Kitty thought things would have changed.
Eight years ago she had fled from her home, away from the heartbreak Jake had caused her. Now, returning to the small town for her grandmother’s funeral, she was determined to lay the ghosts of the past to rest. After all, she’d made a good life for herself as a well-known actress. So why was it that all her poise deserted her when she saw Jake again? He was as attractive as before, but was it because she sensed he was infinitely more dangerous?
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‘DON’T I know your face from somewhere?’ The teenager in the shop stared fixedly at her.
She dug her change into her purse. ‘I doubt it.’
Suddenly he laughed, his puzzled frown vanishing. ‘I know what it is. You look like that actress, Kitty Colgan. You know the one—she plays Heaven in The Rothmans. My mum’s glued to the TV every week.’ He groaned, lifting the box of groceries off the counter before she could reach for it. ‘She takes those soaps so seriously, she’s really upset that Heaven’s being killed off.’
‘Let me take that,’ she interposed. ‘It’s not heavy.’
‘Heavy enough for a lady your size.’ From his lanky height he grinned down at her with the unabashed friendliness of a spaniel puppy. ‘I bet you get taken for Kitty Colgan regularly,’ he teased.
She pulled open the door. ‘No, this is the first time.’
‘I suppose she’d be driving a Merc,’ he mocked cheerfully as she unlocked the boot of the elderly, mud-spattered Ford parked outside. ‘Well, you wouldn’t want to be in her shoes right now anyway. She’s lost her job and that film star she was shacked up with has found someone else. If she’s got a Merc, she’s probably going to have to trade it in for a more modest set of wheels!’
‘Thanks.’ She slammed down the boot-lid one second after he removed his fingers from danger.
‘Are you staying somewhere round here?’
She settled back behind the wheel. ‘Just passing through.’
‘I wish I was,’ he grumbled, staring down the quiet country road.
As Kitty drove off, she was trembling. So much for the disguise! Tugging off the wool cloche, she slung it in the back seat and ran manicured fingertips jerkily through the silver-blonde, waterfall-straight hair that had tumbled down to her slim shoulders.
Her strained violet-blue eyes accidentally fell on the small decorative urn and the bunch of white roses on the passenger seat. Instantly she looked away again but the damage was done. The gremlins in her conscience wouldn’t leave her alone. She was coming home after eight years of exile…and she was arriving too late. All the wishing in the world wouldn’t change that fact.
Four incredibly short days ago she had been happy, blissfully unaware of what lay ahead. On the flight from Los Angeles, all that had been on her mind were the gloriously empty weeks stretching before her and the plot of the thriller she had long been anxious to sit down and actually try to write. Within an hour of entering the London town house, her mood of sunny anticipation had been shattered.
As an appetiser to his ambitious plans for her next career move, Grant had imparted the news of her grandmother’s death—one month too late for her to attend the funeral.
‘She died in her sleep,’ he had volunteered drily. ‘You weren’t deprived of a death-bed reconciliation.’
He had deliberately withheld the information from her. If she had walked off the set of The Rothmans to fly back to England, she would have held up the production schedule on her last show. Nor might she have been free to take advantage of the part Grant had lined up for her in his latest film. But then that hadn’t been the only reason why he had kept quiet about Martha Colgan’s death. And somehow it was those other unspoken and even less presentable reasons which had contributed to her bitter attack on him and the subsequent violence of the argument which had followed.
They had both said things which would have been better unsaid. Censure rarely came Grant’s way. He was an internationally acclaimed star of twenty years’ solid standing. Humility wasn’t his strong point. When crossed he had the malice of a toddler throwing a temper tantrum. But the split between them had been coming for a long time, Kitty acknowledged unhappily.
Neither of them had known that his valet had had his ear to the door. Or that the same man had been snooping and prying for months behind their backs so that he could make his fortune selling lurid revelations of their life together to one of the murkier tabloids. What he had overheard that afternoon had been juicy enough to send him out from cover to the nearest phone.
The story of their break-up had made headlines the next day. The night before she had unwittingly lent credence to the tale by leaving the town house in disgust to check into a hotel. Yesterday, Grant had flown out to the South of France with his arm round his glamorous co-star, Yolanda Simons. The sensationalised instalments in the newspaper had run for three agonising days.
None of it would bother Grant. With the single exception of the leak about his chin tuck last year, Grant saw all publicity as good publicity and he didn’t think of a woman’s reputation as a fragile thing. In all likelihood he would be laughing over the fact that, despite the household spy, the probing searchlight of the Press hadn’t even come close to digging up the biggest secret of all.
But the recent media coverage had appalled Kitty. It had finally brought home to her that she had lived a lie for too long and she was now reaping the benefits of that notoriety.
Her car ate up the miles, steadily taking her deeper into the familiar windswept desolation of the moors. By twelve, sunlight was banishing the overcast clouds, dispelling all gloom from the rugged landscape, but the closer Kitty got to her destination, the more tense she became.
Two unalterable realities had shadowed her childhood. One was that her mother had died the day she was born, the other that Jenny Colgan hadn’t been married. Kitty’s grandparents had raised her solely out of a sense of duty, and love had played small part in her upbringing. A lonely child, she had been ignored at home and had found it difficult to mix with the other children in the village school.