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Authors: Violet Winspear

House of Storms

BOOK: House of Storms
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Violet Winspear
House of Storms
'So you don't wish to become my wife?'
'No more than you wish to become my husband,' Debra rejoined. 'Love and marriage aren't fuel for farce.'
'A farce, eh?' And as Rodare spoke he thrust his fingers up into her hair. 'Be careful, Miss Hartway, you are back in my house. Don't think you will become a shadow again who flits in and out of that den where you work on Jack's book.'
He tilted her face as if it were a kind of offering and he brought his lips dangerously close to her mouth. 'Do you hear me, Miss Hartway? If you wish to be employed in my house you will do as I demand.'
'And if I don't do as you demand?' she fought back.
'Then I shall prove to you that I'm not a man to be provoked.' His breath stirred warm against her mouth and she was reminded too vividly of their encounter in the conservatory, and deep inside her secret self she wanted, just once more, the hard possessiveness of his arms holding her to the power of his body as he took his fill of kissing.
All the characters in this book have no existence outside the imagination of the Author, and have no relation whatsoever to anyone bearing the same name or names. They are not even distantly inspired by any individual known or unknown to the Author, and all the incidents are pure invention.
The text of this publication or any part thereof may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, storage in an information retrieval system, or otherwise, without the written permission of the publisher.
This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out or otherwise circulated without the prior consent of the publisher in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
First published in Hardback in 1985 by 
Worldwide Romance
This Paperback edition published in 1985
 by Mills & Boon Limited,
15-16 Brook's Mews, London W1A 1DR
Australian copyright 1985 
Philippine copyright 1985 
Reprinted 1985
© Violet Winspear 1985 
ISBN 0 263 75129 5
09/0685
Set in 11 on 12½ pt Linotron Palatino
Photoset by Rowland Phototypesetting Ltd 
Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk 
Printed and bound in Great Britain 
by Cox & Wyman Ltd, Reading
Chapter One
THE first time Debra saw the house where she was to work she thought it was like a Charles Addams house and exactly the kind of place where a famous writer of historical novels should reside.
There it sprawled upon the granite cliffs, a powerful silhouette against the sunset sky, the caps of the corbelled-out turrets shaped like candle snuffers, the many windows reflecting the flaming rays of the sun as it sank into the sea.
Abbey witch at the day's end, high on the cliffs of Lovelis Island, and making an indelible impression upon Debra. It seemed to her a house built to resist the sea winds, the howling storm and the unwanted intruder. A very private house that sheltered the passions of its inmates, the descendants of Don Rodare de Salvador who had a place in Cornish folklore as the Spanish captain who had abducted a young local girl while she netted shrimps from the rock pools of the island beach.
He had sailed off with her and they had returned two years later so their child could be born on Cornish soil. Repenting of his piratical ways, the Don had become owner of the island, and Abbeywitch had been built for his bride.
Out of the blue, Debra had been called into her employer's office and asked if she would like to go and work at Abbeywitch. She was employed by a publisher who was concerned that Jack Salvador's new book should be on the firm's autumn list. This might compensate the author for the recent loss of his young wife.
'I use the word compensation,' Harrison Holt said thoughtfully, 'but it doesn't really fit the case. Jack's wife was only twenty-three and with everything to live for, and the really hard part for the poor chap to accept is that Pauline drowned. Though a verdict of accidental death was recorded—who knows?'
His eyes dwelt for a long moment on Debra who sat facing him across his desk and she knew he was weighing up her character in relation to her look of youth, as if wondering if he dared plunge her into the deep waters of a family tragedy, made even more poignant by the fact that Jack had an infant son too young to ever remember Pauline.
Harrison Holt proceeded to inform Debra that Jack Salvador dictated all his work on to a tape-recorder, piling up the tapes which were then typed by a secretary into chapters. He would work in no other way and refused to allow the tapes off the premises so they could be typed into manuscript at the Columbine office.
It seems that Jack's resident secretary had words with his mother and was dismissed—' the publisher paused, then leant towards Debra as if making a decision '—and we need someone there to put the book into manuscript form . . . someone who will slot into the household.'
'I would try to do so,' Debra murmured.
'At the present time, Jack is heaven knows where trying to get over the loss of Pauline.' Harrison Holt shook his head in commiseration. 'He seems to have lost interest in his book, but we certainly haven't, so will you go to Abbeywitch and do the necessary?'
'Yes, I'll go,' she quietly replied. Debra wasn't the kind of girl to gush in front of her employer, but she had been devouring the novels of Jack Salvador since her high-school days and she had often hoped that she might see the famous author if ever he came to call at Columbine.
But in her four years with the company she hadn't had the pleasure of seeing him and had scarcely dreamt that the chance to work under his very roof would come her way.
'When do you want me to start, Mr Holt?' She spoke in composed tones that didn't reveal her inward anticipation. She sat with her ringless hands folded together in her lap, looking what she had always proved to be, an efficient young person with a hint of reserve in her manner.
'As soon as possible, Miss Hartway. The Salvador house is a very fascinating one, and I'll telegraph Jack's mother and inform her of your imminent arrival.'
'I hope I shall get along with Mrs Salvador,' Debra ventured to say. 'Is she very much the matriarch?'
Harrison Holt spread his hands. 'The family is entrenched in its traditions, so my advice where Lenora Salvador is concerned is to tread warily. I know you're a diplomatic young woman. I've had good reports of you from various members of the company.'
'Thank you, Mr Holt.' Being given this opportunity to go and work on the book was like manna from heaven to a girl working in the city who often longed for fresh fields.
'Good luck,' her employer said, as if he suspected that she was going to need it.
Paddington Station teemed with people on the day Debra departed for Cornwall. She had a first-class ticket on the train appropriately called the Cornish Riviera and she intended to take lunch in the dining-car where she would bolster her confidence with a glass of champagne.
Though a girl with a self-contained manner, she could at times be at the mercy of her nerves and the job which awaited her at the end of her journey was both an exciting challenge and a promising step up the career ladder.
Debra yearned to be independent, her memory scarred by the way her mother had striven so hard to make a living when she became widowed at the age of thirty-two. There were times when Debra had seen her mother rocking on her feet from weariness, a woman of quiet charm whose life had been sheltered by a caring husband until one day he was there no more to provide and protect.
Claudia Hartway's determination had been handed on to Debra who was resolved that not a single sacrifice made by her mother was going to be wasted. She would make the utmost of her career and make sure she never had to depend on a man for her bread and butter. And with this end in view, she had become known at Columbine as an eager beaver for work, loving the world of books for its own sake as much as for the chance it gave her to develop as an editor, until she was looked upon as invaluable. Now, although her editing skills were considerable, she had never lost her ability to turn her hand to anything— hence her new job!
As the train sped through the countryside, she tried to imagine what Abbeywitch would be like. She drew images in her mind but none of them, she suspected, was going to live up to the reality. Cornwall was a magical kind of place and it seemed to touch with its magic the things that were part of it. Wild and thrilling cliffs above the stern Atlantic that dashed high waves to the lonely beaches . . . not that in the summertime they would be lonely.
Today as she travelled west the train was filled with people on their way to enjoy the wonders of the Land of Merlin, as it was romantically called.
She sighed with expectation and leant her head against the white linen of her first-class seat. Columbine was paying her fare so she felt no qualms about the expense involved, and she felt so grateful to Harrison Holt for giving her this chance to prove her value to the company. It was a good publishing house to work for, go-ahead in its ideas and certainly ready to accept the fact that women these days wanted a career and were prepared to be as striving as the men.
She feasted her eyes on the passing scenery . . . how refreshing to see green fields and trees abundant with leaf, all the richness of corn and wheat growing high and untainted by the city grime that clung not only to walls and windows, but to the hair and skin of the workers in the shops and offices. It came from the exhausts of the cars and buses that fought a losing battle with the giant trucks that lumbered through the streets of London.
Upon learning that she was going to work in the country for a few weeks, the other girls had asked if she would be bored. As she was going to an island, she would be unlikely to have a television set in her room.
'Bored?' Debra had laughed at the idea. 'They repeat so many old programmes and films during the summer they must think the viewers dim-witted. I plan to make this the working holiday of a lifetime.'
'Give me Malaga any day of the week.' The editor who spoke had a sudden gleam in her eyes. 'The sun is gorgeous and so are those dishy-looking Spaniards.'
'There's a dash of Spaniard in Jack Salvador,' Debra reminded her.
'But he isn't going to be there, is he?'
'True,' Debra admitted. 'But I shall see his little boy.'
'My dear girl,' the other girl looked at her in a rather mocking way, 'the kind of holiday fun I'm planning on can only be had with big boys.'
As Debra reflected on the conversation, a slight smile touched her lips. She got on well with the other girls at the office, but she had never accepted the offer to go on holiday with any of them. If they had warned her that all work and no play made Jill a dull girl, she didn't really mind. She was saving her money in a building society so that one day she would be able to take out a mortgage on her very own apartment. She would furnish it Victorian- style and love every square inch of it; it would be her haven against the world which was a playground for extrovert people rather than dreamy souls like herself.
It was a quiet thrill for her to be on the Cornish Riviera ... it flew with her to the coast of Cornwall, and as her thoughts wandered along the banks of the Tamar, she remembered the holidays she used to spend in Devon with her mother's sister-in-law who, in her late thirties, had married a widower with teenage children. One of them had been a youth of nineteen and he had been quite willing to accept the shy admiration of a sixteen-year-old girl who had no brothers or sisters of her own.
Debra carried in her mind an image of herself at that age, hair in a long braid, long coltish legs and a tendency to blush when Mark paid any attention to her.
In her innocence, she had no idea the evening of the barn dance at Darlington Farm that he was using her to arouse the jealousy of the pert daughter of the local riding-master. Feeling grown-up in her green-check dress with the frilled collar, she had been thrilled to be seen dancing with the best-looking boy at the dance, with his shiny dark hair, his cowhand shirt and close-fitting denims.
He had promised they would dance again, but suddenly he had vanished from the big barn with the coloured lanterns hanging from the beams. So she went looking for him, and found him sprawled in the hay of an outhouse, his blue denims around his ankles, and oblivious to everything but the pert and panting girl who lay with him.
Debra had come down to earth with a thud and never again did she make the mistake of thinking other people were as romantic as herself, least of all young men who only looked god-like. As she grew into a young woman she saw Mark in all of them and was no longer impressed.
BOOK: House of Storms
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