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.For the half-hour the three of them spent together over coffee, discussing the riotous day before, Jo kept up appearances with remarkable ease, including Rufus in the conversation so naturally that all could have been normal.They saw Rose off together, arm in arm, told her to drive with care and waved her out of sight, then Jo wrenched her hand away and went back in the house, deliberately ignoring Rufus.Without a word she went straight upstairs to shut herself in her room.Once inside she leaned against the door for a moment or two, eyes closed, then squared her shoulders and sat down at her desk.Summoning concentration by force of will, Jo read through the notes she'd made, then switched on her computer, blanked Rufus from her mind, and began to type the opening paragraph of her new novel.At midday Rufus knocked and came into the room with a tray containing a pot of tea and some sandwiches from the ham Jo had roasted on Christmas Eve.She badly wanted to snarl at him, tell him she wasn't hungry and didn't want his rotten sandwiches.But the combination of stress and hard work had made her ravenous, so she thanked Rufus with deep-frozen courtesy, waited in pointed silence until he left the room, then fell on the food while she read through her morning's work.Rufus brought her tea at one stage in the afternoon, reminded her that they were due to dine with Rory and Susannah that evening, but otherwise made no attempt to make her talk to him.Jo assured herself she was glad.And although it was Boxing Day, and not New Year's Eve, she made a resolution never, ever to cry again.Tears turned her into a crazy, pathetic creature who craved comfort.Even so, it had taken enormous effort to reach out to Rufus the night before.And for a few, electrifying minutes his response had been gloriously, passionately gratifying.Jo shuddered, willing her mind to concentrate on the fictional character she was creating, blocking out thoughts of the look in his eyes as he'd stared at her scar.Any other husband would have seen it long since, of course, and grown used to it gradually as it healed.But one look had repelled her husband so much that he couldn't bear to touch her.Rufus Grierson, she thought bitterly, required perfection.He liked his women flawless in every way.Like Claire.CHAPTER TENIt was February before Jo heard anything more from Diadem.The wait made life even more trying from her own point of view.Of Rufus' viewpoint she knew nothing, since she pointedly didn't ask for it, and after one or two abortive attempts to bridge the sudden gulf between them neither did he.After the humiliation of his rejection Jo gave up sharing any meal with Rufus other than the nightly trial of dinner.She took to keeping a tea-tray in her bedroom so she could breakfast on biscuits and tea in solitude, unable to cope early in the day with the armed truce their marriage had become.When her husband knocked on her bedroom door early one morning, therefore, Jo was surprised.Rufus usually departed for his chambers without communication.'Come in,' said Jo, eyeing her husband questioningly as he came in dressed ready for the day, his pinstriped suit a dark grey which matched the marks under his eyes.Rufus, it seemed, slept no better than she did these days.He came over to the bed, holding out a letter.'It's from Diadem.I thought you'd like it straight away.' He raised an eyebrow, smiling.'And I want to know what they say.''Thank you,' said Jo, accepting it gingerly as though it might bite her.'It's an envelope,' he pointed out, 'not a returned manuscript.''Trae.' Jo managed a smile.'But I'm still afraid to open it.''Perhaps you'd rather do it in private,' he said instantly, and turned to go.'No! ' she said urgently.'No, of course not, Rufus.I'm being silly.' She slid a fingernail under the flap and took out a letter.She read it through in silence, then read it through again, just in case she'd made a mistake.'Well?' demanded Rufus impatiently.'The suspense is killing me.What does it say?'Jo handed him the letter, looking dazed.'They like it—or at least they will do after it's been revised a bit.'Rufus read it through, then gave her the first real smile she'd seen on his face since Christmas.'This is wonderful news, Jo.Congratulations.'He moved towards her involuntarily, but checked himself, and instead of kissing her as she'd hoped he handed Jo her letter.'They want me to go down to London to lunch next week,' she said quickly, to hide her disappointment.'You'll enjoy that.' He glanced at his watch, and sighed.'I must go.I'm late.' He looked down at her.'Jo—let's go out for a celebration dinner tonight.We can't let the occasion go unmarked.'Jo looked at him for a moment, then nodded."Thank you.I'd like that.''I'll arrange it.Anywhere in particular?'She smiled a little.'Yes.The Mitre.I haven't been back there since—since we got married.I can tell them the glad news.''Right [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]