Page 44 of The Secret Father

‘If I ever meet this Sam Rourke I’ll give him a piece of my mind,’ Anna said grimly. ‘Push that dog down, Lindy, she knows she’s not allowed on the furniture.’

‘Since when?’ Some rules were flexible in her sister’s house. The brindled mongrel gave her a melting look as she nestled more comfortably on her lap. Lindy had told Anna part, if not all, of the story. What choice did she have? Hope would have if she hadn’t. At least there was very little likelihood of the scenario Anna had mentioned coming to pass.

‘Actually, Anna, you might get the opportunity.’ Hope had both her sisters’ undivided attention. ‘I came over with Sam. We’re here to plug the film. We recorded the programme last night and it’s going out over the weekend. When I said the visit was flying, I meant it literally. We’re due in Paris tomorrow. He’s picking me up later.’

Lindy had stopped listening; her sister’s travel arrangements held little interest. She got to her feet, tipping the dog unceremoniously onto the floor. The animal regarded her reproachfully and flopped out in front of the log fire.

‘I’m going home,’ she said in an agitated voice. ‘I can’t be here…’ Panic raced through her veins. The very idea of seeing Sam made her stomach muscles go into spasm. ‘How could you, Hope?’ She drew a deep, shuddering breath and glared at her sister.

‘It wasn’t intentional.’ This much was true, but when she’d realised Lindy would be here she hadn’t altered the arrangement. Part of her had hoped that they would both have come to their senses by now. She realised that she’d badly miscalculated. ‘What the hell did he do to you, Lindy?’

‘That’s what I’d like to know,’ Anna said, getting to her feet.

‘What would you like to know?’ Her husband had replaced his suit with cream chinos and an open-necked shirt. ‘Hi, Hope,’ he said casually. He coped with the presence of an international supermodel on his sofa without a flicker of surprise. He wasn’t as casual as he kissed his wife. ‘I hope you haven’t done anything stupid today.’ He lovingly patted the bulge under her baggy shirt. ‘I caught this woman heaving around packing cases in the attic yesterday.’

‘Don’t fuss, Adam. It’s the nesting instinct.’

‘It’s insanity,’ he corrected her firmly.

‘Sam Rourke is coming here,’ she told her husband dramatically.

It became clear to Lindy that Anna had, predictably, shared what information she had with her husband. The menace on his face spoke volumes. ‘Is he indeed?’

‘Take that look off your face, Adam Deacon! I can’t cope with macho posturing just now.’

After the initial shock, Adam looked more interested than offended by this sharp reprimand. This wasn’t the Lindy he knew speaking.

‘I don’t need you, or Anna, or anyone else to protect my honour. Sam Rourke means nothing to me except an embarrassing memory.’

‘If you say so.’ It was Anna who replied. She kept the scepticism from her tone with difficulty. The memory of her sister arriving home six weeks ago looking like a victim of shell-shock was still fresh.

‘I do.’

‘In that case there’s no need for you to run away, is there? Stay for supper as we planned.’

Lindy regarded Anna with dislike. Refuse and she instantly negated her previous claim, and Anna knew it. ‘If you like.’ She rose to the unspoken challenge and gave a casual shrug.

She was glad nobody knew how hard it was for her to look unconcerned. Inside she was screaming, but she wasn’t going to disgrace herself and start gibbering like the idiot she was. How could you love someone who had proved himself rotten to the core? she wondered bleakly. What was wrong with her? She’d lost her sanity over a pretty face—he was a chameleon, all things to all people, but underneath there was no substance. The sound of Adam’s pager stopped her bitter reflections.

He picked up the phone. ‘Deacon here.’ He nodded several times, glanced at his watch and said, ‘Fifteen minutes,’ before replacing the receiver.

‘I take it there’s one less for supper?’ his wife observed philosophically.

‘A bad RTA’s just come into Casualty. At least four orthopaedic consults, so it’s likely I’ll be in Theatre until—well, it could be any time.’ He bent and kissed Hope’s cheek. ‘Sorry to run out on you.’ He smiled at Lindy with a quizzical expression in his green eyes. ‘Macho posturing,’ he said admiringly. ‘I expect you were taking notes, love?’ he murmured to his wife.