And even from this distance, he saw the fury in her eyes. What the hell was she so mad about? She was the one flirting with the deliveryman. The guy followed the direction of her gaze and quickly handed back the cup, tipping his cap before he left.
Laura turned her back on Richard, and said goodbye to the delivery guy, then smiled as Kelly crawled on all fours with the kitten. It was good to see her smile again. She'd been sullen for days after the night with the kitten, the night her father had stood just a few yards from her and still refused to see her. Kelly's feelings were hurt, and when she'd asked why her daddy didn't want her, Laura's fury with Richard grew.
But that didn't stop her from wanting him at the mere sound of his voice.
She had to stop thinking like that, she reminded herself. Paul wanted you for your looks, now Richard does. She held tight to her anger and put a bit of distance between herself and Richard, spending time ordering all the necessities for their new arrival and teaching Kelly how to care for her pet. Now the jet-black kitten sported a new fluorescent-green collar, the tiny bell on it tinkling as she leapt after Kelly's heels. The girl giggled nonstop, taking the kitten on the slide, the animal looking blandly around as if to say, "This is the best you can do to entertain me?"
Their new addition to their strange family now had a name, too, Serabi. She didn't look like a Jasmine, and Bagerah was a boy's name, Kelly had insisted, and since they'd been watching animated movies during the past two days of rain, Laura thought the kitten had gotten off easy. Still, the name sounded so cute coming from Kelly because she had trouble saying her r's.
Laura picked up the lined school tablet again and finished sketching Kelly's pretty face. Art had been a hobby when she was younger, and though she loved creating something from nothing and hadn't lost the knack, she hadn't taken up charcoal or a paintbrush since she'd gone to college. Besides, the maid was cleaning, and she had little to do except love this child, and that came too easily. Laura sighed and paused in her sketching, watching Kelly tuck the kitten inside her jacket. She adored Kelly, her love growing every time the child smiled or crawled onto her lap, or laughed.
That's all you have, a voice in her head whispered. Then why did that past week here feel like more than she'd ever had with Paul? Shrugging off the thought, Laura went back to drawing until the wind picked up, forcing them inside.
Serabi pounced the ground alongside Kelly, but the instant she was inside she scampered off to investigate the million nooks and crannies of the house.
"No, wait," Laura said, catching Kelly before she ran off after the cat. "Wash up first, then I'll fix supper."
Kelly groaned dramatically, then obediently went into the bathroom.
"I'll be inspecting those hands, too, young lady."
"Yes, ma'am," came back to her, and Laura smiled, pulling out a frying pan and the ingredients for her special beef and peppers with angel hair pasta. When Kelly came back out of the bathroom and passed inspection, Laura sent her into the living room to find her pet and watch a video. The click of the intercom, a signal without a voice, was like a cold summons. She turned down the stove and walked to the little speaker fashioned in the wall, and pressed the button.
"You buzzed, my lord?"
"A million comedians out of work and here you are, cooking supper."
She smirked and her anger at him softened a bit. "Amazing, aren't I?"
"What was that deliveryman hanging around for?"
Was that jealousy she heard? "Just being neighborly."
"You or him?"
"A little of both, I 'spect. He's a nice guy, working his way through college for his master's degree."
"I don't care if he's a Rhodes scholar, I don't want strangers around my daughter."
She nodded to herself. "That's understandable. But I think Dewey and I could protect her well enough."
"Think again, Laura. I'm a very rich man, and I wouldn't put it past anyone to snatch my baby and ransom her."
Laura blinked. "Don't you think you are overreacting?"
"No, I do not."
"So what does this mean? No visitors? No outings? Do you really expect Kelly to become a hermit when she has no reason to be?" She jabbed her index finger at the intercom as if she was pushing at his chest. "Well let me tell you, it isn't going to happen! Not as long as I'm around. She needs to go to school, to play with other children. She misses her friends, her old home, and her mother, and frankly, Lord Blackthorne," she snapped, her tone biting, "I'm in charge. And if you don't trust me to protect her, then you get your disagreeable self down here and do it yourself!"
"Now, just a minute…" His voice boomed out of the intercom. "You're mad at me?"