Page 47 of The Secret Father

‘Anna’s quirky.’

‘I noticed. Sexy lady.’

Lindy gasped as a stab of jealousy struck her. ‘She’s pregnant.’ Had anyone ever looked at her and thought, Sexy lady? No, of course they hadn’t—she was the uptight, cold bitch. Self-pity welled up inside her. Lindy knew there was nothing overt about her sexuality and she wanted it that way. She couldn’t function if she imagined men were looking at her and thinking… A self-conscious flush mounted her cheeks. There had been a time when she’d liked the idea of Sam looking at her and thinking…

‘I noticed that too.’ Sam sat down amongst the tumbled cushions of the large sofa. ‘Do I make you uncomfortable?’

You’d like that, wouldn’t you? she thought, roused from her uncomfortable moment of introspection. ‘It’s never entirely comfortable to be reminded of your mistakes.’ He hadn’t liked that. The flicker of anger had been brief, but she’d seen it.

‘You’re working?’

‘Yes, I am.’

‘I’m surprised your employers didn’t apply to me for a character reference, in my capacity as your previous employer. I’d have been quite happy to tell them all I could.’

‘Sorry to deprive you, but Adam, my brother-in-law, is conversant with my medical skills.’

‘And is his knowledge limited to that?’

‘What exactly is that supposed to mean?’

‘Casual curiosity.’

‘It sounded like snide innuendo to me.’

‘You’d know all about that.’ For the first time his feelings were not hidden behind the wall of cold indifference. What she saw made her recoil. His anger was focused and intense and she was the focus!

‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’

He snorted scornfully. ‘Sure you don’t,’ he drawled. ‘The same way you’ve no idea who told that journalist about Ben.’

‘Ben?’ The confused incomprehension on her face appeared to inflame him further.

‘Yes, Ben, my son,’ he ground out. ‘Surely you didn’t think I wouldn’t realise it was you? How many pieces of silver did you hold out for, Rosalind?’

Lindy was trying desperately to slot the pieces of a puzzle into place. Her head hurt with the effort to concentrate her spinning thoughts. ‘People know about your son?’ The line between her brows deepened.

‘Not yet, but they will. And you’re so surprised, aren’t you?’ he sneered. ‘If my information is reliable, the revelations are going to coincide with the release of the film.’

‘You think I…?’ she said in a strangled voice. Shock swept through her as she realised fully what he was suggesting.

‘Show Hope your outraged innocence. I’m sure she could use it—professionally speaking, that is.’

‘Sam, I didn’t…’

‘Don’t!’ He was on his feet, every inch of his body vibrating with suppressed fury. He dragged his hand heavily through his hair. ‘Just don’t. Don’t make it worse by denying it. God, how can I have been this wrong?’ Self-disgust twisted his lips into an ugly grimace. ‘Look me in the eye and tell me that it wasn’t you.’ He looked torn—part of him willing her to do so, the other half daring her to.

No matter how things stood between them she didn’t want him going away thinking she was capable of doing such a petty, spiteful thing. It hurt her that he thought she was capable of it.

‘Sam, I’ve never…’ She could at least staunch the flow of acid recriminations. Then suddenly she recalled the explanation her sisters had wrung from her earlier. Dismay clouded her eyes, the heavy thump of her heart echoed her misery.

‘At least you can’t lie to me.’ For a moment Sam felt overwhelmed by mindless fatigue. Part of him had hoped…

Lindy closed her eyes and prayed for inspiration. What was the point in defending herself when he distorted everything she said? ‘You’ve already made up your mind,’ she accused shakily.

‘Is that a privilege you reserve for yourself?’ He removed his gaze abruptly from her pale face and stared at his white-knuckled hands, which clearly betrayed the violence of his feelings. He thrust them into his trouser pockets. His eyes raked her face briefly before he deliberately turned his back on her and began to pace the room.

The justice of his observation hit her painfully. It was true she hadn’t given him an opportunity to defend himself. If I was as wrong as he is now… The thought made her feel physically sick. What have I done? she wondered desperately.

‘Sam, you must listen,’ she pleaded urgently. All she could read in his rigid shoulders was rejection. She placed a hand on his back.