By Marriage Divided Page 0,1

longer afford. My father, who inherited it from his mother, was the one who really loved it but he’s no longer with us.’

‘I wondered about the name?’ Angus Keir murmured.

Domenica smiled. ‘My grandmother was a Lidcombe and her favourite rose was the Peace rose.’ She waved a hand towards the rose bushes planted all around the veranda with bees humming through them. ‘They’re all Peace. We always maintained her preference in roses although this house was built after her death.’

‘They’re lovely,’ he commented. ‘I shall endeavour to do the same. So you won’t miss being able to spend your holidays here or having a retreat so close to the city?’

Domenica inserted a brass key into the heavy wooden double front door and swung it open. ‘A bit,’ she confessed, ‘but I’m actually so busy at the moment, holidays are not on the agenda.’ She smiled ruefully.

‘As in?’ Angus queried.

She glanced at him, then preceded him into the foyer. ‘I design children’s clothes. I have my own label and it’s finally taken off! I have more orders than I know what to do with and I’m thinking of branching out into women’s sportswear.’

Angus Keir discovered that he was surprised. A lovely social-butterfly type was what he’d assumed she was and it occurred to him that perhaps he should have instigated some more research into Domenica herself as well as her famous family.

He said as he stepped over the threshold, ‘Forgive me, but I did wonder why I was dealing with you rather than your mother, Miss Harris, in whose name this property is, or was, registered?’

Domenica laid her hat down on a lovely mahogany drum table with a leather inlaid top. ‘Both my mother and my sister Christabel are wonderful people, Mr Keir, but not exactly business orientated. Neither was Dad.’ She looked briefly sad, then smiled wryly. ‘I don’t know where I inherited a few down-to-earth, practical genes from, but they’re happy to leave it all to me—I have her power of attorney. Now, I have an inventory here,’ she continued, suddenly brisk and practical right on cue. ‘I believe you have a copy?’ She glanced at him out of those amazing blue eyes.

‘I do.’ He drew some folded sheets of paper from the inner pocket of his jacket.

‘And, as you know, while most of the contents of the house were included in the sale, you did agree that we could keep some personal treasures.’

‘Yes.’ He inclined his head.

‘Well, I think we should check the inventory of what was to remain together now, then we can both sign it so there can be no disagreements later.’

Angus Keir looked her over unsmilingly and the nature of the mysterious niggle he’d experienced earlier suddenly came clear to him. He would like to have some power over this cool, serene and utterly gorgeous girl, some hold, even if it was only that she bitterly regretted having to part with a home he now owned. Why? he wondered. So he could lure her back to it? As an excuse to get to know her? Yes, he concluded, and his eyebrows rose in some surprise at the thought.

Then he realized that Domenica was looking at him curiously, but only because of the lengthening pause between them, and the irony of not making much of an impact on this girl at all when she’d done the opposite to him amused him inwardly but activated a resolve to change things…

‘I think that’s a very good idea, Miss Harris,’ he said. ‘And if you have second thoughts about anything you’d really like to keep, please let me know. I’d be happy to accommodate you.’

This time Domenica’s eyebrows rose, in sheer surprise. ‘That’s very kind of you but I don’t think there’s anything,’ she said slowly, as if she was not quite sure whether to believe him.

‘Should we start in here, then?’ he suggested.

It took them over an hour, and, although he’d inspected the house before and although houses didn’t mean that much to him, Angus Keir felt a sense of triumph to think that this lovely home with its use of timber and slate, the design that made the best use of natural light and the wonderful views, was his—even denuded of some of the Harris family treasures.

There was also an air about it of a home, not as if it should grace the glossy pages of an interior design magazine, not matched or co-ordinated within an inch of its life, but comfortable and gracious. Although, he conceded