Olivia's Awakening. Margaret Way
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EIGHT SISTERS, EIGHT
SCANDALOUSLY SEDUCTIVE STORIES
Scandal on the night of the world-famous one hundredth Balfour Charity Ball has left the Balfour family in disarray! Proud patriarch Oscar Balfour knows that something must be done. His only option is to cut his daughters off from their lavish lifestyles and send them out into the real world to stand on their own two feet. So he dusts off the Balfour family rules and uses his powerful contacts to place each girl in a situation that will challenge her particular personality. He is determined that each of his daughters should learn that money will not buy happiness — integrity, decorum, strength, trust … and love are everything!
Each month Mills & Boon is delighted to bring you an exciting new instalment from The Balfour Legacy. You won’t want to miss out!
MIA’S SCANDAL – Michelle Reid KAT’S PRIDE – Sharon Kendrick EMILY’S INNOCENCE – India Grey SOPHIE’S SEDUCTION – Kim Lawrence ZOE’S LESSON – Kate Hewitt ANNIE’S SECRET – Carole Mortimer BELLA’S DISGRACE – Sarah Morgan OLIVIA’S AWAKENING – Margaret Way
About the Author
MARGARET WAY, a definite Leo, was born and raised in the sub-tropical River City of Brisbane, capital of the Sunshine State of Queensland. A Conservatorium-trained pianist, teacher, accompanist and vocal coach, her musical career came to an unexpected end when she took up writing, initially as a fun thing to do. She currently lives in a harbourside apartment at beautiful Raby Bay, a thirty-minute drive from the State capital, where she loves dining alfresco on her plant-filled balcony that overlooks a translucent green marina filled with all manner of pleasure craft, from motor cruisers costing millions of dollars, big graceful yachts with carved masts standing tall against the cloudless blue sky to little bay runabouts. No one and nothing is in a mad rush, so she finds the laid back village atmosphere very conducive to her writing. With well over a hundred books to her credit, she still believes her best is yet to come.
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I’M UP for the challenge. Of course I am! Nothing like a challenge to bring out the best in her. At the same time she was experiencing a definite sense of panic—the fear of finding herself in a strange land where she could conceivably be a lot unhappier than she already was?
You’re not a Balfour for nothing, girl!
It was natural to her to talk to herself—a practice that had started very early in life. Maybe around seven, when she had found it hard to get attention. Still, she had grown up courageous—not too self-congratulatory a word, she fancied—and with a capacity for adjustment. Only these days her idea of herself had been badly shaken, something she didn’t confide in everyone. Or she stopped herself in the nick of time.
She had always met her obligations, stood resolutely by her code of conduct which she firmly believed to be high, both in theory and in practise. Only problem now, she had lost her guiding star—her faith in herself—the ability she had always prided herself on to keep calm and in control. It was an ability she had learned the hard way, as surrogate mother to her siblings. Sadly that cherished ability had deserted her, bringing on her current sense of devastation. She who had always been such a stickler for doing the right thing had totally lost it. And boy did that hurt!
“Olivia, dear God!” Her father, the British billionaire, Oscar Balfour, using his steely blue eyes as a weapon, had reeled away from her in shock. “How could you? I just can’t believe how you of all people have let me down.”
Naturally a degree of resentment had erupted. Such criticism was hard to take after years of going all-out to please him.
Only the debacle wasn’t just a bad dream. It had really occurred at the Balfour Charity Ball, instigated by her illustrious family a century before.
“The Balfour Ball has become an absolute must for anyone who is anyone in society.” This from Great-aunt Edwina Balfour, the perfect upper-class snob. “On a par with an invitation to the palace.”
Olivia could have responded she would throw over the Balfour Charity Ball any day for an invite to the palace, but had the great good sense not to. Nevertheless, the ball—the 100th no less—wasn’t the occasion where one would have thought anyone in their right mind would get into a catfight. But that was exactly what she and her twin sister Bella had done that fateful night.
“And screw you!” Bella had tossed at her crudely, landing a stinging slap on her twin’s cheek.
The silence thereafter had positively roared. Bella had never struck her, but the incident was now indelibly printed on their memories, possibly for a lifetime. Such a serious breach of etiquette was rarer than rare. Betrayal of family was not to be condoned. The only mitigating circumstance was both she and Bella had meant well. Their argument was all about the fate and future of their much-loved sibling Zoe.
So there they were on that night of nights, all dressed to the nines, beautiful formal gowns and magnificent family heirloom jewellery, except for Bella, who always liked to be different, more daring, setting trends with avant-garde labels and loads of costume glitter. She, Olivia, the sensible, practical—might as well say it—sanctimonious one, the eldest of the “Beautiful Balfour Girls,” pitted against the highly volatile, sparkling Bella, who in retrospect could be judged as the one having the most heart. She could no longer blind herself to that telling fact.
Having laid all her cards on the table she recognised that, as much as she loved and cherished her twin, she had always been inclined to patronise Bella, regarding her sister as someone who, though very beautiful, perhaps lacked intellectual depth. Bella didn’t read books or ponder issues as she did. Bella had not completed her university degree as she had to some distinction. Bella had no great interest in the arts generally.
Their tastes weren’t the same. In fact, they were opposites. Bella played up her stunning beauty. Olivia deliberately played hers down. They weren’t identical twins, but fraternal. Bella closely resembled their dead mother, the exquisite Alexandra. Bella was more the Balfour, with the Balfour blue eyes.
Olivia was far more responsible than her twin. Bella was the first to admit that. She didn’t have Bella’s kind of freedom. Bella’s sole interest