The days of your innocence are long gone.
She didn’t get very far before a powerful hand closed over one slim shoulder and yanked her back. He spun her round with frightening strength. Look at me! he demanded with inborn arrogance, glittering dark eyes scanning her pale, distraught face. Your freedom is gone and not only for now, cara. It’s gone for as for as long as I want. I will keep you and I will clothe you and you will not make a single move that you haven’t cleared with me first. Your are mine and you had better adjusting to that idea fast. I am not the most patient of men.
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‘I KNOW this is a shock for you,’ Daisy Wyatt murmured uncomfortably, absorbing her daughter’s stunned pallor. ‘I would have told you ages ago but I was afraid you might be upset.’
‘Might be?’ Kelda raked her rippling Titian red hair back from her brow, a fiery mix of disbelief and temper leaping through her taut frame. ‘For goodness’ sake, you’ve been divorced from the man for over four years! Why on earth did you start seeing him again?’
Daisy looked uneasy. Small and blonde and barely into her forties, she was a very pretty woman but right now her face was strained. ‘When I heard that Tomaso had had a heart attack, I…I—well…’ She stumbled under fire from an outraged emerald-green stare of enquiry. ‘I thought it was only decent to write with my good wishes for his recovery and Tomaso wrote me such a kind letter back asking me to visit…I didn’t see how I could refuse—’
‘But that was three months ago,’ Kelda condemned in a shaken tone. ‘You’ve been seeing him all this time and you never even dropped a hint!’
Daisy turned a guilty pink. ‘At the start, it didn’t seem worth mentioning. Just a few friendly visits to the hospital. Tomaso seemed so lonely. He didn’t seem to have many visitors, apart…’ She hesitated, assessing her daughter’s vibrating tension and hurriedly averting her gaze before reluctantly continuing, ‘Apart from Angelo, of course.’
That name struck Kelda like a stinging slap on the face. The fact that her sensitive mother wouldn’t meet her eyes when she said it didn’t help. Indeed, Daisy’s visible embarrassment on Kelda’s behalf merely piled on the agony. A moment out of time when she was eighteen. Inexplicable…inexcusable. Kelda blocked out the memories threatening her, refusing to recall that dreadful night and its appalling repercussions.
‘And I suppose Angelo was as chillingly contemptuous as he was when Tomaso married you and polluted the Rossetti family with a lowly hairdresser!’ Kelda snapped with ferocious bite. ‘I wish I could believe you cut him dead but I bet you didn’t!’
Daisy was studying her tightly linked hands. ‘Tomaso and I should never have got married in such a hurry the first time. Angelo hadn’t even met me… naturally, he was shocked.’
‘Look, I’ll make us a cup of tea.’ Kelda was so furious, she had to get out of the room before she burst a blood-vessel and said what she really thought. How could her mother make excuses for Angelo? How could she possibly do that? When Tomaso Rossetti had married Daisy eleven years ago, his son Angelo had scorned her, snubbed her and treated her as though she was a scheming, common little gold-digger with a greedy eye to the main chance. Kelda’s gentle, quiet mother had suffered agonies of discomfiture at Angelo’s merciless hands!
Safe in her pine galley kitchen, Kelda snatched in air in heated gasps. Her memories of Daisy’s short-lived second marriage were extremely painful. The discovery that Tomaso, for all his apparent devotion to her mother, was having an affair with another woman had shattered Kelda. The divorce had come as an incredible relief. It had freed her from the burden of a secret she had not dared to share with her vulnerable mother, and how could she tell Daisy the truth now? It wasn’t even as if she had any concrete proof to offer…nothing more than the dismayed and embarrassed confirmation of a classmate.
There had been a piece about Tomaso in a newspaper. ‘Looks as if butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth, doesn’t he?’ Helena had giggled. ‘He’s had a mistress on the go for years, some blonde he takes to hideaway country pubs for dirty weekends. And even though he only got married recently, he’s still seeing her…my father saw them all cosied up together in a dark corner only last week! Holding hands and kissing. Everybody’s dying to meet his new wife and see what she’s like—’
‘She’s my mother,’ Kelda had said flatly.
Helena had looked aghast. ‘Oh lord, I am sorry. I had no idea.’
Hell, why hadn’t she told Daisy straight after the divorce? Well quite naturally she had believed the divorce was final. Most divorces were. ‘We just weren’t compatible,’ Daisy had said sadly then, seemingly having no suspicion of Tomaso’s infidelity. And now Tomaso had actually had the neck to pop the question a second time! How the heck could Kelda have foreseen that eventuality? And heaven knew, right at this minute, it was a problem she could have done without. She had quite enough problems of her own!
Determinedly, however, Kelda suppressed the bitter awareness that, thanks to all the bad publicity she had received of late, her career as a top model was over. There was no point in crying over spilt milk, she told herself and her poor mother’s predicament was far more important.
Kelda had adored her own father, although her recollection of him was unhappily vague, built up on blurred impressions of a jovial, boisterous man, quick to temper, equally quick to laughter. She had only been five when her father began to spend long periods working abroad. She had only a couple of faded photographs of him when he was young and her mother had invariably resorted to tears whenever she tried to talk about him. But she still had every letter her father had ever written to her. The heart attack which had claimed his life in her twelfth year had seemed to devastate her mother at the time…