Daisy surrendered. ‘So what did you think of...Alessio?’
‘He’s terrific. We talked about just everything!’ Tara bounced down on the end of the bed and stuck her feet in below the duvet. ‘I even asked him about his girlfriend for you!’
‘You did what?’ Daisy moaned in horror.
‘I knew you were dying to know if it was serious. Relax. We don’t need to worry about her. Dad’s finished with her.’
‘Has he? It’s none of my business,’ Daisy said, but not quite quickly enough.
‘Well, I thought it was very much our business,’ Tara returned with a meaningful look. ‘You should see the way women eye him up when you’re out with him...it would frighten the life out of you! He’s not going to be alone for long and you haven’t got time to play hard to get if you want him back. You need to get in there quick!’
Daisy was aghast. ‘Tara—’
‘Mum, I know you still fancy him like mad! That’s why you have that photo of him in your purse and read the Financial Times and look tragic when I mention him,’ Tara reeled off with overflowing sympathy in her eyes. ‘But don’t worry—I didn’t even drop a hint to him! I did ask him what he thought of you, though.’
Daisy rolled over and sank anguished teeth into the pillow.
‘Well, I mean, if Dad didn’t still fancy you even a bit, I thought we should know about it now. Mum, he’s still single and he hasn’t got anyone either! Don’t you think that kind of means he’s meant to be ours?’ Tara pressed, as if she were talking about a stray dog in need of a loving home.
‘No, I don’t think that,’ Daisy mumbled, but she had a terrifyingly inappropriate urge to giggle.
‘Dad said you would never have got divorced if he’d known about me. He said he really loved you but he wasn’t much good at being a husband when he was a teenager. He looked dead guilty too,’ Tara revealed with a satisfaction she couldn’t hide. ‘I think you should have told him about me when I was born. If I’d been you, I wouldn’t have let him go! It was his duty to be with us and he would have got used to being married eventually.’
That was definitely a self-centred Leopardi talking. Daisy’s blood was now running cold in her veins. Tara had already decided that she didn’t want Alessio as a part-time father and she was far too possessive to want to share him with any woman other than her mother. ‘Very open,’ Alessio had said of his daughter. Did that mean he had read Tara like a book? Very probably, Daisy conceded.
Alessio was as sharp as a knife. He was also a Leopardi, born to go from cradle to grave in the belief that he had a hotline to heaven and knew the wisest, smartest move in every situation. Had Tara let Alessio see exactly what she wanted from him? Had Alessio’s blood run cold too? Had he then appreciated that Tara could be a real, manipulative handful? Was that why he had said they should remarry? If he was that impressionable, Tara would run rings round him.
Tara got off the bed and sent Daisy a cheeky grin. ‘I know you’re gasping to hear what he said. Dad thinks you’re still gorgeous...and I think he’d be doing really well for himself getting a second chance with you—’
‘It’s not going to happen, Tara,’ Daisy said as gently and firmly as she could.
‘I don’t see why not.’ Her daughter looked distinctly smug and gave her mother a warm and approving appraisal. ‘Lots of men go for you. Why shouldn’t he?’
That revealing and explosive dialogue haunted Daisy throughout the next morning. She couldn’t keep her mind on her work and found herself drifting off into thoughts of what life might have been like if she hadn’t divorced Alessio. Would he have changed after she had had the baby? Would he have wanted her again then? Would he have dumped Sophia and become a faithful husband? Daisy looked out of the window in cynical search of a flying pig or a blue moon.
‘You know, there’s something different about you this week,’ Barry commented, watching her doodle interlocking triangles on her pad. ‘You’re much more approachable.’