Page 42 of The Secret Father

‘Have you any idea the sort of despair she must have felt?’ she asked, her voice shaking with conviction. ‘She didn’t have the luxury of running away. Judgemental, am I? Well, maybe I am. I do despise you because you left somebody else to suffer the consequences of your actions alone.’

‘I was wrong.’ His narrowed eyes held an arctic expression, and his sensual lips were thinned to a line of distaste. ‘You’ll never find any man who can live up to your high-minded principles, Rosalind. He doesn’t exist. You don’t pause for breath, do you? In you wade, judge, jury and enthusiastic executioner. No ‘‘Tell me what happened, Sam’’.’ He saw the sudden look of confusion on her face and he threw his dark head back and laughed. It was a mirthless sound. ‘It didn’t occur to you, did it?’

‘I’m not the one here who’s done something wrong.’

‘More’s the pity. If, for once, you did it might make you a little less judgemental. You might be a nicer person.’

If only he knew! At least she’d discovered the truth before she’d told him. ‘Don’t play the wounded innocent with me, Sam. You’re so clever at reversing the roles.’

‘I’ve never pretended to be an innocent, Rosalind. I’m all for old-fashioned decency and, despite what you think, I’ve always tried to do the right thing by those close to me. Unlike you, I’ve never been all that attracted by perfection, but I do appreciate warmth, tolerance and a sense of humour. Sometimes first impressions are right—you are an uptight, cold bitch!’

Lindy recoiled from the full force of antipathy in his voice. ‘I’d rather be that than another easy victim of your debatable charms. Even those are going to wear a little thin as the years pass by. Don’t worry, though, because there’ll always be plenty of young, hungry actresses ready to use you to get a few steps up the ladder. Some people might call it pathetic, but I’d say it’s more of a symbiotic relationship.’

He picked up something small from the floor and, with a flick of his wrist, flung it towards her. Lindy automatically caught it. She looked at the gold engraved cuff-link in the palm of her hand.

‘Keep it, as a memento.’

‘Goodbye, Sam.’ She curled her fingers around the cuff-link hard enough to leave the imprint on her palm.

His expression was stony as she slipped out through the French windows. That goodbye had had a ring of finality to it and he knew for certain that he’d need a new medical advisor for the last week of filming. Nostrils flared, breathing hard and fast, he told himself that that suited him just fine!

Lindy ran up the metal spiral staircase that led from the veranda to her bedroom. She ran to the wardrobe and pulled out her suitcase. Pausing only to blot the tears from her cheeks, she began to fling her clothes into the case. She swept the dressing table clear of her personal items and threw them on top. With a determined expression on her face she closed the lid.

She’d had enough of actors and parties and boring, boring days on set. No wonder they paid actors well; something had to compensate for the tedium. Most of all she’d had enough of Sam Rourke! With that thought in mind she began to cry in earnest.

CHAPTER SEVEN

THEY were about to pay for the lengthy Indian summer. There were a few ominous rumbles in the distance. The dry ground was suddenly struck by a deluge as the rain began. The dark figure sitting in an anonymous black car turned on the windscreen-wipers and waited.

An ambulance with flashing lights pulled up in front of the wide doors of the casualty department, but his attention didn’t stray from the swing-doors. It was hot and sultry, and his shirt clung damply to his back. When he’d requested a car which would blend in he hadn’t anticipated no air-conditioning. When he’d complained, Hope had laughingly told him that roughing it would do him good.

He’d been sitting there for two hours and had been eyed suspiciously by the grey-uniformed security guard before the figure he’d been waiting for appeared. He watched as she stood under the canopy and peered out at the rain. An extra-violent clap of thunder made her take an involuntary step backwards.

He took in every aspect of her appearance at a glance, his eyes greedily absorbing each minute detail. When the thin cotton pinafore she wore over a short-sleeved white cotton tee shirt billowed in the blustery wind, he could see the faint outline of her legs. A hank of shining soft hair slithered from the hairgrips which had dragged it back and, as he watched, she dropped her bag and used both hands to tuck the strands behind her ears.

Sam Rourke was not a person associated with indecisiveness, but he did hesitate. Inner conflict was evident in the drawn lines of his face. Then, with a determined shake of his head, he pushed open the door. He had every right to demand an explanation for her behaviour. Face it, man, you’ve been well and truly duped, he said to himself. If her spiteful vindictiveness had only affected him he might have forgiven her, but as it was… Face grim, he closed the door and turned his attention once more to the solitary figure—only she wasn’t solitary any more. A man, tall and fair, dressed in a lightweight suit, had emerged from the building. He was laughing at Lindy’s attempts to tame her hair and his profile would have done justice to your average Greek god.

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