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HOME >> Product 0374 >> A Charitable Affair>>

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A Charitable Affair

ELLEN FARRELL

When graphic artist Philadelphia Wing arrives back in Oxford from a work related assignment in Madrid she finds a series of disquieting messages on her house telephone. Hoping to talk to her uncle Morton Jack in his college rooms, she finds that he has left for a remote area of Mexico, and it is to his colleague Julian Westmoreland, an economist working in the City of London, that she tells her story: a newspaper is seeking her comments on her involvement with Simon Fielding and the way she, Phillie, has treated Susie Johnson. Phillie, whose main employment is with the charitable foundation Aid Incorporated, knows Simon slightly, has never heard of Susie, and is by accident back significantly early from Spain.

$1.99

Julian Westmoreland, intrigued, investigates on Phillie’s behalf and discovers that, portrayed as the deceitful and seductive charity charmer Philadelphia, she is soon to be the subject of a deliberate scheme, orchestrated by Simon Fielding, of press vilification and ridicule. He talks to the principal editor involved, tells him he is the one who has been set up, that by chance Phillie has been reached by phone so that they both know what is going on and that by the time she is supposed to be enacting her role in Simon Fielding’s plot she will be Mrs. Julian Westmoreland.

Phillie declares Julian’s idea to be impossible, then, reluctant but persuaded, agrees to go through a marriage ceremony and to move to London. It will, of course, demand acting on her part, but Phillie is convinced she has done the right thing when, once again in Madrid but by this time on her pretend and platonic honeymoon with Julian, she is approached by a journalist whose face she recognizes because she had seen him earlier in the departure lounge at Heathrow Airport.

Told by Julian that life in England will be different because of his immense workload, Phillie makes the most of their stay in Madrid; they stroll about the city, search out works of art at the convent of the Descalzas Reales, the Royal Palace, the Escorial. Julian makes everything amusing and easy, and back in London Phillie finds herself sharing an impressive apartment just off Park Lane and commuting to the Oxford offices of Aid Incorporated, her employers. Busy though they both are, she and Julian continue their deception. They go to the theatre, visit galleries; she likes his friends and colleagues and he likes hers. Her regard for Julian grows into an unspoken love and a trust which is shattered when, confronted in Bond Street by Simon Fielding, she is given an IOU for £11,000 won from Simon by Julian because she and Julian have been married for three months. The cheque, which includes Julian’s stake of £1,000, is to follow the IOU.

Julian dismisses Phillie’s bewildered disapproval of the bet and reminds her that any separation between them would make the early unprinted story even better. Phillie, struck down by influenza, struggles to hide her misery; once better and with Julian considerate, helpful and as usual at arms’ length, they continue their affectionate public relationship. At a Sussex wedding the genuine pleasure of their friends at their perceived happiness is hard for Phillie to bear. Drawn more than ever to Julian she maintains an emotional distance and strained to the limit of endurance, accompanies him to an elaborate costume ball where she finds herself face to face with a matador-costumed Simon Fielding. He asks, amused, if she would care to involve herself in another little adventure; no doubt, he asserts, Julian is even as they speak, working out how to manipulate and deceive her just a little bit further than he has already.

Phillie finds Julian and tells him, distressed and very confused, that Simon had declared himself unwilling to put any money on Julian’s staying with her six months. Julian, dismissive, hands her a cheque for £11,000 signed by him in favour of Aid Incorporated. They are further apart than ever.

Sent by Mickey Waldron, her immediate superior at Aid Incorporated, to view work at a graduate show in Oxford, Phillie recognizes Simon Fielding’s friend James Smithers, and asks with bitterness if their meeting is part of the same joke. He doesn’t pretend not to understand but says that he failed to see the funny side from the very beginning and was just sorry that Phillie was ever involved, that Julian had found him and had explained that Simon was pulling a stunt that would upset her and that he wasn't having any of it. Julian’s attitude of fury that Phillie was likely to be hurt had resulted in James telling Julian everything he wanted to know.

Later, in her Oxford house, Phillie is telephoned by her uncle, Morton Jack, in whose college room she had first met Julian. Morton is back from Mexico and at her front door in a matter of minutes. Hearing an edited version of her story he asks if love had blossomed over the postcard racks in the Prado, and seeing the tears dropping on to her clenched hands, advises her to accept that Julian had made the most of an interesting situation.

Once more in Julian’s London apartment she apologizes for her behaviour only for Julian to ask with indifference if that means she should have given him the benefit of the doubt; he is leaving for meetings in St Petersburg and it is clear that he is sorry to have to go. On his return he admits that when he walked into Morton’s college room and saw Phillie sitting there it was for him then or never; he’d intended to get her for keeps and had realized that it would take a little time but that the past weeks and months had been the most difficult of his life. He couldn’t, he tells her, go on as they had and swears that if only she would stay he would spend the rest of his life trying to make her happy. Phillie assures him that she already is happy, very happy, and is immediately pulled into his arms . . .

 

eBOOK STATS:

   

Length:

743829 Words

Price:

$4.99

Sale Price:

$1.99

Published:

11-2014

Cover Art:

T.L. Davison

Editor:

Copyright:

Ellen Farrell

ISBN Number:

978-1-77217-012-2

Available Formats:

PDF; HTML; Microsoft Reader(LIT); MobiPocket (PRC); Palm (PDB); Nook, Iphone, Ipad, Android (EPUB); Kindle (MOBI);

 

EXCERPT

   

PHILADELPHIA WING HURRIED TO her uncle’s college under increasingly threatening skies which, she thought wryly, reflected her harassed state of mind. By the time she reached the Porter’s Lodge she knew that she should have brought an umbrella; the very light drizzle which might have cleared was now more like steady rain. Phillie hopped up and down and shook out her hair before tapping on the glass.

“My uncle,” she told an affable porter, “sent a message. I’m to collect some things that he left.” In fact, restless, she’d rather hoped to find the man himself, but her attempts to reach him had gone to voice mail.

“The professor was in then out, Miss Wing. He told us you’d be coming round. I’ll get a brollie.”

She wasn’t handed a key; the porter, chatting all the time, came with her through two quadrangles, the lawns rich green in the now greyish light, the trees wind blown, dripping; he let her into Morton’s set of rooms.

Phillie had a list of what she was to take away but the gloom was such that she wasn’t sure now that she could read her own writing. As though he thought it might help, and as indeed it did, the porter put on first the main central light, then a standard lamp, and after that a reading light near the desk telephone. Then he put on the gas fire.

“I always say to Professor Jack that there’s no place like home,” he said paternally. “Just pull the doors securely to when you leave.”

She nodded that she would, and the porter left. On the table between the two windows looking out on to the quad there were three library books, several dry cleaning tickets, a red telephone bill, three packets of expensive looking biscuits and the unopened two pound tin of coffee she knew she was to take away with her. There was also a very large parcel wrapped in tissue paper and tied with pink ribbon. The card on top said, Sorry I missed you.

Of course Morton had been and gone. Phillie looked at the table; she would have to think things out for herself. If she hadn’t come back early she might never have received the messages, and she’d wanted to ask his advice. She didn’t understand what was happening, and didn’t know what to do.

“Hullo,” said a man’s voice from the half open door.

Phillie was so startled that she stepped backwards and sideways and sat down hard on Morton’s uncomfortable sofa. She’d seen the man before, in fact twice before, at a dinner and then at a charity sale, but on both occasions very briefly and very much at a distance; she didn’t know his name.

“Julian Westmoreland.”

He was tall, dark, and spoke as though in response to a question and as he entered Phillie stood up, put out her hand, and said, a little breathless, “How do you do. I’m Philadelphia Wing.”

“What a quiet voice you have, Grandmama.” Julian Westmoreland’s tone was even, his eyes cool.

Though he’d immediately released her hand, Phillie knew he was watching her closely. On the two occasions she’d seen him she’d noticed the lean, hard watchfulness, and the way he managed to look as unfriendly as possible while at the same time remaining conventionally affable. She’d wondered if it were calculated. Now, instead of being offended, she smiled.

“That’s better,” he said, not smiling back. “I saw you last week.”

 

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