Some Sort Of Spellñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
Celebrate the legend that is bestselling author
Phenomenally successful author of more than two hundred books with sales of over a hundred million copies!
Penny Jordan’s novels are loved by millions of readers all around the word in many different languages. Mills & Boon are proud to have published one hundred and eighty-seven novels and novellas written by Penny Jordan, who was a reader favourite right from her very first novel through to her last.
This beautiful digital collection offers a chance to recapture the pleasure of all of Penny Jordan’s fabulous, glamorous and romantic novels for Mills & Boon.
PENNY JORDAN is one of Mills & Boon’s most popular authors. Sadly, Penny died from cancer on 31st December 2011, aged sixty-five. She leaves an outstanding legacy, having sold over a hundred million books around the world. She wrote a total of one hundred and eighty-seven novels for Mills & Boon, including the phenomenally successful A Perfect Family, To Love, Honour & Betray, The Perfect Sinner and Power Play, which hit the Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller lists. Loved for her distinctive voice, her success was in part because she continually broke boundaries and evolved her writing to keep up with readers’ changing tastes. Publishers Weekly said about Jordan ‘Women everywhere will find pieces of themselves in Jordan’s characters’ and this perhaps explains her enduring appeal.
Although Penny was born in Preston, Lancashire and spent her childhood there, she moved to Cheshire as a teenager and continued to live there for the rest of her life. Following the death of her husband, she moved to the small traditional Cheshire market town on which she based her much-loved Crighton books.
Penny was a member and supporter of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Romance Writers of America—two organisations dedicated to providing support for both published and yet-to-be-published authors. Her significant contribution to women’s fiction was recognised in 2011, when the Romantic Novelists’ Association presented Penny with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Some Sort of Spell
Table of Contents
About the Author
ALL THE WAY home from the interview her head was aching.
She loathed driving in London’s traffic at the best of times, and today, tensed up as she was with anxiety over the interview, her temples had started pounding almost as soon as she got into her car.
She was a nervous driver at the best of times, and as though other drivers sensed it they ruthlessly cut in on her, flaunting their superior self-confidence and skill in front of her aching eyes.
It was a relief to turn into the long drive of the house, a huge Victorian pile in Wimbledon with a massive garden. Her parents had bought it just before the twins were born.
Several other cars were pulled up untidily on the drive.
Even before she opened the front door she could hear the thud of pop music. As she turned the door handle and walked in, an adolescent male voice called out, ‘She’s home!’
The music stopped. Upstairs several doors slammed, and several pairs of feet thudded down towards her. Being left with the task of singlehandedly bringing up her four teenage siblings when only twenty-two herself hadn’t been easy. Now, six years later, she was used to it, or so she told herself.
Sebastian and Benedict, the twins, came down first; tall, blond, and extraordinarily good-looking, at just short of twenty-one they dazzled the eye, even when one was used to it. Miranda was close behind them, eighteen, and as dark as her brothers were fair. William came last, glasses perched on the end of his nose, fair hair tousled.
There were times like this, when they surrounded her with their love and affection, when she would willingly have given them ten times as much as she had to take the place of the parents they had all lost.
There were others when she felt almost claustrophobic from the unending twenty-four-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week responsibility that went with her guardianship of her four younger siblings.
No one, least of all themselves, had expected that two such brilliant and dazzling stars of the London stage as Charles and Cressida Bellaire would be so unceremoniously and unfairly deprived of life at the very peaks of their careers, and after the initial grief that had overwhelmed those they had left behind had come the appalling task of dealing with the financial chaos of a couple who had wholeheartedly and energetically put into practice their belief that life should be lived a day at a time.
Of course, had he known of his untimely death, their father might have had the forethought to provide for his families’ future, but as it was…
They had been a celebrated and glittering couple, twice married to one another and once each to other partners, and their deaths had left a hole in the lives of their children and close friends that Beatrice doubted could ever be filled.
She was their eldest child, the child of their first youthful marriage. Impossible to imagine that her mother had only been eighteen when she was conceived. They had been divorced shortly after she was born—her father had been offered a prestigious contract in Hollywood, and her mother had balked at going with him, preferring to stay in Stratford where she was getting growing recognition for her own power as a Shakespearean actress.
Within a year both of them had remarried, her father to a rising starlet, whose name very few people, including Charles himself it seemed, had been able to recall to mind later, and her mother to a wealthy industrialist, fifteen years her senior, with a son of ten.
That marriage had produced Lucilla, her half-sister, the only child of the family who had not been blessed with a Shakespearean name. Ironically enough, it was Lucilla who had been Charles’s favourite, for all that she was not his child.
Of course the press had had a field day over their second marriage. By then both of them were well known. After her second husband’s death Cressida had returned to the stage, and on Charles’s triumphant return from Hollywood to appear in one of the most ambitious versions of Hamlet ever put on the stage, it was inevitable that the two should meet again.
Their stormy relationship had all the ingredients necessary for high drama—and, Beatrice sometimes thought wryly, of a Restoration farce, but she kept these thoughts strictly to herself.
It wasn’t that she hadn’t loved her parents; she had—everyone had—but not even their most fervent advocates could deny that in many ways they had been irresponsible.
Even so, life without them had been darkly shadowed for a very long time, and not just financially.
Uncle Peter, her godfather and her parents’ closest friend, had helped them, tracking down various royalties due from her father’s films and pointing her in the direction of a careful bank manager and accountant. Fortunately the house had been paid for, and the unexpected bonus of a long-forgotten bank account had yielded sufficient funds to put the others through school.
Maybe it was because Lucilla looked so much like their mother that she had been Charles’s favourite, Beatrice mused, as she tried to ignore her pounding head and sort out the garbled conversations battering her eardrums.
None of her siblings, it seemed, could stop speaking for long enough to let just one of their number have their say. They all had to bombard her at the same time.
Twin boys, then a daughter and then another son had been produced by her parents during their second marriage. They were the products of their most fruitful years, both emotionally and career-wise, and she loved them all. Like their parents they were confident and beautiful. Unlike her. ‘The runt of the litter’, as Lucilla had more than once mockingly described her. And it was true enough. She was plain-not ugly; just good old-fashioned plain. Without the startling physical attractiveness of her siblings to throw her own lack of looks into relief she might just have got away with it unnoticed, but because she was a Bellaire… because she was a daughter of that famous couple… because her brothers and sisters were so undeniably physical replicas of their beautiful parents, her own lack of looks was thrown into constant prominence.
Only Lucilla was unkind enough to remark on it. The others, in view of their famed Bellaire outspokenness—also a gift from their parents—were amazingly tactful, not to mention protective of her. Painfully so at times, and in more ways than one, she recognised wryly, remembering the fate meted out to those men friends who had actually been daring enough to get past the front door.
‘It isn’t that we don’t want you to get married,’ Benedict had explained kindly to her on the last unfortunate occasion she had brought a man home. ‘It’s just that you haven’t found anyone yet who’s good enough for you.’
By whose standards? Beatrice had wondered a little bitterly. There had been nothing intrinsically wrong with the last one, Roger. He was a nice, quietly spoken man in his late twenties, who lived with his mother. She had met him in the library when he was changing the latter’s library books. They had struck up a conversation, and their relationship had progressed slowly and tranquilly to the point where she couldn’t put off the inevitable any longer.
She invited him home.
He had of course been completely out of his depth, and it was only when she hadn’t heard from him in four weeks that Miranda carelessly admitted that he hadn’t seemed too happy when she and the twins had explained to him that taking on Beatrice meant taking on them as well.
As well he might not be, she thought fretfully. Beautiful and multi-talented they might be; they were also a formidably daunting prospect to anyone not well acquainted with the Bellaire mental and physical energy and psyche.
‘Nonsense,’ her closest friend, Annabel Hedges, had expostulated when Beatrice put this view to her. ‘Selfish, that’s what they are. They know which side their bread’s buttered on. You wait on them hand and foot, and you shouldn’t do it. Turf them out, sell the house and make a life for yourself, Bea, before it’s too late.’
How could she, even though sometimes it was what she longed to do? After their parents’ death they had been so lost, so painfully dependent on her… Of course, then all three boys had been at boarding school and so had Miranda. Lucilla had just left RADA, and was starting out on her own stage career. But first Miranda and then the boys had pleaded and begged to be allowed to attend a local day school, and there had been the financial angle to consider, so she had given way. And once they were all at home they needed her there as well, so she had given up her catering course and stayed at home to care for them.
Today, though, she had made a bid for independence.
‘Well, did you get the job?’ Benedict, elder of the twins by ten minutes, grinned down at her from his six foot two height.
All of them were tall—apart from her. All of them had long bones and sleekly muscled bodies—apart from her. She was small and, while not exactly plump, quite definitely curvaceous. How she envied her sisters their slender small-breasted figures. Hers… She made a face to herself. Hers was definitely more along Earth Mother lines, she thought enviously.
Behind Benedict on the stairs, William scowled ferociously and addressed his eldest brother.
‘What does she need a job for? We need her here, at home.’
‘Yes, but you know Bea,’ Sebastian, younger of the twins, put in mischievously. ‘She does so adore a lame dog.’
‘What’s he like, Bea?’ demanded Miranda, shouldering her brothers aside. ‘Is he as absent-minded as Uncle Peter said?’
Beatrice had spent the afternoon supposedly being interviewed for the job of personal assistant to a young composer, who was a friend of her godfather’s, but in fact, instead of being interviewed she had spent most of her time answering the phone and sorting out the chaos of unanswered post on the desk he had shown her.
‘Yes to both questions,’ she told them crisply. Her head was still pounding—tension, of course, and not caused entirely by her anxiety over the interview, or driving through the London traffic.
She had not forgotten last night’s row with Lucilla. Unlike the others, Lucilla was not under her guardianship because she had been over eighteen at the time of their parents’ death.
Beautiful, wilful, always antagonistic towards her elder sister, and financially independent, she had nevertheless chosen to remain in the family home, but now it seemed she had changed her mind. She had announced last night that she intended moving out of the Wimbledon house and in with her latest boyfriend.
Fair-mindedly, Beatrice had to admit that Lucilla had a right to her own privacy and that she was, additionally, old enough to make her own decisions, but her latest boyfriend was an aging television producer, already three times married, and with a particularly unsavoury reputation. Lucilla had tossed her blonde head and scowled bitterly when Beatrice had pointed this out.
When backed into a corner, Lucilla was always at her most dangerous and last night had been no exception. Beatrice felt as though she still bore the scars—hence the headache.
‘I’m glad you’re back,’ William commented plaintively. ‘I’m starving!’
William was the clever one, destined for Oxford, or so his school said, and as heartbreakingly handsome as the rest of the clan, although he preferred not to think so. Unlike the others, William was not intent on making a career for himself in the world that had once been their parents’; he had his sights set on other goals. Now, though, like any other seventeen-year-old, he was more concerned with his empty stomach than his potentially glittering academic career.
An expectant silence followed his announcement and Beatrice felt her spirits plummet as she observed the four pairs of waiting eyes. The task of finding and then keeping staff to run the huge Victorian house and its gardens was a constant thorn in her side.
No sooner was someone suitable found and installed than for one reason or another they decided to leave. Mrs Meadows had been with them less than three months.
‘Where’s Mrs Meadows?’ she asked sinkingly.
‘She got angry because Lucilla told her she was bringing some people round for dinner,’ Miranda told her carelessly. ‘So Lucilla told her she was fired.’
It was only with the greatest effort that Beatrice was able to hold back the words springing to her lips. With magnificent fortitude she managed a weary, ‘I see.’
Obviously her words conveyed more than she allowed herself to say, and just as obviously she had not yet had the full budget of bad news. All the Bellaire offspring, apart from herself, were natural and effective hams. And, as the saying went, she could see from their faces that they were big with news.
‘Well, what is it?’
It was left to Miranda to produce the scrawled note.
‘Lucilla said to tell you that they’ll be here at half past eight. She wants you to make your salmon mousse for starters, and then she wants that lamb thing that you do with the apricot stuffing, and then raspberry pavlova. She said to tell you that it was terribly important to make a good impression, so could you make sure that the silver’s polished and that you use the Waterford glasses.’
Controlling her temper, Beatrice muttered under her breath, ‘If it was that important, why didn’t she take them out to dinner?’
Unlike the rest of them, Lucilla was comparatively well off. Her father had left her some money—a trust fund which was administered by her brother, Elliott Chalmers.
Already eighteen when his stepmother remarried her former husband, Elliott, on the verge of departing for Oxford, had remained, like herself, outside the charmed Bellaire ring, but unlike her he had not looked into it enviously. In fact, occasionally, watching Elliott watching her family, Beatrice suspected that she had detected signs of almost sacrilegious mockery, not to say impatience, in his cool grey eyes.
‘Oh, and by the way, she’s bringing Elliott with her,’ Benedict put in with a grin. Beatrice’s dislike and antipathy towards Lucilla’s half-brother was a well-documented fact.
Beatrice herself felt as though she wanted to scream. Elliott Chalmers! That was all she needed! Of all the supercilious, bossy, domineering, sarcastic men, he really took the biscuit. She seethed bitterly as she headed for the kitchen, remembering how, after their parents’ death, Elliott had advised her to keep the children in their boarding schools, warning her against landing herself with the responsibility of their welfare.
‘They’re my family!’ She had thrown the words at him, her face flushed with temper.
‘They’re miniature vampires,’ he had countered unrepentantly, ‘and if you let them—and you will—they’ll suck you dry.’
She had never forgiven him for his callousness, and she never would.
Alerted by the sounds coming from the kitchen, the four younger members of the Bellaire tribe retreated into the wings. Had anyone accused them of selfishness, they would cheerfully have accepted the accusation, but not really felt much guilt. They all loved Beatrice, but she was not like them. She was quite content with her life; she had no ambitions, no bright, luring dreams like their own. All of them took the security she had brought to their lives for granted, and, although they didn’t know it, that they were able to do so was one of the most precious gifts Beatrice had given them.
She had been in her last year of a catering course at an exclusive private college when her parents had been killed in an air crash, and although all her dreams of owning and running her own restaurant had long since died, normally she still loved cooking.
Not today, though. She fumed inside as she set about preparing Lucilla’s dinner party.
William, judging from the diminishing clatter of utensils that it was safe to do so, emerged into the kitchen and looked hopefully at her.
He would be wasted at Oxford, Beatrice thought wryly. With a talent like that he should have been headed for the stage. Even so, she found herself weakening and stopping what she was doing to make a perfect melting omelette, which he devoured with relish.
Long experience informed her that, while Lucilla expected her to prepare and serve food for her dinner party, she would not want her sister nor her younger siblings sitting down at table with her guests.
In spite of her beauty and her success as an actress, Lucilla was one of those people, always restless, never contented, who go through life defensive and envious of anyone they believe has something they do not.
Quite why there had always been a thread of antagonism between them Beatrice didn’t know, but it was undoubtedly there. She knew that Lucilla resented her, but she could never understand why. If anyone, she ought to have been the one to feel resentful. After all, Lucilla had been Charles’s favourite, not her. Lucilla had inherited the looks and the talent. It was her own guilt over that tiny seed of enmity that always made her go to greater lengths to appease Lucilla than she would have done for anyone else, but it never worked. Lucilla was relentlessly contemptuous of her.
At seven o’clock, with everything for the dinner party under control, she produced pizza and salad in the kitchen for everyone else.
William, despite his earlier omelette, ate almost twice as much as the others. At the moment he was tall and gangly, but in a few years’ time he would have the same beautiful physique as his older brothers.
Oddly enough Elliott, who wasn’t as tall as the twins, being just under six foot, always somehow seemed to make them look smaller whenever he walked into the room. He dwarfed everyone around him with the power of his personality—and with his wealth, Beatrice thought bitterly.
Knowing that he would be here tonight was really the last straw. Her head was still pounding despite the tablet she had taken; it showed all the signs of progressing into a migraine. The smell of food almost nauseated her, and she longed to go upstairs and lie down.
‘Aren’t you going to get changed?’ demanded Miranda when she had finished eating. ‘You can’t sit down to dinner like that. You know what Lucilla and her friends are like. It’ll be designer dresses and everything that goes with them.’
Miranda was heavily into clothes. She was doing a course at college which she hoped eventually would lead to a career in theatrical costume design.
‘Oh, come on, Mirry,’ Sebastian cut in. ‘You know our dearest Lucilla would never allow Bea to sit down with her friends. You shouldn’t let her get away with it!’ He frowned, looking so severe for a moment that Beatrice couldn’t help smiling.ñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî