Книга THE ITALIAN DUKE’S WIFE. Содержание - CHAPTER ONE
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