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Mistresses: The Italian's Inexperienced Mistress / Emerald Mistress

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«Mistresses: The Italian's Inexperienced Mistress / Emerald Mistress» - Линн Грэхем

What these ruthless Italians want, they get! And now they want…MISTRESSESWhen Angelo Riccardi set out to get revenge, he had financial devastation in mind. But innocent and pretty Gwenna Hamilton added another, delicious dimension. She had no chance when the Italian tycoon swooped like an urban predator and offered her the devil’s bargain: pay for her father’s freedom with her body. Harriet’s decided to forget London, an unexpected legacy in Ireland calls!Her new neighbour is ruthless businessman Rafael Cavaliere; Rafael is always on hand, he oozes sex and charm. Even knowing she might be just another notch on Rafael’s bedpost, Harriet lets him sweep her up in a heady affair.
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About the Author

About the Author

LYNNE GRAHAM was born in Northern Ireland and has been a keen Mills & Boon® reader since her teens. She is very happily married, with an understanding husband who has learned to cook since she started to write! Her five children keep her on her toes. She has a very large dog, which knocks everything over, a very small terrier, which barks a lot, and two cats. When time allows, Lynne is a keen gardener.

Look out for Lynne Graham’s latest exciting new trilogy, available from March to May in Mills & Boon® Modern™.


The Italian’s Inexperienced Mistress

Emerald Mistress




The Italian’s



Lynne Graham


ANGELO RICCARDI climbed out of his limousine, a heavy-duty vehicle armoured with reinforced panels and bulletproof glass, built to withstand a rocket attack. The heat outside was relentless. His sunglasses screening his hard dark gaze from the bright Venezuelan sunlight, he ignored the uneasy chatter of the English intermediary sent to greet him at the airport. While he understood the man’s tension he was also irritated by it.

Angelo had not experienced fear since childhood and the shame of it had been beaten out of him. He had known loathing, rage and bitterness, but fear no longer had the power to touch him. His relentless rise to power and influence had featured in hundreds of magazines and newspaper features, but his birth and parentage had always been shrouded in a haze of uncertainty. When he was eighteen he had been told the truth about his ancestry. Any idealistic notions he’d had had died that same day when his chosen career had become a complete impossibility. With every successive year that had passed since then he had grown tougher, colder and more ruthless. He had used his brilliant intellect and razor-sharp instincts to build a huge business empire. That he had not had to break the law to become a billionaire was a harsh source of pride to him.

‘There’s a colossal security presence here,’ his companion, Harding, muttered uneasily.

It was true, Angelo acknowledged. Armed guards were everywhere: on the rooftops of the ranch buildings, in every manicured clump of trees or bushes, their state of alert palpable. ‘It should make you feel safe,’ Angelo quipped.

‘I won’t feel safe until I’m back home again,’ Harding confided, mopping his round, perspiring face.

‘Perhaps this was not the job for you.’

He dealt Angelo a look of dismay. ‘Believe me, I meant no offence. I’m delighted to be of service.’

Angelo said nothing. He was surprised that such a man had been chosen to act as middleman in a secret meeting. But then, how many outwardly respectable men accepted the kind of undercover favours that forced them into uncomfortable repayments? He strode into the cool air-conditioned interior of the opulent ranch house where a lantern-jawed older man awaited him. Harding was dismissed like a lackey of no consequence, while Angelo was looked over and greeted with a level of respectful curiosity that bordered on awe.

‘It is a very great pleasure to meet you, Mr Riccardi,’ the older man declared in Italian. ‘I’m Salvatore Lenzi. Don Carmelo is eager to see you.’

‘How is he?’

The other man grimaced. ‘His condition is stable at present but it’s unlikely that he has more than a couple of months left.’

Lean, handsome features taut, Angelo nodded. He had thought long and hard before he had agreed to visit and the old man’s declining health had provided the spur. The infamous Carmelo Zanetti, head of one of the most notorious crime families in the world, was a stranger to him. Yet Angelo had never been able to forget that the same blood that ran in Carmelo Zanetti’s veins ran in his own.

The elderly man lay propped up in a hospital-style bed surrounded by medical equipment. His face was lined with ill health. Breathing stentorously, he feasted his clouded dark gaze on Angelo and sighed. ‘I can’t tell you that you look like your mother because you don’t. Fiorella was tiny …’

Almost imperceptibly the inflexible cast of Angelo’s features softened, for his mother had shown him the only tenderness he had ever known.

‘Sì …’

‘But you have the look of my father and your own. Your parents were the Romeo and Juliet of their generation,’ Don Carmelo recited with caustic humour. ‘A Sorello and a Zanetti, not a match made in heaven as far as either family was concerned and the bride and groom were at each other’s throats within weeks of the wedding.’

‘Is that why my mother ended up scrubbing floors for a living?’ Angelo enquired smooth as glass.

The old man was unmoved by the reminder. ‘She ended up doing that because she deserted her husband and disowned her family. Who would credit that she was my favourite? It was once my pleasure to spoil her and indulge her every wish.’

‘So, my mamma was a real Mafia princess?’ Angelo sliced in with sardonic bite, unimpressed by the misty fairy-tale aspect of that assurance.

‘Don’t mock what you don’t know about.’ Carmelo Zanetti sent him an impatient look. ‘Your mamma had the whole world at her feet. And what did she do? She turned her back on all that education and fine breeding and married your father. Compared to us, the Sorellos were cafoni… uncouth people. Gino Sorello was a handsome hothead always looking for a fight. She couldn’t handle him or his extra-marital activities.’

‘How did you deal with the situation?’ Angelo was impatient to have the facts that had so far evaded his every attempt to discover them.

‘In this family we don’t interfere between a man and his wife. When Gino was jailed for the second time, your mother walked out on her marriage. She ran away from her home and her responsibilities as though she was a little kid.’

‘Maybe she felt that she had good cause.’

Dark eyes crackling with grim amusement rested on Angelo. ‘And maybe you’re in for a surprise or two, because I think you put your precious mamma on a pedestal when she died.’

Anger at that insinuation made Angelo turn pale below his bronzed complexion. Only the awareness that Carmelo would revel in getting under his skin kept him silent.

The older man slumped heavily back against the pillows. ‘Fiorella was my daughter and dear to my heart, but she shamed and disappointed me when she walked out on her husband.’

‘She was twenty-two years old and Sorello was serving a life sentence. Why shouldn’t she have sought a fresh start for herself and her child?’

‘Loyalty is not negotiable in my world. When Fiorella vanished, people got nervous about how much she might know about certain activities. Her treachery was a stain on Gino’s honour as well and it made her many enemies.’ Carmelo Zanetti shook his head wearily. ‘But she was destroyed by her own ignorance and folly.’

Angelo’s attention was keenly focused on the older man. ‘Obviously you didn’t lose track of my mother and you know what happened to her after she arrived in England.’

‘You won’t like what I have to tell you.’

‘I’ll cope,’ Angelo said drily.

Carmelo pressed the bell by the bed. ‘You’ll take a seat and have a glass of wine while we talk. This one time you will behave like my grandson.’

Angelo wanted to deny the relationship but he knew he could not. A certain amount of civility was the price he had to pay for the information he had long sought to make sense of his background. Squaring his broad shoulders, he sat down in a lithe, controlled movement. A manservant brought in a silver tray bearing a single glass filled with ruby liquid and a plate of tiny almond pastries. With a glint of something hidden in his sharp old eyes, Carmelo Zanetti watched the younger man lift the glass and slowly sip.

The old man laughed. ‘Dio grazia … you’re no coward!’

‘Why should you want to harm me?’

‘How does it feel to have rejected your every living relative?’

A sardonic smile of acknowledgement curved Angelo’s handsome sculpted mouth. ‘It kept me out of prison … it may even have kept me alive. The family tree is distressingly full of early deaths and unlikely accidents.’

After having taken a moment to absorb that acid response, Don Carmelo succumbed to a choking bout of appreciative laughter. Alarmed by the aftermath in which the old man struggled for breath, Angelo got up to summon assistance only to be irritably waved back to his seat.

‘Please tell me about my mother,’ Angelo urged.

His companion gave him a mocking look. ‘I want you to know that when she left Sardinia, she had money. My late wife had left her amply provided for. Your mother’s misfortune was that she had very poor taste in men.’

Angelo tensed.

Carmelo Zanetti gave him a cynical glance. ‘I warned you that you wouldn’t like it. Of course there was a man involved. An Englishman she met on the beach soon after your father went to prison. Why do you think she headed to London when she spoke not a word of English? Her boyfriend promised to marry her when she was free. She changed her name as soon as she arrived and began to plan her divorce.’

‘How do you know all this?’

‘I have a couple of letters that the boyfriend wrote her. He had no idea who her connections were. Once she was settled he offered to take care of her money, but he took care of it so well that she never saw it again. He bled her dry and I understand he then told her he’d lost it all on the stock market.’

Angelo was very still but his brilliant gaze glittered like black diamonds on ice. ‘Is there more?’

‘He abandoned her when she was pregnant by him and that was when she discovered that he was already married.’

In shock at that further revelation, Angelo gritted his teeth and was betrayed into comment. ‘I had no idea.’

‘She lost the baby and never recovered her health.’

‘You knew all this … yet you chose not to help her?’ Angelo recognised the cold, critical detachment that had ultimately decided his frail mother’s fate.

‘She could have asked for assistance at any time but she didn’t. I will be frank. She had become an embarrassment to us and there were complications. Gino got out of prison on appeal. He wanted you, his son, back and he wanted revenge on his unfaithful wife. Your mother’s whereabouts had to remain a secret if you were not to end up in the hands of a violent drunk. Silence kept both of you safe.’

‘It didn’t stop us going hungry though,’ Angelo replied without any inflection.

‘You survived—’

‘But she didn’t,’ Angelo incised.

Don Carmelo revealed no regret. ‘I’m not a forgiving man. She let the family down and the final insult was her belief that she had to keep her son away from my influence. She got religion before she died and turned against us even more.’

‘If you never saw her again, how do you know that?’

The old man grimaced. ‘She phoned me when her health was failing. She was worried about what would happen to you. But she still begged me to respect her wishes and not to claim you when she was gone.’

Angelo could see that exhaustion was steadily claiming the older man and pushing their meeting to a close. ‘I appreciate your candour. I would like the name of the man who stole my mother’s money.’

‘His name was Donald Hamilton.’ Don Carmelo lifted a large envelope and extended it. ‘The letters. Take them.’

‘What happened to him?’


‘Nothing?’ Angelo queried. ‘My mother died when I was seven years old.’

‘And now here you are, proud not to be a Zanetti or a Sorello. If you are so unlike the stock from which you were bred, why do you want Hamilton’s name?’ the old man riposted. ‘What could you intend to do with it?’

Angelo surveyed him with dark expressionless eyes and shifted a shoulder in an almost infinitesimal shrug.

‘Don’t do anything foolish, Angelo.’

Angelo laughed out loud. ‘I can’t believe you’re saying that to me.’

‘Who better? I’ve spent the last decade in exile. I’ve been hunted across this planet by the forces of law and order and by my enemies. But my time is almost up,’ Carmelo Zanetti mused. ‘You are the closest relative I have left and I have watched over you all your life.’

‘Only not so that I noticed,’ Angelo countered, unimpressed by the claim.

‘Perhaps we are cleverer than you think. You may also find out that, under the skin, you have more in common with us than you want to admit.’

Angelo lifted his arrogant dark head high, strong denial of that suggestion in every inch of his proud bearing. ‘No. I really don’t think so.’

A basket of flowers on her arm, Gwenna hurried down the muddy lane in pursuit of the two little boys. Thrilled by the growling noises she was making in her role as a pursuing bear, Freddy and Jake were in fits of giggles. With her dog, Piglet, a tiny barrel-shaped mongrel, hard on their heels and barking like mad, they made a noisy trio. The insistent ring of a mobile phone sliced through the laughter. Gwenna fell still and with a guilty air of reluctance dug the item out of her pocket.

‘Bet it’s the Evil Witch again,’ Freddy forecast gloomily.

‘Shush …’ Gwenna urged in dismay, wishing the children’s mother were more careful about what she said in front of her sons because the little boys didn’t miss a trick.

‘I heard Mummy tell Daddy that you’ll never get a man with the Evil Witch around. Do you need one?’ Jake asked earnestly.

‘Course she does … to have babies and change the light bulbs,’ Freddy told his little brother with immense superiority.

‘Is that children I hear?’ Eva Hamilton demanded sharply. ‘Have you let Joyce Miller lumber you with those horrid brats again?’

Giving the twins a pleading glance, Gwenna put a finger to her lips in the universal signal for silence and sidestepped the question. ‘I’ll be with you in less than an hour—’

‘Have you any idea how much still has to be done here?’

‘I thought the caterers—’

‘I’m talking about the cleaning,’ her stepmother cut in acidly.

Gwenna almost flinched for it seemed to her that the past week had passed by in a relentless blur of labour. Even her back, well toned from regular physical activity at the plant nursery where she worked, had developed an ache. ‘Did I miss something out?’

‘The furniture is getting dusty again and the flowers in the drawing room are drooping,’ Eva Hamilton snapped out accusingly. ‘I want everything to be perfect tomorrow for your father, so you’ll have to see to it all this evening.’

‘Yes, of course.’ Gwenna reminded herself that the endless preparation required to stage Eva’s buffet lunch for a handful of select guests was in aid of a very good cause. First and foremost, tomorrow was her father’s big day. Donald Hamilton had worked tirelessly to raise the funds necessary to begin the restoration of the overgrown gardens of Massey Manor. Although the manor house was virtually derelict, the gardens had been designed by a leading nineteenth-century garden luminary and the village was badly in need of a tourist attraction to stimulate the local economy. A host of local VIPs and the press would be present to record the moment when Donald Hamilton symbolically opened the long padlocked gates of the old estate so that the first phase of the work on the grounds could begin.

‘The Evil Witch always steals your smile,’ Freddy lamented.

‘I’m a bear and bears don’t smile,’ Gwenna informed him with determined cheer, snapping back into play mode for the boys’ benefit. But the children had barely got to loose a delighted giggle at the fearful face she assumed when an outburst of frantic barking gave Gwenna something more pressing to think about.

‘Oh no!’ she groaned, racing for the village green where Piglet had clearly found a victim. She was furious with herself for letting her pet off the lead. Although the little animal was very loving and terrific with children he had one troublesome quirk. Having been dumped by the roadside by his first owners and injured as a result, Piglet had developed a pronounced antipathy towards cars and was prone to taking an aggressive stance with their male occupants. Fortunately for him, he was so tiny that his belligerence usually struck people as a joke rather than a source of complaint.

‘Piglet … no!’ Gwenna launched the instant she saw her pet dancing furiously round the very tall dark male standing by the church lychgate.

In spite of the sunshine and his undeniably picturesque and bucolic surroundings, Angelo was not in a good mood. The state-of-the-art satellite-navigation system in the limo, developed by one of his own companies, had proved to be as accurate as a tenth-century map when challenged to deliver the goods in this rural location. His chauffeur had tried to drive down a lane barely wide enough to take a bike and had scratched the limo’s paintwork before finally being forced to admit that he was hopelessly lost. While Angelo had climbed out to stretch his legs, his security team were endeavouring to locate another living being in a village so deserted that he would not have been surprised to find out that he had strayed onto the set of a disaster movie. An attempted assault by a freaky mini-dog with enormous rabbit ears and incongruous short legs was no more welcome. As the careless pet owner approached him at a run Angelo had an icy cutting reproof on his lips.

‘Piglet … stop that right now!’ Gwenna was aghast to see that Piglet had targeted a male dressed in an immaculate business suit, for in her experience such men were less tolerant of annoyances. There were two houses for sale on the other side of the green and she wondered if he was a city estate agent.

Angelo looked down into clear eyes the startling blue of Dutch Delft, set in a heart-shaped face of such rare beauty that for the first time in his life he forgot what he had intended to say. In a millisecond the opportunity to stare was lost. Fair head bowing, she bent down in an effort to catch the offending dog.

‘I’m so sorry … please don’t move in case you stand on him,’ Gwenna begged, frantically chasing her defiant pet round masculine feet shod in the very finest leather. By the time she got a firm hand curved round Piglet’s wriggly little body she felt hot and exceedingly foolish.

Out of the corner of his eye Angelo saw one of his security team hurrying towards him to provide the usual if belated barrier between his employer and the rest of the human race. Angelo shifted a staying hand to keep the man at a distance. The rays of the sun were picking out streaks of pure gold in her hair. Even though that blonde waving mass was confined in a band at the nape of her neck, it was still long enough to trail down her narrow spine. In his mind’s eye he was still picturing her face and already questioning why she had had such an impact on him. He was fiercely impatient for her to look up again.

‘Piglet, you little rascal … I’m so, so sorry,’ Gwenna declared feverishly, clipping Piglet’s lead to his collar and rising. ‘He didn’t nip you, did he?’

Even while Angelo marvelled at the impact of her beautiful eyes, wide cheekbones and generous mouth, he was also registering that the world of fashion and style was foreign territory to her. Her faded blue summer dress hinted at the lush curve of her breasts before billowing out in shapeless folds that revealed only her slender ankles. ‘Nip?’ he queried, his lean, powerful frame poised with natural elegance while he waited for her to respond to him as women always responded, with widened eyes and smiles and a host of flirtatious signals.

‘Bite? He didn’t, did he? He has teeth like needles.’ Intimidated by his sheer size, for he was well over six feet in height, Gwenna kept her distance. It was impossible though to avoid noticing how extremely handsome he was. That awareness, not to mention the weird compulsion she had to stare at him, was sufficiently unlike her to make her feel distinctly unsettled in his presence.

‘He didn’t bite …’ Angelo watched and waited in vain for the female sexual response that was so predictable, he expected it and took it for granted. Instead her long silky brown lashes screened her expressive gaze and she evaded his scrutiny. It annoyed him even while he was absorbing the fact that, in spite of the unforgiving brightness of the light, her skin retained the luminescent sheen of a pearl. He wondered if she was that same pale-as-milk shade all over and almost smiled.

‘Thank goodness … Jake … Freddy!’ Gwenna was anxiously looking back to see where the boys had got to and eager to focus her attention elsewhere.

Two ginger heads popped out from behind the hedge that bounded the grounds of the church.

Angelo froze. She had kids? He scanned her hand. Her wedding finger was bare.

‘Chase us, Gwenna!’ Freddy begged.

‘Are you their nanny?’ Angelo enquired.

Gwenna blinked in surprise at that unexpected question. ‘No, I’m not … I’m just looking after them for an hour. Excuse me,’ she added, glancing up without meaning to and discovering that his dark golden eyes held a light that made her tummy clench and her throat tighten. Hurriedly she screened him out again and grabbed up the basket of flowers that she had set down.

‘Perhaps you could tell me how far Peveril House is from here.’

Gwenna came to a halt again, for any appeal for assistance was a sure path to her full attention. She glanced across the green but there was no sign of the car he must have arrived in. ‘It’s a good five miles. If you go down the fork behind the church, you’ll see a sign for the hotel,’ she told him. ‘People don’t often come this way.’

‘I wonder why not,’ Angelo drawled softly. ‘The scenery is quite exquisite. Will you dine with me tonight?’

Taken aback by that smooth invitation, Gwenna flashed him a surprised glance and soft pink warmed her cheeks. ‘But I don’t know you …’

‘Seize the opportunity,’ Angelo advised silkily.

‘No … thank you, but I can’t.’

‘Why not?’

Other men invariably retreated at the first hint of refusal. That bold demand for an explanation startled her. ‘Well, er …’


Tongue-tied by discomfiture, Gwenna shook her head and wished she found it easier to tell lies. ‘No, but …’ Her full, soft mouth folding, she dipped her head and fell silent.

She had turned down the only excuse that Angelo could have accepted. Even then he would only have sought another angle of approach, for he had yet to meet a woman capable of resisting what he offered. Fidelity, he had long since discovered, was usually negotiable. The silence lingered. He could not credit that, for the very first time in his life, he was meeting with a flat refusal.

‘Excuse me,’ she muttered again, her eagerness to be gone yet another rebuff to the male watching her. ‘I have to go.’

Angelo stood in mute disbelief as she walked away from him and through the church gate. His gaze tracked her every move as he had a perverse need to know if she would look back; she did not.

Breathless and taut, Gwenna secured the dog lead to the wooden bench that sat to one side of the arched wooden door and stepped gratefully into the cool dim interior of the old church. Freddy and Jake chattered while she set about her task of arranging the flowers for the christening that was to take place the following morning.

It was quite some time since anyone had asked her out; she met very few fresh faces. She could not understand why she was so flustered. Or why she had the most peculiar desire to creep back to the door to peer out and see if the handsome stranger was still there, which of course he wouldn’t be. He would now be well on the way to his incredibly posh hotel, which was probably hosting an international business conference or some such thing. There had been a slight inflection on certain words that had suggested that English might not be his first language. Certainly men with that kind of gloss and sophistication were scarcer than hen’s teeth, locally.

What was the matter with her? Why was she even curious? She dashed impatient fingers through the strands of fair hair clinging to her damp brow. She didn’t date. There was just no point when it couldn’t go anywhere. She had learned the hard way that even when men said friendship was fine, they always wanted more and more always involved sex. But she didn’t want physical intimacy without love, which would leave her feeling just as empty and alone when it was over. The taunts she had endured as she grew up had convinced her that old-fashioned values could provide a bulwark of protection from the worst mistakes. She was painfully aware that her own mother had paid a high price for flouting those same principles.

An image of the stranger’s lean bronzed face swam before Gwenna afresh, and the extraordinary impact of those dark deep set eyes against the fantastic symmetry of his hard bone structure. A soft gurgle of laughter was reluctantly dragged from her. So, she was female and human and she had noticed a breathtakingly gorgeous guy. Not her type though. He had been altogether too arrogant and slick to appeal to her. She liked open, friendly men with a creative bent. Add in tobacco brown hair and laughing green eyes, she reflected abstractedly, and she would be describing her likeness of the perfect man.

Fifty breathless minutes later, Gwenna returned Freddy and Jake to their mother, who had had a pre-natal appointment to attend at the hospital. She knew Joyce Miller well for the two women had worked together at the nursery for over a year.

‘Come in for a while,’ the heavily pregnant redhead urged. ‘I’ll make you a cup of tea.’

‘Sorry, I can’t.’

Joyce gave her a wry appraisal. ‘Is the Evil Witch jerking your chain again?’

Gwenna shrugged acceptance. ‘There’s still a few things needing done at my father’s house—’

‘But you don’t even live there. I can’t see what the state of the Old Rectory has got to do with you.’

It was quite a few years since Gwenna had moved into the small flat above the office at the nursery. Her accommodation was spartan but it had been a relief to embrace peace and independence. ‘I don’t mind if it keeps Eva happy. Tomorrow is a special day for Dad.’

‘And for you,’ Joyce chipped in. ‘Massey Manor was built by your ancestors. It was once your mother’s home—’

Gwenna laughed and shook her head. ‘More than a generation back and even then it was going to rack and ruin. My grandmother moved out because the roof was leaking so badly and by then she and my mother were only living in a couple of rooms. It’s a pity that none of my Massey ancestors had the magic knack of making money.’

‘Well, I think you’ve done incredibly well getting the locals together and coming up with so many good ideas to raise cash for the garden restoration.’

Gwenna grinned. ‘Thanks, but I’ve only ever been the backroom girl. It was my father’s persuasive tongue and his fantastic business connections which brought in the serious pledges of money. He’s done a marvellous job. Without his input we would never have made it this far.’

‘I’ve finally realised why you’re still single. You adore your father,’ the redhead said ruefully. ‘No man will ever match him in your eyes.’

Walking over to the Old Rectory where her father and stepmother lived, Gwenna thought about that conversation. She had not argued the point because the truth was too private. But, even so, Gwenna did believe that for any man to match Donald Hamilton would be a very tall order indeed. Her father was special. It had taken an exceptional man to acknowledge an illegitimate daughter, take her into his home and keep her there even when it had cost him his marriage. She accepted that her father had his flaws. As a younger man, he had had a pronounced weakness for women and more than one extra-marital affair. Her mother, Isabel Massey, had been one of those women.

The following morning, Gwenna watched while her father posed for the cameras at the neglected main entrance of the Massey estate. Although comfortably into his fifties, Donald Hamilton looked younger. With his silvering blond hair swept back from his tanned brow, he was a very presentable man. A lawyer, who had forged a successful career with a furniture company, he was accustomed to dealing with the media and his short witty speech added gloss to an already polished public performance. The gates were swept open and the local television news team recorded the moment and punctuated it with an interview. Gwenna’s stepmother and her stepsisters, Penelope and Wanda, were revelling in the limelight. Gwenna made no attempt to join the family gathering since she was well aware that she would be unwelcome and that the subsequent unpleasantness would discomfit her father.

‘I didn’t realise the police bigwigs were coming too,’ a member of the Massey Garden committee remarked at her elbow. ‘That’s Chief Superintendent Clarke.’

Gwenna glanced over her shoulder and saw two men in suits standing by a police car. Their faces were grave. Another man was in conversation with her father and whatever was being said was evidently not to Donald Hamilton’s liking, for he had turned a dull red and he was saying loudly that something was nonsense. The news crew were now paying attention to the tableau. With an exasperated smile on his lips, her father strode towards the men by the car, even making a laughing sally as he approached. But a curious little puddle of silence was steadily spreading through the crowd. It enabled Gwenna to hear the senior police officer refer to ‘very serious allegations’. She watched in frank disbelief as her father had his legal rights read to him. In full view of his family and the media, Donald Hamilton was being arrested.

In his opulent private suite at the Peveril House hotel later that afternoon, Angelo Riccardi flicked on the recording that had been made for his benefit. Having received an anonymous tip off, the television crew had lingered for the more exciting finale that had been promised: Hamilton, captured on film at the very height of his self-glorification as local worthy and philanthropist, brought crashing down from his little plastic pedestal of respectability.

Angelo had bought the furniture company that employed his quarry and had sent in his auditors to check the accounts. Catching Hamilton red-handed had not been the challenge he had expected. Indeed it had been almost too easy. Of course, public exposure was only the beginning, Angelo reflected. Hamilton had to be made to pay the proper price for his sins. Piece by piece he intended to strip the man who had abandoned his mother of everything he valued and his good name was only the first step in that process …


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