Maria Di Savo.
Unhinged, some had called her.
‘Fragile’ was perhaps a more appropriate word.
At least it was the one Raul chose.
But with more open eyes than the last time he had stood here.
‘Rest now,’ he said to the stone, and he went to lay the lilies.
But then he divided them into two.
And he turned to the grave of Gino Di Savo.
There was someone he had never considered forgiving—it had been so far from his mind as to be deemed irrelevant.
It was more than relevant now.
Was Gino even his father?
Sixteen and pregnant in the valley would have been a shameful place to be.
Had the younger Gino been kinder?
Had he lived with the knowledge of constant infidelity?
Perhaps Raul would never know.
He understood the beatings more, though.
And maybe there were some respects to be paid.
‘Rest now,’ Raul said again, and he put the remaining lilies on Gino Di Savo’s grave.
‘IT’S A VERY recent piece.’
The valuation manager had called in the director. And Lydia was starting to get a glimpse of just how valuable the statue was.
‘Three months,’ Lydia said, but they didn’t look over at her.
For the first morning in a very long time Lydia had held down some toast and decided it was time to be practical and deal with things.
Lydia had returned to the castle expecting anger and recrimination, and had been ready to get the hell out.
Instead she’d returned to her mother’s devastation.
It wasn’t only Lydia who hadn’t cried on her father’s death.
Valerie too had held it in, and finally the dam had broken.
‘I’m sorry!’ She had just slumped in a chair and cried. ‘I’ve told him he’s never to come back.’
Of all the hurts in Lydia’s heart, Maurice didn’t rank, and so instead of fighting back or getting out Lydia had done what Raul had done. She’d poured her mother a drink and stayed calm.
She’d been her practical self, in fact, and had put her own hurts aside.
Lydia pulled the castle as a wedding venue and then dealt as best as she could with what was.
There was no money and very little left to sell.
Last week she had suggested that Valerie go and spend some time with her sister.
Lydia needed to be alone.
She was pregnant.
But she did have her mother’s practical nature and had decided to find out what the statue was worth.
Not to save the castle.
Raul was right—it would require a constant infusion.
The proceeds of the sale of the statue might at least go towards a deposit on a house.
But then the valuation manager had called for the director and numbers had started to be discussed between the men.
Lydia realised she had far more than a deposit.
In fact she could buy a home.
It was worth that much and very possibly more.
She could provide for her baby and Raul didn’t even need to know.
‘Are you thinking of the New York auction?’ the manager was asking his senior.
‘That’s a few months off.’
He glanced over to Lydia and offered her an option.
‘I have several collectors who would be extremely interested—we could run a private auction. This piece is exquisite.’
And she loved it so.
It was just a piece of glass, Lydia told herself.
There was a reason she didn’t take photos—going over old memories hurt too much.
She would be better rid of it, Lydia knew, and yet it was the only thing she had ever loved.
Apart from Raul.
He wasn’t a thing—he was a person.
An utter bastard, in fact.
But the statue spoke of a different time, before it had all fallen apart, and Lydia could not stand the thought of letting it go.
Over and over she dissected each moment with him.
At every minute her mind was back there, peeping through the keyhole he had once shown her and seeing them.
Every moment was captured, and yet she had no photos, bar the one of them holding hands that was smeared all over the internet.
Apparently the great Raul did not usually stoop to holding hands, so the press had been interested.
She’d been telling him about her father then.
Confiding in him.
And he had been playing her all along.
All she had of him was this statue.
No, Lydia corrected, in six months’ time she would have his baby.
And Raul needed to know.
The director finally addressed her. ‘With your permission I’m going to make a few phone calls, and then perhaps we’ll be able to see more where we’re at.’
‘Of course,’ Lydia agreed.
And so must she make some calls.
Lydia was shown to a comfortable waiting room that was more like a lounge and offered tea.
‘No, thank you,’ Lydia said as she took a seat. ‘Could you please close the door?’