Authors: Anna Jacobs
Table of Contents
Recent Titles by Anna Jacobs from Severn House
CHANGE OF SEASON
THE CORRIGAN LEGACY
A FORBIDDEN EMBRACE
AN INDEPENDENT WOMAN
LICENCE TO DREAM
MARRYING MISS MARTHA
MISTRESS OF MARYMOOR
A PLACE OF HOPE
REPLENISH THE EARTH
SEASONS OF LOVE
THE WISHING WELL
WINDS OF CHANGE
SHORT AND SWEET
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First published in Great Britain and the USA 2013 by
SEVERN HOUSE PUBLISHERS LTD of
9–15 High Street, Sutton, Surrey, England, SM1 1DF.
eBook edition first published in 2013 by Severn House Digital
an imprint of Severn House Publishers Limited
Copyright © 2013 by Anna Jacobs.
The right of Anna Jacobs to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988.
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
A place of hope.
1. Inheritance and succession--Fiction. 2. Families--
Fiction. 3. Lancashire (England)--Fiction. 4. Romantic
ISBN-13: 978-1-78010-394-5 (epub)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7278-8256-1 (cased)
ISBN-13: 978-1-84751-471-4 (trade paper)
Except where actual historical events and characters are being described for the storyline of this novel, all situations in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to living persons is purely coincidental.
This ebook produced by
Palimpsest Book Production Limited,
Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland.
Emily Mattison picked up the phone, sighing when she heard her nephew George’s voice booming at her. He asked her how she was but didn’t listen to her answer. ‘My mother’s had a bad fall. She’s sprained her ankle badly and wrenched her right shoulder. She can’t manage on her own, so you’ll have to come and help her for a week or two.’
‘I’m afraid I’m not free. I’ve got something important on, something I booked months ago. Aren’t you with her?’
‘Yes, of course. But that’s only by good luck. I was about to fly back to the Middle East to wind things up with my job there. I can’t let them down because there’s only me with the knowledge and background to hand over properly to the new guy.’
‘What about your wife? Can’t she look after Liz?’
‘Marcia will be needed to pack up our possessions and furniture ready to move back to England. We have to be out of our house there by a certain date. So that leaves only you to look after my mother.’
Emily hesitated. She loved her sister dearly, but didn’t enjoy staying with her because they were too different. Emily loved peace and quiet, while Liz was always chattering, and had to have music on in the background all the time, whether she was listening to it or not.
‘Surely you’re not going to ignore your sister’s need, Aunt Emily?’
He was right, the rat. She couldn’t leave Liz to cope on her own. Her sister was a weak reed at the best of times. ‘Oh, all right. When will you be coming back to England?’
‘In a week or two, just before Easter. They’re still sorting out a new posting and I have leave they’re insisting I take. You know what multinational companies are like.’
No, she didn’t, thank goodness. And if they employed people like her bossy nephew in senior roles, she didn’t want to know. ‘I’ll be there this afternoon.’
‘Good. Mrs Potter from next door has agreed to stay with Mother till you arrive. Our plane leaves at lunchtime. ’Bye.’
Emily suspected that he could have got time off if he’d asked for it, but for George, the job came first, second and third. He was doing all right for himself, more than all right. He’d always had an eye out for ways of making extra money. She didn’t know how his wife put up with him, though. For the money, probably. Like her husband, Marcia had expensive tastes.
Emily went next door to see her friend and neighbour. ‘Rach, can you keep an eye on the house for me during the next couple of weeks?’
‘I thought you were only going away for one week.’
‘I can’t go on the course now. Liz has had a fall and needs someone to look after her.’
‘Your sister has a son and daughter-in-law. Why should
have to give up your course? You’ve been looking forward to that antiques appreciation course for ages and it won’t be run again till the autumn.’
‘I know. Six months to wait. But George won’t look after Liz whatever I decide, and I couldn’t be comfortable, thinking of her on her own. She’s quite frail since she had that virus which affected her heart. And anyway, would you want him around if you weren’t well?’
Rachel’s shudder was eloquent. ‘How that man can be a relative of yours, I do not understand.’
‘Liz and I don’t share the same father, that’s how. I always comfort myself with the thought that George gets his arrogance from Mother’s first husband, not from my dad.’
Emily was on the road within the hour. She wished she’d bought the new car she was planning for, because this one was very elderly, but she just hadn’t got round to it. You felt when you retired you’d have plenty of time to do things, but so far she’d been non-stop busy, getting the house smartened up, ready to sell. She wasn’t sure where she was going to move, but she could put her furniture in storage and stay with her friend Rachel while she searched.
She’d retired early, at fifty-seven, as she’d always planned. She didn’t miss her work – well, not much – but she still felt herself to be at a loose end, and kept wondering if she’d done the right thing. Leon certainly hadn’t wanted to let her go and she missed him, too. They were still good friends. He’d been out of the country on a project but was coming back soon to head the special unit, then they’d catch up.
She went upstairs to pack. She’d been so looking forward to that antiques course. It was well known as a way of helping enthusiastic amateurs to cross into the industry. Of course, all the courses in the world wouldn’t give you an eye for a bargain, but she’d done rather well with her buying and selling so far, and she truly believed she had a gift for finding pretty items that people wanted to buy.
When Emily arrived at Liz’s house, Mrs Potter from next door gave her the instructions from the doctor and whispered, ‘Look, I know it’s none of my business, but your sister’s upset about the fall and that son of hers is no help. To listen to him, you’d think she was going to be permanently bedridden and will soon need putting into a care home.’
‘What? But Liz loves this cottage. She and Nigel bought it for their retirement just before he died.’
‘Try telling her son that. If you ask me, George sees only the money she’d get for it, because the area’s becoming so popular. And the house might be small, but it has a bigger than average garden, so would be perfect for a development project. It’d be snapped up like that one down the street.’
‘Thank you for telling me.’ Emily saw Mrs Potter out, then went up to her sister’s bedroom. Why was Liz in bed? With a sprained ankle, she’d be perfectly all right on the sofa, watching TV.
Her sister was white and shaken, weeping at the mere sight of her. After a gentle pep talk, Emily persuaded her to come down and sit in the living room.
‘George said I should stay in bed.’
‘Well, George was wrong. You seem able to limp around OK.’
‘I was very shaken by the fall.’
Liz seemed bewildered and dopey. Emily frowned. ‘Are they giving you painkillers?’
She nodded. ‘George asked the doctor to prescribe some strong ones.’
‘Painkillers can make you dopey. Paracetamol might be enough. Shall we try that?’
‘But George said—’
‘I’ve told you before that your son is too bossy and you shouldn’t give in to him.’ But Liz always did give in to stronger personalities. Her husband had done all her thinking for her and when he died, George had taken over.
After making them both a cup of tea, Emily sat chatting to her sister. ‘How did you come to fall?’
Her sister shuddered. ‘I tripped over a piece of wood in the garden. I’m usually so careful but I was watching two birds at the feeder. Blue tits, they were. So pretty. I couldn’t seem to get up again. Luckily Mrs Potter next door heard me calling for help and took me to hospital. I spent the night there under observation. How lucky that George was in England and could bring me home.’
‘It sounds to me as if your neighbour’s done most of the looking after.’ Emily couldn’t keep a sharp note out of her voice. ‘And George hasn’t
with you, has he?’
But Liz could never see anything wrong in what her son did. ‘He can’t let the company down. He’s such a good son. Since Nigel died, he’s taken care of all the business stuff for me. I can’t tell you what a load that is off my mind.’
Emily changed the subject as soon as she could. She and Liz would never see eye-to-eye about the way her nephew had taken over his mother’s life . . . and her finances. She suspected he was keeping Liz short of money, too, giving her only enough to live on as long as she was careful, yet Nigel had told Emily once that his wife would be extremely comfortable if anything happened to him.
Oh, well. What was the old saying their mother used to trot out?
There are none so blind as those who won’t see.
A few days later George went through his mother’s mail, which had been forwarded to him in the Middle East as usual. ‘My aunt’s neighbour must be forwarding her mail to my mother’s house and of course they’ve come on to me.’
Marcia looked up from doing her nails. ‘You’d better phone your aunt and apologize.’
‘I might as well check them first to see if there’s anything urgent.’
‘You can’t open her mail!’
He grinned. ‘Oh, can’t I? I’ll only open anything that looks interesting, though. I can say I didn’t check the address and thought it was one of my mother’s letters.’ A moment later he waved an envelope. ‘This one is from a law firm in Lancashire. I wonder what they want with my aunt.’
Marcia rolled her eyes and went on filing her nails.
George read the letter, exclaiming, ‘Good heavens!’ Then he read it again.
By that time his wife had put down the nail file and was waiting to find out what he’d discovered.
‘This is from a lawyer in Littleborough. Remember that old cousin of Emily’s father? We met her once, Penelope Mattison?’
‘Wizened old thing, rather eccentric, lived in a tumbledown place on the edge of the moors. Anyway, it seems she’s died and left everything to my aunt.’
‘Lucky Emily. She’ll really be able to enjoy her retirement now, won’t she?’
He pulled a face. ‘I suppose she’ll fritter it away on those blasted antiques she loves so much. Wait a minute! There’s another letter enclosed.’
A minute later, he exclaimed, ‘I don’t believe this!’
‘A local developer wants the land and has made an offer for it.’ He whistled. ‘And a very juicy offer it is, too.’ He sat tapping his fingers on the table for a few moments. ‘I must persuade my aunt to let me deal with this. She has no idea of business and she’s far too soft to bargain well.’