Page 36 of The Secret Father

He gave a low, hard laugh. ‘Was it self-righteous or hypocritical you object to?’ he enquired, as a sound of inarticulate wrath escaped her lips. ‘Could it be you’ve got a few skeletons of your own? I see you have.’ He appeared to take savage pleasure from her thinly disguised distress. ‘Don’t worry, Doctor, I’m not interested enough to find out what they are.’ The slam of the door shook the trailer.

When Hope found Lindy two hours later, walking towards her car, there were no outward signs of the tears. She’d stopped shaking too, and she’d lost that glow which had so delighted her sister. The blank expression in Lindy’s eyes made Hope want to scream with frustration. The barriers were back up with a vengeance.

‘You had a fight.’ It wasn’t a question. ‘Sam’s just verbally flayed anyone stupid enough not to keep out of his way. He gave a performance that was so scary—even to me—you’ve probably got him an Oscar nomination. You always get the impression he’s holding something back when he’s performing,’ she mused, falling into step beside her sister, ‘but today he let us have both barrels!’

‘Glad to have been of use,’ Lindy said bitterly. God, these people were so self-obsessed. She’d be glad to get back to normal life.

‘Ouch! I didn’t mean to sound uncaring. I’m sure you two will get back together. Will is taking bets on it, and he’s pretty shrewd. He rarely loses money.’

‘Well, this time he’s backed the wrong horse. I loathe and detest Sam Rourke and if I never see him again it’ll be too soon!’

Hope recoiled at the virulence in her sister’s voice. ‘This isn’t like you.’ She held up her hands in a pacific gesture as her sister threw her a fulminating look. ‘As for not seeing him again, you’re working with the man for another three weeks. After that we’re back to the studio and you’re a free agent.’

‘Oh, God!’ Lindy groaned. ‘I didn’t really think about that. I can’t do it.’ She covered her trembling mouth with her hands. Work alongside him for three whole weeks? The prospect of it made her stomach tighten with dread.

‘Well, if I explain to Sam how you feel, how upset you are, I’m sure he won’t hold out for his pound of flesh.’

Lindy’s head snapped up. ‘Upset?’ she repeated in an accusatory manner. ‘I’m not upset, and I won’t have that smarmy snake thinking I am. I’ll show him I don’t give that!’ She snapped her fingers and tossed her head defiantly.

It would be useful, Hope mused, to be able to use this moment when she had to produce shock and amazement for the camera. I just might get an Oscar too, she thought.

CHAPTER SIX

THE caterers had taken over the entire house and gardens. Tired of the confines of her bedroom, Lindy took refuge in the smallish room that Lloyd used as his study. Lloyd was a great host and she’d lost most of her initial animosity towards him. Though she still thought he had taken advantage of her sister’s friendship, that was Hope’s business.

She missed the charm of the cottage in Owl Cove and the constant sound of the sea. In a short space of time the cottage had wormed its way into her heart. The less she contemplated what a pushover her heart had been lately the better! At least these plush surroundings held no memories for her, she reflected. She was determined to dwell on the positive aspects of her present predicament—such as they were.

She looked at the inevitable TV screen and struggled with the masochistic desire to turn it on. ‘What the hell?’ she said defiantly, and pointed the remote control at the oversized screen.

Nothing in Lloyd’s house was done on a small scale. These were the sort of surroundings she’d once imagined Sam Rourke in—extravagant and ostentatious. An image of the clean, uncluttered cabin on his boat entered her head. She blinked hard to dispel the illusion that held so many painful associations for her.

‘And what do you think, Sam?’

Her attention was instantly riveted to the screen. The person speaking was half a head shorter than Sam. Her silver-blonde hair was cropped short and the outrageous gold lamé dress she wore appeared to have been painted on her generous curves. Sam had to be pretty familiar with those curves, at least professionally, because Diana Hardcastle had acted opposite him in at least two films Lindy was aware of.

The sight of his tall, instantly recognisable figure made her wish she’d held out against the craving to switch on the TV. The bittersweet longings washed over her in a great tidal wave. She had the power in her hand to switch off the hateful image, she could even pretend she hadn’t felt the knife-like thrust of jealousy, but she didn’t—couldn’t!

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