I walked on the stone tiles, my shoes echoing, and went into the music room where there was a grand piano and went straight to the bar. I needed a drink more than ever. I poured myself a glass of neat whiskey and downed it. The effect was instantaneous. It ran into my empty stomach like fire and spread through my body, giving me warmth. There was a soft knock on the door and Madam came in.
“Miss Diana Morrison,” she said formally.
I was shocked. I never thought Madam would ever treat me as if I was the lady of the house receiving a visitor. This was the woman who deliberately took me up the servants’ stairs when I first arrived here.
“Thank you, Madam,” I replied with a grateful smile.
Then my sister came into view. “Hey,” she said, her bright smile losing its luster when she laid eyes on me. Her eyes became round. I knew it was because of the way I looked. As I watched she struggled to get her equilibrium back.
“Hello, Diana,” I greeted softly.
“Should I bring some tea or refreshments, Ma’am?” Madam asked me.
“No thank you, Madam. I have a car coming for me in a few minutes.”
She withdrew and shut the door behind her. I turned to my sister.
“Wow, so you’re living here now. Must be nice.”
“How did you know I was here?” I asked.
“Katie mentioned it so I thought I’d pay you a visit. See how the other half lives and all that,” she said nonchalantly and ended with a false laugh.
“What can I do for you, Diana?”
She didn’t answer me. Instead she walked over to a large painting and stood gazing up at it. “Beautiful, isn’t it. I bet it must have cost the earth.”
I said nothing.
She turned towards me, a fake smile stretched across her face. “So… are you his mistress?”
I shrugged. “I guess you could call it that.”
“You must be very proud of yourself. Landing such a big fish.”
I wasn’t going to give her the satisfaction. I lifted my chin. “Yeah, I got lucky.”
I saw the flash of jealousy in her eyes, but it was gone in a fraction of a second. “I like your outfit. The blouse is from Dior, isn’t it?”
“I think so.”
She nodded. “It is. I saw it in their fall collection. Kim Kardashian has it too.” She came closer. “Mom told me you’ve arranged for Dad and her to go to Switzerland for some sort of experimental treatment at an expensive clinic for the rich and famous.”
“I didn’t arrange that for them,” I corrected. “Luca probably got his assistants on the job.”
“Right. Must be nice to have minions to do everything for you.”
I glanced at my watch. “I have to be somewhere else soon. Did you come here for some other reason than to see how the other half lives?”
“Yes, as a matter of fact, I did.” She flashed another fake smile. “I was wondering if you would be able to lend me some money, Skye. I promise I’ll pay it back as soon as I can. I have some unexpected bills to settle.”
“Yes, I can do that. But first I need to know something.”
Her eyes narrowed. “What is it?”
“Did you… kill my plants?”
She had not expected that and her jaw dropped with shock. “What?”
“When I was trying to make a little garden for myself did you kill my plants?” I repeated slowly.
Then she snapped her mouth shut and denied the accusation strongly. “Of course not. Why would I do something like that? I don’t even like plants.”
But I had seen the truth flash in her eyes. It was her. She was the jealous poisoner. How she must have hated me even all those years ago. So much that she could not bear to see me succeed at even the smallest thing. Not even something she had absolutely no interest in.
“How much money do you need?” I asked softly.
She hesitated. “$5,000.”
I looked into her greedy, sly eyes. “Why so little? Look around you. There is so much here. Why didn’t you ask me for ten or twenty or even a hundred thousand?”
She stared at me aghast. Worried that she had asked too little. “Well, I didn’t’ want to ask too much, but it would really help if you gave me, I mean, lent me $10,000.”
I started to laugh.
“What is so funny?” she demanded.
“Ah, Diana. I cannot believe how desperately I wanted to be your little sister, wanted you to love me. For years, and years, I tried to please you, but all that time you just treated me as if I was a piece of dirty gum on your high and mighty shoe. And now you come here wanting me to lend you money that I’ve earned from whoring myself. Is the irony lost on you?”
“Look, I know we haven’t really got on, but I’m willing to try… for our parents’ sakes. Let’s try to be a family again, okay?”