An Eligible Bachelor

Free An Eligible Bachelor by Veronica Henry

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Authors: Veronica Henry
Tags: Fiction, General
complained.
    ‘Shut up, you old fart,’ sang Henty, who was trying to do the splits but ended up falling in the dog’s basket.
    When Honor got home that evening, she put Ted to bed, keenly aware that they hadn’t done his spellings but promising herself that they could squeeze it in if she got him up ten minutes earlier. Then she sat on her bed, immersed in the gloom that comes from having a drink too early in the evening and not carrying on. Which is always worse if you find yourself on your own.
    ‘Be positive,’ she told herself, and pulled back the chintzy curtain that hung in front of the rail she’d inexpertly put up in an alcove to house what remained of her clothes. Underneath were neatly stacked old shoe-boxes that she’d covered in pretty wrapping paper, which held her accessories. Taking a deep breath, she started to rifle through.
    Half an hour later, she appraised herself in the mirror and decided that, although she needed to double-check her appearance in the cold light of day and when she was sober, she hadn’t done a bad job.
    She’d unearthed a naughty black silk corset, tied with ribbons up the back, that she’d bought from an exquisite underwear shop in Paris at great expense. She’d kept it because she could hardly flog off her underwear, and of all the items in her wardrobe she loved this the most – the tiny, handsewn buttonholes, the discreet wiring and boning that gave her a minute waist and an impressive cleavage.
    Round her waist she draped a black and white silk shawl. It had belonged to her grandmother, so once again she hadn’t been able to part with it. She knotted it on one hip like a pareo, and the heavily tasselled silk hung beautifully. Then she slung on half a dozen pearl necklaces that she’d harboured from various charity shops: all different lengths and sizes. All she would have to buy was some cobwebby tights and false eyelashes. With some dramatic eye make-up and her short dark hair spiked, she’d look…
    Well, different.
    The one thing she wouldn’t have to worry about was someone else turning up in the same outfit.
4
    ‘Oh my God!’ breathed Henty on Saturday night when Honor and Ted turned up. ‘You look amazing! Like a punk princess.’
    ‘You look beautiful too.’ Honor gave her a hug.
    Henty did indeed look stunning. The hairdresser had piled her dark curls on top of her head in an elegant updo, and she’d added some of Thea’s dangly earrings and some deep red lipstick.
    Charles was draped languidly in a chair in the sitting room in his dinner shirt and braces, smoking a cigarette. He looked up as the girls trooped in.
    ‘Wow,’ he said. ‘You look fantastic. You see,’ he added to Henty, ‘look what you can achieve when you make a bit of an effort. There’s no reason to let yourself go.’
    Honor saw Henty’s little face cloud over at Charles’s implied criticism. Why couldn’t he just have told her she looked gorgeous and leave it at that?
    She’d noticed that Charles always managed to burst Henty’s bubble. She thought he was probably a bit of a bully. Henty had told her once that Charles wouldn’t buy her a tumble-dryer because he liked his clothes line-dried. Honor had been horrified. With four children, two of them girls who changed their outfits at the blink of an eye, Henty did not need to be lugging baskets of washing outside only to have them rained on. But shedidn’t seem to be able to stand up to Charles.
    He was shrugging on his dinner jacket now. Honor supposed he was good-looking in an oily sort of way, with his dark hair slicked back and his hooded hazel eyes. But didn’t he know it. She’d put her life on him having wandering hand trouble.
    ‘Who’s going to drive?’ asked Henty. ‘We should have booked a taxi.’
    ‘I’ll drive,’ said Charles magnanimously, wanting to look generous in front of Honor. He sometimes felt uncomfortable with the way she looked at him. Honor made him nervous, made him behave badly and say

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