demanded with brittle emphasis.

"After all, that’s the way I’m going to be spending

the rest of my life."

"Jodie, we both understand how hurt and shocked

you are," Andrea had added gently. "Don’t think that

David and I Don’t feel for you, but behaving like this

isn’t going to help."

"It will help me," Jodie had answered stubbornly.


It had been John’s idea that they spend their honeymoon

exploring Italy’s beautiful Amalfi coast.

Jodie winced as the hire car hit another pothole in

the road, which was so badly maintained that it was

becoming increasingly uncomfortable to drive.

Her leg was aching badly, and she was beginning

to regret not having chosen to spend her first night

closer to Naples. Where on earth was she? Nowhere

near where she was supposed to be, she suspected.

The directions for the small village set back from the

coast had been almost impossible to follow, detailing

roads she had not been able to find on her tourist map.

If John had been here with her none of this would

have happened. But John was not with her, and he

was never going to be with her again.

She must not think of her now ex-fiance., or the fact

that he had fallen out of love with her and in love

with someone else, or that he had been seeing that

someone else behind her back, or that virtually everyone

in her home village had apparently known about

it apart from Jodie herself. Louise, so Jodie’s friends

had now told her, had made it obvious that she

wanted and intended to have John from the moment

they had been introduced, following her parents"

move to the area. And Jodie, fool that she was, had

been oblivious to all of this, simply thinking that

Louise, as a newcomer, an outsider, was eager to

make friends. Now she was the outsider, Jodie reflected

bitterly. She should have realised how shallow

John was when he had told her that he loved her "in

spite of her leg". She winced as the pain in it intensified.

She was never going to make the kind of mistake

she had made with John again. From now on her heart

was going to be impervious to "love"—yes, even

though that meant at twenty-six she would be facing

the rest of her life alone. What made it worse was

that John had seemed so trustworthy, so honest and

so kind. She had let him into her life and, even more

humiliatingly painful to acknowledge now, into her

fears and her dreams. No way was she going to risk

having another man treat her as John had done — one

minute swearing eternal love, the next…

And as for John himself, he was welcome to

Louise, and they were obviously suited to one another,

too, since they were both deceitful cheats and

liars. But she, coward that she was, could not face

going home until the wedding was over, until all the

fuss had died down and until she was not going to be

the recipient of pitying looks, the subject of hushed


"Well, let’s look on the bright side," Andrea had

said lightly when she had realised Jodie was not going

to be persuaded to abandon her plans. "You never

know — you might meet someone in Italy and fall

head over heels in love. Italian men are so gorgeously

sexy and passionate."

Italian men — or any kind of men — were off the life

menu for her from now on, Jodie told herself furiously.

Men, marriage, love — she no longer wanted

anything to do with any of them.

Angrily Jodie depressed the accelerator. She had

no idea where this appallingly bumpy road was going

to take her, but she wasn’t going to turn back. From

now on there would be no U-turns in her life, no

looking back in misery or despair, no regrets about

what might have been. She was going to face firmly


David and Andrea had been wonderfully kind to

her, offering her their spare room when she had sold

her cottage so that she could put the sale proceeds

towards the house she and John were buying — which

had not, with hindsight, been the most sensible of

things to do — but she couldn’t live with her cousin

and his wife for ever.

Luckily John had at least given her her money

back, but the break-up of their engagement had still

cost her her job, since she had worked for his father

in the family business. John was due to take over

when his father retired.

So now she had neither home nor job, and she was

going to be—

She yelped as the offside front wheel hit something

hard, the impact causing her to lurch forward painfully

against the constraint of her seat belt. How much

further was she going to have to drive before she

found some form of life? She was booked into a hotel

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