The Unexpected Husband(2)

By: Lindsay Armstrong

‘Because you have the ability to make people look stupid?’ she countered sweetly.

‘Only when they deserve it,’ he responded mildly.

‘Ah, but who’s to say your judgement of whether they deserve it or not is always accurate?’

Joe Jordan frowned and sat forward. ‘Have I offended someone you know?’

‘No. But you can’t deny it would be possible.’ Lydia gazed at him seriously.

He shoved a hand through his brown hair, leaving it standing up in spikes. ‘And that’s cause to disapprove of me in regard to your sister?’ he queried sardonically.

‘What’s cause for me to have reservations about you, Mr Jordan,’ Lydia said precisely. ‘It’s your playboy reputation I fear in regard to my sister. Can you deny that you’re often seen escorting beautiful women around?’

‘Lydia, you wouldn’t be a tad jealous of your very lovely and feminine sister, by any chance?’ be asked smoothly. ‘This—’ he gestured towards her, managing to convey that she wasn’t particularly feminine ‘—has the taint of sour grapes about it, if you’ll forgive me for saying so.’ I

Lydia smiled with genuine amusement. ‘Not in the slightest, Joe! I hope that doesn’t disappoint you. But the fact of the matter is, my sister has plans that you may be unaware of, plans that might not feature on your agenda at all.’

‘Such as marriage plans,’ he said wearily. ‘Look, I can—’ But he stopped at the sudden look of searing contempt in Lydia’s eyes.

‘You can—take care of yourself?’ she suggested gently. ‘I’m sure you can.’

‘Bloody hell,’ he muttered, and rubbed his jaw. ‘Daisy and 1 have made no commitments whatsoever, Miss Kelso,’ he added. ‘So if you’re imagining I’ve led her up the garden path, you’re wrong,’ he finished flatly, then frowned. ‘Isn’t she your older sister?’

‘Daisy is twenty-nine going on nineteen. I’m twenty- six. What you may not understand, Mr Jordan, and I can’t blame you for this, is...’ Lydia paused and wondered how best to explain.

‘Do go on, I’m agog,’ he murmured with considerable irony.

‘OK. Our father is a poet. Our mother, ‘a pianist, died when we were little and we were raised by an aunt. She’s my father’s sister and she’s a sculptress—’

‘An artistic family,’ Joe Jordan commented, looking only one step away from utter boredom as he doodled desultorily. ‘Daisy plays the violin—I can’t wait to find out what you do, Miss Lydia Kelso! Wrestle the double bass?’ -

‘Oh, I’m quite different,’ Lydia said flippantly. ‘I’m a vet.’

She had the satisfaction of seeing sheer surprise in his hazel eyes. He said slowly, now looking at her rather intently, ‘So? Where does all this lead?’

‘I’m the only one of the family who is not in the least ‘artistic and happens to have her feet planted squarely on the ground.’

‘Are you saying your whole family is mad?’ He blinked at her.

‘Not at all. But I can’t deny they can be quite—eccentric and naive at times, then madly passionate at others, and, well, given in those moments to doing some rash things. Otherwise they’re warm and wonderful and I would kill rather than see them get hurt.’ Lydia folded her hands in her lap and looked at him serenely.

‘What...’ Joe Jordan could have killed himself for the slightly nervous way he said the word ‘—rashness has Daisy concocted towards me? I gather that is the problem?’

Lydia smiled at him. ‘At least you’re quick on the uptake, Mr Jordan. I’ll tell you. She’s decided to have your baby, with or without the benefit of wedlock.’

Joe Jordan’s jaw dropped involuntarily, although he

snapped it shut immediately. But before he could litter the cynicism he was prompted towards—I’ve heard that one before!—Lydia went on.

‘At the moment she’s rather in favour of out of wed lock, I have to tell you. I think she looks at herself and sees Jodie Foster, Madonna—there are quite a few famous single mums around—and when you’re as devoted to your career as Daisy is, it’s certainly easier if you only have a child to worry about. She also adores kids, and although twenty-nine is not old, she’s not getting any younger.’