Read Sweet Surrender (The Dysarts) Online

Authors: Catherine George

Tags: #Adult, #Arranged marriage, #California, #Contemporary, #Custody of children, #Fiction, #General, #Loss, #Mayors, #Romance, #Social workers

Sweet Surrender (The Dysarts)

BOOK: Sweet Surrender (The Dysarts)
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Sweet Surrender (The Dysarts)
Catherine George
Harlequin (2003)
Tags:
Adult, Arranged marriage, California, Contemporary, Custody of children, Fiction, General, Loss, Mayors, Romance, Social workers
“What are you thinking?”

“I was thinking that if you did want to take me to bed perhaps it might be a good thing,” she said thoughtfully, and felt him tense against her.

“Would you say that again?” he demanded.

“I'm sure I don't have to.”

“So why do you think it would be a good thing? From my own point of view it's a ravishing idea, of course, but—”

“I think it would give me closure.”

“Closure?” Alasdair put an ungentle finger under her chin to raise her face to his. “What does that mean?”

Kate looked at him defiantly. “Meeting you again has revived old ghosts. Maybe going to bed with you would lay them for good.”

A family with a passion for life—and for love.

Welcome to the fifth story in THE DYSARTS saga, by popular Presents
®
author Catherine George. A few years have passed, and now Kate Dysart is in her twenties and coming to terms with love and relationships. When Alasdair Drummond returns to her life, Kate finds herself at an emotional impasse. Once Alasdair saw her as a friend—now he says he wants her.
Only, Kate isn't about to succumb….

Come share in the trials and joys, the hopes and dreams of the Dysart family, as they live their lives with passion—and for love.

Catherine George
SWEET SURRENDER

CHAPTER ONE

K
ATE
was about to dismiss her class of lively eight-year-olds for half-term, when the headmaster called her outside into the hall.

Bill Vincent eyed her hopefully. ‘Can you do me an enormous favour, Kate?'

‘Of course, if I can. What's the problem?'

‘Could you possibly hang on with young Abby Cartwright for a while? Her father's on the phone from the hospital—'

Kate winced. ‘Not the baby already?'

‘Weeks early, hence the panic. Fortunately the grandparents were arriving today anyway. Abby's uncle is fetching them from Heathrow, and will collect her on the way back.'

‘Which means Uncle's not likely to collect Abby any time soon, then,' she said, resigned.

‘Afraid not. I've got a Consortium meeting, or I'd stay myself—'

‘Better if I do it,' said Kate promptly. ‘I'm her teacher, the one she knows best. She's new this term, and so shy she's finding it hard to make friends. I'll take her home with me.'

The Head smiled, relieved. ‘Thanks a lot, Kate. Will you give Tim Cartwright the glad news? I'll look after your class.'

Kate picked up the phone in the office to reassure a distraught Tim Cartwright.

‘I'm on a hospital payphone, Miss Dysart, so I'll be
brief,' he told her. ‘Julia's desperately worried about Abby and wants me to go home, but I hate the thought of leaving her. Mr Vincent said you'll take care of Abby, but are you really prepared to do that until my brother-in-law arrives? He could be late.'

‘No problem at all, Mr Cartwright,' said Kate soothingly. ‘You stay with your wife and tell her not to worry. I'm taking Abby home with me. Laurel Cottage at the end of the village. But could you contact her uncle, please, and give him my phone number?' Kate waited as he made a note of it, cut short Tim Cartwright's fervent thanks and went back to her class to report to Bill Vincent that everything was sorted.

When the other children streamed out to join waiting parents Kate called Abby Cartwright from the window. The child turned quickly, her blue eyes anxious behind her spectacles, fine flaxen hair escaping from its bunches.

‘Abby,' Kate said gently, ‘your father won't be picking you up today. He's just taken your mother to the hospital to have the baby—'

‘But he can't come yet, Miss Dysart, it's too soon!' said the child in alarm.

‘You know it's a boy, then?' Kate smiled reassuringly. ‘Don't worry. Baby brother's in a hurry, that's all. Your uncle's coming to collect you on the way back from the airport.'

‘Then he's gone to fetch Grandma and Grandad,' said Abby with relief. Her face fell. ‘But do I have to wait here at school until they come?'

‘No. I'll take you home with me.'

After Kate had collected her belongings and surrendered the classroom to the caretaker who doubled as cleaner, she said goodbye to her colleagues and took
Abby out to her car. Because the village school was too short of space for a car park her elderly little runabout was outside in the village street, as usual, and as Kate approached it with Abby a man emerged from a sleek foreign vehicle parked a short distance away.

Kate stared in utter amazement, convinced for a moment that she was seeing things. But Alasdair Drummond, even taller than she remembered in a formal dark suit, was too solid a figure to be an apparition.

‘Hello, Kate.' He strode towards her, hand outstretched, his smile familiar and self-confident.

Kate touched the hand briefly. ‘This
is
a surprise, Alasdair. What on earth are you doing here?'

‘I came to see you, Kate.'

He expected her to believe that?

When she made no response his eyes narrowed. ‘I realise I should have got in touch first, but I've been to a funeral, so on impulse I came out this way afterwards on the chance of seeing you.'

Kate turned to the child beside her. ‘I'll just pop you in my car, Abby, while I talk to this gentleman for a moment. Shan't be long.'

Kate fastened Abby into the passenger seat, closed the door and looked up at Alasdair Drummond, displaying none of the over-the-moon delight he'd obviously expected. At one time she would have given her soul to see him turn up out of the blue like this. But not for many a long year, and certainly not here, where they were attracting far too much attention from her departing colleagues.

‘One of your pupils?' asked Alasdair.

‘Yes.' Kate explained the situation briefly. ‘So I'm afraid you've come out of your way for nothing—I can't even ask you to my place for a coffee.'

‘I'd hoped for a lot more than coffee.' His eyes held hers. ‘Take pity on an old friend, Kate, and have dinner with me tonight.'

He had to be joking!

‘Sorry, Alasdair.' Not that she was, in the slightest. ‘Even without the present complications I'm much too busy. I'm going home tomorrow for half-term—'

‘I know. Your brother told me over lunch yesterday.'

Kate's eyes narrowed. ‘You've seen
Adam
?'

‘He's auctioning some furniture for me.'

And Adam hadn't seen fit to mention it?

Kate caught sight of Abby's anxious face through the car window. ‘Look, I really must go.'

Alasdair caught her hand. ‘I'll ring you later. Adam gave me your number.'

Less pleased with her brother by the minute, Kate detached her hand, said goodbye, got into her car, backed it away carefully to avoid contact with the pristine Italian paintwork of Alasdair's, and, with a cool little wave to him, turned to the child in apology as she drove off. ‘Sorry about that.'

After the shock of meeting Alasdair Drummond again, Kate was halfway home before her attention returned to the tense, silent child behind her. ‘Are you all right, Abby?'

The little girl looked up at Kate, her eyes desperately worried behind her spectacles. Her lower lip trembled. ‘Does it hurt a lot to have a baby, Miss Dysart?'

Kate chose her words carefully. ‘I can't speak from personal experience, Abby, but all six of my assorted nephews and nieces arrived without much trouble. Don't worry. I'm sure your mother will be fine,' she added firmly. And sent up a fervent prayer that she was right.

Kate's home was one of a pair of small cottages a
mile past the village itself. Situated deep in rural Herefordshire, Foychurch was a friendly place, with inhabitants who made Kate so welcome to the close-knit community from her first day at the village school that she'd soon felt as much part of it as she did at home in Stavely.

When they arrived Kate unlocked the front door, which opened directly into the sitting room, and ushered her guest inside.

‘What a sweet little house, Miss Dysart,' said Abby in admiration.

‘Just right for one,' Kate agreed, as she took the child's coat. ‘Sit down and make yourself at home, while I make some tea and find something for you to drink.'

The phone rang while Kate was in the tiny, galley-style kitchen.

‘Miss Dysart? Jack Spencer. Tim gave me your number. I gather my niece is with you?'

‘That's right, Mr Spencer.'

‘Look, Miss Dysart, I'm really sorry about this, but I'm stuck here at Heathrow for a while. My parents' plane is delayed.'

‘I assure you it's no problem. I'll keep Abby safe until you arrive, whatever time it is.' Kate supplied her address, then joined her little guest.

‘That was your uncle, Abby. I'm afraid he won't be here for a while. Your grandparents' plane is delayed.'

Abby perched on the edge of the sofa with her fizzy drink, eyeing Kate in distress. ‘I'm sorry to be such a nuisance, Miss Dysart.'

‘Of course you're not a nuisance!'

The child smiled gratefully. ‘Uncle Jack is Mummy's brother,' she confided. ‘He's a builder.'

The word conjured up a vision of low-slung jeans and
suntanned torso which went rather well with the voice on the phone.

‘In a little while I'll make something to eat, Abby,' said Kate, ‘but first I must ring my mother.'

Upstairs in her bedroom, Kate rang home and explained why she might not be home as early as expected next day. ‘If it's late before Abby's collected tonight I fancy a long lie-in tomorrow before the drive.'

‘Poor little thing,' said Frances Dysart with sympathy. ‘I hope everything goes well with the baby.'

‘Amen to that. By the way,' Kate added quickly, ‘it wasn't my only surprise of the day, Mother. You'll never believe who was waiting for me outside school. Alasdair Drummond turned up out of the blue to ask me out to dinner.'

‘Ah, Adam thought he might.'

‘You knew about it? Honestly, Mother,' said Kate indignantly, ‘you might have warned me.'

‘Alasdair wanted to surprise you.'

‘He certainly managed that.'

‘So
are
you having dinner with him?'

‘No way. Even without my little visitor, I had other plans for my evening.'

‘Something nice?'

‘Total bliss. Early to bed with a book.'

‘Oh, Kate!' Frances laughed ruefully. ‘Was Alasdair disappointed?'

‘Why should he be?' said Kate tartly. ‘He's managed perfectly well without my company for a good few years now.'

‘I think you should know,' said her mother carefully, ‘that Adam's asked him to the christening.'

‘He's done
what
?'

‘Darling, Adam thought you'd be pleased.'

Conceding that she'd have been euphoric at one time, Kate managed a chuckle. ‘Don't worry, Mother, I won't be too rough on the new daddy. How's the new mummy?'

‘Very well. Mainly because her son lets Gabriel sleep now and then. Which is more than his father did for me!'

Kate laughed. ‘I trust Adam's shouldering his share of the nappy-changing and so on?'

‘He's a natural—took to fatherhood like a duck to water. Drive carefully, darling, and give me a ring when you start out.'

Kate stood grinding her teeth for a moment afterwards, furious with Adam for inviting Alasdair to the christening. Alasdair Drummond had been her first love, it was true. And even after all these years his physical presence still had an impact on her hormones. But her brain strongly objected to his assumption that she'd jump at the chance of an evening with him at the snap of his fingers. Alasdair had always been utterly sure of himself, socially and academically, and in that respect he obviously hadn't changed in the slightest. But
she
had. Her eyes narrowed to a dangerous gleam. He would find that Kate Dysart was very different these days from the worshipful little student of the past.

‘Miss Dysart?' called a hesitant voice, and Kate jerked out of her reverie and hurried from the room to find her little guest at the foot of the stairs.

‘Sorry to be so long, Abby, I've been chatting to my mother on the phone.'

‘Could I go to the loo, please?'

Kate ushered Abby up to the tiny bathroom hurriedly. ‘Sorry about that,' she apologised when her guest came downstairs. ‘I'll have a very quick bath, then I'll make us some supper.'

‘I'll get on with some of the reading you've given us for half-term, then.'

‘Good girl. I shan't be long,' Kate ran upstairs and stripped off her serviceable navy sweater and skirt, wishing she could lie in a hot bath for hours instead of a scant five minutes before starting on her hair. Afterwards, in jeans, sneakers and sweatshirt, Kate draped a towel round her shoulders under her wet hair and went down to join Abby, who gazed at her in astonishment.

‘You look ever so different with your hair down, Miss Dysart!'

Kate smiled. ‘Our secret, OK? Right, then, Abby, I know you're a whiz at reading, but how's your cooking?'

‘I help Mummy sometimes.' A smile transformed the sober little face.

‘Good girl. Do you like pasta?'

‘I love it! Can I grate the cheese?'

Tim Cartwright rang while they were occupied, to report that things were going along satisfactorily enough, but it would be hours before the actual birth. He thanked her fervently, requested a talk with his daughter, and afterwards Abby handed the phone back to Kate with a sigh.

‘The baby won't be here for a long time yet,' she said despondently, then brightened. ‘But Daddy said Mummy's fine and she's sent me a kiss and told me to thank you for being so kind.'

‘How nice of her, especially when she's so busy,' said Kate, eyes twinkling, and gave Abby a wooden spoon to stir the tomato sauce. ‘Have a taste—very carefully—and tell me what you think.'

There was no space for any activity other than cook
ing in Kate's kitchen, which meant that supper was eaten from trays on their knees in the sitting room, to Abby's delight.

‘This is yummy,' she said, tasting the pasta. ‘Just like Mummy's.'

Kate smiled, accepting this for the supreme accolade it was. ‘Thank you, Abby. Eat it all, because I'm afraid there's only fruit or cheese afterwards.'

‘I don't mind,' declared Abby, and, with the obvious intention of being a good guest, by way of polite conversation asked if Miss Dysart was going away for the holiday.

Touched, Kate explained that she was going home to Stavely for the week. ‘In time for my new little nephew's christening,' she explained. ‘My brother's baby. He's six weeks old and I'm his godmother, so I'll be the one holding him when the vicar splashes water on his forehead.'

‘Gosh,' said Abby, impressed. ‘I expect he'll cry.'

‘If so I shall hastily hand him back to his mummy!'

‘What's his name?'

‘Henry Thomas, after both his grandfathers, but known as Hal, his grandma tells me.'

‘Have you seen him yet?'

‘No. Which is why my brother arranged the christening for half-term, so I could be there.'

BOOK: Sweet Surrender (The Dysarts)
8.62Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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