Page 63 of Second Time Bride

‘You’re wasting your time,’ Daisy told her angrily. ‘I’m not a credulous teenager any more and I trust Alessio... do you hear me? I trust your brother!’

‘But you put him in an impossible position. Alessio wanted his daughter. He had to marry you! You’re the intruder, not Nina!’ Bianca condemned sharply. ‘It’s Nina he wants to be with and is with at this very moment! Why don’t you get out of his life and leave him alone?’

Without hesitation, Daisy slammed the receiver back down on the cradle. She was shaking. Moisture beaded her short upper lip. In an abrupt movement, she sprang out of bed, knelt down, traced the phone wire to the wall and hurriedly disconnected it. It occurred to her that it would be nice if she could as easily disconnect the unsettling thoughts that kept assailing her no matter how hard she tried to block them out.

Why had Alessio behaved like a man suffering from a very uneasy conscience? Why had he twice said how guilty he felt? Daisy paced the carpet. As a rule, Alessio was outrageously stubborn and confident of his own judgement. Retreat was an unknown option to him and regret a rare emotion. But Alessio had been upset. That same scenario ran back and forth through her restive brain.

Alessio... appalled at the smallest risk that he might have made his wife pregnant. Why? Why should that be such a disaster? They were married. They were mature adults now. He adored Tara. He had admitted how very much he would have liked to share their daughter’s early years. He did not dislike children. And surely the oddest thing of all was that he should have made no attempt to discover Daisy’s feelings on the subject...

It was ridiculous even to think that he might be with Nina, Daisy scolded herself angrily. She had seen no evidence of questionable intimacy between Alessio and Nina the day before. Do you really think they would advertise if they planned to continue their affair in secret? a little voice asked drily. Indeed, hadn’t the distinct lack of strain between them been in itself more suspicious?

Daisy pulled on a black cotton skirt and scoop-necked pink silk T-shirt. But she was not going out. No, definitely not. She would be waiting downstairs for Alessio when he came back. They had to talk, not least about Bianca. For heaven’s sake, they had only been married a couple of days! On the other hand, wouldn’t finding Alessio at that address be her proof that his sister had contacted her to tell her where he was? After all, how else would Daisy have been able to locate him?

Suddenly appreciating that she had a perfect excuse for checking out Bianca’s story, Daisy did not hesitate. There was another car in the garage. It was bucketing down with rain but she didn’t waste time running back indoors to get a coat. Driving out onto the road in the Mercedes, she told herself that it would be amusing to confront Alessio when he least expected her. And, whoever he was visiting in that complex, she was convinced it would not turn out to be Nina Franklin.

The Ferrari was sitting in a well-lit parking area. Daisy stopped on the other side of the road. As soon as she saw Alessio she would get out of the car. She didn’t have long to wait. The door of a ground-floor apartment opened and a rectangle of light silhouetted Alessio’s arrogant dark head and lean, powerful body. He was wearing his pearl-grey suit, the jacket open, his tie missing. Daisy slid out of the Mercedes.

And only then did she realise that Alessio wasn’t alone. The door slammed noisily and Nina hurried down the path after him, calling out his name at the top of her voice. ‘Alessio...!’

They walked together to the Ferrari, engaged in seemingly urgent conversation. Daisy stood and watched as they climbed into the car and drove off. Her legs felt as if they had turned to stone. She couldn’t move. Rain soaked her hair, dripped down her face and drenched the silk T-shirt until it clung like a second skin to her chilled flesh. She didn’t feel cold or wet. Shock had temporarily deprived her of sense and awareness.

And then a wave of sick dizziness ran over her and she shivered violently. She hadn’t believed, she truly hadn’t believed that he would be with Nina ... that he could have made passionate love to her and then gone straight to another woman, a gorgeous, sophisticated blonde in her early twenties. No wonder he had an uneasy conscience...