The Unexpected Husband

By: Lindsay Armstrong


‘OF COURSE I don’t want to go to bed with you!’ Lydia Kelso said.

Joe Jordan stared at the woman who had just rejected his offer with such stinging contempt, and he registered mental surprise tinged with amusement. Surprise be cause Lydia Kelso was as different from her sister as chalk from cheese...

She had an unruly mane of sun-streaked dark fair hair that looked as if she didn’t bother to torture it into any kind of style. Her skin was smooth and her eyes a deep velvety blue. Whilst she didn’t have immediately turn- your-head kind of looks, that lovely skin, the delicately cut yet severe pair of lips, as well as her stunning eyes, redeemed her to a rather unusual attractiveness. She wore no make-up at all.

Her neck was long and elegant—so was the rest of her tall and almost boyishly rangy beneath a pinstriped navy trouser suit she wore with black leather loafers. Her shoulders were straight and her hands were narrow yet capable-looking, with short, unpainted nails, and she wore a man’s signet ring on the little finger of her left hand and a man’s watch.

Whereas her sister Daisy was drop-dead gorgeous, with dark hair, true violet eyes and a sensational figure...

He shrugged, raised an ironic eyebrow at Lydia Kelso, and murmured, ‘I asked because that was the proposition your sister put to me when we first met. I thought it might run in the family.’


‘You should never generalise about people, even when they come from the same family, Mr Jordan,’ she said coldly.

‘Does that mean you don’t approve of your own sister?’ he asked wryly.

Lydia took a breath and subsided somewhat. Then she moved her hands and decided to be honest. I don’t approve of you,’ she said flatly.

‘We’ve only just met,’ he pointed out, with open amusement in his eyes now.

‘Your reputation precedes you, however, so—’

‘All, right.’ He sat up straighter and reached for his pen. ‘Tell me exactly what you know about me, Lydia Kelso. We may then be able to sort the wheat from the chaff.’

Lydia looked around Joe Jordan’s colourful studio and reflected that she could have been outmanoeuvred. At the same time she took in the posters on the wall, the books and magazines overflowing from a whole wall of honey pine bookshelves, the polished timber floor with a slightly ruckled rug in jewel-bright ruby swirls on a yellow background. There were two computers on the table behind him, an easel, a skylight above, and a particularly healthy Kentia palm flourishing in a wicker basket in one corner.

• Then she looked back at him across the wide expanse of his untidy desktop, saw the challenge in his eyes and stiffened her spine.

All the same, it took her a few moments to compose her mental processes. Because it had been one thing to think dark thoughts about this man in his absence, but being confronted by him, and suddenly able to see what Daisy had obviously seen in him, made it a slightly different matter.

He wasn’t, as she’d expected, to-die-for handsome. On first impressions, that was. She found herself amending the thought. He bad thick, straight sandy-brown hair, hazel eyes, a smattering of freckles, and golden hairs glinted on his arms beneath the rolled up sleeves of his khaki bush shirt as a mote of sunlight came in through the skylight. He wore his bush shirt with blue jeans and brown desert boots.

So what was it? Well, he was tall enough—tall enough even for her. Lean, yes, but with wide shoulders, well-knit. .

•A smile touched her mouth as she wondered exactly what that meant. If it meant all in proportion, with a well-balanced look and the hint of smooth, easy strength - beneath his outline, that was exactly the impression Joe Jordan gave. But he was also—interesting, she decided. In a way that was hard to define. You couldn’t help gaining the impression that here was a man it could be exciting to know, especially if you were a woman...

She shook her head, reminded herself of his offer to take her to bed although they’d only just met—her blue eyes blazed at the memory—and said, ‘We all know how clever you are, Mr. Jordan. One of the better known cartoonists in the country, but—’

‘Why would you hold that against me, assuming it’s true?’