‘It doesn’t feel decadent to me,’ she said softly and bit her lip as her nipples flowered and a wash of sensuousness ran through her body.

‘Actually—’ he looked up briefly ‘—I can’t think of anything more lovely and fresh and entirely the opposite from decadent than you, Ms Trent.’

‘So?’ Maggie queried with difficulty.

‘I was referring to the time of day, that’s all. Eight o’clock in the morning is not renowned for its romantic properties. Moonlit evenings, starry, starry nights, dawn, perhaps?’ He looked into her eyes and shook his head. ‘However…’

She put her hands on his shoulders and rested her forehead against his. ‘Eight o’clock in the morning feels very romantic to me.’

He lifted her off her stool to sit across his lap, and slid his hands beneath her bikini bottom to cup her hips. ‘You are a siren, you know,’ he said against the corner of her mouth.

‘Not Delilah?’

‘Her too… Come to bed.’

She came out of her reverie feeling hot and cold, aroused and with her senses clamouring for that touch on her body again as she remembered the slow, perfectly lovely way he’d made love to her despite it being eight o’clock in the morning.

I thought I had it all sorted out, she reflected bitterly. I was no one’s hostage; I was this independent, mature—recently matured but all the same—person in charge of my own destiny. So why can’t I forget Cape Gloucester and all the things he did to me?

‘I did have some ideas,’ she said abruptly, anything to banish those images from her mind. ‘But they wouldn’t—’ she wrinkled her nose as she forced herself to concentrate ‘—come cheap.’

‘Spoken like a true Trent,’ he murmured, and grinned at her expression. ‘That’s fine with me. If I’m going to do it I want to do it properly. Tell me your thoughts.’

She did. And she couldn’t fight the quickening of interest she felt.


THE next time Jack came to see Maggie, as usual unannounced, he dumped a heap of blueprints on her coffee-table.

‘What on earth…?’ She stared at him.

‘I’m planning a retirement village. I do not want it to resemble a bloody chicken coop, but it has to stay affordable. What do you think of these?’

She took her time as she paged through the designs. ‘Ghastly,’ she pronounced at last. ‘They’re so poky!’

‘That’s what I told the architect. He’s withdrawn from the project. On the other hand, they are retirement homes, not vast mansions.’

Maggie pulled some cushions behind her back, which ached occasionally nowadays, and considered the matter. ‘I think it would be a help if they were more open plan. Separate bedrooms, yes, but not separate boxy little kitchens, dining rooms and lounges, so you got a more spacious feel even if it isn’t necessarily so.’

He waited alertly as she thought some more.

‘And since they don’t have gardens—’

‘Retirees are generally longing to get away from being slaves to lawnmowers and the like,’ he put in.

‘Perhaps,’ she conceded, ‘but a decent veranda so they can grow some nice pot plants and herbs if they want to would be… would be a priority of mine.’

‘There are going to be plenty of landscaped gardens,’ he murmured. ‘All taken care of for them.’

‘It’s not the same as suddenly being cut off from growing anything of your own,’ she countered. ‘In fact, if I were planning a retirement village, I’d set aside a section where those interested could have their own little plots to grow their own vegetables or whatever they liked.’

‘You are a gardening fanatic, Maggie,’ he pointed out and glanced at the riot of colour outside.

She shrugged. ‘Those are my ideas!’

‘OK. I’ll come back to you on it.’

‘Why me?’ she asked.

‘I think you might have a feel for these things which could be helpful to me, Ms Trent. I’ve never done a retirement village before. I’ve been more concerned with kids and families.’

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