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To Make a Marriage(6)

By:Carole Mortimer

Now he knew what was different about Andie! Like her mother before her,  Andie always looked perfect, her make-up in place, no matter what the  time of day, her clothes always beautifully tailored. Andie's make-up  was still perfect, but for once she wasn't wearing any of her designer  label clothes. Instead, she had on a loose green shirt over fitted  denims, the former so big it looked as if it could be one of Rome's  cast-offs!

Not that Andie didn't look as gorgeous as always; in fact, the casual  clothing gave her a more approachable appearance, Adam decided  thoughtfully. He was just surprised at the change in her, that was all …

She paused in the act of dead-heading roses, turning as she seemed to  sense his gaze on her, a slight blush colouring her cheeks as she looked  at him-warily, it almost seemed to him … ? Had their friendship really  come to that?                       


Probably, he acknowledged with a regretful sigh for the easy camaraderie  they had once shared. But what had he expected? Nothing stayed the  same. The fact that Harrie and Danie were now both married was testament  to that.

'I was just thinking how much like your mother you are.' He spoke  quietly, knowing, with this newfound strain between them, that Andie  would not welcome any comment he might make concerning her personal  appearance.

Andie's expression changed from guarded to noncommittal. 'She would have  approved of Harrie and Danie's choice of husbands,' she commented  huskily.

Yes, she probably would. Barbara, like Rome, had adored all of her  daughters, wanted only the best for them. From the little he had seen of  Quinn and Jonas, he had a feeling Barbara would not have been  disappointed.

But what about Andie-would Barbara have approved of her lifestyle … ?  Andie was a career woman, had been the senior editor of Gloss for three  years now, and showed no signs of wanting to change that for a husband  and family of her own.

Yes, Barbara would have approved, he decided; Barbara would approve of anything that made her daughters happy.

Besides, Harrie and Danie still had their respective careers, as well as their husbands!


'So here you are, Adam,' Rome's rasped comment as he entered the  greenhouse interrupted what Adam had been about to say. 'Audrey said you  were around somewhere.'

Adam briefly studied the older man, and he did not like what he saw.  Rome's boyish good looks-blonde-haired, blue-eyed-were still the same,  but there was a look of strain about those eyes and his mouth, a  hardness to the latter that boded ill for anyone who got in his way.

'And, as usual, she was right,' Adam returned lightly.

'How on earth are you going to manage without her, Rome?'

Rome glared at him through narrowed lids. 'No one is indispensable, Adam,' he responded coldly.

Adam raised blond brows. 'No employee, possibly,' he returned acidly.  'But I always thought of Audrey as being more than that,' he added  challengingly, aware that Andie was listening to the verbal exchange  with a pained expression.

But it had taken only one look at Rome's face, at the hard implacability  of his expression, to realise that the friendly chat he had intended  having with his longtime friend was out of the question; Rome looked as  approachable as a wounded bull-elephant!

Rome gave a dismissive shrug of broad shoulders. 'Obviously Audrey had  decided differently,' he rasped harshly. 'And, as I have learnt to my  cost recently, there is absolutely no point in trying to stand in the  way of a woman who has made up her own mind what she intends doing with  her own life!'

The remark, Adam knew, could have been directed at Harrie and Danie as  much as at Audrey, and their determination to marry the men of their  choice with as little delay as possible. However, Adam sensed, rather  than actually saw, Andie's reaction to her father's remark, could feel  the tension emanating from her as she paused in her care of the roses.

Leading Adam to wonder about the decision concerning what she intended  doing with her own life Andie could possibly have made recently for her  to assume Rome's remark was actually directed at her … ?

Seeing no immediate answer to his question in either Andie or Rome's  faces, he turned his attention back to Audrey; he would try and talk to  Andie later on in the weekend. Try-because that hadn't been too easy to  do just recently!

'And what does Audrey intend doing with her life?' he prompted the other man.

'I have no idea,' Rome answered scathingly. 'I suggest you ask her that yourself.'

'Meaning that you haven't bothered?' Adam countered, his expression deliberately innocent as the other man scowled at him.

'Meaning that Audrey has made it more than plain that it's none of my damned business!' Rome snapped.

'Hmm,' Adam murmured thoughtfully.

'What, exactly, does that mean?' Rome challenged hardly.

"'Hmm"?' Adam repeated, realising he was provoking the other man but  knowing he had no choice if he was to get anywhere in this conversation  at all. 'I've always thought of it as a pretty noncommittal remark,  myself.'

'Then why make it?' Rome grated disgustedly. 'You-'

'Daddy,' Andie interrupted softly. 'Aren't you being just a  little-aggressive to your guest?' she said, once she had Rome's full  attention.

Rome looked far from pleased at the obvious rebuke. Adam couldn't say he  was exactly overjoyed by it himself; since when had he been relegated  to being Rome's guest … ?                       


But he already knew the answer to that, he acknowledged heavily. He and  Andie, although still polite to each other-overly so, Adam felt!-were no  longer friends, that easy camaraderie they had once shared no longer  there. He knew the reason for that all too well, and regretted it more  than he could say! More than he had ever regretted anything else in his  life!

'I can take a little aggression,' Adam assured Andie lightly; in fact,  he would relish it. His relationship with all of the Summer family had  changed over recent months, necessarily so with Harrie and Danie, now  that they were both married. But he had a feeling that if he were to  speak as plainly to Rome as he wished to concerning Audrey, then he  might jeopardise his friendship with the older man to such a degree that  it would be irretrievable. Which meant his visits here would be a thing  of the past …

Did he really want that?

Of course he didn't! His friendship with the Summer family had been his anchor for more years than he cared to think about!

But he couldn't just stand by and watch Rome make the biggest mistake of  his life, either. He, perhaps more than most people, knew what it was  like to love a woman who was completely out of your reach. As Audrey  would be to Rome if he should let her leave …

'Let's walk back to the house,' he suggested to Rome as he walked over to join the other man in the doorway.

'There are a few things I need to discuss with you anyway.'

'And I thought you just came down to visit with all of us,' Andie put in with hard derision. 'How silly of me!'

Adam glanced back at her, sighing heavily at the sparks in her eyes as they easily held his.

His own friendship with Andie, it seemed, was already irretrievable …


SHE didn't have too much of an appetite at the moment, Andie thought-her  morning sickness seemed to start in the late afternoon and continue  until she went to bed! But the strained silence around this dinner table  certainly wasn't helping to improve that situation!

Adam and Rome didn't appear to be talking to each other-indeed, Rome  wasn't particularly talking to any of them!-and any remarks that passed  between Andie and Adam were politely strained. In fact, the only person  who seemed to be talking naturally and easily, to everyone, was Audrey!

The older woman looked dazzlingly beautiful this evening, her  knee-length black dress shot through with silver, her smile warm and  charming, her manner as friendly as usual.

But Andie wasn't fooled for a minute by the other woman's charming ease,  could still see that sadness in the deep blue of her eyes …

'I thought salmon was a favourite of yours?' Adam was the one to break  the awkward silence, looking at Andie as she pushed the grilled fish  around on her plate.

It had been-but as with so many other foods she had once liked, now the  mere smell of it only seemed to increase her nausea! The thought of  actually eating any of it was complete anathema to her …

She put down her knife and fork, giving up all effort to try and hide  the uneaten fish under the salad-she obviously hadn't been succeeding,  anyway! 'I'm really not very hungry,' she dismissed. 'In fact, if you'll  all excuse me, I think I may just disappear outside for some fresh  air.' She didn't wait for their response, standing up to let herself out  of the French doors into the garden, breathing the air in deeply,  hoping to eliminate even the smell of the salmon from her already  quivering senses.