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Грэхем Линн

Mediterranean Millionaires

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‘YOU travel in luxury: a private helicopter for your sole use and a limo and driver to deliver you right to our door?’ Donald Hamilton awarded Gwenna an admiring smile across the depth of his spacious book-lined study. ‘I’m impressed. Obviously, Angelo Riccardi thinks very highly of you.’

‘I don’t know about that. I just missed my train.’ Gwenna was already wondering if Penelope had exaggerated the family crisis because her father did not seem unduly concerned. Indeed he seemed quite relaxed. ‘Penelope made the situation here sound grave and she was very mysterious. I’ve been really worried.’

‘Then you’ll be relieved to learn that my current problem is only what you might call a footnote to that other business at Furnridge.’ The older man grimaced. ‘There I was in a hell of a bind and I did what most people in a financial crisis do—I borrowed just a little from Peter to pay Paul.’

Gwenna tensed again. ‘Meaning…er, sorry, I don’t quite understand.’

‘I’m afraid that certain irregularities in the garden committee’s accounts have been uncovered. Of course, given time I could make all good.’ Donald shrugged. ‘Unfortunately the stuffy old worrywarts on the committee are demanding instant repayment.’

‘You took money from the Massey Garden Fund…as well?’ Gwenna was appalled when she finally grasped the gravity of what she was being told. ‘What on earth were you thinking of?’

‘I don’t care for your tone, Gwenna,’ her father censured with a lofty look of reproof.

‘I just can’t believe that after all that fund-raising and all those speeches you actually helped yourself to the donations of the people who trusted you,’ she whispered painfully, shame weighing her down like a giant piece of concrete. ‘Why didn’t you mention this last month?’

‘Obviously because I hoped to be in a position to replace the money. But that’s since proved impossible. I’m unemployed, and Eva and I can barely afford to live in this house. Two members of the garden committee called yesterday. They’re threatening to call in the police.’

Her brow felt as though a tension band was tightening round it. ‘How much money are we talking about?’

Donald winced and mentioned a sum that shook her rigid.

‘Oh, my word…what are we going to do?’ she exclaimed.

‘Well, possibly you could sell a diamond necklace or something to save our skins,’ a female voice interposed with very female venom.

Gwenna looked up in dismay to see her stepsisters and her stepmother coming into the room.

‘Or, you could simply ask your fabulously rich lover to bail your father out,’ Penelope continued in the same sarcastic tone.

‘I can’t do that,’ Gwenna whispered sickly, not knowing how to explain that she did not consider herself the owner of any of the diamond jewellery that Angelo had insisted she wear.

‘Sadly, you’re the only person who can help me now,’ her father told her heavily. ‘We have no money and no hope of getting a loan.’

And with that final comment, Donald Hamilton left the room.

‘I can’t do anything,’ Gwenna said again. ‘I don’t have any money either.’

Eva spoke up for the first time. ‘If you don’t find the means to sort this out discreetly, I assure you that I will divorce your father and then he won’t even have anywhere to live. I’ve had enough. I won’t tolerate any more.’

Gwenna sighed heavily. ‘I can understand how you feel—’

‘I don’t think you do. While our lives have been crashing and burning as we struggled to pay our bills, you’ve been swanning down red carpets to film premières!’ Penelope condemned furiously. ‘I see your picture in all the top magazines and your name in the gossip columns. You’re shacked up with a Category-A billionaire!’

‘It would have been crude to present Angelo with a shopping list of demands in your very first week,’ Wanda opined, ‘but it’s time you stopped being selfish and shared your amazing good fortune with your family.’

‘That’s enough, girls,’ their mother, Eva, murmured. ‘I’m quite sure that Gwenna has got the message.’

In shock from that combined verbal attack, Gwenna was hit even harder by the pure injustice of the allegations of selfishness.

‘I don’t believe that finding the money will be a problem for you,’ Penelope remarked sweetly.

‘After all, you’re wearing a fortune on your back. That handbag alone must be worth fifteen hundred pounds!’

Gwenna stared down at her bag in horror. Did bags come that expensive? She had not a clue what any of her clothing or accessories had cost, for the simple reason that she had not shopped for them personally and they had not been delivered with price tags attached. She now deeply regretted raiding her designer wardrobe in an effort to boost her confidence in advance of an encounter with her sharp-tongued stepsisters.

‘I don’t have any money of my own and I can’t ask Angelo for it,’ she argued tautly, her mind in turmoil.

‘How can you be such a mean, selfish cow?’ Wanda demanded shrilly.

Real bitterness flooded Gwenna at that denunciation. ‘I’m not a prostitute…I won’t ask him for money.’

Her stepmother wrinkled her nose with distaste. ‘Let’s not overdo the melodrama, Gwenna. From what I’ve seen, Angelo Riccardi needs very little encouragement to spoil you rotten.’

Angry, frustrated tears blinding her, Gwenna leapt to her feet. ‘Stop talking like I’m with Angelo out of choice! Or like it was some big treat for me! I was in love with someone else, for goodness’ sake. Angelo offered me a deal—if I slept with him, he would drop the charges against Dad!’

No sooner had the words left Gwenna’s lips than she regretted an admission that she would never have made had she not been so upset and desperate to defend herself. Silence had fallen. All three women were now viewing her with dropped jaws of disbelief and she was totally mortified.

‘I had no idea,’ Eva retorted frigidly. ‘It sounds absolutely immoral and I hope you’re not blaming us for your decision. Do we need the sordid details?’

‘Angelo Riccardi had to blackmail you into bed with him?’ Wanda gasped wide-eyed. ‘I’d have knocked him flat in the rush. What’s the matter with you?’

‘That is so, so sexy.’ Penelope could not conceal her envy. ‘You are really sad, Gwenna. No normal woman would be moaning about it!’

Dumbfounded by those reactions, Gwenna walked out of the room. She was taken aback to see Toby waiting in the hall. Just as quickly she appreciated that Toby, as a member of the garden committee, would already have been informed that her father had taken money from the restoration fund.

‘I only found out about this yesterday. I volunteered to break the news to you and I couldn’t do it on the phone. I meant to make it here before you but my flight was delayed,’ Toby confided apologetically.

‘Gwenna…’ Donald Hamilton spoke from the far end of the hall in an admonishing tone.

‘Get me out of here,’ Gwenna begged her oldest friend in a frantic whisper, before turning back to address her father. ‘I don’t know what to say to you right now. I need to think things over. Please don’t expect me to pull off a miracle. I’ll be in touch.’

Ignoring the older man’s protests, Toby ushered her quickly out to his car. ‘Look, I’m booked in at the Four Crowns inn for the night. Why don’t we go there to talk?’

Her mobile phone was buzzing. It was Angelo calling. He was still talking to her, then. But her surge of guilty relief was short-lived when she contemplated telling Angelo about her parent’s latest act of embezzlement. Mentally shrinking from that ghastly challenge, she switched off her phone. When they arrived at the Four Crowns, Toby confessed that he hadn’t eaten for hours and added that, as far as he knew, starving had never solved a crisis. Neither of them mentioned the theft over a late dinner. Afterwards they went up to his comfortable room with its ancient oak beams to talk over a bottle of wine.

‘I’ll be blunt. The committee is champing at the bit to call in the police but I persuaded them to hold off for another day or so. They don’t want the scandal of this going public in case it inhibits further donations to the fund,’ Toby explained. ‘Is Angelo likely to bail your dad out?’

Gwenna swallowed hard. ‘I doubt it—Angelo won’t be sympathetic.

‘But Angelo struck me as keen on you.’

Gwenna reddened because she didn’t feel that she could point out that her sole value in Angelo’s terms was of a highly physical nature. And that after the lie she had flung at Angelo earlier, even that low measure of her worth had probably hit rock-bottom.

‘I won’t say what I’d like to say about your father.’

‘I appreciate that…’ Gwenna flinched nervously as a knock sounded on the door.

Toby opened the door. Gwenna saw Angelo and her heart reacted as if it were jumping right out of her chest. She jumped to her feet, Delft-blue eyes locking in sudden fear to the icy black outrage flaming in Angelo’s glittering gaze. As she moved forward Angelo hit Toby, who went flying backwards to fall against the side of the bed.

‘Are you insane?’ Gwenna shrieked.

‘You were lying on his bed!’ Angelo gritted. ‘Stay out of this. This is between me and him—’

‘I’m not a coward, but I’ve just never seen the point of all that macho shouting and thumping stuff,’ Toby groaned, hugging his ribs and struggling to catch his breath.

Angelo studied him in incredulous disgust. ‘He won’t even fight for you!’

‘Why would he fight for me? He’s gay,’ Gwenna said woodenly, crouching down beside Toby to ask him if he was all right.

‘Gay?’ Angelo thundered in disbelief.

‘Gay,’ Toby confirmed, squinting at Gwenna in surprise and then back at Angelo. ‘Didn’t she mention it?’

‘It was none of Angelo’s business,’ Gwenna declared, refusing to look at either man.

Angelo strode forward and immediately extended a hand down to Toby to help the younger man up. ‘I’m sorry. I owe you a sincere apology.’He sent Gwenna a shimmering glance of challenge. ‘Why didn’t you tell me? How wasn’t it my business?’

Her cheeks flushed a discomfited pink, Gwenna folded her lips on a stinging retort. A slanging match in front of Toby in which Angelo was certain to give as good as he got would only embarrass her more. She already felt foolish, angry and guilty that Toby had got hurt. She did not want to recall that, when she first realised that Angelo had followed her down to Somerset, she had been pleased.

‘Are you coming back to my hotel with me?’ Angelo drawled softly.

Gwenna jerked her chin in grudging affirmation. ‘How could you do that?’ she snapped the minute she was alone with Angelo.

‘You’re responsible for that stupid farce,’ Angelo drawled with cutting cool, thrusting open the inn door for her to precede him into the car park.

‘And how do you make that out?’ Gwenna demanded.

‘You didn’t answer your mobile phone. You walked out of your father’s house with the man you told me you loved. You then dined alone with him and went upstairs to his hotel room. What was I supposed to think?’

‘That not everyone is as oversexed as you are!’

Gay! The guy was gay! Why hadn’t she said? Angelo’s aggressive jaw line squared. She was all sweetness and light with everyone else, but she had gone out of her way to put him through the equivalent of a meat mincer. Subtle torture of the most female kind. Naturally he had found it offensive that her main source of interest should be another man, when it was his bed she was sharing! When she had thrown that fact in his teeth earlier that day, Angelo had been dismayed by the discovery that he was struggling to restrain his temper even with his staff.

‘I still don’t understand how you knew where I was today.’

Angelo dealt her a sardonic look. ‘I always know where you are. Whenever you go out, someone on Franco’s team watches over you. I’m in the public eye. I have enemies. Even if the only threat is from the paparazzi, you need protection.’

Gwenna could hardly contain her annoyance. ‘It’s like being under police surveillance…why didn’t you tell me?’

‘Your safety is my concern. So, tell me the tale of Toby,’ Angelo invited, determined to satisfy his curiosity. ‘How did you manage to fall for someone who’s gay?’

Gwenna worried at her lower lip with her teeth before she finally answered. ‘It was a secret and I wasn’t in on it when I first knew him. By the time I found out, it was too late.’

‘How too late? Finding out that should have been a wake-up call,’ Angelo said very drily.

‘It’s not that simple—’

‘In the same scenario I would find it very simple.’

Gwenna tilted her chin. ‘When did you last fall for anyone?’

Angelo felt as if he had been dumped in conversational quicksand. He didn’t do love, didn’t believe in it, didn’t go into the building, never mind the living room. Love was a four-letter word that had never crossed his lips since childhood and not something he was prepared to talk about. His icy reserve was well known. People didn’t ask him personal questions. They didn’t have the nerve. They didn’t want to irritate him.

‘How come you can ask me but I can’t ask you?’ she prompted in the simmering silence.

‘Dio mio…I don’t fall. Okay?’

Gwenna fixed stunned china-blue eyes on him. ‘You mean…ever?’

‘So what?’ Angelo was infuriated by her compassionate look that implied he must be some kind of emotional cripple.

Gwenna wished she hadn’t asked. She felt terribly sad for him and hastened to breach the awkward silence. ‘My grand-mother used to say that it takes all sorts to make a world,’ she continued brightly. ‘I suppose that if I’d ever met anyone else worth caring about, I would’ve got over Toby. There again, he would be a hard act to follow. He’s very creative—he designs parks and gardens. We have a lot in common—’

‘Soil…plants…’ Angelo slotted in with lethal derision. ‘The wow factor.’

Her heart-shaped face tightened. ‘Toby’s really special—kind and caring.’

Worth caring about. Although he wasn’t looking for love, Angelo felt affronted. Toby was kind, caring and creative. It was not a level playing field. Possibly Toby filled in for the saints in his spare time. Angelo decided that pursuing the topic was beneath his dignity.

It was almost midnight when they arrived at the Peveril House hotel. A private lift whisked them up to an opulent suite that comprised several rooms. Gwenna had taken one step through the door when Piglet hurled himself at her in rapturous welcome.

‘My word, you brought him with you!’ Gwenna pounced happily on her pet. ‘Thank you.’

Angelo wondered how he was supposed to have left behind a dog that went on hunger strike without her. Piglet had to be the most successful attention-seeker in canine history.

The next morning, Gwenna woke up at nine. In spite of everything she had slept like a log and Angelo had left her undisturbed. Totally undisturbed. Maybe he had realised how exhausted she had been. She was surprised that he hadn’t asked about the nature of her family crisis the night before. But then why should he be interested? But if he wasn’t interested, why had he followed her down to Somerset?

She could no longer avoid the disagreeable decision she had to make. Did she or did she not ask Angelo to help her father? Certainly, she didn’t want to make that approach. In fact she cringed at the very thought of it. But although Eva and her daughters had been unpleasant and her father had treated the matter far too lightly, Gwenna still felt that she should do what she could to try and help. The money had been taken from the garden fund around the same time as the money from Furnridge. In many ways it could be seen as another strand of the same offence, she told herself bracingly.

When she appeared for breakfast, Angelo acknowledged her with an inclination of his handsome dark head. He was poised by a desk across the room and talking in rapid Italian, and it was clear to her that he was fully engaged in business. She watched him covertly while she chased some cereal round a bowl, her appetite steadily dwindling at the prospect of the dialogue that lay ahead.

Angelo tossed the phone aside and strolled fluidly towards her. In a well-cut suit the colour of rich caramel, a silk shirt and a narrow trendy tie, he was drop-dead beautiful, she acknowledged helplessly.

‘Sleep well?’ he enquired casually.


‘I didn’t.’ Lean, powerful face intent, Angelo lounged back against the table edge. He watched her with a smouldering intensity that spoke louder than any words. Slow, painful colour inched up her pale, slender throat and into her cheeks and she didn’t ask him why he hadn’t slept well because she knew. ‘Come here,’ he breathed softly.

And she lifted out of her chair before she even appreciated that she was going to move. With a husky sound of amusement, Angelo curved an assured hand to her hip and looked her up and down with bold visual appreciation. ‘I picked out that dress for you in New York.’

Gwenna was surprised. ‘I didn’t know you picked anything.’

Angelo was wholly engaged in admiring the enchanting picture she made. The dress was a perfect fit for her luscious curves and the exact same shade of blue as the one she had worn the day they met. ‘Only a couple of items that caught my eye. I’ve decided that we need a break, bellezza mia,’ he imparted. ‘We’re flying to Sardinia at the end of the week.’

‘Are you serious?’ Gwenna exclaimed.

‘I have a house there…a huge garden,’ Angelo tossed in for good measure. ‘You’ll love it and so will I. Like your plants, I need copious amounts of sunlight and attention to thrive.’

Gwenna studied him uncertainly. ‘Don’t you want to know why I needed to see my family yesterday?’

Angelo released his breath in a slow, expressive hiss. ‘I have a fair idea.’

Her smooth brow furrowed. ‘How? I mean…you didn’t say anything,’ she faltered.

‘How? I have senior staff at Furnridge and the rumours about the depredations on the local garden fund hit the grapevine there a few days ago,’ Angelo confided with precision. ‘I then made further enquiries, which is why I’m here.’

‘It’s not just a rumour.’

Level dark eyes gazed steadily down at her. ‘I didn’t think it would be.’

Gwenna moistened her dry lips. ‘My father took the money and used it to try and conceal the sums he had taken from Furnridge.’

Angelo lifted his hand to skate a warning forefinger gently across her full lower lip. ‘Let’s rewind and not have this conversation. I don’t like the direction I suspect it might be taking.’

Her lashes fluttered up on her bemused gaze. ‘How am I supposed to answer that?’

‘Hopefully with a change of subject. Your life has moved on.’

‘You don’t just move on from family.’

His lean face was sombre. ‘You could be surprised.’

‘You knew about this and you didn’t even mention it last night?’ Gwenna shook her head in genuine confusion. ‘No wonder you didn’t ask me what was wrong! How do you keep things in separate compartments like that?’

‘I’m a practical guy,’ Angelo quipped.

‘But just to ignore the whole issue like that…’

Angelo lifted and dropped a broad shoulder in silence.

Gwenna could feel the chill in the air. She also noticed that he was no longer touching her. ‘Angelo…’

‘Don’t go there, bellezza mia,’ Angelo cautioned.

Gwenna spun away from him and turned round again in a troubled half-circle. ‘You can’t know what I’m about to say before I’ve even said it!’

‘Can’t I?’ Angelo countered bleakly.

‘You’re making this very hard for me. Do you think I find it easy to ask you for money?’ she prompted unevenly and then groaned out loud. ‘And now I’m making a mess of it.’

‘Not at all. You’ve packaged yourself very prettily for the challenge. No jeans and T-shirt in sight,’ Angelo derided softly.

Gwenna scrutinised him in sincere shock. ‘You really think that that’s why I’m dressed like this? I’m packaging myself? I’m not like that—’

‘I thought you weren’t like that too. Sadly, you seem set on course to prove me wrong.’

Pale and taut, Gwenna stilled, her eyes full of strain. ‘Stop being clever and trying to scare me into silence. Don’t you understand that I can’t not ask?’

‘No, I don’t. Do you honestly believe that your father is a deserving cause? A truly penitent sinner worthy of a helping hand?’

His cold contempt lashed stinging colour into her cheeks. ‘He’s my father and I love him. Just at present, I’m ashamed of him too,’ she confided with a catch in her low-pitched voice. ‘He’s weak and he’s broken the law and he’s betrayed the trust of others, but he’s still my closest living relative—and I can’t forget how he stood by me when I was a child.’

Angelo vented a harsh laugh. ‘And what if he didn’t stand by you in quite the way you imagine?’

Gwenna gazed back at him in bewilderment. ‘What do you mean?’

‘Forget it. I was thinking of something else.’

Angelo veiled his granite hard gaze. She would have to deal with the truth some time. But now when she was already upset would be very poor timing. He would tell her in Sardinia and that would cut her loose. Like most con men, Hamilton was a seasoned liar and his life had more sordid secrets than a soap opera. Once she had been made to face the reality, she would soon rethink her sentimental take on family ties. And although he thought it regrettable that she would lose that trusting naivety in the process, he was determined to do it.

Gwenna laced her fingers through each other and threw back her slight shoulders as she steeled herself. ‘I desperately want my father to have the chance to turn his life around—’

Angelo threw up his hands in a gesture of total derision and walked over to the window to turn his back on her. ‘Oh…please,’ he said acidly.

‘He’ll never do it if nobody believes in him. He’ll go to prison if the garden committee has to press charges and what choice do they have? Some very influential people donated money to the fund. Please consider replacing the money,’ she whispered shakily. ‘Even as a loan.’

‘Dio mio…A loan with what security?’ Angelo swung back and rested sardonic dark-as-night eyes on her. ‘You almost had me convinced that you were different and I liked that idea. A lady with principles. Until now you had the unique distinction of being the only woman who has never asked me for money…Or jewels to the value of.’

The blood drained from below her fine creamy skin. She wanted to sink through the floor in shame and could not sustain his challenging gaze. The line that divided right from wrong was no longer as well defined as she had once believed it to be. Even while she felt bound in duty to try and protect her father, she was appalled by what she was doing.

‘You also told me that you couldn’t be bought,’ Angelo reminded her darkly. ‘But you just named your price.’

Hot, prickly tears hit the backs of her eyes. ‘Angelo…I really didn’t want to do this—’

‘Yet you did. If I wanted to play games, I could ask you what’s in it for me. But it would be cruel to put you on the spot when I have no intention of giving you a positive response. Do I care what happens to your father? No. Do I wish to please you to that extent? I’m afraid not,’ Angelo completed with chilling cool.

That final assertion hurt as much as an unexpected slap in the face. It was one thing to tell herself that her sole value to Angelo Riccardi was sexual, quite another to be confronted with his unapologetic confirmation of the fact. Indeed he was so cold, so unemotionally distant, that he frightened her. It was as though the last month hadn’t happened and he had reassumed the guise of a callous stranger.

Gwenna straightened her taut shoulders. ‘I’m sorry I made the mistake of believing that you might have some compassion.’

‘I reserve compassion for worthy causes and your father will never feature in that category.’

‘Yet you can squander a fortune on stupid clothes for me! Hang diamonds worth…whatever round my neck!’ she protested in a feverish rush of incomprehension. ‘Even the way you sneer at me for caring about what happens to my father—’

‘I don’t sneer—’

‘Your voice does it for you!’

‘Your father is trying to use you again. Where’s your common sense? Can’t you tell? Does a decent man let his daughter pay for his freedom with her body?’ Angelo raked at her with derision.

Gwenna gulped. ‘That’s not fair. Dad thinks we’re really involved—’

‘We are really involved—’

‘You know what I mean. He thinks we care about each other,’ she shot back wretchedly. ‘And since you said it first—does a decent man ask a woman to pay for her father’s freedom with her body?’

Outrage flashed in Angelo’s punitive appraisal. ‘Per meraviglia. Don’t pair me with your father in the same sentence. If people could still be bought and sold like goods, he’d be the first to sell you to me at a profit!’

‘That’s a filthy lie! My father loves me—’

‘He’s a con man and a swindler,’ Angelo sliced in with cutting hauteur. ‘I’ve an even better question for you to ask yourself. What sort of man steals his eight-year-old daughter’s inheritance from her?’

Her feathery brows lifting in a frown of incomprehension, Gwenna stared back steadily at him. ‘What are you saying? I’m sorry…what’s that supposed to mean? What inheritance?’

Lean, darkly handsome features taut, Angelo swore under his breath for he had not intended to reveal that information. ‘Donald Hamilton forged his own version of your mother’s will.’

It took so much effort to concentrate that Gwenna felt dizzy. ‘Forged? I beg your pardon?’

‘There’s a lot of solid evidence. Handwriting experts have been consulted. The will is not even a clever fake. One witness and the solicitor involved have since died,’ Angelo explained. ‘The second witness, however, has been tracked down abroad and he’s prepared to swear that the will is not the document he originally signed in your mother’s presence. Your father forged another will and named himself as the main beneficiary. He wanted the Massey Manor estate and he took advantage of your mother’s death to steal it from you.’

Gwenna was shaking her head back and forth like a metronome. ‘This is nonsense, totally ridiculous nonsense—’

‘And when your father rushed to offer you a home and adopt you, everybody was surprised but impressed. Nor did anyone ask why a woman who had been known to have hated him would have left him everything she possessed.’

‘Angelo…this is wicked, what you’re trying to insinuate, what you’re saying,’ Gwenna told him jerkily, words and phrases getting jumbled as she attempted unsuccessfully to master her shock.

‘I’m sorry. It’s the truth.’

‘No…no, it can’t be.’ Gwenna grabbed up her bag from the seat where she had left it the night before and hauled out her phone.

‘Who are you calling?’


Angelo snatched the phone off her. ‘What do you need with him?’

‘Give me my phone!’ Gwenna screeched at him.

‘Think before you spill the beans…can you trust Toby James with such highly sensitive information?’ Angelo set her phone down on the table between them as though it were a very dangerous weapon. ‘He’s on that garden committee, isn’t he?’

Gwenna snatched up her phone but she did not make the call. She wanted to hit Angelo for making her think twice about contacting her best friend for support. Her throat was thick with emotion. ‘Dad did not forge my mother’s will and this entire issue is nothing to do with you.’

‘He signed over the property against his debt to Furnridge. If he didn’t legally own the estate, he committed another act of fraud. Perhaps you would prefer the police to investigate the matter.’

A chill settled over Gwenna then. She felt as if she were trapped in a nightmare from which there was no escape. Angelo settled a hand to her spine. She pulled away in a violent movement of rejection.

‘You had to be told some time, bellezza mia.’

Gwenna shot him a defiant glance. ‘I intend to discuss your insane allegations with my father.’

‘You should see the evidence first.’ Angelo removed a file from the drawer of the desk and walked back to hand it to her.

‘Go away,’ she urged unevenly.

Angelo went out to the hall where Piglet had been corralled in disgrace. The little dog’s morning walk had concluded with the noisy harassment of a driver climbing out of his car. Angelo had been quite heartened when he’d heard about that unprovoked attack. It was good to know that he wasn’t the only man that Piglet hated. Purposefully leaving the door back into the drawing room ajar, Angelo watched Piglet take the bait and pelt past him to join Gwenna with a triumphant burst of barking.

Clutching her pet below one arm, Gwenna sat down at the desk and opened the file. There were legal letters, samples of her mother’s signature, expert opinions. But when she came on the deposition from the man who had witnessed her mother’s will, her tummy turned queasy. The witness was prepared to swear in court that Isabel Massey had left her estate to her child.

When Angelo reappeared half an hour later, Gwenna was proud that she had hung onto her composure. She stood up. ‘I want to see my father.’

‘He’ll give you a pack of excuses. My staff tell me that that’s how he operates,’ Angelo advanced.

‘I can handle it.’ Her blue eyes were bright as stars with defiance as she looked steadily back at him.

‘I’m sorry but I can’t agree.’

‘What the hell has it got to do with you? How would you know?’ she practically screamed at him, the sudden uncontrollable flare of her temper taking her by storm and shocking her.

Angelo remained tactfully silent.

‘You think I’m going to lose it. Well, I’m not going to. I only lose it with you!’ she muttered defensively.

Gwenna sat in the limo like a stone statue, but below the surface she was seething with a mess of disturbed emotions. The vehicle pulled up outside her father’s home.

‘You don’t have to confront him. Why don’t you let me deal with this?’ Angelo asked levelly.

‘He’s my father.’ Clutching the file, Gwenna climbed out. ‘And don’t you dare come in!’


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