Page 5 of The Secret Father

‘The new medico, Rick,’ Sam said in answer to the silent enquiry.

‘Pleased to meet you.’ A friendly smile beamed out as he sketched a bow and saluted her flamboyantly. ‘Don’t keep Sam up too late,’ he added over his shoulder. ‘Early start tomorrow, chief.’

‘An actor?’ Lindy asked.

‘Crew.’

‘He didn’t think we…you and I were together?’ she asked uncomfortably.

‘I shouldn’t think so,’ Sam said, signing the cheque as he rose from the table. ‘You’re not my type.’

‘How cruel of you to dash my girlish fantasies,’ she responded, taking a bracing breath to weather this casual insult and following him towards the door. He could certainly give as good as he got.

‘You should have locked the trunk,’ Sam remonstrated a few minutes later as he lifted her cases from the rental car in which she’d driven to Maine.

‘What do you think you’re doing?’ she asked sharply as he proceeded to place her luggage in the four-wheel drive parked next to her own car.

‘The studio’s arranged a car for you; it’s at the house. The hire firm are picking this one up.’ He got into his car and glanced pointedly at his watch.

Lindy swallowed this information and climbed up into the passenger seat beside him. After they’d been driving for a few minutes she asked, ‘Is it far?’

‘About twenty minutes.’ He turned off the highway onto a narrow, uneven dirt road. ‘Hope’s found a gem of a place.’

‘She said it’s right by the sea.’ Lindy tried to resurrect the optimism and anticipation she’d initially felt when she’d embarked on this adventure.

‘Owl Cove,’ Sam said.

‘Will she be working late?’

Sam flicked her a sideways glance. ‘There is no shooting today.’

‘But I thought you said…’

‘I said she couldn’t make it. I didn’t say why.’

There was some indefinable note in his voice that bothered Lindy. ‘Well, say why now, or is it some secret?’

‘Not the best kept secret in the world.’

‘Meaning?’ she said, with an edge in her voice reserved for people who bad-mouthed either of her sisters.

‘Forget it,’ Sam advised, shrugging his shoulders.

‘It’s a bit late for that. Has something happened to Hope…?’

Her hands—well kept, rather lovely hands, he noticed—fluttered as the note of anxiety crept into her voice. He noticed the gesture because all her movements up to that point had been very precise and controlled, just like the lady herself.

‘Nothing like that,’ he soothed swiftly. ‘The word is that Lloyd Elliot and Hope are an item.’

Lindy relaxed; so Hope was in love. ‘Well, I know he’s older than her…’ It had been a good ten years since Lloyd Elliot had starred in a film, but as a producer and director with half a dozen box-office hits under his belt his name was still very much public property.

‘And married—very married.’

Lindy went pale. ‘Hope wouldn’t have an affair with a married man.’

‘If you say so.’

‘I do say so!’ she rapped, glaring at his smug profile. ‘My sisters would never get involved with married men.’

‘I almost forgot, Hope did say you’re triplets,’ he said, half to himself. ‘This sort of thing does happen on film sets, you know. On average I’d say we see a divorce and a handful of illicit romances. It’s a very claustrophobic environment and film-set flings are not that unusual. It’s no big deal.

‘Here we are,’ he said soon after, swinging the car into a driveway that led to a white clapper-board, single-storey building surrounded by a deck that had a view of the rocky and secluded bay. The view was only enjoyed by a scattering of homes that lay clustered on the tree-covered slopes.

Any other time Lindy would have been enchanted by the place, but as she clambered from the high vehicle she was trembling with indignation and shock. That he could accuse her sister and then have the absolute gall to make an affair with a married man sound—how had he put it?—‘no big deal’!

His broad back was turned to her as he proceeded to pull her luggage from the back. ‘How dare you tar my sister with the same brush as yourself?’

The low intensity of her tone made Sam spin around. For a moment he was too stunned by the sudden change from calm serenity to ferocious anger to reply. He’d never been a contributor to the theory that cool women had an untapped core of fire, and he’d certainly never felt the urge to prove the case one way or the other.

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