Read Promise Made Online

Authors: Linda Sole

Promise Made

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Linda Sole
This ebook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author's and publisher's rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.

First world edition published 2008

in Great Britain and 2009 in the USA by


9–15 High Street, Sutton, Surrey, England, SM1 1DF.

Copyright © 2008 by Linda Sole.

All rights reserved.

The moral right of the author has been asserted.

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

Sole, Linda

A promise made

1. Great Britain - History - George VI, 1936-1952 - Fiction

2. Great Britain - Social life and customs - Fiction

3. Domestic fiction

I. Title


ISBN-13: 978-1-78010-256-6 (ePub)

ISBN-13: 978-0-7278-6772-8 (cased)

ISBN-13: 978-1-84751-131-7 (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.


She was standing looking out at the park, her face half turned from him, slightly wistful, perhaps a little sad. For a moment he stood watching her, drinking in the lovely line of her face, her slim body that curved where it should. Just seeing her made him feel good to be alive, gave him a reason for pushing his tired old body to live one more week, one more day . . . one more hour. He had kept her here when she would have left after Simon died, his son's widow – the woman he loved in a way that a man of his age, already married to another woman, should not. He wanted her, loved her, cherished her and lived in dread that she would leave him.

Emily Vane turned, her face lighting up as she saw him. If she had been lovely before she was breathtaking now – the kind of intriguing, sensuous woman that men would always want. He knew that he could not let her go. Even if she were like a little butterfly beating her wings against a sunlit window trying to get out, he would never open that window and let her fly.

‘Vane,' Emily said. ‘How are you, my dear? Amelia said that you weren't feeling too well this morning. Should you have come down?'

‘The day I take to my bed, they may put me in my box and bury me,' Vane growled. ‘You looked pensive just now. What were you thinking about? One of the patients worrying you?'

‘No, I don't think so,' Emily said. ‘I love my job at the convalescent home. You know that, Vane.'

He knew. It was a part of the honeyed trap he had set to keep her here when she'd wanted to leave after her husband died. He frowned as he recalled the way his son had treated this wonderful girl. Simon had been a fool! If only he had met Emily when he was younger . . . but that was the irony of life. She had married Simon and he was far too old for her.

‘Something is wrong – tell me.' He walked towards her, unable to resist the temptation just to touch her cheek, the need inside a burning fire that only the wisdom of age kept from becoming a conflagration. If he had tried to make love to her she would have run away. So he took what comfort he could from having her near, loving her in the only way she would allow. ‘You know that I want you to be happy?'

‘Yes, of course.' Her soft laughter pleased him. ‘I am happy, Vane. Who could fail to be living in a place like this? The house and the park . . . it never fails to lift my spirits.'

‘Then they
low,' he persisted. ‘Why?'

‘I was just thinking of my sister. Her husband should be coming home soon. You knew he was a pilot, didn't you? Simon flew with his crew at one time.'

‘Were you thinking you would like to visit your family? It is a while since you went.' Sometimes he had to give her the illusion of freedom, but he knew the bonds he had woven about her would hold.

‘I was thinking what to buy for Frances's birthday,' Emily said. ‘It has to be something I can post – unless I go down for a visit soon. I daresay my brother could do with a little help. He wrote telling me that his accounts were in a muddle again.'

‘Visit your family,' Vane said. ‘We can manage for a few days – just as long as you come back to us soon.' She had to come back because without her his wealth, this ancient house he treasured, his life would mean nothing.

‘You know I shall come back, don't you, Vane. For as long as you need me.' Her soft brown eyes were on him, slightly accusing and yet forgiving. She could forgive him, but never herself – that was why her promise would hold, because she had lied to him.

‘I shall always need you,' he said. ‘And now I suppose I must find some work to do. This place is beautiful but it doesn't run itself.'

‘And I must go down to the home,' Emily said. ‘But I think I shall just pop up and see Robert first.'

‘My grandson,' Vane said. ‘I was thinking about buying him a pony, Emily – but perhaps it is too soon?'

‘A little,' she said with a teasing smile. ‘He isn't even three yet, Vane. Get him a puppy, if you like. He loves your old Sandy, but a puppy would be something for him to play with.'

‘Yes, I shall,' Vane said. ‘He needs a companion and I am too old to play – though we enjoy visiting the lake together. But a puppy it shall be.'

‘I think I shall go into Winchester this afternoon,' Emily said. ‘I'm going to buy Frances some expensive perfume. I think she will love that, don't you?'

‘Yes, I am sure she will,' Vane said. ‘I shall see you at dinner, Emily.'

He watched her walk from the room, the unconscious sway of her hips making him long for his lost youth, and then shook his head and sighed. She was young, he was old – he could never be more than her friend. But he could bear that as long as he could see her every day. He could bear anything as long as she didn't leave him.

Frances Danby glanced at the French gilt clock on the mantelpiece, catching her breath as she watched the long hand reach a quarter past three. It was Wednesday afternoon and that meant her father-in-law would arrive at any moment. A sick feeling clawed at her stomach, because she hated Wednesday afternoons, dreaded Sam Danby's weekly visit to take tea with her and his grandson.

She walked to the sitting-room window and looked out at the garden, watching her son playing with the boisterous puppy his grandfather had recently given him. Frances hadn't wanted the child to have a dog. In her opinion he was too young, not quite four years, but Sam had overruled her. She believed he had bought the animal out of spite . . .

Frances shied away from the thought. She was wrong. Surely she was wrong! Those sultry looks Sam had been giving her recently couldn't mean what she suspected. She had done everything she dare to show him that she wasn't interested other than to tell him to get the hell out of her life. It was impossible to speak more plainly, because it would cause a huge row in the family. Besides, Sam hadn't actually done anything she could accuse him of to his face. He lost no chance to touch her, patting her on the bottom whenever the opportunity came his way – but it was the way he looked at her that made Frances feel sick inside.

‘Oh, Marcus,' Frances said aloud as she patted the soft hair she had recently had marcel-waved in front of the mirror. Her eyes were a greenish blue, her mouth naturally red and a little petulant at this moment. ‘I do wish you were here.'

She was so lonely at times, despite having her younger brother living with her for the time being. In truth Connor was more of a worry than a comfort, especially these last few months. It was all the fault of the wretched war, which had dragged on for so much longer than anyone had expected. She and Marcus had married in the summer of 1940, soon after her father's death, and it was now the spring of 1946. They had been married for more than five years but hardly any of that time had been spent together. Even though the war was finally over, her husband still hadn't been officially released from his duties as an RAF pilot.

If Marcus were here his father wouldn't keep looking at her that way! Frances's eyes flicked to the clock again, an expensive present to her and Marcus from his parents the previous Christmas. Sam would be here in five minutes. Her stomach clenched and she took a deep breath to steady her nerves. Her face looked pale, almost desperate, but that was silly! Sam hadn't made any demands but she knew what he was thinking.

She heard the crunch of tyres at the side of the house as a car slid over the gravel drive and she went to the French windows to fetch her son in from the garden. Sam wouldn't attempt anything when his grandson was in the room. She couldn't stop him looking but she was safe enough with the child there.

‘Come along, Charlie,' she called. ‘Your grandfather is here.'

The child came readily, his face eager, eyes bright. He was a happy child, full of life and good-natured. His grandfather's visits meant sweets, because Sam saved his ration to buy them for the boy whenever they were available.

Sam Danby walked into the sitting room at the same moment as his grandson came bounding in and Frances slammed the door, shutting the puppy in the garden. The child threw himself at his grandfather clamouring to be picked up. For a moment, as they played their usual games, Frances was free to observe her visitor.

Sam was a man of average height, heavily built with short wiry hair flecked with grey and a bull neck. He wasn't at all like his son. Marcus was of finer stock and took after his mother, who came from a good county family. Sam, as he was fond of telling anyone who happened to be around, was of farming stock, down-to-earth, hearty men who were used to hard work. It was hard work that had made him one of the richest men in the district, though Frances knew that he'd had his start through his wife's inheritance from an aunt.

‘That's enough for the moment, Charlie.'

Frances's heart jerked as Sam looked up at her. He took a twist of sweets from his pocket and gave them to the boy.

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