The Ultimate Surrender

By: Penny Jordan

“You’ve always claimed that no man could replace Richard in your life.”

“No man could,” Polly agreed.

“Not in your life, then, but perhaps it’s a different matter when it comes to your bed.”

Polly stared at him.

He continued. “If I’d known, I might have done this much sooner….” His mouth came down on her own with a determination that made her whole body start to tremble.

“Kiss me properly,” Marcus demanded rawly against her lips.

“Marcus,” she started to protest, but the moment her lips parted his were covering them, devouring them…devouring her.

And the resistance drained out of her body.


‘HI, MA, guess what? I think I’ve found the perfect woman for Uncle Marcus. Her name’s Suzi Howell. We met her when Chris and I were having dinner with his parents. Suzi’s mother is Chris’s godmother, and she’s gorgeous; tall, blonde—you know, that stylish, elegant type that Marcus always goes for. And she’s the right age—late twenties—and she knows all about the hotel trade because she works for some super-exclusive American outfit in the Caribbean, and—’

‘Briony…’ Polly Fraser’s muffled voice interrupted her daughter’s eulogy as Polly emerged from the deep recess of the kitchen cupboard she had been cleaning out.

Why was it one’s offspring always chose the most inauspicious of moments to make such announcements? Polly wondered as she gingerly extricated herself from the cupboard and put its contents on the worktop which she was kneeling with one leg whilst standing on her step-ladder with the other.

‘You’re going to love her; she’s just so perfect for Uncle Marcus,’ Briony continued to enthuse, adding warningly, ‘Watch out, Mum,’ as she deftly caught the jar of home-made plum jam which Polly had dislodged as she hurriedly stepped down from the worktop.

‘Mmm,’ Briony remarked, ‘my favourite. May I take this back to college with me? Bought stuff just doesn’t taste the same.’

‘No, it doesn’t, does it?’ Polly agreed, smartly repossessing the jar and ignoring her daughter’s injured expression. ‘You know the rules,’ she reminded her firmly. ‘The customers come first. Which reminds me, if you want to earn a little bit of extra money whilst you’re at home that blackberry and apple jelly I made last year from that new recipe has gone down very well…’

‘Mum…’ Briony protested. ‘Can you just stop thinking about the hotel and the guests for five minutes and listen to what I’m trying to tell you?’

Penitently Polly got down properly from her perch and allowed her daughter to lead her towards the kitchen table.

She had been just eighteen herself—Briony’s age—when she had met and fallen in love with Richard Fraser. At twenty-two, four years her senior, he had swept her off her feet.

They had met when he had called at the solicitor’s offices where she’d worked, following the death of his grandfather, General Leo Fraser, who had left jointly to both his grandsons the large Georgian house which had been in the family for several generations but which neither of his sons, both army men themselves, nor their wives, had wanted to take on.

It had been left to Richard to deal with most of the more mundane aspects of the formalities connected with the will since Marcus had at the time been working abroad for a large multinational oil company, and although Polly had heard a good deal about his slightly older cousin from Richard it had not been until after their own wedding, a breathtaking three months after they had met, that she had actually seen Marcus in person for the first time. Even now, all these years later, she could recall the shock that coming face to face with him had given her. Richard, her own husband, had been good-looking and sweetly charming, with the old-fashioned kind of courtesy that came from a traditional services boarding-school upbringing, but Marcus…To call Marcus merely good-looking was rather like comparing the sweet pleasantness of ordinary milk chocolate to the sophisticated, broodingly rich, dark, addictive flavour of plain.

In other words Marcus was in a class of his own, a man who even now, in his early forties, was just so compellingly male that Polly’s mouth still went a little bit dry and her pulse-rate still rose every time he walked into the room. If Richard would have made a classically good-natured and physically attractive hero in the mould of Jane Austen’s Mr Bingley, then Marcus could quite definitely have been Mr Darcy—and then some. There was something of a sense of shut-down, controlled male power about Marcus that immediately made one think of a smouldering volcano—a fierce sexual energy which, for Polly, at nineteen and a very, very new and shy bride, had been rather too much for her to contend with.

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