Page 33 of The Secret Father

Lindy had lived with guilt over the years, but it hadn’t been the affair itself that had plagued her conscience. There had been a part of her—a small part, admittedly—that had been relieved when she’d miscarried. Her pregnancy had been short, but there had been time for her to acknowledge the growing resentment she felt for the innocent life she carried. Would she be reminded of Paul every time she looked at the baby? The face which she’d once held dear now filled her with disgust. This was something she could never forgive herself for. Every time she saw an innocent child she was freshly reminded of how, in her thoughts, she’d betrayed her own flesh and blood.

She was finding it tough; he could see that. He wanted to make it easier for her, but Sam knew Lindy was too independent to welcome his intervention. Damage limitation meant he wasn’t denying or confirming any of the mad rumours which were circulating. The crew were watching them both like hawks. In fact they’d almost upstaged the Dallas-Lacey debacle completely.

He cursed the fact that his lack of control in front of the cameras meant Rosalind had been thrown into the deep end of the circus that was his life, or a part of it anyway. He closed his eyes momentarily and could recall precisely the rush of blind rage he’d felt when that scummy journalist had leered at Rosalind. Sometimes, he reflected, a man had to be hit over the head before he could see what had been staring him in the face.

Any woman he loved would have to learn to handle the scrutiny of cameras. There were limits to how far he could protect his loved ones. She’d hated it yesterday; disgust and panic had been written clear on her face, he recalled with disquiet. Over the years could that exposure drive a wedge between them? God, what was he thinking about? He reined in his mental scenarios abruptly. There had to be some point when you stopped analysing and started trusting, he told himself angrily. Stop thinking and start feeling, man!

‘About the next scene.’ Sam turned his attention back to Will Gibson who stood beside him.

‘Marvellous ability, that.’

‘What’s that, Will?’

‘Thinking and falling in love. Any mere mortal would let their work suffer, but not our lord and master. I think everyone was expecting a holiday today after seeing you being all brooding and masterful on the telly. Has no one told you a man’s supposed to be distracted and soulful when he’s in love? Nose to grindstone I can take, but this pace is killing me—I’m not a young man!’

‘Neither will I be by the time this movie’s finished.’

Will grinned. He’d bet heavily against a sound technician that it was the sister Sam was interested in, and he was feeling pretty smug, not to mention flush, just now.

‘I hear and obey. Just tell the lady to go a bit more gently on the back next time, will you?’ He chuckled wickedly as Sam shot him a startled look. Deep colour seeped slowly under the younger man’s tan. He’d managed to embarrass Sam Rourke, which was a first, he thought with delight. ‘You wouldn’t take off your shirt for that black and white flashback, dear chap,’ he explained. ‘I was most put out if you recall. My lighting would have been perfect. I know you’re not a coy type so I just put two and two together.’

‘I suppose it’s too much to hope I’m the only person you’ve shared that little tale with?’ Sam recovered his equilibrium swiftly.

A heartless laugh was his reply.

‘I want a word.’

Lindy stifled a shriek as a hand shot out to detain her. ‘You’ve had several,’ she reminded Sam tartly.

Lindy had spent a gruelling hour talking him through a scene where he was meant to perform an emergency tracheotomy. Her attention span had been disastrously short—a fact Sam had shown little understanding for. He’d made several cutting comments when she hadn’t immediately given him replies to his queries about the procedure. The memory of these still brought a flush of anger and mortification to her cheeks. To make matters worse, a lot of people who wouldn’t usually have bothered watching the rehearsal had suddenly developed a great interest in the scene.

By the end of the scene Lindy had decided she must have imagined what he’d said last night. Nobody could be that impersonal, not to mention plain nasty, if he loved you. And that hadn’t been the only thing she’d had to contend with today. There had been the conversations that had stopped the instant she’d come within earshot and the sudden, stifled giggles.

Most of the comments had been light-hearted, but a few had been snide. Ned Stewart had given her a reproachful look that had almost made her want to apologise. She’d realised just in time that she didn’t have anything to apologise for. Well, Sam’s behaviour this morning ought to have dispelled any ideas some people had about preferential treatment!