Page 11 of The Secret Father

‘She’s having her hull shot-blasted, but she’ll be back on the water by the weekend. So you’ll be rid of me. That is what you want, isn’t it?’ The latter was said in a voice meant only for her ears, and Lindy sensed the confusion she was fighting was mirrored in her eyes.

‘You’ll have to get used to eating out, Lindy, or cook,’ Hope said with her mouth full. Her sister did everything with such enthusiasm and lack of inhibition that Lindy suddenly felt stilted and awkward by comparison. She was sure Sam must see the contrast. Why on earth should I care if he does? she wondered, angry at this bizarre preoccupation she had with the man.

‘You’ll have to come for a sail on Jennifer when the schedule permits.’ He caught Lindy’s flicker of comprehension. ‘You thought she was a woman, my Jennifer?’ He filled her glass with wine and leaned back in his chair. The candlelight shadowed the planes and hollows of his aesthetically sculpted face and left his eyes areas of mystery.

‘Named for a woman, it’s almost the same thing,’ she responded, realising how astute he was at interpreting the slightest nuance in body language.

‘Not one of mine. I never bothered changing the name when I got her ten years back. The longest relationship I’ve ever had with a female,’ he acknowledged with a lecherous grin.

Hope gave a laugh, accepting the gauntlet. ‘Hark at the sex symbol of our times,’ she teased. ‘‘‘Not one of mine.’’’

Rather to Lindy’s surprise, Sam seemed to appreciate Hope’s mockery. ‘Keeping the name means I don’t have to worry about changing the paintwork every time I part company with a lady.’

‘This boy isn’t as stupid as he looks,’ Hope said, impressed. ‘I’ll get it,’ she added as the phone shrilled.

‘How’s the nose?’ Lindy asked, quelling the panic that threatened as Hope disappeared.

‘Lloyd thinks it’ll be fine if we stick to my left profile.’

‘Seriously?’ she said, examining his perfect right profile.

‘Candlelight conceals all sorts of nasty things,’ he said, running his palm lightly over the candle in the middle of the table.

‘You shouldn’t play with fire,’ she warned sharply. She wanted to snatch his hand away from the flame, but she knew that touching Sam Rourke wasn’t a good idea. He’d awoken feelings inside her she’d thought had died for ever.

‘Life would be boring.’ His deep tone had never been more honeyed.

Lindy found she couldn’t pull her eyes away from his deceptively sleepy gaze. Heavy, sexy eyelids drooped over the steady glitter of his azure stare.

‘I like boring,’ she said firmly. Boring, safe and familiar—and Sam was none of those things.

‘Shame.’

‘I’ll have to love you and leave you.’

Lindy tore her stare from Sam to look with incomprehension at her sister, who had entered the room carrying an overnight bag over her shoulder. ‘Leave…where?’

‘I’ll explain later. Sam will show you where to go tomorrow.’

‘You’re not coming back tonight?’ I must have misunderstood, she thought in bewilderment.

‘Can’t stop, I’m in a hurry.’ Hope avoided her sister’s eyes.

Lindy sat in shock, listening a few moments later to the sound of a car engine being started. The sound disappeared and she expelled the breath she’d been holding.

‘This is bizarre,’ she said, half to herself. It was so unlike Hope to do something so inconsiderate. Leave her alone with— Her heart gave a triple beat as she shrank from this new situation. Slowly she turned to look at Sam.

‘I’ve been here the best part of a week and Hope’s only spent two nights at home.’ He gave the information slowly, his eyes gauging her reaction.

‘Meaning?’ Lindy said, with a dangerous inflection in her voice.

‘She’s your sister.’

‘She’s not having an affair.’ She was stubbornly defiant and confident that, whatever her sister was up to, it wasn’t that.

‘You asked her?’

‘I did.’

‘Fair enough, but I have to say she seems to be doing her best to disprove that statement.’

‘Hope wouldn’t run just because some man picks up the phone. That would be pathetic,’ she observed with distaste. ‘There has to be some other explanation,’ she reasoned.

‘That could be love,’ Sam suggested lightly. ‘Wouldn’t you do the same for the man you loved?’

‘In a pig’s eye!’

‘I believe you,’ he said thoughtfully, examining her flushed cheeks and indignant expression. ‘I take it you did a lot of running for someone unworthy of the exercise?’

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