The Unexpected Husband(4)

By: Lindsay Armstrong

Joe Jordan swallowed visibly and looked discomforted.

Lydia went on before he could formulate any words. ‘Please don’t feel you need to apologise for anything you may have implied. Nor did I tell you to make you uncomfortable—’

‘Then why?’ he interrupted. ‘And how come you use your maiden name?’

Lydia stood up. ‘My husband’s name was also Kelso, although we were not related at all. It was one of those strange coincidences because it’s not very common. As to why I told you—it was to establish my credibility, I guess. This is not sour grapes, and I do have some experience in these matters.’

‘So what do you suggest I do?’ He lay back and eyed her narrowly.

‘I’ll leave that up to you, Mr Jordan. But if you do what I Think you intend to—let her down lightly, please.’

‘I gather you’ll be there to pick up any pieces?’

Lydia hesitated briefly. ‘I’m just about to start a position on a cattle station. It’s only temporary—I’m filling in for a friend while he takes leave—so, no. However, my father and my aunt are in residence at present. Now, my father,’ she said, with a faint smile touching her mouth, ‘may not be quite as civilised as I’ve been should Daisy be inconsolable.’

Joe Jordan stood up with disbelief written in every line of his face. ‘Is that a threat?’

‘Oh, I don’t think he’d do you any bodily harm. But he might come and harangue you, that kind of thing.’

‘I don’t believe this!’ He thumped his fist on the desk, then doubled up in pain clutching his shoulder.

Lydia blinked, then moved around the desk with her boyish stride. ‘Can I help?’

‘No, you can’t! I’m a human being. Why would I need a bloody vet?’

Of course it was surprise, he figured out, that had allowed him to be overpowered by a woman. Mind you, he told himself, she was quite strong, even unusually strong, because he’d ended up back in his chair with her

long, capable hands massaging and gently manipulating his neck and shoulder in a way that brought him almost instant relief.

‘How did it happen?’ she asked conversationally.

He sighed. ‘I was playing tennis and pulled a muscle. Just takes time, so they say. How. did tell me you were a vet, didn’t you?’ he enquired bitterly.

Lydia laughed down into his upturned face. ‘Animals also have muscles, tendons and nerves. I specialise in horses and I’ve done quite a lot of work with racehorses and polo ponies; they often pull muscles. There. What you need is regular physiotherapy, probably.’

She moved round to stand in front of him and held out her hand.

Joe Jordan didn’t take it immediately for the very good reason that he was suddenly struck by the insane desire to see this girl without her clothes. To unbutton her mannish jacket and watch the pinstriped trousers sink to the floor, to find out how her figure was curved and how she could be strong yet so slim, to watch that fascinating stride...

‘Goodbye, Mr Jordan,’ she said gravely. ‘I feel we understand each other quite well, don’t you?’

‘If you can understand going from one sister to the other. If you have any idea how enigmatic you appear, Lydia Kelso. if you can understand that you’ve successfully made rue feel like a piece of horseflesh... He bit his lip on all that was hovering on the tip of his tongue and said instead, ‘I guess so. Goodbye, Miss Kelso. You have magic hands, by the way.’

‘So I’m told. Oh!’

He followed her dark blue gaze to see it resting on his sketchpad. ‘Ah, I apologise,’ he murmured. ‘I do these things without thinking sometimes.’

But Lydia was laughing down at the cartoon of her self, immensely tall and obviously haranguing a diminutive, seated Joe Jordan in short pants, whose feet didn’t even touch the ground. ‘It’s so good,’ she said, still chuckling appreciatively.

‘It’s not meant to make you laugh,’ he replied with dignity.

‘Then I must have an odd sense of humour! May I have it?’ She paused, then added blithely, ‘I can use it to warn myself against being too dictatorial and over powering, even bossy.’