Chapter 8 : Jordana

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It was after midnight when Asher got home. Entering from the rear reception room from the motorcourt of the Italian Renaissance-style mansion, he heard the lively notes of a piano coming from the living room. He took the shortcut — a narrow hallway through the side of the house —to an opening just below the grand staircase. A smile tugged at his lips.

He walked quietly, his eyes riveted to the dark-haired girl playing. The piano stood facing the door to the east loggia, so she had her back to him and didn't notice his arrival.

She was just finishing her piece. As the song faded into its last notes, he said, "It's a little late for piano practice, isn't it?"

With a gasp, the girl turned around to look at him. Her smile was wide as she scrambled off the piano bench. "Asher, you're home!" she said, running toward him.

He caught her in a tight hug. "You little scamp. Aren't you supposed to be with Aunt Catherine?" He released her and rubbed his hand on the top of her head affectionately.

Jordana Darcy looked up at him, wrinkling her nose. "I got bored, so I ran away. I thought I'd surprise you." She flashed him a mischievous grin. "But you already knew, didn't you?"

"Yes, she called me after lunch to tell me about how a wild and out of control child you are."

"Ough. I knew it. She hates me."

"I told her I don't recall having a little sister who was anything the way she described her. My baby sister is a well-behaved young woman who waits for me to come pick her up." The sixteen-year-old was supposed to the stay with their aunt in Martha's Vineyard for a six-week summer holiday before she had to go back to her boarding school in Manhattan.

"I couldn't wait. Anne kept trying to make me go to Bible study with her." She sighed and plopped down on a nearby couch. Anne was her cousin, and her aunt's Catherine's only daughter. "It wasn't any fun after Buhle and Elani left last Friday to attend their cousin's wedding."

"Sorry to hear that." He sat down by her side and put an arm around her shoulder. The twin sisters were expats from South Africa who were in the same grade as Jordana. They'd also spent the summer in the Vineyard, which was why his sister agreed to accompany their aunt for a holiday. "You'll see Buhle and Elani again when school starts."

"So you're not mad?"

"No." He crossed his arms over his chest and frowned. "Okay, maybe a little."

She hooked her arm though his, pulled it close and rested her head on his shoulder. "Sorry."

"I'm glad you're here." He patted her arm.

"Really? I'm not in your way?"

"In the way of what, sweetheart?"

"Oh you know. Your work, your super glamorous lifestyle." She giggled. "Girlfriends."

"Didn't I tell you not too watch too much TMZ? It'll rot your brain."

"I'm not! I swear. My friends keep sending me links to photos and stuff. But that was really mostly during that time you were dating Piper Scanlon."

"You are the most important girl in my life, Jo. You're never in the way of anything okay?"

"Then why can't I just live here with you?"

"You know why."

"It's not fair. It's not like Mom even wants me around. "

"Of course she does."

"She made me go to boarding school. And when school's out, she packs me off to to live with other people. Sometimes I think she can't stand the sight of me."

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