This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
THE EMERALD EAGLE
Sonia was very fond of her half-brother George, and was only too delighted to be visiting him at his island home in the Caribbean. But she did draw the line at George using her, and her spectacular good looks, as bait in his business dealing with the impressive local Lord of the Isles, the haughty Rory Maragal. She was just not interested in the man! But whether she liked it or not, she just kept being pitchforked into his company—and meanwhile, George's behaviour had given him the lowest possible opinion of her. And then Sonia managed to play right into Rory Maragal's hands . . .
Paperbacks that please
UNITED KINGDOM 50p net REP. OF IRELAND 55p AUSTRALIA $1.50* NEW ZEALAND $1.70
All prices are subject to change without prior notice
•Recommended but not obligatory
Mills Et Boon
ISBN 0 263 72837 4
Books you will enjoy by JANE CORRIE
PEACOCK'S WALK Jenny Grange had quite got over Mark Chanter when he came back into her life again—why, she didn't even feel jealous of Dilys, who was trying so hard to capture him. But Mark seemed to think that all was not over between them. Just what did he want ? And what did Jenny want herself? THE IMPOSSIBLE BOSS Tammy Dainton hadn't come all the way out to the Australian outback just to be bullied and pushed around by that detestable, impossible man Rick Hatton—but Rick Hatton held all the cards, and it looked as if Tammy would just have to put up with him .. . THE TEXAN RANCHER Josie owed a debt to her grandfather—a debt of love, and went to Texas to repay it. It wasn't long, however, before she found she was in debt to Kade Boston, too—and love had nothing to do with that debt! PATTERSON'S ISLAND After the break-up of her romance, Beth sought refuge on a Caribbean island. But as things turned out, it proved to be anything but a haven, for Gavin Patterson, the autocratic owner of the island, seemed intent on making her stay as brief as possible!
First published 1975 Australian copyright 1978 Philippine copyright 1978 This edition 1978 © Jane Corrie 1975 For copyright reasons. and have no relation whatsoever to anyone bearing the same name or names. The text of this publication of any part thereof may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means. They are not even distantly inspired by any individual known or unknown to the Author. Made and printed in Great Britain by Richard Clay (The Chaucer Press). or otherwise.All the characters in this book have no existence outside the imagination of the Author. and all the incidents are pure invention. Suffolk . Bungay. Ltd. including photocopying.. recording. ISBN o 263 72 8 37 4 Set in Monotype Baskerville 12 on 13 pt. this book may not be issued on loan or otherwise except in its original soft cover. without the written permission of the publisher. storage in an information retrieval system. electronic or mechanical.
And what a catch.CHAPTER ONE SONIA ought to have known there was a catch in it. She noted the dark winged brows now slightly uplifted as he made his calculations about her. She had a strong premonition that he was. In that brief somewhat earlier glance he had afforded her. she was uncomfortably aware that he knew her exact measurements. This simply would not do. There was a haughty look about him. She shivered and attempted to pull herself together. looking at the six-footer weighing her up with narrowed grey eyes—eyes that did not miss a trick. When he casually informed her that he would pick her up at eight. He was dark and looked as if he might have a touch of Spanish in his blood. The thought of an evening alone in his company 5 . by the sudden glint in his hawklike eyes. comfiture. she thought. wondering whether he was aware of her dis-. As her hand was lost in his she felt an electric current shoot through her and alarm bells started ringing in her brain. She stole a peep at him under her golden lashes. she felt like a sparrow on whom a sparrowhawk had just descended.
honey. A flush stained her cheeks.' His eyes narrowed and the finely moulded lips were tight as he answered.' His eyes swept over her diminutive figure. She heard herself murmuring. she had most certainly not liked being looked at as if she were the choice item on the menu. 'I'm sorry.' he said softly. 'Break it. 'It's been used before and somewhat bores me.' he drawled. I must admit when I first saw you I thought it was a very smart move on George's part.' in no uncertain terms. 'Some other time. She had not liked being called 'honey' in that familiar way.' His glance flicked over her. Sonia couldn't blush any deeper. Chloe was George's wife 6 . He might own the island. 'I wouldn't advise you to follow that line. 'Very interested. Either it's tonight or you can forget it. she would feel safer with a couple of gorillas. He looked at her as if she had committed an unpardonable sin.terrified her. Just wait till she saw George! There was a lot more behind his entreaty to come and stay with them during her vacation and keep Chloe company as she had been a little off colour lately. I don't deny I'm interested. perhaps?' she said coldly. 'I thought under the circumstances you might have been a little more accommodating. I have a previous engagement. but he didn't own her.
Sonia knew why George had shown such deference towards him. When he was introduced as Rory Maragal. full of the joy of living and ready for 7 . and lost no time in presenting her to the man now standing beside her. Not only was he the owner of . so there just had to be another reason. but fully aware that he never did a thing without a reason. Sonia knew she had met the fly in the ointment. but the man George hoped to persuade to give him the contract to build a luxury hotel on the island's south coast. Remembering the way he had conveniently slipped away after the introduction. It was not the first time George had used her as bait—her lips clamped together—very successfully too. Sonia was fond of her half-brother. Arnold Cairn of the Tryfold organisation had been well and truly hooked.the island. She had been a slightly giddy nineteen-yearold then. Rory Maragal was in favour of such an undertaking. It had taken Sonia a little while to fall in with what George was up to. the trouble was that George was not the only one in the field. She had no sooner arrived on the small island in the Bermudas than he had held this luncheon party. and by then poor Arnold had fallen in love with her.and had been in the best of health when she arrived. There were at least two others intent on the same project.
men were born flatterers. She had become more selective and wary in her dealings with men after that. for she was a beauty. At each proposal she would grin and murmur that they would feel better in the morning. it would be cruel in the long run. never stopping to think of the hurt she caused through her indifferent treatment of her admirers. His absolute despair at her refusal when he proposed at first perplexed her. `You don't love him. She was very fond of him. showered her with gifts. Why couldn't she play the old games with him? He would not be hurt. It had been Arnold that had awakened her conscience. Her white-gold hair. Dates were not fun any more for her. She had learned to live with it. To her. Arnold had wined and dined her and taken her to the best shows in town. Sonia was not unused to this treatment.any adventure. He was too sure of himself. In other words. green eyes and pocket venus figure attracted men like flies. then caused her much heart-searching. At the time she had felt so bad about it. Sonia. She never took anyone seriously. What she could not understand was why she was . She sighed inwardly and looked at the man still obviously waiting for her reply. She had not meant to hurt him.' Sonia knew she was right. It had been Chloe who had put her foot down. Sonia grew up. she had almost married him to ease her conscience.
The next minute he had moved on and was soon deep in conversation with another guest. who had been introduced as John Hanser. even the cynical. She knew a moment's awkwardness when she found she was placed next to Rory Maragal at the lunch table later. She was made to feel like an intruder who had gatecrashed a party.' she murmured. The middle-aged man. Her attempts at light conversation with him were met with an indifference that almost amounted to a snub. If anyone got hurt it would be her. but a smile. 'I really am booked up. not missing the smug look on the face of the girl opposite and with whom Rory Maragal entered into a light flirtatious conversation. never.so frightened of him. giving her another look. Sonia took a deep breath at having successfully warded him off and went in search of Chloe. experienced ones ? This man was in a class of his own. Was it because he was so unlike the men she had learnt to handle. and she was not inclined to put her theories to the test. She gave up after the second attempt and devoted her attention to a middleaged man the other side of her. I am sorry.' She did not miss the quick intake of breath. synthetic. managing to give him a bright smile. asked Sonia if she were just on holiday or thinking of settling down 9 .
of course. There was a sudden shocked silence and Sonia I0 .' she explained. she made herself reply to Mr Hanser. I'm an awful square. Sonia felt the flush creep in her cheeks.there. `I'm on holiday. She didn't know just what she had done to deserve this kind of treatment. Clenching her teeth. She debated whether to fling her glass of wine in his face. Common sense won the day. 'The right types.' She gave a sweet smile on the last words. Before she could answer. but she didn't see why she should be subjected to it a moment longer. I actually love dear old England. Rory?' he coughed discreetly. or whether to just get up and walk out. There was no mistaking his meaning. Fog and rain maybe. Rory Maragal drawled out that he rather thought they had the full quota of residents at that time.' Rory Maragal nodded and agreed. she had. 'Coral islands are fine for a few weeks. It was George's luncheon party. She answered as if Rory Maragal had not spoken. `the right types. who sat looking very embarrassed beside her. and even if Rory Maragal had no manners. but where you can speak your mind without fear of being clapped in irons or threatened with deportation. `I thought you were hoping for a few more permanents. after that they begin to pall. John Hanser blinked and stared owlishly at him. of course'.
nevertheless she felt the prickles creep along her spine.' she laughed. 'Now what can I do to get in your bad books?' He glanced across at her. kept. ` We no longer clap them in irons. II . She had not liked the look in his eye as he had said this. That would be an insult. 'saucy young maidens tend to disappear. 'I've a good mind to take you up on that. it differs according to the sex and—er—their attractions.' rejoined the girl. in an underground palace for the master's amusement. only frightening her. She gave him a sweet smile and said. 'Rory ! ' she exclaimed. Sonia calmly picked up her wine and sipped.' murmured Rory Maragal in a deadly voice. for example. then giggled. of course. Old hags. and. 'You terrify me.' he said abruptly. 'Refuse a dinner date. are thrown off Spanish Head cliffs. it's rumoured.saw with no little amusement the man beside her cast a quick startled look at Rory Maragal.' The girl opposite gave a squeal.' he looked up from the peach he was peeling. laughing. Of course. Men of workable age go to the silver mines. Miss Wells. `I wouldn't dare. She felt much better now. The girl looked extremely anxious too. to her. 'We have a more sophisticated way of dealing with misdemeanours. `Not one of yours. Sonia hastily helped herself to a peach.' Sonia gasped. He was.
She had just got to the door when he asked for a show of hands in order to provide enough food. She clenched her teeth. He just wasn't used to such treatment.considering how rarely you hand them out. 'George isn't pleased with you. Thankfully reaching her room. she kicked her shoes off and lay down on the bed. she had yet to acclimatise to the time change. Before she fell asleep she wondered whether George would be sent to the silver mines. She heard Rory Maragal's deep voice suggesting a moonlight bathing party on Soya Sands. She was vastly relieved when luncheon was over and she unobtrusively made her exit from a gathering debating what to do that evening. She was woken by Chloe at four o'clock with a cup of tea. She was beginning to understand why he had been so upset over her refusal to dine with him. She felt exhausted. wherever that was. There was a smile on her face as she slept. she had a feeling they would comply. she quickly turned to Mr Hanser and asked him how long he had lived on the island.' Sonia felt Rory Maragal look at her.' she 12 . If he had suggested they walk the Sahara in bare feet. judging by the response she knew his suggestion had been unanimously accepted. She drowsily watched the sunlight penetrating through the slatted windows. and she slipped through the door quickly.
`Are you awake?' demanded Chloe. 'Sorry. you're being given another chance to redeem yourself. Chloe laughed delightedly. 'Can you see George going broke?' Shaking her head.week !' `The way George feels at this moment it might be a good idea s ' said Chloe.' Sonia sipped her tea. She gingerly felt the crown of her head.' Sonia looked quickly at Chloe.' adding wearily._ Without waiting for a reply she carried on. She had dreamt of a piratical character who had dragged her back to his lair by the roots of her hair. Sonia blinked and dragged her sleep-clogged senses back to the present. Sonia nodded still a little sleepily. Odd.' she murmured. does he?' Chloe sat down beside the bed. 'I ought to have known. dear. 'he never gives up. of course. really. He's 13 . 'No.said as she handed her the tea. 'You know George.' she remarked dryly.' she stared at Chloe. in her dream it had hurt very much. 'Not when it involves this amount of money. time change and all that. 'You're not broke. Sonia replied. She shrugged and gave her attention to Chloe. 'I've a bone to pick with him. 'However. are you?' she asked. `I could sleep for a. 'I suppose that was why I was invited?' she asked.
'Why didn't he hire some luscious-looking secretary for his bait?' Chloe sighed. Well.' Sonia laid her cup and saucer down. You can't blame George for trying to capitalise on it. 'Well. `And how did he happen to show my picture to him? Answer me that if you can.much too cautious.' `Oh. `If he can swing that contract he's in line for the chairmanship that's coming vacant at the end of this year.' Chloe burst out laughing. For one thing. Oh. Its no go. `It's not funny. The one on Silver Sands. then?' `He wants to justify his seat on the board. and I can guess which one it was. can't I?' growled Sonia. don't bother. 'Why. I'd 1 4 . I can't stand the man. for a second.' she answered. he's picked a loser in me.' She looked at Chloe. He did it on purpose. It will give him a head start on the others. He took that photo without me knowing.' Sonia snorted indignantly. I'm sorry. Rory saw a photo of you and expressed a wish to meet you.' she said firmly. `How would you like to be dished up on the menu as the evening's speciality?' Chloe made an effort to restrain her hilarity. `When the man in question is Rory Maragal. `He even thought of that. he scares me to death. wasn't it? With a bikini I only dared sunbathe in. Trouble was.
' Chloe's face fell. took life very seriously. It's not just the money. she loved him. we may be thankful.' Sonia studied Chloe's homely features. but they're not family. Many more like him and the world would no longer be a safe place. She had wondered on many an occasion why she had married George. 'There's only one Rory Maragal.' said Sonia. Chloe looked alarmed. 'That George accepts me purely as his sister and guest and not a decoy. 'I'll stay on one condition. now.' `I'll tell you what he's got.' said Sonia positively. 'I don't know what he's got. that's what ! There are plenty of wealthy men around. 'I think I'll move on to the Bahamas. 'Sonia. Sonia. I've been so looking forward to your visit. and lay back on the bed. 'An oversized ego. The island folk are friendly. of course. with an impish sense of humour. 'Please. Chloe. but they were so different.' she mused.' she said. folding her arms behind her head.' she said wickedly. do they? Or act like the Lord of the Isles.' she said.love it. Chloe shook her head. Sonia's eyes narrowed. took life as it came. `And for that. you can't ! You've only just got here ! ' she protested. was 15 . they fall in droves for him. but they don't chuck their weight around. slightly dizzy.' Still smiling. don't talk of going yet. George.
he had taken on his shoulders her upbringing when their sole surviving parent had died seven years previously.' Her green eyes sparked. She had no complaints in that direction. A strict eye had been kept on her and her acquaintances. they would all be bachelors of good character. Sonia knew that he eventually hoped she would accept a proposal from one such client. Chloe. 'Chloe. She glanced at Chloe's large brown eyes soulfully watching her. and had been rather disappointed when she had refused Arnold.to Sonia's way of thinking just a little pompous. It's entirely up to George.' She sat up and swung her feet off the bed and looked at Chloe. 'Honestly. 'As a matter of fact. Sonia shook her head impatiently. `I'm not blaming you. Fifteen years her senior. `You are?' said Chloe. But don't you see what a wonderful cover it will be? George will be able to placate Rory Maragal's ruffled feelings by telling him he i6 . and although he had been guilty of attempting to swing an important deal in his favour by introducing her to a few young wealthy clients. I'm engaged ! ' she announced triumphantly. 'after this afternoon I've a feeling even Rory Maragal got the message. Her education had been the best that was possible. but I will not be thrown at that man. her eyes opening wide.' she said. 'Of course I'm not. I'd love to stay.' she added. and patted her hand.
'about a ring? Or didn't you have time to get one?' She looked depressed. 'Sonia—supposing George makes some enquiries.' went on Chloe. 'He's an absolute pet. `Who's Henry Inskip?' queried Chloe.' Sonia said with twinkling eyes. then grinned. 'You know. which he doesn't. won't he ?' Sonia's brow creased in thought. Sonia. George was at Oxford. and I'm crazy about him. they're all ancient. It will look just what 17 . 'George will want to know his name.' sighed Chloe. `My professor at Cambridge. 'We had one over from the States on an exchange basis and he was quite a dish. if you tell him he's a professor he'll soon catch on what you're up to. He has fluffy white hair that flies out in all directions. it might work at that ! Who's the lucky man?' Sonia stared back at her solemnly.' she said.' `And what. Tor goodness' sake. aren't they?' `Not these days. 'It's no good.' Chloe looked askance. then sobered. at a loss for words.' said Sonia. After a few seconds her brow cleared. Besides.didn't know about it. so he's not likely to know much about my tutors.' Chloe giggled. You weren't wearing a ring this afternoon and you can't suddenly appear with one. if you see what I mean. Sonia. 'Henry Inskip.
' she said indignantly. Aunt Jean's solitaire.' Sonia had been right about her brother's reaction. dear. Rory Maragal sat. she used to make him furious by interfering in what she used to call a wellmeaning way in my future. did you? She and George couldn't stand the sight of each other. isn't it?' she queried. He might not believe me. does it?' She got up and searched in her small jewellery box. `Ah. `It's a bit awe-inspiring. 'I shook hands with my right hand. as I'm sure you know. then gave in.on my right at lunch.' Sonia wasn't giving up that easily. as you might say. Aunt Jean died after you left—you never met her. 'No one had chance to see it. but he's stuck with it.' Chloe sighed. He stared at her and his blue eyes opened 18 . and I think he'll be only too relieved to be able to give Rory Maragal a plausible excuse for my not being a bit more co-operative. George taught me all I know about half truths. and it doesn't matter about anyone else. 'He's never seen it. Chloe looked.it is—a ploy. He's quite adept at them. `Don't worry. just the thing. Sonia looked smug. 'Will George recognise it?' she asked. 'Between you and George. Sonia placed an arm around her shoulders. Perfect ! ' She slipped it on her engagement finger and squinted at it.' she said.
'it can hardly be called that.' her green eyes glinted up at him. She had an answer to this too. .' `Fort .incredulously. `As I'm twenty-two. `No wonder you forgot to mention it. George had a horror of drop-outs. he's not a drop-out. I wouldn't have done except that it was a bit obvious you were going to push me into a certain man's company. She glanced down at her hands. It's ridiculous .' He stared at her. She glared at him. 'For heaven's sake.' George was lost for words for a few seconds. but regretfully dropped the idea: 'Of course not. 'for devious reasons of your own.' `A professor ?' shouted George.' she murmured.' he muttered. . hoping she sounded indignant. dammit ! I won't hear of it.' `What's wrong with this fiancé of yours. She daren't look at Chloe. it was obvious he had forgotten her age. 'He's a professor. it's cradle-snatching ! ' he shouted.' Sonia suspected he had another reason for his vehement rejection. She was tempted to say yes. No.' she said. 'Fortyish. 'Even so. . how old is he?' Sonia looked demure. is he?' Sonia almost chuckled. 'Well. . 'I'm not 19 . 'he's twice your age.' Sonia answered on her dignity. then? Good heavens. so I had to tell you. 'Not too old. 'Why didn't you mention this before ?' he demanded.
He gave in surprisingly easily. she thought. who wanted to know if a lift was 20 . She was quite grateful for the intrusion at that particular moment of Danny. I'm not completely convinced you're doing the right thing. which instantly alerted Sonia. Actually it wasn't a bad likeness of Professor Inskip. She would throttle Chloe if she made her ruin everything by laughing. George. George's houseboy. but failed. He sighed. answered that as yet no date had been fixed. Sonia. She thought she was doing extremely well considering she had to battle against overwhelming odds. was busy sketching a portrait of a bald professor with a fringe of hair haloing away from his pate which she held up for Sonia's inspection.' George tried to stare her down. George's sceptical eyes and the way he pounced every now and again on certain irrelevances in the tale and Chloe. George wanted to know when 'the happy day' was.' Sonia launched into a narrative of her fabricated fiancé. though. swallowing the urge to giggle. 'All right. When apparently satisfied. where you met him. supposed to be writing a letter at the bureau behind him. I prefer older men and I'm over the age when you can put your foot down. let's have it— his name. Henry is the one for me.giving him up. not sure whether he was being sarcastic or not.
required from a Mrs Turley to Boss Maragal's that evening. 'You're not including me. are you. but she had to dis21 . tell her there'll be three of us and a bit of a crush.' George feigned a hurt expression.' She appealed to Chloe. Thank her.' replied George.' He looked sadly at Chloe. chances are we shall be ordered to leave the island by midday tomorrow. I thought under the circumstances it was particularly kind of him to put some form of entertainment on as part of your welcome to the island. It will take me at least two days to get acclimatised. Sonia. and incidentally a man I can't afford to displease. Sonia asked hastily. `Rory Maragal would no more put a show on for my benefit than apologise for his boorish behaviour at lunch. so I'll take my car. 'I don't believe it ! ' she said. Remembering the earlier plans for a bathing party.' he said placatingly. Danny. `No. 'Now. `I hate to think of the outcome should you simply not turn up. 'I forgive you for causing me no end of embarrassment at lunch when you all but entered into a slanging match with the owner of the island. George? I'm dead beat. my dear. Would he?' Chloe was sympathetic. I'm having an early night.' He sighed. 'We might as well start to pack.' Sonia's lips set.
she thought grimly. 'Very well. 'Sorry. dear. Soon they were driving down an expansive drive bordered by shrubs in full flower and drew up in front of a large house ablaze with light. 'Just this once. of course. Under different circumstances. giving 22 . Sonia had thought the whole idea a slightly mad one. in fact it was almost as clear as day. it's true. She wore a swimsuit.appoint her.' she said stiffly. except that the light was a gentle one. violets. Sonia had a feeling of slightly weighted odds being levied against her. There was indeed a moon. The journey was not a long one. but now she was able to understand that with nights like this it could be a very pleasant way of spending an evening. He actually said so in front of our guests. The gardens beyond were lit by lanterns of soft coloured lighting. Sonia glanced up at the sky and gasped. While they waited for George to bring the car round to the front of the house. and Sonia hoped she could find a secluded place where she could catch up on her sleep until it was time to go. greens. as she got into the car. She had no intention of taking part in the actual swimming activities.' They did not leave until eleven-thirty. It really was a beautiful night. there were blues. Chloe provided her with a towelling beach coat. simply because Chloe told her everyone else would be in swimming gear.
but a beautifully shaped natural pool. The palms screened a lot of light off of the pool itself and Sonia thought it would be 23 . all Sonia could liken it to was an oasis. and indeed the effect was heightened by the palms beside the pool. Already people were in the water. The silver sand was real enough. It was not a sea shore. Everyone seemed to be heading for the back of the house. the younger feminine section in bikinis. all of them extremely tanned. The men wore trunks with towels slung over their shoulders. Chloe and George linked their arms in hers. Several cars had followed them down the drive and their passengers were also alighting. it occurred to her that they might be afraid she would do the disappearing act. splashing and calling for others to join them. like Rory Maragal. Sonia thought ruefully that unless a very shady spot could be found for her she would stand out like a beacon. All wore beach wear. calling laughing greetings to each other. She thought she saw Rory Maragal's tall figure in the distance in the middle of a laughing group of people. Did his house border on the sea? Sonia wondered as she got out. She fingered the ring on her finger. hoping the solitaire would wink out its message in case she was unfortunate enough to get stuck in his company. making Sonia feel a prudish spinster in her one-piece. With her white skin.a fairytale effect to the surrounding shrubs.
There was an assortment of fruit. it was reasonably shady too. It was still warm on the sand. She wished she knew why he had decided to entertain her. After they had left. she gazed 24 . George warned her not to eat too much if she contemplated swimming. tried the sweet potatoes. figs. Perhaps he really had been convinced of her engagement? They had not long settled down before hampers of food were distributed. she would be quite polite about it. but it was no go. and Sonia soon started to relax.difficult to recognise anyone in it at a distance. This was what she had meant. and this suited Sonia. She thought of Chloe's remark about giving her another chance of redeeming herself. George found a spot well away from the pool for them to settle down in. some she had never seen before. but she lay back on the warm sand. She drowsily heard George ask Chloe to go for a swim with him. she was sorry. as George had put it. Well. She liked things as they were. as chances of anyone spotting them from the pool area were pretty remote. Her lips pursed. She ate the delicious corn on the cob. Had George pleaded with him on her behalf ? It would be a pity if he had. It was an ideal setting for the type of philanderer she was sure Rory Maragal was. and found she liked them. plums. murmuring that she had no such intention and was content to just laze. peaches.
'I appreciate a good figure. 'but to me it means quite a 25 up at the enormous moon she could see peeping . the one with the ring on.' Sonia caught her breath.' He was still looking at her ring. It doesn't matter. you know. 'To you. Sonia blinked up at him towering above -her. 'Why didn't you wear this ring at lunch?' he asked conversationally.' he said softly. deliberately making the ring scratch his. 'I hoped you would wear your bikini. She felt his eyes on her figure and dived for her wrap. `There are plenty of unattached females down at the pool. He caught her hand.through the spiked leaves of the palms. and felt a stab of apprehension as he lowered himself to sit beside her. He wore bathing trunks only and she could see the dark patches of hair on his chest where the gleam of water still clung. 'with what I would call stunning figures. 'Not swimming. perhaps not.' she said.' Sonia moved her hand. she had a feeling he had not just arrived. Makes no difference.' she retorted. and vaguely wondered how long he had stood there before he spoke. `I'm not awfully good at it. Miss Wells?' he asked.' she said. She ought to have known it was too good to last. 'I suppose it's an engagement ring. His hold tightened and he turned her hand towards him catching the gleam of the ring.
`Oh no. but he would not release it. this ring says so.' he laughed. She felt his hard muscles against her skin.' he said. 'I'm not afraid of you. then caught her to him. 'Why are you afraid of me?' She clenched her teeth. She caught the gleam of white teeth and knew he was grinning at her futile struggles to free his hold on her. Sonia. and chuckled at her efforts to retrieve the ring. When she did not answer he asked. She drew back so there was no contact between them. but the harder she fought the tighter he held her. It's just that I'm a bit old-fashioned. When he drew her closer she put up a fight of pure terror. 'You were the one who chose to cross swords with me—now you must take the consequences. 'Tell me. his bare arm resting against hers. 'Now you are free.lot.' He laughed and slipped the ring off.' She tried to disengage her hand. 'I'm booked. George brought you here to soften me up.' She shakily held the hand with the ring on out to him. didn't he? Why have you backed out? I'm more than willing to be enter26 . ` Will you let me go ! ' she panted breathlessly. would you say I was the kind of man easily swayed by conventions?' Her heartbeats increased and she felt herself start to tremble as he moved closer to her.
I like what I see.' he drawled. You must work for your money. He got up and looked down at her.' He held her away from him.' She shivered. so what the hell. 'Who are you really? An actress. Were the others pushovers? You're in the big league now. then with a savage dominance. an insult of a kind. and moved away. and she had been kissed many times. She opened her mouth to scream. Sonia had never been kissed in that way before. Sonia sat up shakily. 'Your ring. honey. 'Is that a sign of pleasurable anticipation or of distaste? Shall we see ?' He quite deliberately pinned her down flat like a butterfly on a card. but it was stifled as his mouth covered hers. He could not have failed to see her action. so let's get on with it. and she was glad. She felt sick. She was made to feel like a wanton picked up at a moment's notice.' he said coldly. He threw something at her.tained. first very gently. I've no doubt George has used your services before. or just one of his secretaries? Not that I mind one iota what you are. 27 . she saw the flash of teeth and knew he had enjoyed punishing her. 'You can tell George I don't think he's going to get that contract. She wiped her mouth with a gesture of pure distaste and found him beside her again. When Rory Maragal lifted his head. She recognised the kiss for what it was. honey. and he laughed again.
George. I saw him kiss her under the palm. She wanted to leave this place and get back and soak and soak in cool clean water. If only the memory of that kiss could also be erased! 28 .and left. one girl was heard to remark.' she demanded icily. darting a furious glance at George as she did so. 'go home now? It didn't work. Sonia?' queried Chloe. `All right. George and Chloe shortly returned. When they got to the car they found her white but otherwise composed. Between clenched teeth she gave him Rory Maragal's message and saw him start.' With fingers that shook she gathered her things together. I'm leaving tomorrow. I won the bet. 'Can we. 'Pay up. Sonia was now certain George had manipulated the meeting. As they moved through the guests on their way out. He tried to bluster it out. and rushed on ahead of George and Chloe. Sonia nodded. but even Chloe wasn't talking to him. Moira.' Sonia felt her stomach retch.
also of backing out of the proposition. `Apart from the fact that I'm not speaking to George. `Was it very awful. and inwardly she groaned.' She hesitated. dear. 'Don't get mad now. Chloe's sighed. but right now would have preferred to have been left alone. 'In a way I'm partly to blame. 'I hadn't much defence. and it was something Sonia would rather have forgotten. 'My pride took a bit of a beating. 'I guessed that was what had happened. for goodness' sake?' Sonia glanced at her anxious expression and gave a rueful smile. She was very fond of Chloe.' Her lips set. I didn't want to ask you in front of him. I thought once Rory Maragal had seen you it was 29 . dear?' she enquired gently.' She shivered. but I'm guilty of a bit of matchmaking. He was quite furious when I refused to play the game. 'I'm not used to being called an accomplice.CHAPTER TWO SONIA found Chloe waiting for her in her bedroom when she had had her shower. had I? He was right about George's motives in bringing me out here. Chloe wanted to know what had happened.' she said. What happened.' she admitted.
he's spoilt by the attention he gets from the females and a little cynical. He took my ring off.' Sonia was amazed and looked it. dear. Chloe had extracted a promise from her to stay the week. didn't he?' Then she frowned. and she was already regretting it. but it doesn't go to his head.' Chloe smiled ruefully. and threw it at me afterwards. It was too late now. 'He did upset you. Sonia guessed George had taken himself off early to the town office. he doesn't even believe in the ordinary conventions of life.' She drew a deep breath. `You actually thought I would fall for a man like that ?' she squeaked. he's fully aware that his financial position makes him target number one in the matrimonial stakes.all over bar the shouting. She swallowed. 'I can't understand it. She 30 .' She sighed. Chloe had informed her that there were only two ferries a week. 'Why. He's not really like that at all. 'I've never been so humiliated ! ' She stared indignantly at Chloe. from their obvious moves to snare him. Mondays and Saturdays. 'I might have known George would ruin it ! ' Only Chloe was present at breakfast the next morning. 'You thought—' words failed her. If anyone could land him you could. Oh. I guess. you know. you're way off beam. 'If you think I want a husband who thinks he's God's gift to women.
She felt no compassion for him. flowering shrubs with large blossoms. fruits of every description. Even if she had set out to be pleasant and `accommodating' as Rory had put it. violets and narcissus.' she remarked to Chloe. such as stocks. She now knew where she stood. She was shown fields of lilies—as Chloe remarked. wallflowers. ornamental flowering trees that Chloe couldn't put a name to.would now have to wait for the Saturday one. A further delight was identifying flowers that grew at home. One thing she did know. and incidentally so did George. 'Why. It was an unvoiced arrangement that they would not go too far afield so as not to risk running into a certain individual. pinks. her pride wouldn't have been the only thing she would have lost. wild horses would not drag her to another social occasion that included Rory Maragal. 'we 31 . Sonia was fascinated to actually see lemons growing. and whites first caught the eye. she grimaced distastefully. In a way she was relieved the confrontation was over. she had come at the right time of year to see the island's luxuriant vegetation at its best It was late July and riots of colour could be seen as far as the eye could discern. Chloe took her out that morning on a short tour of the island. Oleander bushes in bright reds. He ought to have known men of Rory Maragal's calibre did not believe in playing any games unless they could make the rules.
As much as she disliked Rory Maragal she knew he was not a man to be swayed by a pretty face. Then she remembered Chloe's words about the opposition and felt a little better about it. It's not as if he has to do 32 . There's never a season without some ornamental display somewhere in the garden. 'It's the climate.' Sonia said nothing.' she sighed. Chloe started up the car again and as they moved forward. aren't they?' Chloe nodded. But for her George might have got that contract. `Settle down. He's no longer young. It's hard to remember that back at home there's probably ice and snow when you look out of the windows in December and see blossoms everywhere. when you get back home ?' Concentrating on the road. but he was nobody's fool. as she had good cause to know. not that he would pass up the opportunity for dalliance. Chloe.might be home on a glorious summer day. The firm that got the contract would be the firm with the most suitable design for the island's needs. only the flowers are somehow brighter and larger than ours. I'm sick and tired of George rushing from place to place. you know. of course. There are plenty of younger men eager to take over these assignments. She felt sad and wished she had never seen the island. Chloe answered. Sonia asked. 'I'm going to miss the flowers. 'What will you do. with or without gift packs thrown in.
'to being classed as an undesirable in front of a few very interested spectators. And he asked for all he got. do you hear ?' Sonia sighed and smoothed her pale blue linen dress down over her knees. 'I don't know how else you could interpret it. pulling into a cedar grove. and taking her hands off the wheel said. I want to hear what happened from the moment you met him and just what was said.' she grinned at Sonia. It most certainly did !' She gave Sonia a quick sideways look.' she said. just what did you talk about at lunch yesterday? George said you had a slanging match with Rory. did he ?' Sonia looked back at her steadily. 'I might at least have been prepared for his 33 . I am not used.' she continued haughtily.' Chloe gasped and slowed the car down.' she said accusingly. then she turned to Sonia. Chloe was speechless. Her brow creased in thought as she recalled the meeting. 'Perhaps now he will. Tut why? There has to be an explanation. 'It's a pity George didn't clue me up.it. 'Sonia! He didn't actually say that. Bringing you in was supposed to clinch the deal. If it hadn't been for that seat on the board coming vacant I would have been able to persuade him to take a back seat at last. 'Tell me.' `It was not a slanging match ! ' retorted Sonia indignantly. and don't leave anything out.
' Chloe drew a deep breath.' `Throwing me to the wolves. I believe in picking my own escorts. at least we're even.' She sighed. 'He was so keen on introducing you he hardly gave you time to unpack before throwing you into the breach.' Sonia looked pleased with herself. Apart from the fact that the man half terrified me. dear.' said Sonia darkly. Chloe grinned. so I said I had a previous engagement. 'That's what I gathered at the lunch table. what would you have done if a complete stranger ordered you to have dinner with him?' `I get your point.' she murmured. just assumed I would and grandly stated that he'd pick me up at eight. He didn't even ask me if I wanted to dine with him.' replied Chloe. you mean. I 34 .advances. They're few and far between and are considered a great honour. Sonia's lips set and she threw Chloe an indignant look. 'It's a bit late now. 'Well. 'Faux pas number one.' she sighed. but Rory is not in the habit of handing out dinner dates. Sonia perked up. 'And to think I deliverd a coup de grace and didn't even know it ! ' She looked hopefully at Chloe. 'So in a way I insulted him—right?' Chloe nodded solemnly. 'George should have clued you up. 'Well.
don't feel so bad now. 'You couldn't have chosen a better subject to infuriate him. Sonia. 'He prides himself on his leniency to wrongdoers. `Go on.' she snapped. I was good and mad by then. Oh. he'd have a blue fit if he heard the subject of your conversation.' sighed Chloe. She repeated the incident at lunch. 'I've a feeling there's worse to come. You see.' she wailed. I suppose his pride had taken a blow. 'How was I to know? To me he was just someone getting fresh.' she said. 'I suppose there's more. 35 . I said I didn't want to spend my life in a place where deportation was on the cards if I stepped out of line.' `Go on. 'No wonder George didn't get that contract. He's a proud man. it's a wonder he didn't throttle you! We'll do George a favour and not tell him. 'He made it pretty obvious that he didn't think I was ! ' Chloe frowned.' she sighed.' murmured Chloe.' `Not much more. 'It's not like him. he had afforded you an honour very few are given and you had more or less thrown it in his face. I'm almost sorry I stopped you going this morning.' Sonia grinned.' She turned the ignition key. indignantly warming up to her theme. I said something about the island's gaol too.' Sonia was not at all penitent. The right types. he said.' A groan came from Chloe.
'It's his own fault. I can't stand him. 'it's all over now. To be honest I don't think George would have got the contract anyway.' `That's how it should be. so we're told.' muttered Sonia.' she patted Sonia on the shoulder before she slipped the car into gear.' `He's well away. Rory had to take over the reins when he was eighteen.' she said. Still. His father was the same. when he's got a sister with your looks—besides. `Firms should get contracts on merit. The daughter of the contractor is a very lovely redhead. 'considering he was dealing with a Casanova I suppose he thought he was on to a good thing when he brought me in. We can think about going home. She needed no persuading to try and tip the scales their way. `Even if I had known the man's likes and dislikes I still wouldn't have bowed and scraped to him. 'You can't blame him for trying anyway. the tactic was used by the American firm as well. 'Guess it's in the family. not on sidelines. 'One more 36 . and giving orders comes naturally to him.' said Sonia. then.' she said bitingly. There's a high-powered American firm that's almost sure to get it.Sonia gasped.' Chloe pulled out on to the road. Of course. but I couldn't convince George. He's too sure of himself: Chloe's brow creased.
Needless to say he was disappointed.' retorted Sonia blithely. 'I think she was a bit too obvious.' she replied. at least she hoped it did. but neither George nor Sonia were keen. `She didn't get a dinner date. Eventually Chloe had her way. 'He was probably waiting to see whether I turned out a better bet. Time you relaxed. George gave in. that evening.' Shooting her a quick look. 'Not exactly. she pulled her hair back from her face and twisted it high on the top of her head.scalp to his collection.' Sighing heavily.' She looked at her husband. as she stared 37 . He's escorted her to several parties. Sonia. The music's gorgeous—Latin-American. 'As you say. Chloe murmured. 'It will do you good too. 'You'll love it. 'Don't tell me he ignored her. but there's been no what you might call solo dates.' Sonia's brows raised. and had to give in to the arrangement. because I simply don't believe it!' Chloe smiled. Dressing later.' she added smugly. It gave her more height and made her look older. you'll only mope over that wretched contract all evening. so I insist.' It was two against one. Sonia couldn't hold out on her own.' `There's plenty of time for that now. one of the island's night clubs. dear. It was Chloe's idea to go to the Sea King.
was long-sleeved and dipped at the neck. Its scalloped neck was heart-shaped. Sonia admired the dress when Chloe had got through admiring Sonia's. The dress needed no ornamentation. have we ?' Sonia's look was eloquent. `I know. She wore a single rope of pearls. 'it's just something I had knocked up a week ago.' She smiled at Sonia's astonishment. It's not your fault. and the tiny sleeves just overlapped the top of her shoulders. dear. 'Oh. 'I could have told you all this earlier. the clear primrose colour asked for simplicity. as she got out of the car and stood in the club's parking area at the rear. the skirt billowing out in a cloud of the gossamer material. Chloe's dress. we're going to enjoy ourselves!' The Sea King was aptly named. 'The material here has to be seen to be believed.' she had said airily. Her yellow gown was a particular favourite of hers. Chloe and George followed 38 . this. and Chloe sighed.' She gave a rueful smile. of salmon pink. Sonia thought. 'and you choose your pattern and have the thing done in twentyfour hours. The bodice fitted snugly to her slim figure.' she explained. but what with one thing and another. we haven't had much time to get down to small talk. Come on. let's forget about Rory and high finance tonight. She could hear the gentle lap of the waves and walked towards the sound.at her reflection.
A small wall denoted the end of the car park and she stood beside it staring out at the twinkling lights at sea. She sighed. Sonia had not realised they were so high up. Reluctantly tearing her gaze away.' she said. The dining-room was yet another aquarium of much larger proportions. It was beautiful. Sonia gazed around her as her feet sank into the plush carpeting of the foyer. and together they stood gazing down at the harbour below. Fish of every colour. but you'll soon get chilled by the sea breeze —come on.her. For her part she could have stood there all evening. size and description glided past within touching distance. Sonia was entranced. Sonia allowed herself to be led away.' The club itself was not over-large but very select. It was almost as if they were reflections of the brilliant stars above them. 'There's more in the dining-room. it was the kind of place one took one's business associates to without fear of interruption. Chloe had not misled her. dear. It was as if she were in a small aquarium. 'It's lovely. Sonia felt a rush of gratitude to Chloe for her choice. Chloe caught her arm. Tables nestled in groups of tropical fauna that was itself worthy of attention. Instead of walls they were surrounded by a panorama of tropical fish. All too soon Chloe touched her arm. it seemed. If you could keep your eyes away 39 . I know.
Sonia. an elderly greying man made up the foursome. who stopped to have a word with them. That will please George ! ' Sonia looked past Chloe. Their table was a reasonable distance away.from the tropical fish. that was. following her with George bringing up the rear. 40 . One look at the curvaceous redhead and Sonia thought with great relief that she should have no trouble with Rory Maragal that evening. then heard her mutter. Her glance moved to the young man sitting opposite her. gave an. `Oh no ! ' but kept walking. a little way in front of her. and Sonia. was thankful for this at least. Seated on his right was a lovely redhead in a powder blue velvet gown with dipping V neck and off-the-shoulder sleeves. Chloe. then wished she hadn't. Sonia. his expression showing he had seen the foursome. Chloe led the way as they followed the waiter to their table. busy watching an angel fish glide past regally. as she met the grey cynical eyes of Rory Maragal. 'He's with the opposition too. sitting with her back to them. and for the group of tropical plants half screening them a little way back from the table. with the same coloured hair as the girl who just had to be her brother. The redhead was much more his style. As they were seated George joined them. heard someone hail George.
Sonia's prawn cocktail was almost a meal in itself . saw Rory Maragal and the redhead take the floor. dear. on anyone else. She would have been surprised if he hadn't been. when Sonia. and the frilled front of his lilac-tinted shirt would. he expected it as his due. His movements were smooth and perfectly co-ordinated. but.Chloe handed George the menu. but in the manner of friends dancing. have appeared slightly effeminate. The music began and the LatinAmerican melodies enlivened the atmosphere. He was a good dancer. She particularly watched the way he held his partner and was a little surprised to see no tight holds. this was followed by Creole chicken in a heavenly sauce. Just let him ! Her fingers closed round her wine glass. They were on the last course. Sonia noticed how leeway was automatically made for him on the floor. was delicious. With smouldering eyes she watched his competent movements. His tuxedo was immaculate. in a kind of deference to his status. The food. but not on this man. Her eyes sparked. A voice called hello to George and Sonia looked up to meet the blue eyes of the young 41 . thought Sonia. She wondered whether he would dare to ask her to dance.' she said hastily as the waiter appeared. There was autocracy in every line of his figure. 'You choose for us. watching the couples on the dance floor. a raspberry pavlova. when it came.
`Not long. Sonia couldn't help smiling. He looked enquiringly at her and George performed the introductions. she had no hesitation in showing her acquiescence. as they walked to the dance floor. you know. this is Sonia.. Shaking hands. He was not outstandingly goodlooking.man at Rory Maragal's table. There was frank admiration in his eyes. my sister. Er . Kirk. and this to her was a point in his favour.' By the lack of enthusiasm in his voice it was apparent that George did not wish to encourage a friendship between Sonia and Kirk. 'I'm off to the Bahamas on Saturday. in the line of business. father in the same line of business. His features were pleasant and she liked his smile.' he said hopefully. particularly when compared to Rory Maragal. visiting us for a spell. `Just my luck! However. I've been thinking of visiting the Bahamas myself.' replied Sonia. He was certainly 42 .' he said as he whirled her into the dance. `Staying long ?' he asked in a soft southern drawl. I'd make a good guide. it was boyish. 'Sonia. as you might say.' His face fell. and when he asked George if he had any objection to his stealing her for a dance. Sonia liked what she saw of Kirk Dilson. Sonia was more at ease with this type of man. this is Kirk Dilson. . 'I've been there before.
she didn't have to turn round to know who had spoken. 'Later. 'Well. Kirk grinned. The music tempo changed to a rumba and Sonia altered her steps accordingly. The very fact that she had annoyed Rory Maragal spurred her on. preferring to watch how it should be done. When the dance ended there was a burst of applause and shouts for .' she said in wonderment. but she was used to this too. 'Shall we leave it to the experts?' She stiffened. I'm very fond of rumbas. George looked proud. By this time they had practically all the floor to themselves. From then on she threw herself into the dance. 'Right now I want a long cool drink ! ' When they got back to Chloe and George. She laughingly shook her head. Chloe stared at her. 'Say. 'She's always been good 43 . smiled. She had had plenty of practice on the dance floor and was an exceptionally good dancer. heard an icy voice near her drawling. Sonia. He was no learner himself and soon other couples were making way for them.' she explained.' she gasped. as he suited his steps to hers. Sonia. 'I didn't know you could dance like that.not wasting any time. thoroughly enjoying herself.an encore. 'I'm game if you are—how about it?' he grinned. still catching her breath. and Kirk half raised an eyebrow at her. She chuckled. have I got an expert ?' he asked.
When she heard Rory Maragal's voice she was glad to have something to hold her hands round to keep them still. for that was what it was. the opposition. 44 . She felt suddenly lightheaded. George nodded gloomily. Kirk. Kirk answered her grin.' he said. he was. For a second or so it looked as if he would not comply with the order. 'Frightened me to death when she was sixteen. He indicated the fourth chair. Sonia's cold drink arrived and looked delicious. wanted to be a chorus girl:' Sonia grinned at Kirk.at it. She felt immensely sorry for Kirk. and turned to Sonia. 'May I ?' he asked. His father was probably going to be awarded the contract. 'So big brother put his big foot down.' Kirk's brows raised at this autocratic summons and he stared back at Rory Maragal. Kirk rose despondently. after all. Sonia thought furiously. `Barbara would like to dance. It had slices of fruit swirling on top and decorating the sides of the glass. She could happily sling the drink she held straight at Rory Maragal if he as much as attempted any further insults.' she laughed. the very fact that Rory Maragal was dining with them clinched it in her mind. if you've any energy left after the exhibition. It was plain he was not keen on Kirk joining them. It was all over with. She didn't have to worry any more about letting George down.
. her sympathy clearly showing in her green eyes. Sonia answered. will you?' `I shall be right here.` Will you excuse me ? When duty calls and all that .' smiled Sonia. don't you?' Sonia debated whether to fling the drink then and there or leave it till later. she could keep it as a treat in store for her.' he said silkily. George took the hint and asked Chloe to dance. She felt him look at her. Still she absolutely refused to look at him. and cast Rory Maragal a look of challenge. and she knew this further 45 . and this put Chloe in a quandary. Sonia's lips compressed as Rory Maragal sat down beside her. George settled it by half dragging her out of her chair and towards the dance floor. She steadfastly refused to look at him and airily concentrated on watching a group of sea horses bobbing past in the tank opposite her.' he said.' he murmured. 'You do know you've been entertaining the opposition. 'I shall be back. `I suppose you are exhausted after your display?' he asked curtly. She could feel Rory Maragal's fury at this cosy exchange of small talk. 'Of course. `I shouldn't think George is very pleased with you. `So don't go away.. Sonia looked appealingly at Chloe.' He visibly brightened. addressing her as if she were the only one present. Giving him a warm smile.
' he said softly. Sonia sighed. Her eyes were on her glass.' Sonia stared at the hand covering hers. 'I wouldn't if I were you.' she 46 . The dark hairs on his wrist stood out in startling contrast against the white sleeve of his tuxedo jacket. The fingers were long and the strength of their hold conveyed much of their owner's character—a strong man who brooked no interference. He still kept his hand on hers. did look at him then.' Another quick intake of breath followed this remark. 'Not really. her eyes clearly giving her thoughts away. She. Idly she thought how appetising it looked. try it. It was no use ignoring him. 'No. Sonia shrugged. 'You really are exhausted.' she replied casually. `Lost your tongue?' he goaded. `Well?' he murmured. He was determined one way or another to get an answer. She heard the quick indrawn breath. If you don't believe me. `Shall we dance?' he asked conversationally.annoyed him. 'I was just wondering whether to remove the decorations before throwing it over you. `I might retaliate in a most unconventional way. They really did take pains to make things look good. thank you. His hand closed over hers holding the glass. aren't you? Is there something wrong with your drink?' he persisted.
`And he has no objection?' he sneered. no. 'Oh. Her fingers curled round the drink again. Sonia's hand fell slowly away from the glass. then. 'Given a little more time I think we shall reach a mutual understanding. 'Oughtn't you to go back to your guests?' she enquired sweetly. you little—' then he removed his hand. 'Is George sending you back ?' he demanded.' Carefully studying her ring. isn't it ?' He glanced at her sharply.' His eyes narrowed.' he said. She opened her eyes innocently at him. 'Oh. `Jealous?' he asked. then paused and added airily.' His eyes glinted down at her.said. then back at her. I've promised to give it up when we're married. 'I believe you're beginning to know me. Sonia murmured.' he said airily. He gave a low chuckle. grinning.' she 47 . His fingers tightened over hers. I'm visiting the Bahamas. 'Why. He looked at the glass. 'I thought the redhead was quite lovely. He had no right to desert his guests for as long as he had. He gestured towards her ring. Again she gave that wide-eyed look. `It's a pity I'm moving on. Sonia hoped he would go. not yet. `I expect he has a few business acquaintances there too. 'I'm ready when you are.' she answered.
' he murmured. `Sonia's not yet accustomed to the time change. 'Phew ! He looked ready to chew nails. 'Would you entrust Sonia to my care for the rest of the evening? I promise to deliver her safe and sound on 48 . and summoned the waiter. Kirk sat down. dear. George. and strode back to his table. his jaw set. 'Time we made tracks.' he said coldly. Sonia recalled that it had not occurred to him before. Sonia grinned back at him. Looking indignantly at him.said confidingly. 'Has someone upset him?' he enquired innocently. conveying to Sonia that she thought it was time they went too.' Chloe gave a tiny shake of the head.' he said. Kirk stepped into the breach hastily. grinning. `Perhaps another time. She was beginning to enjoy herself. 'Must we ?' she protested. George looked meaningly at his wife. had it? Now she was enjoying herself he would adopt the heavy brother act. Judging by the look in Rory's eye it was as well for her that Chloe returned just then. `It's only eleven.' George answered in a determined way.' he said to Kirk. He stood up. passing George and Kirk on their way back. 'If you will excuse me. Neither George nor Chloe liked the way things were developing. `Might I make a suggestion?' he asked.
'I'll see she's looked after. smarting under Rory's earlier censure. On the one hand he had no wish to antagonise Rory. He looked at George. I'll drop her off on my way home.' she said haughtily.' He looked directly at Kirk. Chloe looked anxious.the stroke of two. Sonia knew the signs and saw there was no hope for it.' Then she added as an afterthought.' George was furious. Mr Maragal.' he repeated quietly.' George hesitated. `Are you off. George. George.' George nodded and helped Chloe on with her 49 . I've offered to stay with her. 'It's so much easier than dodging from table to table. But thank you all the same. 'As I said. 'Sonia wishes to stay. 'I'll see her back. She was about to refuse Kirk's offer when the smooth tones of Rory Maragal cut across the silence.' He did not even bother to acknowledge this statement. She would have to go back with them. and Sonia looked murderous.' `Have you?' drawled Rory coldly. but after his determined attitude a moment ago could not now retract. 'Kirk has already offered to see me home. George? I was about to suggest that we joined forces. 'There's no need for you to put yourself out. said quickly. Kirk.' George looked well pleased with this arrangement.
`I'll stay.' he ordered. Rory took her arm. `Atta-girl. 'but you do happen to be my guest. enjoy yourself. glaring at Rory. Chloe's eyes when they met hers plainly told her it served her right. She knew what she wanted to do.' he said. Kirk grinned. 'You were whacked last night.' 50 . "Shall we give another exhibition?' `I think not. 'Other folk want to dance as well.' he murmured.' he said. 'Well. 'Sure you want to stay. but there was such' a look of challenge in Rory's eyes that as much as she wanted to she couldn't back out. 'Come and join my table. dear ?' she asked. Sonia felt as though she were at sea without a lifejacket as she watched them leave. Kirk caught her other arm. I should rest on your laurels if I were you. 'We can stay here if you prefer it. Sonia would dearly have loved to change her mind. but also knew it wouldn't work out that way.wrap.' she said firmly.' George took Chloe's arm.' said Rory icily. `It may have slipped your mind.' Rory said coldly to Kirk. but she came to her aid nevertheless. Sonia was beaten and regretted not abiding by George's earlier decision. Sonia felt like a bone being fought over. weren't you?' Feeling all eyes on her.
'I was only thinking of Sonia.Kirk's eyes fell under the other man's gaze. in fact she welcomed her presence. Jim Dilson grinned at Sonia. `Okay.' Sonia found herself being guided firmly towards Rory's table. 'Mind if I make tracks. Rory? I'm past the age of playing gooseberry too. The look on the redhead's face was hardly welcoming as they neared the table. 'It had the opposite effect on me ! ' His father drank the last of his drink and looked at Rory. 'but it kinda. made me feel old. and Sonia found herself seated in between Rory and Jim Dilson. Rory nodded.' he smiled. 'I enjoyed the floor show. and Sonia felt she was mentally pricing it. hoping to annoy Sonia. She had no quarrel with her. 'I'll see you tomorrow. Jim. The elderly man stood up as they approached.' he said. If Rory thought she was jealous of the redhead he would play on the fact by giving her his undivided attention. The introductions were made. Barbara Dilson's cold blue eyes flicked over Sonia's dress.' Kirk grinned. Sonia devoutly hoped he would adopt this tactic leaving her free to enjoy the rest of the evening with Kirk.' he said.' he muttered. This further clinched Sonia's assumption that 51 .
the Dilsons had won the contract. 'Is that your line ?' she asked as her father left. She felt a downright traitor sitting with them. 'I'm afraid it's not quite so exciting as Mr Maragal seems to think it is. Having to entertain continually can be exhausting. 'And of course every now and again we are unfortunate and come up against someone who puts their own interpretation on the type of entertainment offered. She smiled sweetly at Rory. Barbara's slim pencilled eyebrows rose. haven't you ?' he drawled.' remarked Barbara.' she answered calmly.' She sighed elaborately. Sonia felt. Before she could think up a suitable rejoinder. 'Oh. 'Aren't you going to tell us. or is it a secret?' Sonia's eyes sparked green shoots.' She would have elaborated on this theme had her arm not been caught in an iron hold and a tight-lipped request from Rory of 'Would you care to dance?' Apart from the fact that he half 52 . They might as well get their money's worth ! 'I'm what's known as a professional hostess. There are times when we don't enjoy the work. She could have framed it better. `Your dancing was almost professional. 'Well ?' she demanded when there was a small pause after this provocative remark. Rory spoke. Sonia has a much more exciting line than that. noting Barbara's eyebrows rise even higher. She really was in the enemy camp.
so don't get any ideas on that score. The dance was a quickstep and Sonia did not think it warranted the close hold he had on her. The grip on her arm was not released until he got her to the dance floor. Forcing herself to remain calm. .' She felt like screaming. my girl. .' Sonia gasped. ! `I suppose. 'If hostesses are engaged. you may consider yourself extremely lucky. 'making remarks about any ring was not personal?' He smiled grimly. she murmured. they have more sense than to wear the ring. As a hostess. 'you ever get to the Bahamas in one piece. honey. No friendly hold here either—it was more in the nature of restraint.' she grated. `If.' `I'm not your girl ! ' she said indignantly. Of all the people to talk . When she complained she would like to breathe occasionally he pulled her even closer and her head was jerked against the lapel of his jacket.' he said between clenched teeth. 'Not an invitation. 'It depends on 53 .' he added coldly. Barbara could teach you a thing or two on the correct procedure. `It was purely an expression.dragged her from the chair she had no chance of refusal.' he said haughtily. 'you ought to have learnt not to take things so personally. or indeed a wish. and then only for a short space of time while they joined the dancers. His eyes glinted down at her.
'Kirk. She would get him to take her back. and in a matter of seconds he was beside her. Another melody struck up and Kirk looked at her hopefully. She sighed with relief. She nodded grimly. please. Sonia had never welcomed the end of a dance with such fervour before. Rory was right behind her as she reached the table.' he said softly. 'Yes. if that's what you want. she heard Barbara laugh somewhat harshly. I want to go back. he asked kind `Would you like to go now ?' Sonia looked back to their table and saw Rory and Barbara walking to the dance floor. right after this dance. 'I have a raging headache. 54 .' Looking at her flushed face. no matter what ! She had taken positively the last insult from Rory Maragal. doesn't it ?' `Precisely.' she replied firmly. 'Sure. Leaving once more for the dance floor. 'What energy ! ' she said.' It is.' she answered.what type of hostess you have in mind. No sooner had they begun dancing than Sonia made her request. If Kirk hadn't transport she would take a taxi. She almost tore herself out of his grasp and without waiting to see if he was following made her way back to Kirk. Will you take me ?' He looked surprised.
it suddenly occurred to her that he might not know where George and Chloe lived and she was hardly qualified to direct him.`We can leave a message for Mr Maragal and your sister. Sonia did not look back once at the dancers as she collected her bag and wrap. As she climbed in. The feeling of pursuit still lingered and she wanted to get to her room and compara55 . She could no longer depend on George to shield her from Rory Maragal should he take it into his head to rush after them and demand an apology for their abrupt departure. can't we? I should hate to spoil their evening. Kirk was not slow off the mark himself and within minutes she was thankfully breathing the cool night air. Kirk smiled.' he said. When he started up without a word. Kirk led her to a sports model drawn up just beyond the entrance to the club. Once again she wished she had not allowed Chloe to talk her out of going that morning. she thought despondently. Not until she was actually inside the house would she feel safe. but she did not ask him in. 'Sure can. Kirk saw her to the door. it was apparent he did know and she tried to relax. However.' she added grimly. This time she did not linger to take in the scenery. trying not to look as if she were in too much of a hurry. however. this was not easy. and not even then.
Hastily putting out her light. She grinned. She was tired. but she also refrained from mentioning who had brought her back. she dived under the bedclothes.' she said before George could pose any awkward questions. Sonia carefully explained that Chloe had been right. 'I'll give you a ring tomorrow. 'Goodnight. 'I've a bit of a headache. She had showered and had just got into bed when she heard the crunch of wheels on the drive. and goodbye.' To Chloe's offer of an aspirin she explained that it was only tiredness and sleep was really all she needed. Mr Maragal. she said.' Chloe and George were surprised to see her back so early.' she murmured. and mentioned that he meant what he had said about escorting her around the Bahamas.' he said hastily as she made a move to go in. 'Perhaps we can fix something up. She didn't require three guesses as to who was calling at that time.tive safety. 56 . and Sonia told him she would think about it. 'so I'm off to bed. He asked if he could see her again. About fifteen minutes later the sound of a car starting up reached her.
CHAPTER THREE THE following morning. 57 . Sonia purposely took her time on her ablutions and going down to breakfast. Chloe sighed and put the coffee pot down. thank you. She found Chloe in the dining-room and received a reproachful look from her as she joined her.' replied Sonia. `Fine. she had guessed he would not deviate from this custom. A creature of habit. accepting a cup of coffee from her. and knew he would be in no sunny mood. She was not exactly brimming with high spirits herself. even though the contract had been lost. the result in all probability being a bang-up row with George which would upset Chloe and put an intolerable strain on the remaining three days until she could depart. When she heard his car depart shortly before nine. she knew he had gone to his office in the small township. and in no mood for a lecture on etiquette. `How's your head ?' enquired Chloe with a sceptical look in her eye. He would now have to wind things up anyway. She couldn't hope to avoid George all day.
let's have it.' retorted Sonia. the only thing that did was that someone was able to stop him from doing just that.' She looked at Chloe. `George has now got the message. 'How can you fall out with someone like that? You just take orders as if you were some kind of zombie.' This did not surprise Sonia. We've been 58 . then swallowed. He's not a wolf. You ought to know George by now. `He did come last night. that I got back safely. He owns the place. 'But that's just it. I suppose you fell out with Rory again?' `Of course not. anything else you .' Tracing a pattern with her finger on the white cloth. 'On the excuse. 'I've got into the habit of expecting men to be polite and I've had a bit of a rude awakening. Contract or no contract. 'I hope. proud yes. doesn't he?' She buttered a slice of toast.' she said icily.want to level at him. 'That's one way of putting it. Autocratic yes. At one stage I really thought he would seek you out and shake an apology out of you. 'He was absolutely furious. but no wolf. Sonia.' she declared airily.' she said.`Okay. yes?' Chloe made a small moue. 'I've come to the conclusion that I've been spoilt. he wouldn't let him within a yard of you if he were. Chloe answered. Surely even he can see the kind of wolf he's lined up for me. I suppose. didn't he ?' She bit viciously into the toast and chewed. dictatorial.
then?' said Sonia.' She frowned. you do admit it's outrageous. that's something anyway.' `Oh. but not one of them gets past that stage. and he's ready and willing to play. somewhat deflating his ego. of course. The general opinion is that he's too proud and if he ever did take a wife she would have to come from some Spanish nobility. 'That's why I can't understand what's got into him. I ought to know the signs by now.' she muttered. even flirtatious with the pretty ones. He's not a man who contemplates failure. As far as he's concerned I'm a pretty toy offered for favours. The thing is. His father was the first one to break from tradition and marry an English girl. He actually told me I could 59 . you know. In spite of your testimonial on his blameless character. Where women are concerned he's extremely cautious— courteous. I simply refused to play the admiration game. dear. 'I think he's fallen for you. 'it's not just admiration he's after. 'Well. He can't understand it at all.' She nodded sagely at Chloe's astonishment. He's half Spanish.' She looked at Sonia. wiping her hands on her napkin. George had that contract on the mainland and that's how he heard about the hotel Rory wants built. As for being in love with me—definitely no. We've both had ample time to get to know him. There's no other explanation for his outrageous behaviour.here over a year. only the toy isn't.
If that's the impression he's labouring under. remember. but no one has ever queried the relationship before.' said Sonia soothingly.' She patted Sonia's hand. 'Well ! ' she declared. so I let them have both barrels.' she announced airily. 'We can soon put that right. 'What's that got to do with it?' Sonia shot her a quick look. and we're not a bit alike. some of his behaviour starts to make sense. we have different names. then grinned. dear. 'I'm only thankful George and I were spared.' She thoughtfully stirred her coffee. don't worry. `Hostessing?' squeaked Chloe.' She handed Chloe her cup back for a refill. so he need have no qualms in disowning me. Barbara asked what my line was. and the natives were not exactly friendly. of course. `No wonder you had to take off. `I was in the enemy camp.take a few lessons from Barbara Dilson on the art of hostessing !' Her eyes glinted at the memory. 'He doesn't think I'm George's sister either.' she said. 'Not that that's surprising.' commented Chloe. 'It's George's fault. of course. in the nicest possible way. Rory Maragal was highly amused and hinted at subversive activities. have they?' Chloe was highly indignant. he should 6o . `That's what I said I was.' `Oh. 'I enjoyed that part of the evening.
As Rory Maragal kindly put it. Looking up from the magazine she was idly turning over.' As she spoke. Sonia glanced outside. I didn't like the look in his eyes when he mentioned him 6 . a car drew up in front of the house. `Rory. I shall just keep.' Did you tell him I was out with Kirk ?' asked Sonia. 'I'm not cut out for this sort of thing. Sonia dived for the stairs. and I quite took to him. I'm a rotten liar. I'll see that he does !' `I'd rather you didn't.' Sonia said hastily. `I didn't dare. so I think I shall take him up on it. Chloe complained. 'It's a blue Mercedes. Kirk wants to see me again. 'I like things as they are—this way I can retaliate with no backlash on George.' she said.have explained the relationship. I'm sure he didn't believe me. You've no idea where—or when I'm going to be back either.' said Chloe. Tell him I'm with Kirk. 'All clear ?' she asked as she entered. 'I'm out. It seemed a very long time to Sonia before she heard the car depart and was able to venture down to the lounge again. That should get rid of him.' she whispered as she disappeared. not after last night. Chloe. I've backed out of the assignment.out of his way until Saturday.
wasn't it ?' said Sonia. It's an annual event. 'It was mostly tiredness. He said he'd ring.' `You'll be at Soya Sands this afternoon. for all of us.' It was.s from the mainland. `Never mind.' Sonia replied. Sonia took the receiver from Chloe.I. they stay for a couple of days. 'That should keep him occupied.' she said. Sonia murmured.then. `I'm not going.P. It's just that recent events have taken precedence. Rory's entertaining some V. 'He's not likely to know whether I'm there or not.' `Want a bet on it?' Chloe asked miserably. 'Not this time. then?' he asked. 'It might be Kirk.' The news pleased Sonia. As Chloe got up to answer it. `Sudden. `Fine. 'I promised myself last night I'd taken all the insults I was going to take from that man.' she said.' grinned Sonia.' she said. 'He's gone now. `How's your head?' he asked.' The phone rang before Chloe could reply. thank you. Sonia sat down. 'We've known about this for some little while.' wailed Chloe. and gazed out of the window. Chloe. I mean? Does he always do things on the spur of the moment?' Chloe shook her head. 62 . It's this afternoon. The garden party.' Tut he left an invitation for the garden party.' answered Chloe.
I should be back on Friday evening. He had already 63 . `I'm afraid so. She frowned. A germ of an idea was beginning to float about in her brain. thinking that Kirk's father was not slow on the uptake. of course. Again she felt that spurt of sympathy for him.`Er—no.' he went on. Supposing she did go this afternoon? She could tell him she had changed her mind. `Dad's got a couple of jobs he wants seeing to.' she added hastily. and I've some mail I must get off. She somehow didn't think it coincidental Kirk was being removed from the scene.' said Kirk. All she had to do then was ask him for a lift to the mainland. You did say you were going Saturday. didn't you?' he asked. `I was kinda hoping to see you before I went to Hamilton. `I'll do my best. but you know how things are. 'Would you try and keep it free for me?' he pleaded. unable to think up a better excuse. She looked thoughtful as she replaced the receiver. `With any luck. 'I'd skip it myself. Her thoughts raced ahead.' Sonia replied. why should she ? He must have his own transport. place Kirk in a very awkward position.' Kirk murmured disappointedly.' Sonia did know. If Kirk didn't have to wait for the ferry to get to Hamilton. that's too bad. 'I'm catching up on my rest.' answered Sonia. It would.' replied Sonia. `Gee.
'He'll be up at Rory's place this afternoon helping out.' replied Chloe. It wouldn't really be fair to ask him. then stared at Chloe. 'Well. George knows he's not going to get that contract. 'Is there any other way of getting to the mainland apart from the ferry?' she asked. 'You could? You're a dear ! When? Tomorrow?' she asked eagerly. Sonia sighed. his father's sudden move to get him out of the way bore out this theory. He does the trip several times a week. 'I think I could get Sammy to take you over. Chloe. so there's no point in prolonging the agony.' Sonia chuckled and hugged her. then surprised Sonia with. darling. I'll sound hm on it. I thought it would be a good idea if I decamped. so I'm sure you won't get thrown off Spanish Head cliffs. As for 64 . 'What are you cooking up?' Sonia started. is there?' Chloe thought about this for a moment or so.' She looked at Sonia. `Maybe. 'You're not in the old hag class. watching her with narrowed eyes. asked. 'What did Rory say they did with old hags?' she queried dismally. 'Once I've left everyone can get back to normal.' she said.incurred Rory's displeasure. `Why?' asked Chloe unhelpfully. `I only hope I'm doing the right thing—the silver mines would never suit George.' Sonia brightened.
George did not say much. Chloe said nothing about Sonia's proposed flight the next day. As he looked up. At lunch.' she laughed. and he had slightly lifted his brows. and the few scathing comments she had been expecting on her behaviour the previous evening were not forthcoming. He seemed preoccupied. that he would object. He had been remarkably reticent since returning from his office. He would probably wave her off with much relief. Sonia hastily concentrated on her food. and this puzzled her. thought Sonia darkly. and hastily reached for the water carafe. Of course ! Chloe and George thought alike Chloe had been of the opinion that Rory Maragal had fallen for her ! And poor George was probably labouring under the same delusion! He must still have 65 . If she didn't know him better. but apart from this had accepted the fact. 'He could do with losing a bit of weight. Not. and Sonia did not go out of her way to gain his attention. Soon enough for that if it could be arranged. Until her arrival he had stood a reasonable chance of success.' she frowned.George. She darted a glance at him across the table. she'd think he was up to something. 'I guess a few weeks in the silver mines wouldn't come amiss at that !' It was Chloe's turn to grin. Chloe had informed him that Sonia would not be attending the do that afternoon. then she choked.
which Sonia duly admired. She would go for a walk. Chloe wearing a coffee lace tea gown and picture hat. The rest of the day was hers. and she was sorry about it. but the chance of a chairmanship he would be losing. George in a light beige linen suit was also commended on his appearance and gave Sonia a light nod of acknowledgement for her compliments. Of all the projects to hinge such an ambition on. It did not take long for her hair to dry. As she watched the car disappear round the bend of the drive. The garden party was followed by a dance held on Soya Sands' lanternlit terraces. She could just please herself —sunbathe. or go for a walk. ready for the next item on her agenda. and she made this her first chore.visions of success. and after a brush. She sighed. Chloe had informed her that they would not be back until the early hours. Placing the cooliestyle straw hat Chloe had left out for her use on her head. He was going to be once again disappointed. she left the house and made her way 66 . After waving Chloe and George off. It wasn't only the loss of the contract. she changed into a lime green linen suit. She was no longer cross with him. Her hair wanted washing. he couldn't have chosen a worse one from Sonia's point of view. Sonia gave a sigh of relief.
down the drive. She knew a wonderful sense of freedom; her particular bogeyman with entertaining visitors, thus was out of her hair for a whole day, and tomorrow, if all went well, she would never ever be plagued by him again. Reaching the end of the drive, she stood and tried to get her bearings. By all means she had to keep away from Soya Sands. It was not that far away from George's house. Screwing up her eyes, she went back to the night of the bathing party. The car had turned left, hadn't it? Yes, she was certain of it—so she would turn right. As she walked, she gazed around her. The road curved and dipped every now and again, and on either side of her were verdant slopes on which shrubs with brilliant flowers grew in profusion. Leaving the road, she made her way up one of the slopes towards a brilliantly coloured pink-clustered shrub. When she examined the blossoms she noted with some little surprise they had yellow throats. Her gaze wandered to yet another bush with similar leaves, but this time with larger flowers of an orange red colour. She remembered seeing something similar before, then recalled the short tour Chloe had taken her on, and with the recollection came the name of the shrubs. They were sage bushes. Chloe had said they grew everywhere on the island, particularly thriving on uncultivated land. 67
Her gaze travelled on past the shrubs and rested on a formidable-looking plant with large wide spear-shaped leaves. If they were as sharp as they looked, she thought, they would make a formidable weapon. Spots of white rock protruded here and there over the hillside, and in the distance other plants caught her eye, peculiar shaped ones that could only belong to the cacti family, but the sage bushes reigned supreme as far as the eye could see. She stood for a while drinking in the scenery and the perfumed breezes playing around her. Looking up at the sky, she saw it was a clear blue, not a cloud in sight. Every now and again she caught sight of flashes of pink, red, and once a peacock blue, and knew they were birds, flitting in and out of the shrubs. They were too quick for her to see them properly. Their calls and whistles could be heard, though, and there was evidently quite a number of them. She sighed. No wonder Chloe would be sad to leave the island. It was a place of enchantment. Already Sonia could feel herself going under its spell. Making her way back down the slope again, she thought it was as well she was leaving. Several weeks in this environment would ruin her for England's uncertain climate, in spite of her brave words at George's luncheon. Continuing her walk, she did not venture too 68
o far afield, but was content to wander up and down the green slopes, always keeping reasonably close to the road so as not to lose her bearings. An hour later she was back at the house, and had just fixed herself a long cool drink, when she heard the door bell chime. The hand holding the glass jerked, spilling a little of the liquid on to the table. She knew she would have to answer it; Danny too had been pressed into service at Soya Sands. However, if it happened to be a certain person, Sonia told herself grimly, it would remain unanswered ! She took the precaution of peeping out of the lounge window first. To her immense relief she saw Kirk's sports car drawn up in front of the house, and went to open the door. `Hi ! ' said the irrepressible Kirk. 'You wouldn't by any chance be avoiding someone, would you ?' he asked with twinkling eyes. Sonia stole a quick look at him, then grinned. There was no need for further confirmation. `Well,' went on Kirk, 'I stuck around long enough to prove I'd attended, then hightailed it back to you.' He grinned again. 'I kinda thought you might be lonely. The crystal caves aren't far from here, how would you like a run ut to them?' Sonia's eyes lit up. Wouldn't she just ! Within a few minutes she was sitting beside 69
him in the car. With the breezes caressing her hair, she felt a spurt of gratitude towards Kirk. She had read about the caves on the islands in a brochure on the plane coming out, and had been longing to visit them. It had looked as if she would be denied that pleasure, but thanks to Kirk she would now see one of them. She asked him how long he had been on the island. By mutual consent there was no mention of the contract, although from what Sonia could gather it appeared it was by no means certain that his father had got the go-ahead, judging by the amount of 'ifs' in Kirk's remarks about the future. To her question of didn't he think it was a delightful place, and wouldn't he like to live there permanently, he gave another of his quick grins. `Is that an invitation?' he teased. 'Now, honey, if you were staying indefinitely I'd really consider it.' He shot her a quick look. 'Are you really a hostess?' he asked suddenly. Sonia's eyes twinkled. She hedged a bit. 'What if I am?' she asked. He gave her a brief glance, then concentrated on the road again. 'What's George paying you?' he asked suddenly. Sonia's eyes widened, then she chuckled. Not enough,' she murmured wickedly. He shot her another quick glance, then
intermingling. The walls first caught her attention. No one had believed she was engaged anyway and it had certainly not been much of a defence against Rory Maragal's attentions. Within twenty minutes Kirk was pulling up alongside several more cars on a bare space of land. She wondered why she had bothered in the first place. greens.' He did not enlarge on the subject. Her eyes followed the shapes down and .grinned. By the time they reached the first chamber her sight had adjusted and she stood entranced at the wonder before her. Kirk's arm guided Sonia down the rock passages. giving a fairytale effect. and Sonia. They glowed with soft pulsating lights of crystal gemstudded beauty—Blues. It didn't matter. beginning to have a stab of conscience. She sighed inwardly. purples. was grateful it had been dropped. and Sonia could see the entrance to the caves ahead of them. saw the stalagmites rising as it were from the 71 . we might be able to do something about that.. The ground was uneven and she was grateful for the steadying arm until she became accustomed to the half-light in the caves. As they stepped into the semi-dark interior. enhanced by the weird shapes of stalactites hanging from the roof. She looked down at her hands in her lap and saw that she had forgotten to put the ring on. 'Well.
`My pleasure. she thought. and immediately Kirk was contrite. The farther they walked into the heart of the caves.' she whispered. then. In her light linen suit.floor of the cave to meet their -counterparts.' He took her arm again as they moved away. won't we?' he murmured.' she exclaimed. the colder it became. Sonia wasn't too sure about this and hoped she hadn't miscalculated Kirk's easy-going nature. He laughed. and placed an arm around her waist. While they stood gazing at the scene before 72 . like a magician's wand. The warmth was heavenly. `When you're ready. Here—' He slipped his blazer off and placed it round her shoulders. They too had a beauty of their own and glowed translucent white. 'I'm sorry. The sound of voices reached them as they entered a smaller chamber and she felt a stab of relief . I should have told you to wear something warmer. she had forgotten the other visitors. honey. Sonia shivered. 'We'll have to stay close. Kirk. however. 'Now you'll be frozen. This is only one of many. we'll move on. His cream silk shirt would not give him much protection against the icy air circulating around them. Sonia was worried about Kirk. 'It's beautiful. Thank you for bringing me.' he murmured softly. ma'am.
as in the previous cave. that of course would be the castle. The woman giggled in a rather affected manner. Sonia noted the colours were different here. Sonia then came under a hard scrutiny. Kirk started. formed fantastic shapes. Glancing up. as if not quite sure. Sonia thought. giving just enough light to tint the crystal studded walls. The formations of limestone. The fact that Kirk still held his arm round her waist did not go unseen. The sun had penetrated through a tiny chink in the roof of the chamber. She had no idea who the woman was. outshone the muted but still lovely mauves and blues. she mused.' she said. frozen into immobility. 'Enjoying your visit. she jumped when one of the visitors on their way out spoke to them. 'Mrs Cape?' he queried. Completely lost in her reverie. isn't it?' queried a middleaged lady. And those delicate fernlike structures where the surrounding gardens. It would be easy. and looked at the woman. 'Right first time. she saw how this effect had been produced. Miss Wells?' Sonia started much as Kirk had done. peering intently at Kirk. however she 73 .them. Her eye caught one particular formation. `It's Mr Dilson. Soft translucent pinks shot through with a brilliant orange that no paintbrush could ever reproduce. to imagine one was looking down on some medieval city.
he said. It'll be all over the place by this evening. you know.' he said. 'Very much.' `I should have thought. blinded by the light. but how would it affect Kirk? she wondered. huh?' When all the chambers of the cave had been seen. The high-pitched giggle came forth again and the woman moved on after replying. thank you. 'Quite so. 'We've just met the island gossip. When they were alone again. 'That's torn it. Sonia blinked for a moment or so.' went on the woman rather persistently. particularly if a certain person heard it. 'We just felt like a change of scenery. they walked out into the brilliant sunshine. As if answering her unspoken thoughts. The warm rays soon reached her and she took off Kirk's blazer and handed it to him with 74 . Kirk looked down at Sonia and pulled a wry face. In fact. 'I'm already in the black my end. but Sonia sensed he was quite furious. We're just a couple of misunderstood folk. How about you?' he grinned. she rather welcomed the news. honey.' Kirk answered in a mild voice.' in an amused voice. Sonia grimaced and gave a slight shrug.' he drawled.' Sonia was not a bit perturbed. 'you would have been at the garden party.answered politely. He chuckled and gave her a quick hug. 'Guess you're in the same boat.
Not that she didn't want Kirk to take her out to dinner. but failed. I mean. 'Hell. no. I sorta get a kick out of annoying Maragal. 'What I mean is.' shrugged Kirk. sure. 'Give Babs a bit more leeway.' Starting the car up. your father does meaningly. so we'll make a day of it. You should have seen his expression when George and Chloe turned up without you! You know what. Kirk remarked. I'll tell Dad I thought it was a good idea to keep the opposition's heavy artillery occupied. 'I've got my story worked out. 'We might as well go the whole hog.' He shot Sonia a quick look. it's okay. 'Guess you've resigned. `Oh. 'Don't you think you ought to go back to Soya Sands?' she asked him. huh? Why not join our set-up? We could use a hostess with your looks.' he grinned. doesn't he ?' she added . I'm going to take you out to dinner.' Sonia did not think this was a good idea. was it?' she said. He accelerated the egine and Sonia could only just get his reply.' He gave her a sideways look. giving him a sombre look. 'So that's why you asked me out. 'Thank you. he's sure blotted his copybook.a. then gave her a grin. Sonia tried to look indignant. What do you say?' 75 want that contract. honey? I kinda feel sorry for that guy—George. but she felt he was in enough trouble as it was.
but she was not really worried. It was as simple as that. you know. It's a bit complicated. you know. I do happen to be George's sister. 'Well. `Then all that spiel about being a hostess was eyewash?' he queried. 'but I'm perfectly happy where I am. grinning. well. I was provoked. Sonia nodded. Kirk.' Sonia was not too sure how to interpret this.' she said quickly. 'You've just made my day. 'Straight up?' he asked. Rory Maragal she couldn't. 'Now I can really go to town.' he drawled. huh?' Sonia's expression confirmed this statement.' he said. sweetheart. 'Guess he gets you as much as he gets me.She was lost for words. 76 . but my mother married George's father when I was seven.' `Well. If only George could have heard that invitation! 'It's very nice of you. She grinned. He chuckled. and I really do happen to be here purely ou Kirk's eyebrows raised. Kirk she could handle.
'Thank you for a lovely day. 'You may kiss my cheek.' She held her face up to him. Considering George's attitude to her friendship with Kirk.' Kirk looked at her offered hand and grinned. As Kirk escorted her to the door.' she smiled.CHAPTER FOUR KIRK took Sonia back just after midnight.' she said primly. It happened after they had arrived back at George's house. honey?' he queried. and Sonia had enjoyed every moment. the explanations as to why she was hobnobbing with the enemy camp could come later. 'Well. and Sonia without meaning to had given the incentive. Sonia noted that only the porch light was on. 'I've really enjoyed it. Kirk was an amusing companion. He had only stepped out of line once.' she said. she thought it might be a good idea if they did not meet. 'I suppose a handshake is a bit formal. and knew Chloe and George were not yet back from Soya Sands. She held her hand out to Kirk when they reached the door. `Is that all I get. They had dined and danced the evening away. answering his grin. 77 .
When he finally lifted his head. 'Now. Kirk. he murmured. It was not unpleasant. much to Sonia's relief. and gave the surprised Sonia a quick hard kiss full on the mouth. She gently tried to extricate herself from his arms.He caught her to him. sweetheart. 'I must go now. See you Friday. but Sonia. 'Just one for the road. Kirk. But she decided against this He would no doubt offer to take her and after what had just happened she would be stepping 78 .' He made as if to pull her to him again.' she said in a determined voice. `Cheek be damned. This time the kiss was longer and more possessive. She felt rather mean. but bending his head once more. huh?' Sonia nodded. taking advantage of his relaxed hold pulled herself free. and for a brief instant pondered on telling him her plan to leave the island. baby. 'don't spoil the evening.' she said. he gazed at her with slightly lifted brows. whatever you say. then said softly. but she had no intention of letting things get out of hand.' and kissed her again. He did not release her. 'You know. I could really go for you. Behave yourself !' This produced another grin. He lifted one arm up in mock surrender. then.' he said. `Okay. I'm not sure I haven't already gone overboard.
She then gave Chloe a hopeful look. 'I did—after today I'd even consider rowing you across. 'We passed Kirk down the road. thought differently. `You must be tired. Giving her a sardonic look. however. Chloe. About to put out her light. Did you fix things for tomorrow?' she asked. all seven miles of it! Neither George nor I are very popular at the moment. Hastily she switched off and snuggled down.' she complained.from one complication to another. then. Sonia sat up wearily. was proving more like an assault course for the marines ! After a quick shower she went to bed. Chloe could tell her about the garden party tomorrow. Chloe retorted. `Did you have to go careering round the place with Kirk. then nodded. Within a few minutes of their arrival Sonia's light was switched on and Chloe was demanding to know if she was awake. she heard the car come up the drive. I suppose he'd just dropped you off ?' Sonia sighed. 'I was almost asleep.' adding dryly. Somewhat grimly Chloe replied.' she said 79 . The holiday she had so looked forward to. today of all days? I thought you were going to take it easy and rest. she thought with exasperation as she finally closed the door behind her.' She stared at Sonia.
' She sighed again. 'Thanks to Rory Maragal my sightseeing tours have been non-existent.' she said dryly.' Chloe sighed heavily and sat down on the bed. I only wish he hadn't known today. Sonia's brows rose. 'honestly. It was sheer accusingly. 'How did you know I went out with Kirk anyway ?' Kicking off her shoes. but George would stick it out. No doubt Rory would have known tomorrow anyway. 'It's a bit odd really.' She frowned.knows he's not going to get the contract. dear. Chloe sighed with relief. She did not enlighten Chloe. 'It's just that we've had a perfectly ghastly afternoon—and come to that. and wriggling her toes. 'It's a very small island. It was not like Chloe to get mad. 'Forgive me.' she said mildly. evening as well. He asked me if I'd like to see the crystal caves. yet he won't give in. I wanted to come away. 'I didn't know Kirk would call. answered.' She added bitterly. it's not your fault. instead she asked a question that had been puzzling her. giving Sonia a half apologetic smile. and I said yes. Chloe. dear. I can't make it out. He 8o .' Sonia could. Not after George's earlier apology for your absence on the plea of tiredness. It didn't sound as if she had enjoyed her day out one bit. freed now of their restriction. 'Dear old Mrs Cape proved our undoing.
Kirk's father came in for a fair share of it too. In fact he seemed mighty pleased with himself. 'You know. 'Were you ?' she asked. but she's got such a strident voice. I thought he'd shout and rave about your behaviour after we'd left. 'Good8 .bad luck that she chose that day to show some visitors over the caves before attending the garden party. George has as much chance of success as the Dilsons have. Sonia looked indignant. I suppose it would have looked a bit like canoodling. 'After today's showing. and made things worse by hinting that you were more or less canoodling in there.' She waved her hands in the air in exasperation. but he didn't say a word. and then we shared it.' Sonia slid down between the sheets. 'Of course not ! I was frozen and Kirk loaned me his blazer. 'She's just a silly woman—didn't mean to make trouble. 'any hope that Rory hadn't heard was soon dispelled.' She stared at Sonia.' She grinned suddenly. `You know what?' she said. George and I were given the cold shoulder treatment with a vengeance ! We weren't the only ones out in the cold.' She got up and smoothed her dress down.' `Well. Rory was only a few yards away when she told me she'd just bumped into you and Kirk in the caves. but it wasn't.' went on Chloe.
' Chole sighed. At fifteen minutes past the hour Chloe.' she sighed. 'Don't tell him. 'After today.night. I've got a nasty feeling he might make things difficult. as she swept the car down the drive. 'What time tomorrow? For the off. Chloe remarked.' `Thank you for those kind words. you can get back to normal.' she said dolefully. `Ten-thirty. she emerged in time to ask.' said Chloe.' said Chloe dryly. and I believe I'd become an accomplished liar ! I told him I was taking you sightseeing. having taken George to the office. As Sonia got in.' she said in a determined way. and left. 'I've a feeling I might have to come with you. Chloe. `Sammy said he'd pick you up at Sawyers Beach. was waiting for her in the car.' she informed Sonia.' She switched on the ignition. `Never mind. 'I only want to forget to go and fetch him back and I'll really be in trouble.' said Sonia consolingly. I mean.' she added. As Chloe reached the door. Chloe. 'Honestly. By ten o'clock the following morning Sonia was packed. 'George wanted to know why I wanted the car.' She pulled a face at Sonia. Not until after I've left. 'And I haven't told George yet: Sonia had a sudden premonition. 'He does the trip several 82 . a few more weeks of this.
' she said. 'I do wish you were coming with me. their bright-patterned shirts giving a splash of colour in that expanse of white. so I have to stay put for the time being. Does well at it by all accounts. she told herself stoutly. If—and my goodness. 'So do I. Ahead of them lay the sea. The island had captured her after all. sparkling in the bright sunlight. 'George will settle with him later. In the distance she saw fields of lilies. what an if ! —George by some miracle does pull it off. The car stopped beside a shanty-looking erec83 . `or when we get to Hamilton?' `That's all taken care of. then seeing Chloe frown.' asked Sonia. Chloe sighed. she felt contrite. I simply can't just take off. Sonia felt sorry she was leaving. But with all this uncertainty about that wretched project. Sonia smothered a sigh.' `Do I pay him before we leave. he'll have to go back to London for a week or so to start the ball rolling their end. Soon Chloe was pulling off the road and taking a well-beaten track that eventually led down to a small beach. Chloe.' `When he's calmed down?' grinned Sonia. The Bahamas.times a week—acts as a sort of courier.' said Chloe.' Watching the passing scenery. looking like blue trefoil. would be just as wonderful. and figures moving up and down the lines.
`He's gone. That's odd. but I don't think so. But I asked him to take Miss Wells to the mainland. Tess.' A stout native woman emerged from the but and strode towards them. It's no use waiting. That is. Are you sure he's gone. then asked abruptly. 'Come on. Chloe's brows were raised. a beaming smile on her face. She turned to Sonia. Chloe stared at her. Chloe looked up and down the beach and frowned.' she looked at Sonia.tion. dear. and not just out for a spell while he waited for us?' The woman shook her black hair decisively. I know 'cos I helped him load. Chloe replied non-committally. 'I can't see his boat either. Sonia 84 . Sonia asked. 'Didn't say anything about taking anyone over. Did you want something?' she asked jovially. 'Do you think he forgot?' Looking thoughtful.' Chloe thought for a moment. 'Maybe. Missus Denby.' she said. 'Did he go to the big house this morning?' Tess nodded. `Howdy. 'He should be here. 'if you're still determined to go today. We'll try Jimmy Hanks. Sammy left about ten minutes ago.' She stared unblinking at them.' It was phrased as a hopeful question.' As the car moved forward.
As they neared the beach a boat could be seen drawn up on the sand. a man busy piling boxes stacked up beside the boat into the craft. and stared with interest at Sonia.' she said. missus ?' Chloe nodded briefly.pursed her lips together. and his bright red shirt made Sonia blink. then turned to Sonia. Within ten minutes they were once more swishing along a sandy track towards another inlet.' she said quietly. can you take this lady over to the mainland ?' asked Chloe. miss. 'I'm determined. Sonia collected her case from the car and was about to place it in the boat when the sound of a motor boat cut across the bay. `Hold on a bit. `So you're going to make it after all. He greeted Chloe. A grin showing stained teeth was given. and what was better. 'Sure can. his ensemble was completed by an equally dilapidated panama hat. His tattered shorts were beyond repair. He was tanned almost black. and 85 .' muttered Jimmy. she hadn't forgotten her last meeting with Rory Maragal. Chloe sighed and turned her attention to the road again. When the car stopped he straightened up and gave the usual grin of welcome. 'Now.' he smiled. `Jimmy. This time they went in the opposite direction from where they had come.
it's not your fault. 'No trip. Some other time. Jimmy's face fell. they'll pass on. she shrugged. 'Got to stay put. fellow?' Jimmy grinned and nodded vigorously. As it passed them the guard hailed Jimmy.' Chloe's brows were raised once again. but it did not go far. Chloe chuckled. perhaps.' A large white craft swept into view from the curve of the harbour.' she said. Chloe started up. Jimmy made a crablike movement and retrieved the case under cover. and opened the car door. with his back to the coastguard's boat.' she observed. 'Jimmy's had a bit of trouble in that direction. 'You keeping doggo. He looked at Chloe. like that fellow says. A slightly bewildered Sonia took the case and got back into the car. 'I have a definite feeling we're being got at. Jimmy.' he muttered. 86 . Don't worry. In fact it only appeared to be moving off. and the boat moved on. 'It's all right. 'Coastguard. After a few minutes she looked at Sonia.' she explained.quickly took the case out of her hand and hid it behind the boat's hull. Turning to Sonia. he handed it back to Sonia. and they moved off. The coastguard nodded back solemnly. Sonia looked in amazement at Chloe. you'll still make the trip. but stayed stationary in full view of the inlet.
and as I've said. 'but not that close. I can assure you. I don't know about the coastguard business. If they suspect he's up to something a warning is usually enough to make him toe the line. yes. Chloe. Sonia exclaimed. `Well. 'Sammy wouldn't go there unless he was summoned. Preventing him taking the boat out is certainly not normal procedure.' `They watch him. The big house is Soya Sands.Sonia stared at her. I give you three guesses. 'no one knew I was leaving. 'He wouldn't ! ' `He jolly well would—and. Sammy might have mentioned it to someone. No. it appears. it's just coincidence. 'You heard me ask Tess if Sammy had been up to the big house.' She screwed her eyes up in concentration. Trouble with Jimmy is he's not fussy what he trades in. it's a very 87 . has ! ' answered Chloe.' `But.' Feeling a stab of apprehension.' replied Chloe. but I think someone doesn't intend you to leave.' stuttered Sonia. he's not really a villain. I suppose that's why they're keeping an eye on him.' continued Chloe. 'As for no one knowing. well.' said Sonia slowly. Chloe's eyes narrowed. didn't you?' `Yes. 'I may be wrong. Tut why ?' she asked. but you said yourself that Jimmy had been in trouble.
Patting her on the shoulder.small island. and even Rory can't prevent that leaving. the ferry still leaves on Saturday. pet. Chloe said. 'Never mind.' 88 .' And getting smaller every minute.' muttered Sonia gloomily.
'I don't know how you gained that impression of Rory. However. I will admit to being a bit precipitate in introducing you to him.' he said huffily. Of course. 'Give it another week.' `And who. Chloe really did take Sonia sightseeing this time. Should he invite you to any other function I 89 .CHAPTER FIVE THE rest of the Wednesday and the Thursday slipped by without any intrusion on their privacy.' he said placatingly. George tried to dissuade her from leaving on Saturday. it's too late now.' He sighed. 'if you will provoke him he's bound to react. I feel like the sacrificial lamb waiting for the wolf to pounce ! ' George looked hurt. 'is to blame for that? I arrive in all innocence hoping to enjoy a few weeks' sunshine and find I'm cast for the leading role in your financial stakes.' demanded Sonia. I can assure you he's a perfect gentleman. 'If only I'd placed you next to Chloe or myself at lunch that day a lot of this trouble could have been avoided. 'You've just got off on the wrong foot with Rory. I should have let you settle in first and get the feel of things.
She wondered about the invitation he had hinted at. in celebration of her departure. and she didn't want to know. to her way of thinking. She just couldn't see Rory Maragal handing out any such invitation.' she enthused.' he said sternly. 'getting that contract would have been a nice way to end my active days with the firm. 'I have.would ask you to accept the invitation.' He was silent for a moment or so as if giving Sonia time to weigh carhis words. Now if he were to throw a farewell party for her. George's gaze centred on the carpet.' he smiled across at the surprised Chloe.' Sonia had a nasty feeling he was trying to tell her something. Chloe likes the island as much as I do. Had he been a five foot two blonde with nicely shaped proportions he might have seen things her way. Still. we must wait and see. His total absence from the scene was.' he said efuly . 'George ! It's a wonderful idea. then he went on. 'You keep on telling me I ought to take a back seat. 'Well?' he asked. I can't think of a nicer place to settle. 'been toying with the idea of settling here—permanently. 'Of course. 'And this time try to make it a pleasant occasion for all concerned.' he murmured. She did not believe in Chloe's theory that he had stopped her leaving the island. I mean. that she 90 . It was all very well for George. a sure sign that he had lost interest. can you?' Chloe's eyes shone.
could believe. she could now understand Kirk's blithe remark about them being two misunderstood folk! Well. Chloe had another social call to make that afternoon and had tried to inveigle Sonia into accompanying her. that's as may be. when an acclamation of Rory's virtues was sung. She thanked her lucky stars she had not begged a lift from him. He might even go to the extent of having a brass band play her off on the ferry ! When Friday came and still no sign or indeed invitation from the owner of the island. She also learnt that he had spent the previous two days on the mainland for business reasons. She had accompanied Chloe on several social calls to a few of the island's residents. No—correction. as she changed into her bikini ready for an afternoon's sunbathing session. but Sonia was not keen on venturing far from 9' . To her surprise she found he was not only popular but highly respected. She would often find Chloe's amused eyes on her. Kirk disliked his high-handed ways as much as she did. and the small talk would invariably include some mention of Rory Maragal. It appeared she was the odd man out. everyone else thought he was wonderful. for all she knew they might have gone over on the same transport. she thought. Sonia began to really relax and even begin to consider staying on as George had suggested. and wondered whether Kirk's visit was in any way connected.
like most of the dwellings on the island. was built on a hillside. She knew Rory Maragal was back and meant to stay out of his way. and bright splashes of colour from the eternal parade of flowers. George and Chloe were all the family she had.the house. After making sure she had everything she needed. She was just being lulled into a pleasant soporific state when a voice 92 . As her eyes took in the curve of a distant beach. she turned over on her back and released the catch on her bra to get the full rays of the sun on her exposed back. she well understood George wanting to settle there. to her. George's house. and hoped he would be allowed to. Whoever called would get no response. The sun loggia at the back of the house was. and Sonia was taking no chances. either by phone or door bell. Having completed oiling her arms and legs. palm trees. she stretched out luxuriously on the sun lounger. The warm rays penetrated the loggia canopy. Danny had gone into town with George to collect provisions. an ideal retreat. She sighed. thus affording magnificent views from all angles. and while she smoothed the sun oil over her arms and legs. with Chloe out and George at the office. she gazed out at the panoramic view before her. If only things could have been different ! It looked as if she wouldn't be seeing much of them in the future.
'What did you want to see me about ?' She squinted up at him towering above her.' she replied icily. . `No matter.' he said maddeningly. `My brother is at the office. so I insist. and she wouldn't ask him for all the tea in China! Something told her his answer would not be a conventional one. `Your back's getting very red. `Oh.' He 93. obviously amused at her predicament at being unable to move without completely exposing herself. open at the neck. thank you. `I'm quite good at providing such services.' he observed. She gritted her teeth. the grace to turn around while she made herself presentable.spoke. `It's such a beautiful back too.' Sonia glanced at her wrap. don't get up. `No.' she said stiffly.' Sonia clutched her bra at each side of her. He hadn't. Sonia fumed. and Chloe is visiting. He wore casual wear—shirt of tan. she thought furiously. It's you I've come to see. If only she could reach it! `Would you like some oil on your back ?' he asked smoothly. jerked into wakefulness with a vengeance.' drawled Rory Maragal. `So you did bring the bikini ! ' Sonia stiffened. He pulled another lounger up and sat beside her. and brown slacks.
'I'm sure that's enough. Please tell me what you want to see me about.' she said breathlessly.' He sighed. This time he did not sit back on the lounger. She couldn't win. I'm rather apt to take up the challenge.' `Don't you like it ?' he said softly. to dare me. Sonia was ashamed to feel sorry he had obeyed her command. He calmly reached over her and caught the ends of the bra. and let me get on with my sunbathing. Sonia's heartbeats beat a staccato. `It is not wise. 'I don't. His next action disturbed her even more. 'No. 'Thank you. She was horribly embarrassed and extremely tense. His stroking fingers now had the touch of a lover.' Sonia closed her eyes. Her eyes rested momentarily on the open neck of his shirt and she could see the dark hairs on his chest. is it not? I would hate you 94 . 'That is more comfortable for you.knelt down beside her and picked up the lotion. She felt the smooth gentle strokes over her back. but more uncomfortable physically as his nearness disturbed her. clipping them together. Miss Wells. but dared not. It was easier for her not to have to squint up at him. She wondered why she bothered. `Don't you dare!' snapped Sonia. but did as she requested. but settled right beside her. you know.' she said hastily. Under this expert treatment she wanted to relax. She averted her eyes quickly.
His eyes mocked her 95 . 'You have a beautiful body too. 'So you really are leaving on Saturday ?' Sonia did not reply. she swiftly reached for her wrap. the invitation George had warned her about. Why cover it up?' She gave him a haughty look.' he murmured. Had he attempted to apologise for his earlier behaviour she might have considered staying.to get a crick in the neck. Sonia could now move. she was mistaken. Raising his eloquent brows. making it sound more like an order than an invitation.' he went on. he then commented. there was every chance of similar happenings. Sonia's lips straightened. The feel of them on her palm made her want to shiver. He gave an elaborate sigh. but he refused to release it. `I want you to stay. `I gathered from George that he expected you to stay at least two more weeks. wishing he would get to the point of his visit. but watched him warily. 'I've had enough sun for one day. Sitting up. and she did. as it was. Still Sonia remained silent.'-she said icily. will you give your word that you won't molest me again?' she asked challengingly. She could guess what was coming. However.' he continued abruptly. and she tried to snatch her hand away. 'If I stay. He caught her hand and held it to his lips.
'I should be honoured ! You must forgive my reluctance to show it. It was a pity about Wednesday. wasn't it?' he said smoothly. and Sonia thought he was going to jerk her to him. 'The time will come when g6 .' Now he was good and mad. then said quietly. Miss Wells.' he grated.' That.' she said casually. 'No. `I suppose. His eyes narrowed.' `Then that is my answer too. 'Show me how strong you are ! I'm no match for you physically. With narrowed eyes he watched her. 'in the habit of begging for a woman's company.' he said haughtily. managing at last to free her hand. His eyes blazed. thought Sonia. He wouldn't know how to begin! He was too proud.as he replied briefly. and his hold on her tightened. `Yes. He released her suddenly and she all but staggered back. He was telling her so. and she sensed his fury. 'Go on.' she said slowly. `I am not. but instead he made a tremendous effort to control his reflexes. you should be honoured ! ' He caught her wrist. She gasped. 'I hear the ferry is most reliable. Sonia took a deep breath. `You haven't gone yet.' she said coldly." `Not physically or mentally.' she grated out. So Chloe had been right! Rory had stopped her from leaving. was pretty obvious.
Sonia stared at him. Mentally apologising to Kirk. she muttered that she would be present. She was sure he had been about to depart.you will beg for my company. how nice of you to call in. Sonia could feel his eyes on her as she watched Chloe walk back to the house. if advice it could be called. `He accepted. as a matter of fact. and she knew Rory was also thinking of Kirk. Chloe left to order the tea. to her relief. 'on your behalf. `I suppose George has informed you about the dinner party I'm giving tonight?' he said brusquely. and it was her last night. she thought sardonically. She started when he spoke again.' Sonia stared at him.' she said stiffly. I trust this time you have no previous engagement ?' She had—with Kirk. Would you like some tea ?' she asked solicitously. She also recalled George's advice. `Rory. But her hopes were dashed as she heard him accept the invitation courteously. `Well?' he asked curtly. Once again she thought what an extraordinary man he was. Chloe arrived.' he continued harshly. 'He hasn't. Sonia frowned. consoling herself with the thought that George would be pleased. Perhaps he would refuse. She hadn't time to work out the implication of this remark as. 97 .
'He doesn't want the contract. 'I told them.' her eyes sparked green fire. Sonia spoke up.' stammered Chloe. . I'd had rather a nasty experience before that. 'Is someone else taking over. Chloe stared at him. 'George ought to be back soon. then looked at Sonia. `I—we—that is . then gave up the struggle. then?' Handing round the sandwiches. then?' he asked. His glance travelled from her to Sonia. He finishes early these days. 'Winding up ?' he queried. He frowned. `If you remember.' she said coldly.' she said bravely. The atmosphere was somewhat strained. Or. you told me to tell George he wouldn't get the contract. it's just a matter now of winding things up. Chloe cast Sonia a look of 'it's your turn now'. so I can't 98 . 'We were given to understand you'd awarded the contract to another firm. said.Chloe came back. 'words to that effect. . Chloe smiled. 'By whom?' he asked haughtily. and Chloe. sensing it. Sonia watched Rory closely. you see. Rory glanced quickly at her. `It's not necessary now. followed by Danny carrying a loaded tray which he deposited on a small table Chloe pulled out for him.' Accepting the cup Chloe handed him. the surprise evident in her eyes. is it?' she replied brightly.
'Might I refresh your memory?' he said softly. and Sonia was glad of Chloe's company. then pulled himself together. relations had been somewhat strained during their last meeting. `How soon can you get things rolling. She was catching that ferry no matter what ! Chloe threw a bewildered look at her.' His eyes narrowed. It was clear from his approach that he was unsure of a welcome from Rory. George started. but I got the gist of the conversation. 'I believe the words were that I didn't think George would get the contract—there's a difference.' he went on airily.' she remarked loudly.recall the exact wording.' answered Rory briskly. He answered quickly. George advanced slowly towards the party. 'Just give the word and we're off.' Sonia did not like the look he shot at her while he spoke. then with some relief saw George approaching. Was he hoping she would change her mind and stay if he gave George the contract? Her eyes took in the scenic view before them. George ?' he asked as if discussing the weather. However. 'go ahead. 'certain events during the past twenty-four hours have changed the situation in his favour. `Here's George. you know. But the man himself settled his dilemma.' 99 .' `Right.
A highly delighted George led the way back to the house. 'George knows that. 'Shall we retire to the study?' he queried. 100 . of course not !' she said indignantly. Chloe's only comment was a slow. 'Huh-huh. 'You were right —he did stop me leaving on Wednesday. 'Not in so many words.' then he turned back to George. 'There'd better not be any strings attached.' Chloe's eyes shone. 'Well. Sonia took another sip of her tea. Chloe stared at Sonia.' Chloe gasped in wonderment.' she said darkly.' She was silent for a moment or so. Sonia gave her a look of pure exasperation. 'I knew it ! ' she said in high delight.' she said bitingly. 'Did he actually say so?' Sonia shrugged.' Sonia did not ask for an interpretation. then gave Sonia a sly look. `I'm sure you'll excuse us.' She repeated the conversation. `He's not exactly giving up. After a moment's thoughtful silence. leaving Chloe and Sonia staring at each other. I should hardly think anything like that's on the cards. is he?' she grinned. `Neither am I. judging by the way you two were glaring at each other when I arrived. There was amazement in Chloe's eyes and cynicism in Sonia's.He got up and turned to Chloe and Sonia. `What do you know? He's got that contract.
does she? Besides. Chloe. so Chloe could do with some company. and George a little belatedly told them about the dinner party that' evening. This year a fortnight's cruising on the 101 .' he said exasperatingly. have you? Remember I shall be extremely busy for the next few months dodging over to London now and again to get things started. George. remarked. don't you? We can't possibly refuse— Sonia doesn't have to go. Now where had he got that idea from? He knew very well she usually booked some of her vacation with friends. 'you do realise we've got the contract. casting an anxious glance at Sonia. 'Well.' Sonia heard him out impassively. how about it? Get the Bahamas out of your system and come back.CHAPTER SIX BY the time Chloe and Sonia got back to the house Rory had gone. do you think we ought to?' George's brows rose. 'It's Sonia's last evening. 'My dear girl. You've no need to go home until September. what's to stop her spending a few days in the Bahamas and coming back to us for the remainder of her vacation?' He looked at Sonia.
but she wouldn't argue it out now. he had even told Rory this. She ought to have been a IO2 . she thought darkly. it just wasn't on. so he could hardly have forgotten. This. She sighed as she got ready for the dinner party. he could bring up the fact that Sonia hardly ever saw them. George could be very obstinate. then. She had missed a golden opportunity in not bringing him to life again.Norfolk Broads had been arranged and she couldn't see herself forgoing that for the pleasure of being chased round this island by Rory Maragal. It wouldn't occur to him that it wasn't Sonia's fault that she didn't see much of them. George hadn't believed a word of it. Sonia would have seen much more of them. she thought crossly. if he hadn't elected to chase about the globe on the firm's business. Well. She knew Chloe would understand— besides. but put down roots somewhere as Chloe had suggested. George had known she wouldn't be staying longer than three weeks. she took the line of least resistance and murmured that she would think about it. and lay it on thick that she preferred her college friends' company to theirs. Carefully studying her nails. It didn't occur to her until afterwards that no mention had been made of her fabricated fiancé. Chloe wasn't the only one who was a rotten liar. was one of the strings that had been attached to the securing of the contract.
She had no intention of returning to the island once she had made her escape. she thought of Rory Maragal. She was taking one last critical look at herself when Chloe came in looking stunning in a white velvet dress. invite him to spend a few weeks with them. as she plaited her hair coronet style on top of her head.' she announced.bit more convincing and picked someone he knew. No matter. She could deal with George at a distance. As she slipped into a sea-green dress that shimmered as the light caught the gold threads interlaced in the diaphanous material. 'As this will positively be my last appearance.' she commented.' 103 . She slipped it on again. trying to effect a haughty expression that didn't quite come off. 'Who are we out to impress?' she added with twinkling eyes. She studied Sonia's new hair-style with her head on one side. Sonia's eyes met hers in the mirror. whether she wore it or not. but she would have been in more trouble had he taken it into his head to ring him up and congratulate him. 'I feel I owe it to George to keep the flag flying. and not only George. she thought. one of her old admirers. `Mmm. it was fitting she should wear it for her last appearance. suits you. He hadn't believed it either—or had he? He never failed to remark on the ring. or worse still.
Minutes later she came back triumphantly displaying a choker of delicate gold filigree encrusted with green jade. What could one do with a tiger on a bit of string? Run for it ! —and that was just what she intended doing ! She sighed and patted Chloe gently on her shoulder. 'I shall miss you too. `Sonia—couldn't you just try? I shall miss you terribly. But Chloe hadn't been on the receiving end of Rory Maragal's dubious advances. wait a bit. Once inside. She knew what was in Chloe's mind.' Sonia's lips straightened. `Here.' She let the sentence hang in mid-air. ` Makes you look like Royalty. it sufficed to brighten Chloe's expression and they went to find George.`Even though it's a red one. She was just fastening a single rope of pearls round her neck when Chloe exclaimed. Sonia gave up trying to look impressive and chuckled. she nodded slowly. as if on guard duty. She removed Sonia's pearl necklet and replaced it with the choker. Sonia noted two large stone eagles one on either side of the wide stone steps leading to the house.' and rushed out of the room. Chloe. Standing back to see the effect. However. She was still of the opinion that Sonia could capture him. . she stood gazing 1 04 . Then quite suddenly her eyes filled with tears.' she commented. Walking up Soya Sands' impressive entrance. . Her mouth twisted wryly.' giggled Chloe. Perhaps .
Chloe called a friendly 'Hello. Chloe remarked. she noted. Barbara Dilson was putting the 'finishing touches to her immaculate make-up as they entered the room. even in semi-tropical islands the . and giving her hair one final pat. 'She wasn't exactly enthusing 105 . she left Chloe and Sonia in sole possession. In the centre was a coat of arms. Her eyes travelled up and over the fireplace to rest on two businesslike cutlasses hung either side of the stonework above the fire. There was one occupant there. its great talons resting on a shield of green and gold. to preserve its antiquity. Sonia shivered. It was all a bit much.' which was returned by a cool nod and an even cooler one to Sonia. Chloe touched her arm and led her up the wide staircase to a small ante-room used as a cloakroom. It depicted a displayed eagle. 'Do you think she's heard that George has got the contract?' Sonia shrugged. She walked nearer to study it. nights could be cold. and she had no doubt that those logs would be used should the occasion demand it. Stone torches fixed against wood panelling made her feel as if she had stepped into another century. She had not realised the house was so old or so large. Slipping off her wrap. A huge stone fireplace stood filled with logs. A great deal of trouble had been taken.round the immense hall.
she noted as they walked towards the small assembly. and held her tongue. Barbara had already made her preference clear.' Chloe grinned.' she added idly.the last time we met. as it had been in the Sea King a few nights ago. He had congratulated George on his success. looking as if she considered that her rightful place. She had stationed herself next to Rory as he welcomed them to his home. Mr Dilson asked Sonia if she had danced any good rumbas lately. Barbara and her father. Sonia found when they joined the rest of the guests. with one exception—Kirk. herself and their host. 'I wouldn't mind betting she doesn't care a fig about the business side of it. so it's hard to tell. She's gone overboard for Rory. In fact. George and Chloe. Sonia was about to comment that she would have a clear field from tomorrow. Out of the corner of her eye she watched Barbara's attempts to monopolise Rory at the dinner table. I shouldn't walk down a dark staircase in front of her if I were you. and Sonia warmed to him. and that's one very spoilt young woman. Sonia wished he could have been present and she could have paired up with him. o6 . Just the Dilsons. He seemed in good spirits in spite of the loss of the contract. It was not a large dinner party. when she remembered their earlier conversation. He was a good loser.
and remembered Chloe making the same observation. once had been enough. he looked wholly Spanish. and hanging on his every word. and could hardly be called good manners. All eyes. Take the way she was looking at him now. Each question and remark was directed at Rory. placed next to her father. Not that she intended this in any way to inhibit her. an arrangement which had made Barbara's eyes snap in annoyance. was in what might be considered a relegated position. Chloe had been placed on his left. In a dark tuxedo with a sparkling white frilled front shirt. Sonia hastily applied herself to her soup. thought Sonia. and she was obvious. so in actual fact Barbara. and George on his right. Sonia sat next to Chloe and Mr Dilson next to George. Curiosity as to how Rory was taking all this adoration made her forget her earlier resolve not to look at him and found herself meeting his eyes. They held a mocking amusement and something else. Sonia saw Mr Dilson frown once or twice at his daughter's obvious attempts to capture their host's attention. when she had caught him studying her quite openly while almost absentmindedly replying to a question of Barbara's. but she was still very much aware of him such a short distance away from her.She did not look straight at him. Sonia couldn't 107 . there might have only been the two of them present.
unless it was in those penetrating grey eyes of his. it was his intentions she couldn't stomach. He had quite blatantly shown his appreciation. she thought sardonically.see where the English side came in. It had been a quite deliberate act on her part. But she did know. she reversed her thoughts on the manner of dress. On this comforting thought she turned to answer a question directed at her by 10 8 . more suitable for a night at the opera than a small dinner party. but she was not staying. and by the look in his eyes when he had first looked at her that evening. for she felt overdressed. As if such a thing were possible. The feminine side of her appreciated Rory's attentions. Whatever possessed her to wear the elegant but eye-catching choker Chloe had routed out for her. If she stayed and he got under her guard—she almost shivered. He would no doubt think she was trying to impress him. she would never know. She found herself fervently wishing she had worn something simple. As she watched an appetising-looking paella placed in the middle of the table. Yes. she recalled his curious prophecy that she would one day beg for his company. such a thing would then be possible. she had done that and more besides. She was glad she had dressed up to the occasion. She had wanted to look her best. apart from his earlier treatment of her. Remembering some of his remarks.
Mr Dilson was arguing the points for and against open universides. `But Professor Inskip says . I'm quite aware of your hobby.. He was certainly impressing Barbara. Some of them date back to the fifteenth century. she wondered. 'it would be 1 09 . gave Sonia a distinct impression that the information was being given for her benefit alone.' he mused. yes. trying to impress her now? If he was.' he said casually. and George idly listening heard her say.' she murmured. Was he. `It's no use making an offer for any of them..Mr Dilson and was soon immersed in a subject dear to her heart—university life. 'that's your fiancé. 'Er . which was of interest to all present. . who every now and again gave a squeal of delight.' He broke off and grinned at Mr Dilson. and hastily returned to the original subject. `I say. She was thankful she had remembered to wear the ring. he was wasting his time.' he interrupted. `After dinner I shall show you the family heirlooms. but they're definitely not for sale. 'I'm quite proud of them. isn't it ?' Sonia was uncomfortably aware of Rory stopping in mid-sentence to answer yet another question of Barbara's. and looking pointedly at her hand. Rory's answers. In fact. It was Chloe who brought up the subject of the past history of Soya Sands. though directed at Chloe.
each affixed in position by a small catch. but that he seemed to be of the opinion that she could be bought.' After coffee Rory took his guests through the house to a section even older than the main building.quite impossible to put a price on them. he had to be persuaded to follow them. Mr Dilson was utterly enthralled. 110 . The room was fitted out like an exhibition. and later when Rory led them on past the cabinets. It contained several trays of glittering jewellery. Glass cabinets placed in strategic positions exhibited delicate porcelain and fabulous Venetian glassware. When Barbara pressed in front of her for a closer look at the displayed jewels. grateful for the girl's bad manners. past a gunroom filled with weapons of every description to a small annexe leading off it. he detached from his key ring. hence this opening up of the family treasure chest. and unlocking the box with a small key. its rich colours gleaming in the muted lights set in the cases. He released the catch spring and removed certain pieces for closer inspection. Placing this on a table beside the safe. he opened it. certain now that he was not only trying to impress her. Sonia felt depressed. At the far end of the room was a small modern safe which Rory opened and drew out a medium sized black jewel-case. she did not change her position but hung back slightly.
however.' Rory nodded and took his eyes off the pendant and looked directly at Sonia. 'May I hold it ?' she asked. `I'd rather you didn't. is it?' broke in Barbara in a slightly high-pitched voice. 'Only III . Rory was taller than Barbara. 'As my forebears before me. I am bewitched by the colour green. isn't it ?' queried Barbara.' he murmured. Sonia flushed and looked away quickly. The pendant was beautiful. As Rory held it. Tor the Maragals it has brought nothing but good fortune. Sonia was forced to give her attention too. `It's not considered lucky for some. With the pendant in her hand. 'is the piece de resistance. then sighed. it was carved in what she presumed was gold in the shape of an eagle and encrusted with emeralds.' he said firmly. the light caught the gems and it seemed to come alive in his hand. his eyes still on Sonia. she turned towards a small oval mirror near her and started to put the pendant on. 'It's beautiful. Did he have to be so obvious? she thought furiously. 'This.Sonia actually preferred the view of the back of her midnight blue dress to the glittering gems. Rory's voice halted her.' `It's the same as on the coat of arms. and drew their attention to it. Barbara held her hand out.' he replied. so when he picked up a pendant with a thick golden chain.' he said quietly.
'also. 'You've made him mad again. Whatever hopes she had nursed of becoming the island's first lady had been effectively quashed by a few bald words.' `Shall we join our other guests?' Rory sugges112 .' Sonia couldn't resist remarking. 'is the Maragal betrothal ring. and these. `I know. noting their interest. they must have been weighed down ! ' She saw the flash of anger in his eyes.' he picked up a triple-roped necklace of pearls and emeralds and matching bracelet.' With heightened colour she handed it back to him. Chloe moved closer to her. and quickly concentrated on the exhibits under glass.' but her eyes gave her thoughts away. `That.' answered Sonia softly. Although Sonia did not care for Barbara..Maragal brides are given that privilege. 'How quaint. He needn't have been quite so blunt. 'but he had it coming.' she whispered. murmuring. Mr Dilson coughed nervously. she was spoilt and bad-mannered.' said Rory. 'Poor girls. Her dislike of Rory Maragal increased. and George hastily pointed to another piece and asked its history. Chloe drew Sonia's attention to a large emerald ring set in an antique setting of heavy gold. she did feel sorry for her at that exact moment.
but still on the table beside the safe. opposed Rory Maragal. either at the lunch given by George on the day of her arrival. 'I can trust my guests. you know. The fact that she had not put in an appearance at the garden party had probably caused a lot of speculation and would be seen as a direct snub to their revered leader who could apparently do no wrong—as long as things went his way. She was sure her original estimate of his te had been correct. she mused. 'I say. Glancing back at the box.' he commented with a smile. The murmuring of voices met them as they reached the lounge. George exclaimed. Rory answered. it just wasn't done. Sonia saw several curious looks darted her way as they greeted Rory. Considering she had met each one of them. `I'll do so later. There were about a dozen people standing around in groups chatting amongst themselves. No wonder they regarded her with curiosity! 113 . a very small island. Sonia thought it a bit odd that she should be such an object of interest.ted. that charwas. It was. but no one. oughtn't you to lock that lot away?' pointing to the box. 'I believe most of them would have arrived by now for the evening's dancing. now shut.' Following him out of the room.' then back at George. No one. or during the social calls Chloe had made with her.
`So he's a professor. His eyes narrowed. then?' he queried. `She hasn't gone yet.' Sonia clamped her lips together. He lightly held her arm. 'I'm hoping to persuade her to stay a while longer. then looked at Sonia. my mermaid. A slightly apprehensive Chloe was right behind them. a grin of welcome on his face. but she had a nasty suspicion he meant it hadn't been wise to pick on a professor as her fabricated fiancé. Sonia found Rory beside her as she went through the french windows. weren't they? Well. huh ?' he said in mock sorrow. 'Trip to the Bahamas off. Mermaids were elusive. then back at Rory. which infuriated her. I 14 . and the company moved out on to the lighted terraces.' commented Rory meaningly. 'Last night. She wasn't quite sure what he was getting at.' Kirk looked at Sonia. this particular one was going to be more than elusive! She suddenly caught sight of Kirk detaching himself from a group on the terraces and coming towards them. 'Now I shouldn't have thought that was entirely a wise choice. leaving an even more infuriated Barbara to follow with her father.Drinks were handed round. As for calling her a mermaid—! Well. she knew what he meant by that. He nodded to Rory. one thing she was certain of was that he was amused. is he?' Rory murmured softly.
Barbara. Sonia's fiancé couldn't get away. but he obviously expected Kirk to do so. `I'm not sure Miss Wells' fiancé would approve. The music started up and before Kirk could "5 . 'here's one fit and willing guide at your service.' `Kirk !' gasped Barbara. Kirk started and stared at Sonia. then to Sonia.' he said blandly.' he said. `I'm leaving in the morning. feigning surprise. you know. Kirk. 'Hard luck.Sonia's eyes blazed. when he spoke there was no trace of anger in his voice.' he drawled. Sonia threw her a grateful look. ma'am.' She looked quite pleased with herself over her sudden inspiration. he'll probably join her in the Bahamas. `Have you been drinking?' Not liking the look in Rory's eyes as they rested on Kirk. Sonia glared at Rory. said in a silky voice. however.' Sonia heard Rory draw in a quick breath and sensed his fury. So he had thought the jewels would change her mind ! 'The trip is still on.' Kirk recovered swiftly and grinned. Any man who lets his girl loose in the Caribbean deserves all he gets. Chloe quickly interposed. 'Well now.' she said icily. who had been standing behind them. 'If you belonged to me I wouldn't let you out of my sight. 'I'm sure Kirk was only being gallant. and managed to smile at Kirk. He didn't follow the conventions himself.' Kirk grinned.
displacing his cheek from her hair with a tiny jerk. do you ?' he said between clenched teeth. She was busy fighting off the panic waves this man invariably aroused in her. Her eyes were on a level with the lapel of his jacket and she concentrated on the fine stitching of his shirt and wondered if it was hand-made—anything to take her mind off his nearness. His eyes glinted down at her. 'What about my fiancé ?' she asked warily.claim the dance. your watchdogs are not far away. He quite deliberately laid his cheek on her hair. Rory had placed his arm round Sonia's waist and whirled her into the dance. F or once I find myself in agreement with Kirk Dilson. It is a little hard to believe that he would not accompany you on i 16 .' he murmured softly. This new approach quite unnerved her. 'You're quite safe. `And your fiancé?' he asked in that caressing voice that Sonia distrusted. `So you like Kirk Dilson.' he said harshly. 'You are very lovely.' She wished she could obey this instruction. mermaid. Sonia didn't answer. She frowned and looked up at him. She knew by the way he held her that she had blotted her copybook again. She preferred him in a temper. He held her too close for comfort. but it was impossible. 'Relax. He sighed elaborately.
You are partial to scholarly men. and she knew it. `He just couldn't get away. out. Watching her closely. and attempted to kiss her. 'would you like someone to act this way with your fiancée ?' `I should kill him. and 117 . His arms tightened around her and he chuckled. Come to think of it. and her sudden move to glance back was curtailed by two very strong arms.' He swung her round swiftly to the tempo of the dance.' he murmured. 'I suppose as a professor he's a very busy man. 'How. 'I didn't know you cared. Her heartbeats increasing alarmingly. and she wished she had never started the wretched business. guessing what had happened. She could not see much apart from Rory's immaculate tuxedo front.your holiday. and she had to wait until she got her breath back before she could answer. She stopped dead in her tracks.' she said. It was lame. They did not seem to be near the rest of the guests. His lips roamed her forehead as she struggled to free herself. the music seemed farther away too. but she moved her head quickly. he said softly. unable to stop the impact.' she gasped. `You are despicable ! ' she got out. He had successfully danced her away from the rest of the party. Her sudden stop coincided with a forward movement of his and she was flung against him. are you?' Sonia thought it was about time the dance ended.' he announced calmly.
to fling all caution to the winds and cling to this man's strength. 'Snow Queen would be a better title. asking her to answer that kiss as it should be answered. and therefore no new experience for her. but her lips remained cold under his. he stood looking at her Sonia could sense he was absolutely furious. Forget your professor. She didn't suppose he had ever kissed a stone wall before. all other kisses must have been in the kindergarten class. stayed stiff and unyielding in his arms. my Snow Queen. It took all her will power. she thought wildly.' Sonia drew a deep breath of thankfulness. and her traitor of a heart cried out. you are safe for the time being.' he said with fury in his voice. As I have said. I shall take you back to your protectors. His fists clenched and she knew he was having trouble keeping his hands off her. not when he could make a woman feel like this. It was so easy for him. Her senses swam. would it not? But I shall melt those layers of ice.this time found her lips as she stared up indignantly at him. He didn't need jewels as bait. 'I shall rename you.' He held out an imperative hand to her. her body. though weak. She couldn't —she wouldn't give in. Sonia told herself she would be gone tomorrow. When he finally released her. It was only a kiss anyway. but it was a new experience. As his lips crushed hers. 'Come. If .
Rory glanced at her swiftly. Knowing it would annoy Rory. `We haven't danced yet. and Chloe relaxed. The kiss had shaken her. 'Later. `My dance.' she said plaintively. Sonia smiled.' she said firmly. Had Chloe guessed what had happened? Kirk appealed to Sonia. Kirk moved forward as they approached. 'Sonia has a few last-minute chores to do before she leaves. 119Kirk squeezed Sonia's hand. 'We really think it's time we were going. grinning. glaring at Rory. 'Right now I need a drink.' he said harshly.' he said. then. `Just this one.' and he strode off towards the house.he had but known how his kiss had affected her ! She mentally patted herself on the back for withstanding the onslaught.' Sonia wondered whether her smile had been as bright as she had thought it was.' he murmured. . Rory. I believe. She met Chloe's anxious look with a smile.' and noted the stiffening of Rory beside her. . Barbara clutched at Rory's sleeve. 'Not even a farewell dance?' he asked. Kirk grinned and moved forward to take her in his arms. Chloe stepped into her peacemaker role once more. 'I take it he was unsuccessful.
'He's hardly taken his eyes off you. `That's one man in a hell of a temper.' This only produced another grin and an attempt to hold her closer. 'Thought any more about my offer to show you around the Bahamas ? I can't promise to behave like the perfect gentleman all the time. He was an amusing companion. and his grin grew wider. and Rory's words still echoed in her brain. baby. which she resisted. Guys like that are used to getting their own way. 'So has his lordship. 'Safe for the time being.' He twirled her round. 'Guess it's as well you're going. Sonia quite liked the idea. then asked. 'How do you mean?' she queried. Sure gave Babs the brush-off. If I step out of line just slap me down.' Now just what did he mean by that? The 120 . honey. Mind you. I know that look in a man's eye. and you're the fairy on the Christmas tree as far as he's concerned—in case you didn't know it.' he added.Sonia gave him an innocent look.' observed Kirk.' Sonia tried to look indignant. how about it? If your fiancé turns up I'll bow out like a good boy.' To be honest. `That wouldn't stop him. remember. So run. it's about time someone gave her a taste of her own medicine. She's had things her own way for too long with the male of the species.' He nodded thoughtfully. 'I'm engaged.
who Sonia noted apprehensively was watching them with hooded eyes. He threatens to cut my allowance every now and again. She was relieved to see that grin again. but I guess he's too soft. He glanced over to where his father was standing talking to Rory. and it's kinda important right now I mind my p.' replied Kirk. He's talked of nothing else since I arrived. `According to him I'm a goddamned drag on society. 'Can you just take off whenever you want to?' she asked him.Bahamas were not that far away.' he added a little bitterly. she would at least have a champion. what he's really after is the chance to make an offer for one or two of the Maragal collection pieces. `Does he think it's your fault he didn't get the contract?' she asked worriedly. Poor 121 .' he said lazily.' he said disgustedly. 'That contract was only a side issue. Seeing them tonight only whetted his appetite. She wondered if he heard what Mr Dilson was saying. If Kirk were there. Did he plan to follow her there? She would put nothing past him. Once set on a course he would be a force to be reckoned with.s. I'm okay as long as I don't step out of line. Sonia now understood Mr Dilson's calm acceptance of the loss of the contract.s and q. his mind appeared to be elsewhere ! `Ask my father that question. 'I'm not exactly top of the pops.
She sighed. It was only natural. then remembered the question. she supposed.' She did not miss the bitterness in his voice when he referred to Rory's money. folks. She felt sorry for Kirk. `So—how about the trip?' he asked suddenly. Kirk. I don't think he's going to be successful there either.' she said. Sonia blinked.' she murmured sympathetically. She could imagine his father's reaction when he finally came down to earth and realised he hadn't a hope of changing Rory's mind. 'It's okay. and they stared curiously at them. 'Try and tell that to a collector on the trail. That he envied him there was no doubt. just grinned at them. You'd be wasting your time. 'Providing you behave yourself. If Maragal says it's no dice. Sonia closed her eyes. particularly if his father's allowance was inadequate to his needs. Kirk needed to be out of the vicinity as much as she did.Kirk. Kirk's needs would be a little above average. Trouble with Dad is. `Yippee ! ' he shouted. honey. `Very well.' He twirled her round twice in succession. then it's no dice. he thinks there's a price for everything. 'You know.' he 122 .' Kirk grimaced. But she had a shrewd idea that. It had a startling effect on the other couples. Dad's just living in a pipe dream. however. He can afford to say no.
George. I23 . She waited for George's answer.' Sonia had an uncomfortable feeling Rory would guess the reason for Kirk's elation. and found her hand caught. sweet dreams. The farewells were said.' he said softly. `Farewell for now.chuckled. at the latest. and found she was suggesting they joined her for a week in the Bahamas. He had to get organised this end first.C. he told her. was not too keen on being dragged away in the middle of the evening.' On the way back Sonia tried to shake off the depression that completely enveloped her. 'Until then. She cheered up a little. with John Hanser. She made a determined effort to listen to what Chloe was asking George. Snow Queen. he advised her which hotel to book into at Nassau. about to get into the car. We'll meet again.C. Sonia. He hoped to join her.' to Rory. 'Nice to know you. Sunday morning. who had spent most of the evening chewing over past triumphs of the M. murmured a hasty. She would like that. Escorting her back to Chloe. and Rory escorted them to the car. She must be overtired. but a stealthy kick from Chloe convinced him. She was pulled back towards him so that only she could hear his words. It didn't make sense feeling this way. 'Just high spirits. there was no other explanation for her low spirits.
In spite of his half-abstracted manner. I 24 . Not that it mattered now anyway. Sonia. no need for me to fly out straight away. He had the contract. say from Tuesday. there was no reason why he should still object to his presence.' Chloe said he was a darling. not for a couple of weeks anyway. which crowned his day. and the rest of the journey was spent in idle speculation of what they would do during that week.`I don't see why not. and a foursome was better than a threesome. Book us a room. 'I'll need a couple of days getting things organised the London end. It did occur to Sonia that George might have known of Kirk's proposed visit. there was not much he missed.' he said expansively.
Sonia saw Kirk's sports car parked farther along.CHAPTER SEVEN THE following morning. Once away. Chloe took Sonia down to the small harbour to catch the ferry. On the way.' Chloe confided. she saw 'him. she gave Sonia strict instructions as to which hotel to book into in Nassau. but quickly recovered and gave him a smile as he moved forward and relieved her of Sonia's case.' As they drew up in the small parking space outside the harbour offices where Sonia was to collect her ticket. Again that tinge of sadness touched her. he hadn't bothered then to see her off. also Sonia's light coat she carried 1 25 . `I don't mind you going so much now. It was this place. Kirk had appeared by the time they alighted from the car. Her eyes swept the rest of the cars. 'I might be able to get George to stretch it to two weeks so we needn't rush the tour. There were no Mercedes. she told herself. as it happened it was the same one as recommended by Kirk. but she said nothing of this to Chloe. dear. Chloe frowned slightly when. she'd get things in perspective again. She shrugged impatiently.
she offered the waiting Kirk her hand.' he said. `It's much appreciated.' in a soft voice. Kirk took charge. She was vastly relieved that neither Chloe nor Kirk had elected to stay until the boat left. Again that frown appeared on Chloe's face. however. Kirk. 'See you. so that Sonia could collect her ticket without any encumbrances.' smiled Chloe 'What got you up so early?' Kirk grinned. Giving Chloe a slight hug and a kiss on the cheek. Kirk. The amusement was there in his eyes as if he could guess her thoughts. ma'am. 'Had to see my favourite girl off. he contented himself with giving her hand an extra squeeze and murmuring. taking Sonia's arm and leading her towards one of the doors in front of them. Sonia went on board the large ferry drawn up at the quay. 126 . It always went on time and there was barely five minutes to go by the time Sonia climbed the gangway. When the farewells were said.' She looked at the offices. `This way. where do I collect that ticket?' Before Chloe could speak. hadn't I?' he said in his drawling way. She devoutly hoped he would behave himself in front of Chloe. Sonia spoke hastily. thank you. Now. not failing to note the impudent look he gave her. `Thank you.over her arm.
apparently. Another last-minute passenger. he might even be the captain. The tears pricked at the back of her eyelids as once again the dark handsome face of Rory appeared before her mind's eye. and here and there pink ones. Her eyes went past the harbour to the velvety green hills behind it. five minutes after they should have left. she mused. she thought as she saw the blue-uniformed man leave the car and join the boat. She turned her gaze back to the quayside. Did they have such a thing as a captain on a ferry? She glanced at her watch and noted with a small start that it was eight twenty-five. the gangplank remained down with no sign of activity around it. Her amused thoughts ran on. White spots nestled in the greenery. ice within her? Her lips twisted wryly. she suddenly felt lost and miserable. With a uniform like that.Now as she stood on deck. Yes. they weren't exactly helping to brighten her outlook. Was it a threat—or was it a promise? She sighed and pushed these thoughts away. she mused. Perhaps it was as well he had caught it. 127 . Had he meant what he had said? Or was it fury that had prompted that threat of melting the. and as she watched she saw a car draw up swiftly beside the ferry as the gangplank was about to be lifted. which she knew were houses. she would remember this island. So they were not leaving on time for this trip.
Was this normal procedure? she wondered. Never known them search before. 'Are they searching ?' `See for yourself. do you ?' she broke into a hearty chuckle. remembering the way he displayed them the night before. 'Why are we being searched ?' she demanded.' They watched another passenger disappear into a cabin. Serve him right.' grumbled the woman.' she replied. she thought. his cap beside him. Sonia's brows raised.' Sonia looked about her. Sonia thought it was funny too. 'you don't think his lordship's crown jewels have been pinched. 'I've no idea. Do dressmaking. .A voice came over the loudspeaker. When she entered the small cabin. It was not a long trip and as such did not necessitate the storing away of baggage. 'Here.It was an impressive cap. she gathered it was not. She was the last to be searched.' nudged the woman. the man she had seen join the boat sat at a table. A middle-aged woman guarding a holdall looked at Sonia. she thought as she 12 8 . and grinned. 'I've done this trip for twenty years. She followed them to C deck and stood around with the others clutching their bits and pieces of luggage. 'Have a lot of customers on the island.' she confided briskly. Hearing the queries and grumbles of other passengers. `Will all passengers please assemble on C deck.
walked towards him. and wondered idly what he was. police or Customs.. When he -had finished. When that had been searched. Sonia watched him tick it off on the list. His grey close-cropped hair and his quiet air of authority told Sonia he was police and probably high ranking at that. He looked up at her and smiled pleasantly. `Name..' he said. 'A quantity of jewellery was stolen last night and the owner not unnaturally wishes to retrieve it. miss. 'I presume you have gathered that all passengers are being searched. he was extremely tanned. he almost apologetically held out his hand for her handbag. 'Help yourself. with your permission?' He held out his hand towards her case. She watched the man's quick deft fingers search her case. All transport leaving the island will undergo the same scrutiny. Giving her name. Er.' she said airily. He was studying a list of passengers. please. trying to keep the amusement out of her voice. as were all the natives. he glanced at the coat she held over I 29 .' he requested in a deep voice. So Rory had been burgled ! She was absolutely sure it was him. Sonia noted his bright blue eyes. He hardly disturbed the contents. and she gave it with the same carefree attitude. He looked up at her suddenly. Sonia handed it over to him.
However. knew she would have to do just that. 'I've no idea who. Would you mind accompanying me to the station. Sonia. and pick up the rest of the contents. miss. The rays of the sun caught the eagle pendant and it flashed with a myriad lights.' she gasped. it was much too modern for his taste. she watched the man put it down reverently. and stared back at the jewels as if hoping they would disappear as mysteriously as they had arrived.' It wasn't a question.' he said sadly. but an order. or when. Her bemused mind 130 . She found her voice. Suddenly her complete confidence was somewhat shaken when she saw him produce a brown and orange striped cravat from the pocket. 'Someone must have put them there. encrusted with pearls. She had never seen it before. She stared at it. she couldn't see George wearing it. and a brooch with a blood red ruby in the shape of a heart. Numbly. 'I've heard it all before. There was a ruby ring. She handed him that too. In a dazed state she found herself accompanying the man off the boat. Sonia was in no mood to admire its beauty. 'I don't—' She swallowed. with a sinking heart.' The officer turned cynical eyes on her.her arm. 'They never do know how they got there. Her eyes widened to their full capacity as she watched the policeman glance at her swiftly before unfolding it and exposing its contents.
entry would have been easy. Barbara had known she was leaving. she must also have known that Rory had tried to persuade her to stay and she had refused. She wouldn't jeopardise her chances by stealing the jewels. Who. and as it was an unheard-of thing to lock up at night. would do this to her? She went over the guests at the dinner party. he was the last one to do such a despicable thing. goaded her into it? She mutely shook her head. He still hoped to change Rory's mind over selling part of his collection. How they had known it was her coat. since her arrival. was that the way of it? Had the loss of the contract. he had not even been present at the showing of the treasures. as long as one of them was accused. for they were the only ones who had had the opportunity of removing the gems. then just as quickly dismissed him. Her coat had hung in George's hall. she didn't know. It could have been Chloe's—but perhaps it didn't matter. Barbara? Would she do it for sheer spite? There would be no problem in planting the jewels on her. She just couldn't see it. 131 . She had everything to play for. Besides.tried to seek an explanation for the predicament she was in. Mr Dilson was more or less in the same category. plus the loss of what she considered her property. Rory. In her mind's eye Sonia saw Kirk carrying her coat. for godness' sake.
didn't he? All he need do was explain there had been a mistake and he would deal with it. and they looked very comfortable. she thought of her remarks at that disastrous luncheon about the island's gaol and fervently wished she had held her tongue. then she pulled herself together. She could even see how he would handle it. She remembered Rory's words at the luncheon. As she followed the man inside. She wondered which she would be 132 . She didn't feel so sick now. The beds had gay striped coverlets on and were spotless. She could see two cells only. weren't there? They wouldn't let anything happen to her. This policeman worked for him. knowing quite another. Rory was certainly getting back at her with a vengeance ! Once inside. it was Rory! He had failed to prevent her from leaving the island. Not knowing was one thing. hadn't he? No wonder he was so confident they would meet again. What nonsense ! There were George and Chloe. But someone was ! But of course. Would she be considered as a saucy young maiden? Was she going to disappear for what had he said—the master's amusement? Her heart jerked. Her lips tightened. Sonia was taken to the island's small police station.Suddenly her eyes widened. He would cover the whole thing up. she was surprised at the airiness and modern fittings.
and automatically straightened her back. sir. and glowed with countless polishings. As she completed her inspection. She looked at the floor.' The ping of the receiver being replaced confirmed her deductions. and made out a definite. right you are. sir. It was a wooden one. The walls were a spotless white. the walls were completely bare. then. she heard the deep voice of the policeman in the next room. Net curtains hung at the one and only window. She presumed he was on the telephone.assigned. she listened. He locked the door from the outside. A few seconds later the key turned in the door and Sonia found herself staring up at Rory. She stared around the room. This. 'Yes. was the interview room. 133 . and was slightly disappointed when she was led to a small room to the left. She clenched her teeth. She was left there with a curt 'Excuse me' from the policeman. It was about ten minutes later that she caught the sound of voices. Her hands were clenched in her lap. A fan whirled monotonously above her. Rory Maragal would shortly be putting in an appearance. Apart from a calendar advertising a hotel in Hamilton. She sat down wearily on a chair opposite a desk. She had no doubts as to whom the man had been speaking to. and this action brought Sonia back sharply to the seriousness of the situation.
' Rory broke in smoothly. The officer started. of all.' 134 .' The officer coughed delicately. as if Sonia had any intention of doing otherwise. but his voice was mild when he spoke. 'Except these two. He separated the pendant from the ring and brooch. `Given in appreciation. Harvey. Sonia was jerked out of her bemused state. The policeman produced the cravat and laid the contents out on the desk..' he said magnanimously. When she found her voice.' he said conversationally. Sonia watched Rory's lips thin as he looked at the pieces. she only got a far as. 'Are they all here. The policeman barked out.' he said. `I'm afraid it's turned out a rather delicate matter. Her lovely eyes opened wide and she stared incredulously at Rory. 'Miss Wells and I are acquainted. Rory's smile was not pleasant.`Good morning. Miss Wells. 'You may sit. sir?' he asked. shall we?' he said softly. 'You mean those are not your property?' he asked unbelievingly.' He looked at Sonia. Harvey. 'I . Sonia looked on as an interested bystander. He glanced worriedly at Rory. `I don't think that's necessary. 'Stand up ! ' Sonia stared at him. as you might say.' said Rory. Sonia's eyes flashed. 'Well. `Let's say they were.
'Very well. I shall deal with this myself. People didn't just disappear. You can drop the charges. In the car. do you. then said. 'I don't think you're in a position to make any demands. She was a little puzzled by his behaviour.' Rory pocketed the jewellery and picked up Sonia's case.' she answered cuttingly. He glanced at her coldly.' Seeing the officer hesitate. Was he now going to drag her off to his lair? Well. I'm sure Miss Wells had no criminal intent.' The officer saluted. she sat as far away from Rory as possible. He had not said a word. he added gently. 'I want to see my brother. Now they were coming to it ! `I suppose it would be naive of me to ask what kind of a thank-you you have in mind. 135 . It was just as she had thought. The way news travelled on the island. Sonia glared at him. `In a way I can only blame myself. 'I suppose you will eventually thank me for my intervention on your behalf. Sonia gasped.think the young lady rather over-anticipated the limit of my generosity.' she said haughtily. she sat up.' harshly. Chloe and George would hear about it by this evening. and looked exceedingly grim. Miss Wells?' He was silent for a second or so. sir. 'Shall we go ?' he said blandly. As they swept past the turning to George's house. he wouldn't get away with it.
aren't you rather overrating your charms?' he said bitingly. but I do like to wake up in the morning with the surety of my valuables still being intact. And understand this. She hadn't been mistaken about his intentions.' she demanded. 'Yesterday was yesterday. Rory sat and looked at her. then. Miss Wells. particularly those who trade on others' trust.He braked suddenly. If you were my mistress? He wasn't sparing her in any other way. then started the engine up.' Sonia sat shocked. then glanced quickly at her. D ilson. If you are George's sister. then I feel infinitely sorry for him. 'How. I may be odd. As for the payment you seem to think I want. 'Let's get one thing clear. She swallowed. it's for his sake and Chloe's that I'm not charging you. 'did I steal them? I was in full view of everyone last night. and she had to grasp her seat hard to prevent herself being thrown against the windscreen. He really believed she had taken the jewellery. He wasn't acting. You saw us to the car. Miss Wells.' he said harshly. Have you stopped to work that out ?' He shrugged casually as if it was of no importance. 'He 136 . She was also confused. his eyes slits of ice. trying desperately to stop herself from screaming her innocence at him. 'I don't like thieves. shall we ?' he said softly. adding softly. Why hadn't he gone the whole way and baldly said.
was meeting you in Nassau. but said nothing. Her cheeks were flushed and to her horror she felt the tears prick. 'But it's ridiculous ! Kirk wouldn't take them any more than I would. After kissing you yesterday I realised you were nothing but a lovely china doll. But not that interested. Miss Wells. here's one wolf you can cross off your list. Sonia went white. 'apart from the pendant you could have done very well for yourself. When he spoke. Well.' Sonia stared straight ahead. You have absolutely no proof. Someone put those things in my coat pocket. 137 . You know.' he mused. No. It would account for your pure panic when you came up against someone you couldn't handle.' he went on smoothly. How many poor devils have you had on a string?' He accelerated. I prefer real women. does he? Just a useful invention to keep the wolves at bay. you appear to be labouring under a delusion. `I've placed you now. yes. What's more. I did not plant that jewellery on you. 'I thought it was you ' His swift glance of surprise was not lost on her. 'And this fiancé of yours. aren't you ? Terrified of getting involved.' He negotiated a bend in the road. He doesn't exist either. wasn't he ?' Sonia gasped. I'm not denying it. `You're one big fake. I was interested. his voice was silky. 'As I've already pointed out.' she went on recklessly.
He had been right too about her being terrified of him. She swallowed. What now? Was he going to let her go back to George and Chloe? He indicated that she should precede him up the steps to the house. but it must be more galling in your case. staring wearily at him. of course.' Her green eyes glittered back at him. aren't you?' He waited until she passed him. She thought of Arnold. she was still in a mess. 'Rest easy. do you? No one does. Rory motioned that she should alight.' he drawled. 'You don't like being found out. unthinkingly. She had hurt men—unknowingly. She would not let Rory see he had upset her. then led her into the vast hall. but she had hurt them.He had spoken the truth and it had hurt. their message clear. She had never fallen in love as other girls had. In a way it was comforting that she would not be subjected to further amorous advances from him. He looked back at her. Just who had planted the wretched jewellery on her? The car -drew up outside Soya Sands. and blinked the tears back. standing uncertainly in the drive. Only guests and acquaintances I can trust stay under this roof. and the reason for her panic. He then opened the door 138 . He laughed. as an unwelcome thought entered her head. For a moment she hesitated. and she did so. you're so used to adoration. 'You're not residing here. On the other hand.
of a room just off the hall and with a curt nod indicated that she should enter. staring in dislike at the rich tapestry of the chairs and curtains. 'I want to see George.' she declared through clenched teeth. Then he shut her in. Sonia still stood in the same position. You've been caught redhanded.' he answered. as the saying goes. then sat down.' she said quietly. she didn't like the way he looked at her one bit.' he said softly.' he said authoritatively. You might as well accept the fact and thank your lucky stars I didn't send you over to the mainland to be dealt with. 'and stop acting the outraged innocent.' he said harshly. Sonia stood in the middle of the room.' would have preferred that. 'Women 139 . `Don't try me too far. He flicked a quick glance at her. and she felt a touch of panic. 'First I require a few facts from you. He walked over to a desk. `Sit down. 'All in good time. About fifteen minutes later Rory came back. pulled out a drawer and placed a sheet of paper on the desk. locking the door before he left. She ignored this order. she wouldn't even sit on one of his chairs.' He glanced irritably at her still standing in front of him. She so disliked the place and its owner. 'You may sit down. His eyes narrowed as he looked her over.
' Sonia was past moving—or indeed anything. 'and you'll find out I meant what I said about whipping.' `My name is Sonia Wells. He got up and jerked her into a chair opposite the desk. `I require your age and occupation. If the information surprised him. no emotion whatsoever.' she repeated in a voice equally devoid of emotion. studying for a physics degree. 'I would prefer you to look at me when you answer. `Your name is Sonia Wells?' he asked flatly. she had no way of knowing. As soon as she had spoken. She gave up the fight. Sonia was even past caring about this.' then harshly. in a voice devoid of any emotion. She was on a losing hand anyway. her gaze returned to the study of the carpet. She looked dully at him 140 . Now.have been whipped for less than what you've done. or indeed if he believed a word of it.' he said. 'Just say yes or no. Her eyes dwelt on the rich carpet at her feet. are you going to sit down. George would help her. or caring. and that she was at university. She spoke as if she were attending an examination board. 'Just move. or do I have to slap you into a chair?' Still she stood there defiantly staring at him. half hiding it from his gaze. She gave her age.' he said grimly. her hair fell in soft folds around her face.
for the judging and condemning of one Sonia Wells. `You are charged with. He wore a dark suit with a light blue silk shirt and navy and blue striped tie—correctly dressed. He was silent for a second or so afterwards and Sonia. and glancing suddenly up at her asked. you mean?' she said scathingly.. She would 14 1 .. 'Believe me. it's so neat and tidy this way.' he said between his teeth. `I don't blame you for not attempting to clear my name. George Denby?' `I am visiting my brother.' He wrote this down. it's a good thing there happens to be a desk between us. Well. 'Enquiries will go on until your guilt or innocence is ascertained. glanced up to find him watching her steadily. she thought bitterly.' she repeated after him. isn't it?' He looked as if he could murder her.filling in the answers. Miss Wells. 'Or would you like to change your plea to guilty and save my office staff a lot of wasted time?' Sonia's look was eloquent. I suppose. in spite of the evidence of our eyes.' Sonia felt relief flow through her. 'In trying to prove my innocence. Accused pleads not guilty. In the meantime you will be kept under surveillance. wondering what the hold-up was. `And you are here on a visit to your brother. obviously waiting for her to look at him. we can skip the details.
`I shall send you to Mainsprings. but she refused to rise.' he snapped. He got to his feet again. you might very well receive the emerald eagle.' he went on unperturbedly. Sonia stared at him. `Work will be found for you.' He was baiting her. `When am I going to see George ?' `When I say so. perhaps in a day or so. she got up and haughtily accompanied him back to the car. didn't you. 'If you behave yourself at Mainsprings.' he said.' he said coldly.' Sonia could have spat at him. 'Should your innocence be proved. 'It's a holiday camp the other side of the island. It showed her conclusively he was absolutely positive she was guilty.' He leaned forward and she did not like his smile. 'You did say holiday camp. 14 2 . He returned her look coolly.go back to George and Chloe. Instead.' Her green eyes widened in disbelief. This time he would throttle her ! But he took a deep breath and sat down again. not a concentration camp ?' He got up quickly and Sonia's hands clenched.. `you will receive full compensation. 'Also. `Where?' she asked. 'Are you ready ?' he enquired coldly.
On the tiered terraces were ornate tables and chairs. Rory Maragal would have no secondclass affairs on his property. she thought sourly. The journey took about half an hour. and wondered if there were 143 . It was a de luxe affair. the splashes of glorious colours from the island's blossoms. gay striped umbrellas and lilos scattered around it.CHAPTER EIGHT THE island. Before they turned the final bend that appeared to lead them straight to the main buildings. Sonia glimpsed a beach below them. the more expansive the view. Passing terraced slopes to the main buildings. She might have known it would be. Her first sight of the holiday camp took her by surprise. and as always. covered by the same bright umbrellas as at the pool. was larger than she had thought. The higher they got. she noted a plush swimming pool. Waitresses could be seen weaving in and out of the occupied tables. more in the nature of an exclusive hotel than a holiday camp. most of them occupied by the sun-worshippers. Forests of trees were seen here and there. The car passed on. she realised.
She wondered if this was where Rory got all his staff. short tubby man. `Well. wondering if he knew what she was there for. he left her with a curt. 'Find out what she can do. Gerald.' This time he did not lock the door. he slammed out of the room leaving Sonia staring at the closed door. `This is Miss Wells. and very nearly forgot herself to ask the silent man beside her if this was so. can you keep an eye on the kids in the 1 44 . He was back a short while later accompanied by a middle-aged.more caves there. Once in the office. and only caught herself up in time. If she proves unco-operative let me know. Sonia knew she had only to hold back and the light hold would become a firm grip. Did all who displeased his lordship land up slaving away here? He had mentioned silver mines once.' replied Sonia.' With that abrupt introduction. he really meant Mainsprings. Any past experience?' asked the manager cheerfully.' he said. He strode through to the manager's office. keeping a light hand on her arm. His next words proved he did. `None. He led her to the reception office. ` Wait here until someone collects you. amidst many respectful salutes from staff.
Any questions?' Sonia blinked.' he said slowly.' he said. She wore a green uniform 145 . When you're off duty. She was not brilliant. and a small elderly lady entered the room. He stared at her fixedly. `When can I have a visitor?' she asked. then remembered George and Chloe. It really was a concentration camp ! But what a plush one ! She slowly shook her head. there's a recreation room for your use. and mealtimes must be strictly adhered to. She nodded. Her grey curly fringe and tightly permed hair was enclosed under a net. but knew enough to be able to keep children out of trouble. A few minutes later there was a tap at the door. She did swim.' Sonia thought about it. doesn't matter if you can't. `We'll have to wait until Mr Maragal says so. of course. 'No mixing with the guests apart from the call of duty. We're a bit short in the sports section at the present time. in case someone gets into difficulty. She looked like someone's maiden aunt. Visitors are allowed once a week for half an hour. understand? Lights out at eleven. You're to stay within the camp. As long as there's someone there to give the alarm.swimming pool? It would be useful if you could swim. 'There are a few rules we shall expect you to abide by. then pressed a bell at the side of the door.
' she said. Maisie stopped dead in her tracks and stared at her. there has to be someone honest running the show.' Maisie's small black eyes darted from the manager to Sonia. 'Yes. There was a dawning respect in her eyes. sir. When they were out of earshot.' Sonia didn't see any reason for beating about the bush. `Maisie. the only relief being in the white piping at the peter pan collar and cuffs. 'Course. `All except Mr Parks.' she said. Maisie grinned back. take Miss Wells to—' he glanced towards a house map on the wall of the office. 'Are you on parole too?' she queried. She's assigned to the children's pool supervision. did you?' she pleaded. 'Oh. Show her the ropes. ducks?' she asked.' asked Sonia curiously. then looked at Sonia.' She shrugged expressively.' She sighed. doesn't there?' `What. 'Now you. 'Can't seem to keep my hands off those lovely things in shops. `You didn't. 146 .' and held the door open for Sonia to follow her.' she answered airily. She said. Sonia couldn't help grinning. 'We all are.with long sleeves. and he's the manager. 'What are you in for. `number twenty-five. 'are you in for?' Another toothsome grin from Maisie appeared. she turned to Sonia. I tried to pinch the Crown Jewels. 'Shoplifting.
I've been here seven years. all my friends are here. then amended her earlier remark. He's spent more time here than anywhere else on the island. When it was no go. I'm taking no chances. The pay's good. He was lucky really not to get sent over to the mainland. 'Even Joshua didn't reach those heights. me included. 'most of them come on parole.' she said. Same with most of us. and there's the tips from the 147 . but hoped it was a good omen. for instance. Maisie's mouth fell open. 'Are they all on parole ?' she asked. but he explains how it was to Mr Maragal and gets sent back here. When his time was up. 'Got caught at the ferry. Take Joshua.' Sonia wasn't too sure what that meant. She saw many green uniforms around as they made their way to the back quarters of the building. if you see what I mean. I know I'll fall back into the old ways again. 'Well. he was lost and begged to come back again. I daren't risk leaving.' she said. he goes and burgles someone. Well. and we more or less eat the same as the guests. opening a screen door and holding it open for Sonia.Sonia nodded. Maisie nodded. Mr Maragal warned me if I get caught again I get sent over to the mainland.' she said reverently. then stay. `Just wait till I pass the word around ! You'll be well looked after.
seemed to me they 148 . but didn't get away with it. `None of us would touch anything of theirs. She wished she had the same faith in Rory Maragal. was amply furnished.' Maisie remarked. One chap tried it on. 'I know what you mean. I'd never seen supermarkets before. that's what. It would let Mr Maragal down. But then he had a score to settle with her. 'You've got some nice things. I came here with a family from New Zealand. I'll bet. No. How come you took to crime?' Sonia's lips twisted wryly. 'It just sort of happened.' Sonia stared at her. Maisie replied. He always finds out the truth. 'But aren't they worried that the guests' valuables will disappear?' she asked.' Sonia's lips straightened.' she said. if you play fair with Mr Maragal. She unpacked her case with Maisie an interested onlooker. He hadn't exactly played fair with her. It's the mainland for sure then. had a good education. It don't pay to cross him. `Speak well too. Couldn't have asked for a better job.generous ones. and what do I do? Let 'em down. he plays fair with you. 'And don't you be tempted.' and looked at Sonia. He got three years in the mainland gaol. Vigorously shaking her head. hadn't he? Her room was bright and though not luxurious. Sonia. Maisie sighed.
'Mind you. Give a dog a bad name and all that. I mean. No. They'd say they'd misplaced things. you know. 'Watch out for those camp Romeos. so I'd have been out of a job. some of them anyway. she brightened up. including the staff. 'Some of them think they've bought the place for a fortnight. them nice things. If you get any trouble report them to Mr Parks. Maisie told her they would now go and fit her out with a uniform. Scent and soaps.' After a moment's thought. he'll sort them out. and they have to be. 'Of course not ! You know what people are. they were my downfall.' smiled Sonia. 'Do they know why we're here?' she asked.' she 149 . I've never seen anyone before with green eyes. Some folk. and sue the management.' Maisie advised. wealthy as they are. this place is exclusive.' she said.' When Sonia had finished unpacking.' Sonia looked at Maisie. 'with those green eyes of yours. I mean?' Looking scandalised. A uniform was found near enough her size as to look presentable. Can you see in the dark ?' she asked curiously. they'd be bound to try it on—well. I'm better off here now. My employer died. might not have been so lucky with the next one. 'The guests. Maisie said.were just asking to be picked up. `I can't say I've ever thought to put it to the test. 'It will suit you.
with bright blond hair. 15 0 . a thin brunette. and when all were seated. polished floors. Sonia found herself undergoing discreet scrutiny by other members of staff. Arriving at the food counter. Maisie chose a table in the centre of the room. the girl. They joined a queue at the self-service counter. she was surprised at the choice of dishes available. A chiming bell announced lunch. she noticed. she introduced Sonia. Sonia thought. without added insults being given by dissatisfied customers. and she could only see two reasonably young offenders. although she knew there could only be a small proportion of the actual staff present. She looked at the younger ones. they more or less had the same as the guests. As Maisie had said. It was bad enough being accused of something you hadn't done. and everything sparklingly clean. The man was tall and well muscled.added bitterly. When the selection had been made. Sonia surmised. They were.' Sonia felt relief. Anything less like prison quarters would be hard to imagine. older than herself. 'get a kick out of that sort of thing. individual tables. mostly middle-aged. probably around the thirty mark. as she glanced round the spacious room—bright striped curtaining and gay checked tablecloths. and Maisie led Sonia to the staff dining-room.
`She's working, at the pool, children's section.' She looked directly at the large blond man. `Atlas, you'll watch out for her, will you?' He grinned, 'Sure will, Maisie.' Maisie turned to Sonia. 'Atlas will put you right. He's in the gym section, but he also keeps an eye on outdoor sports.' It soon became obvious that Maisie was the organiser. At five foot nothing in her stockinged feet, she ruled the roost. Lunch over, Sonia was taken on a guided tour of the camp. As she walked beside Maisie, listening to her directions as to where the recreation room was, the kitchens, and stores section, even a hairdressers, and fancy goods departments, she marvelled at the layout. It was a world within a world, like being on board a large liner at sea. She was too interested to worry about her position; she'd think about that later. As they passed various staff, Maisie would murmur, 'Pickpocket,' or 'Shoplifter like me.' Atlas, Sonia learned, was a con man, the slim, tired-looking brunette his accomplice. 'They won't stay,' said Maisie. 'It's a pity really. We shall miss Atlas when their time is up. They'll head for the mainland and start up again somewhere else. Now they're known they'll have to get right out of the area.' `Doesn't anyone get sent over to the mainland?' Sonia queried curiously.
Maisie looked surprised. 'Oh yes,' she answered. 'Hardened criminals, of course. Atlas now, he'd have gone only for the fact he saved a child's life just before he was picked up. He could have got away, but he spotted this kid out of his depth and in trouble. Maureen—well, she's just a bit weak, crazy over him of course, just follows where he leads her. They're not really bad. A spell in real gaol will cure the pair of them.' She gave Sonia a considering look. `You were lucky you weren't sent over.' Sonia had already begun to realise this fact. `Perhaps because I was a first offender,' she said lightly, then grimaced and met Maisie's eyes. 'I didn't do it, you know,' she said quietly. `Someone planted them on me.' Maisie was not wholly convinced. 'Never mind,' she said kindly. 'How long did he give you?' Sonia sighed. 'I don't know, he didn't say.' Patting her on the arm, Maisie murmured consolingly, 'Well, it's not so bad, is it?' Sighing again, Sonia thought it could have been worse, it was true. Arriving back at the staff quarters, they found a message to the effect that Sonia was to report to the manager's office immediately. Maisie frowned. 'Perhaps you've got vistors,' she said. As she hurried over to reception, Sonia fervently hoped she was right. Nice as the place
was, she had no wish to stay. She tried not to get too hopeful. If George had managed to get through to her, there were still a lot of unaccountable happenings to be accounted for. She remembered the contract and stopped dead in her tracks. Would he now lose it? Remembering Rory Maragal's grim expression, Sonia thought he probably would, particularly when the relationship was established. She now walked more slowly, less keen than she had been for the meeting. When she entered the small room off the manager's office, Chloe all but fell on her neck. `George is seeing Rory,' she said as she hugged Sonia, then she pointed to a heap of parcels. Sonia stared, and watched Chloe unwrap a pair of silk sheets plus pillow slip, soaps, and various items she referred to as 'little comforts'. In spite of her fascination, Sonia's heart sank. She was not apparently being released, hence Chloe's thoughtful contributions. When the gifts had been put aside, Chloe looked at her. 'I haven't quite got over it yet,' she said bewilderedly. 'Rory didn't tell us much, just that the eagle had been found in your luggage and you were being held until they got to the bottom of it. Poor George was astounded.' Sonia came out of her depressed state. 'If he was astounded, how do you think I felt ?' she retorted indignantly. 'If I hadn't actually seen 153
'But it won't wash. will they?' Chloe looked surprised. 'Well. 'She didn't like playing second fiddle to you one bit.' said Chloe slowly. she wasn't likely to arrange for my continued presence here. but that's as far as I get.' she said. 'for the fact that Rory is no longer interested in you. 'it hasn't changed that. 'I suppose they'll get it now. 'I thought it was Rory at first. 'there's something else we forgot ! That contract ! The Dilsons lost out to George. 'I've gone over it time and time again. as he did me when I accused him outright. 'Oh no.' said Sonia. 'I wondered about Barbara.' she mused. she had a clear field. I know you didn't.' She looked at Sonia.' Sonia smiled wryly.' she added triumphantly. He's a proud man. didn't they?' Sonia looked depressed. I think Rory said some15 4 . He's not likely to forgive or forget someone who stole the family's most treasured possession. And. someone did.' Chloe nodded gloomily. A ruse on his part to keep you here. 'I see he soon helped you to dispel that idea.' `So did I. a rueful expression in her eyes. I'd have accused him of planting it ! ' She sighed.' `Except. Chloe?' Chloe threw up her hands.the police officer produce it out of my coat pocket. Any ideas.
it took the wind out of his sails. 'Still. `Yes. Sonia said softly. dear—Kirk. for heaven's sake? Me?' Sonia smiled at Chloe's horrified expression. he did have the opportunity.' She was silent for a while. 'I can't see him stealing from his father's business associates. ` Well. 'Well.' Chloe gasped. Chloe was still thinking.thing about George not being responsible for your actions. 'Kirk's been in trouble before. then.' `That was big of him. but as I've said. `Surely he wouldn't have been such a fool.' She .' Chloe tried to brighten up. I thought it was. 155 .' `Kirk?' Chloe looked thoughtful. I'm not seeing things too clearly right now. 'Who. Patting her on the hand. `No. 'No. George will sort it out.' She frowned.' said Chloe mildly. I must say ! ' commented Sonia with flashing eyes. That would really cook his golden goose. as a matter of fact. dear.shook her head. 'It doesn't surprise you?' she asked. R ory's labouring under the impression that I had an accomplice. Sonia watched her closely. He'd just about reached the end of the line with his father.' muttered Sonia glumly.' `I hope he doesn't sink on me. One more slip and he was on his own. He hasn't said much.' she said abruptly. I'm sorry.
' she muttered. you know that case I left for you and George to bring on to me in Nassau? Well. he stamped in. 'You don't think I took the wretched things. Oh. it was highly unlikely I would search the pockets before taking it with me.' wailed Chloe. Could you bring them in to me? I might as well do some studying. Sonia.' he said crossly. dear ?' Sonia was saved the necessity of answering by the arrival of George.' she said. I just might get out in time to collect my diploma personally in two years' time!' `Oh dear. do you? And that coat was in full view of anyone opening the front door.' Sonia reminded her.didn't he?' `So did a dozen others. I've my interims to take this year. 'Well. do I. that leaves yours truly. I've got some textbooks in it. that reminds me. `You don't lock up at night. 'I don't seem to be much help. Sonia got up hastily and started to clear the wrappings from Chloe's parcels. I've a feeling I'm here for a long spell. He didn't walk in. `If this is some kind of a joke. 'Keep the food parcels coming.' Chloe sighed heavily. 'Back to square one. do you?' she exclaimed 156 . dear. I don't know whether they'll accept postal entries. Sonia looked at him in astonishment. it's gone far enough.
' began Sonia.Chloe began. Good gracious. Tor once and for all. I did not steal those jewels. as if I didn't know that! I do know you're liable to remove things if someone's annoyed you.' `George !' burst out Chloe. `I was only .' he said in a matter-of-fact voice. He looked from Chloe to Sonia. 'Just tell Rory the truth. then her eyes started to spark. 'Thank you for your confidence in me.' demanded George. 'when a whole set of my golf clubs went missing.. 'I was only fourteen then!' `And the time. I might add.' `Who. He annoyed you.' went on George implacably. 'Really. `Nevertheless. full. Sonia exclaimed. `when my best bowler hat was found on the manure dump. George ! ' but was forestalled by his holding up an imperative hand. didn't he? What were you going to do? Post them back to him after giving him a fright? Sonia stared at him.' continued George.' Chloe stood grinning in the background.' she said coldly. 'the pattern was the same. He gave Sonia an exasperated look. wasn't it? I refused to let you 15 7 .' Blinking in astonishment.. of unspeakable contents. 'I remember a time. 'said anything about stealing? Of course you wouldn't steal anything. unable to keep silent any longer.
I'll never speak to you again ! He'll never believe I'm innocent if you do. 'I don't want to leave you here to rot. 'I keep telling you so.' He marched to the door. Sonia clenched her teeth. 'Did you really think they were Scouts. Sonia. 'See. 'So.' he went on.go camping in the Hebrides with the Scouts. as if the whole explanation was within his grasp. of course.' he ended grandly. 158 .' amended Sonia. `Don't you dare!' ground out Sonia.' Chloe and Sonia looked at each other. 'we must find out who did. `just own up. I'll soon get you out of here.' He was somewhat taken back by this outburst. You'll get a lecture. Chloe started and looked woefully at Sonia. 'You didn't take them?' he said in half-surprise. then turned and looked at her as he reached it.' said Chloe.' she said crossly. and stared at her. 'George will get to the bottom of it.' she said miserably. I'm going to have another word with Rory. Rory will understand. George? No wonder you refused to let me go !' George was not amused. unable to suppress a grin.' `Guides. but I shall explain things to him. `Don't worry. in that case.' said George stoutly. 'If you say one word about the golf clubs or the bowler hat. `Well.' A loud tap on the door indicated that visiting time was over.
' ` Well. 'I don't know what's got into Rory. `Afraid you'll have to stay here for a while. and she most certainly didn't see Rory Maragal as Dr Watson.' he said glumly.' He patted her on the back.know what. neither of us will rest until the truth's unearthed. 'I don't . She just couldn't see George as a sleuth. 'I'm not exactly rotting. She felt extremely depressed. I don't feel so bad. Sonia. Now that I know someone is doing something about it. 'Don't worry. In fact I'm quite enjoying myself—but don't tell Rory Maragal that or I shall get pushed over to the mainland. 159 .' George popped back after Chloe had left.Sonia grinned. but we'll think of something.' Chloe assured her. dear.' Sonia stood looking at the closed door. absolutely insists on keeping you here. you can be certain George and I will do something. you're in good hands.
She was on duty each day. The depth of the pool was about three feet. The hours sounded very lenient. Their ages ranged from two to five years. Quite a few mothers were relieved to see her. making his rounds. She was extremely relieved when Mr Parks.' The following morning Maisie found her a sedate one-piece. in the same green as the uniforms. and she suspected. 'It might be as well if you wore a swimsuit. Miss Wells. from ten to twelve-thirty. remarked. but with the name 'Mainsprings' sewn like a badge in the front of the costume. but one still had to keep a watchful eye on the more adventurous children. but Sonia found there were a few more duties lined up for her. and handed over their offspring to her care. and from two till four each afternoon.CHAPTER NINE THAT same afternoon she began her duties. Help was always required 160 . and there wasn't a great deal she could do about it. keeping an eye on her. the time when teas were served. After about an hour Sonia's dress was soaked. It didn't take long for Sonia to get organised. The children's pool was alongside the adults' main pool.
and immediately went down to the far end of the pool away from his searching eyes. Brian?' she asked as she caught the shivering child to her. The recreation room was amply provided with leisure pursuits—table tennis. She had been given to understand that he rarely visited the camp. or the peparation of salads and vegetables. It was an ideal time for studying. Mr Parks was in full control and reports were phoned through at regular intervals to Soya Sands. what are you doing? Are you all right.in the vast kitchens. On her third day she caught sight of Rory's tall form in the distance. Sonia thought she saw him look her way. From seven p. Why then was he there now? Sonia bit her lip. wireless. snooker for the men. glaring at his brother. and lunging at him. thanking her lucky stars she had come to in time. He had a group of elderly men around him. such as washing up. `My wings !' gasped the still breathless Brian.m. 161 . etc. There were plenty of books to read.. `He's got my wings ! ' John declared indignantly. and Sonia hoped Chloe would be able to get her books to her within a day or so. had he come to gloat over her enforced labour? She glanced back at the pool and was just in time to stop a child attempting to drown his baby brother. `John! For goodness' sake. her time was her own.
won't you. and disappeared. which turned out to be an unfortunate way of putting it. She scooped one up under each 162 . She looked appealingly at John. 'You all right. Now who's going to have a brand new float?' she said. as both boys claimed it. they're over there.' The boys threw themselves at each other.Sonia separated them. Brian helped enormously by taking off the floats and throwing them at John. `See. 'Don't want your old wings.' shouted John. She could not leave the pool unattended at that precise moment. 'I want the new ones. Sonia looked at the two boys. 'How can you tell they're yours?' she asked John. John?' John's lips set stubbornly. Sonia took the brunt of the attack by standing between them.' And indeed they were—what was left of them. She looked at Brian's rubber floats. 'You'll want your own back.' he said belligerently. will you?' she shouted. not with John intent on claiming his wings and Brian just as intent on keeping them. be a dear and fetch me another pair of floats. He waved acknowledgement. Sonia was now in a quandary. "Cos he stuck a pin in his. She saw the stalwart figure of Atlas on the nearside terrace. you can have them. Sonia?' he called. `Atlas.
found herself meeting the cynical eyes of Rory Maragal. `How did you guess?' He grinned sheepishly. He would have to see that. 'Atlas. wouldn't he? He couldn't be around when things were going smoothly ! To her untold relief. Who else but George and Chloe would have 1 63 . She was sent for during the afternoon. legs and arms flailing in space. I love you!' she declared fervently. She stared at him. Two days later.' Putting the two boys down. 'I see you're coping nicely. Atlas appeared.' he said curtly. He carried not one but two floats. then made a rapid recovery. Sonia blinked. then moved away. Chloe's 'Do something'.' Sonia stiffened. The smooth voice of Rory Maragal floated down to her from the upper terrace. He told her to be seated. but would not demean herself to glance up towards the voice. landed with a vengeance on Sonia's unsuspecting head.' he confessed. and sent up a silent prayer for Atlas to put in an appearance soon.arm. Rory was still there. she glanced up to where the voice had come from. then threw the news at her. 'I didn't. and arriving in the manager's office. `Your fiancé's arrived. He gave her a mocking salute. `Mr Maragal thought two would be required. Miss Wells.
go into his qualifications later. I shall.' he threatened.' Sonia barely heard him. 164 .' She raised what she hoped were innocent eyes to his implacable ones. For a brief moment Sonia felt relief. I'm afraid. She had had a ghastly suspicion that George had sent for Professor Inskip—well. 'Comes easy.' he went on silkily. George is a bit stuffy and a little bit of a snob.' she said. didn't you?' Rory queried mildly. so I lied. `He demands to see you. You see. doesn't it?' he drawled. I mean. Rory couldn't very well stay in the room.' he went on. She was busy working out just who this fiancé was ! George must have thought the situation called for desperate measures. 'I was just showing off. `You did say he was a professor. `I must say he looks a bit young for the part. 'He's not a professor.' Sonia flushed. 'seems to think you've been wrongly accused and are being badly treated. wanting to get it over. 'Well. but not that desperate. may I see my fiancé?' she asked haughtily. 'Lying. could he? And she had to see who it was before she made any dangers. it obviously wasn't him.thought that one up? Rory's eyes never left her face. 'Actually.' He gave her a disdainful look. 'Only. adding dryly. surely? She swallowed. of course.
Gary Linden was a fellow student of hers at Cambridge. The tension between the two men could actually be felt. she just managed to gasp out. 'Would you mind sitting at that table. She didn't know how George and Chloe had got hold of him.' He pointed to a chair the other side of the room. 'Miss Wells. Sonia could have hugged him. Gary would be only too willing to accept the part. weren't they? Gary looked at him. Taking one look at the blond six-footer standing beside Rory Maragal. you know.' he said haughtily. 'Gary ! ' before she was caught in his arms and being given a kiss that completely winded her. here. 'I could have refused. But let's say I'm interested. Sonia had lost count of the times he had asked her to marry him. It was not a choice she would have made herself. 'Very well.His lips thinned. She knew she 165 . She all but jumped when she heard voices outside the door.' he said.' he added meaningly. studying law. Rory's cold voice cut across the rapturous welcome Gary was intent on giving her. Why had he stayed ? Prisoners were allowed some privacy. Sonia glared at him. He was only gone a few minutes. but to the waiting Sonia it seemed a lifetime. 'I would like to see my fiancée in private.' he said to Gary.
'aware of the facts?' Sonia held her breath. `I am not only her fiancé. 'Anyone could have placed them in her pocket. She forgot the previous order to stay apart from Gary and held out her hands to him.' he said coldly. `With flying honours. Something told her he was about to deliberately bait Gary. 'Certain articles were found in her possession. He caught her to him. Gary looked at him over Sonia's head. 'I don't know what else you'd call it.' `Are you. and I'm going to prove it to you.' Rory's eyebrows rose.' he said in the best courtroom manner. 'You've passed ?' she cried. Mr Maragal. I can understand 166 . `Sonia's no more a jewel thief than I am. 'No doubt you would. Rory continued. leaving. darling.' Gary nodded curtly.' he answered equally coldly. but Miss Wells happens to be my prisoner. but he remained calm.had a worthy champion in Gary. I now request a few minutes alone with my client. the island.' Gary's hands clenched.' queried Rory silkily. You've got the wrong person. What better case could I have to start with than my own true love's?' Rory looked murderous. 'but her lawyer as well. Rory smiled grimly. I might add. 'This is not a musical comedy. as did Sonia's.
'You are not absolutely correct.' Rory announced 167 . He grinned. Under the circumstances. I have had ample chance of observing Miss Wells.' she said sweetly. 'You didn't confess. Mr Linden. I had no option other than to keep her under surveillance. I found she was rather addicted to falsehoods. 'I've never been a struggling student. my love. 'I told everyone you were a professor and not a struggling law student. the only struggles I had were with you.' Gary's expression was comical. She had not liked the reference Rory Maragal had given her. He had certainly not wasted much time in getting clued up ! Rory's eyes held ice. He tried to look indignant. 'I only lied about your position. darling.' Gary looked at Sonia. `I'm afraid your time is up. were you?' Sonia looked at him with dawning respect. darling?' Sonia shook her head. She has in fact admitted as much to me. and you weren't even convinced of that either. did you. and you know it !' Sonia flushed and attempted to pull away from his encircling arm round her waist. but it didn't come off. but he held on. You knew nothing about her apart from the fact she was George's sister.why you arrested her.
'I may permit another visit next week.' Gary persisted. 'Just to give me the pleasure of knocking it down your throat!' Gary was more than ready to oblige.' he announced.' he added graciously.' He was still glaring at Rory. He looked down fondly at Sonia. 'If they push you around. Rory's eyes narrowed. `You will visit Miss Wells when I choose to allow you access to her. 'No. his eyes blazing. and told him he would be right 168 . Gary.' she said quietly.grandly. She caught his arm. Gary stared at him. `I demand access to her at any time of my choosing. He drew a swift breath. Sonia saw the danger signals. yell for me. Perhaps in a week you'll have news for me. do you hear?' Rory now lost his cool approach to the situation. 'I can't tell you any more than George or Chloe can. 'Would you care to repeat that statement?' he asked through clenched teeth. He moved swiftly. Gary's jaw clenched. but he relaxed slightly.' Rory replied smoothly. It was only the entry of Mr Parks that prevented the fight—Rory was wanted on the phone. 'I demand parole for my client.' he murmured. 'Your client has parole right now. She did not like the idea of Gary pursuing her round the grounds. then sighed. Sonia looked alarmed.
After Gary's visit. It was not blatantly obvious. It was just that she had developed a sort of awareness when he was around. She sighed.along. but Sonia half pushed him to the door. such as. and as she remembered his mood when he had left that day. She wondered if he were afraid Gary would attempt to get her out of Mainsprings. but they 169 . George and Chloe meant well.' she said firmly. For a second it looked as if Gary would refuse to oblige. He was sure to capitalise on it. Chloe had written to her and more or less explained his presence with a few well chosen sentences. Gary's appearance on the scene presented quite a few side issues. How she would be able to keep him at bay if he did manage to clear her was a question that constantly worried her. but he did not make his presence known to her. it was quite likely he would. he had known she was visiting George at the start of her vacation. but she constantly found either Mr Parks or Atlas in the near vicinity. On several occasions she also caught sight of Rory himself. Gary. Sonia became aware of being under stricter supervision. 'See you in a week. 'Wasn't it nice of her fiancé to decide to join her like that?' from which she deduced that Gary had looked her up. Then he stood at the door waiting for Gary to join him.
A child handed it to her surreptitiously during the morning. She couldn't see Rory Maragal taking the trouble to pursue her that far. She frowned at the writing. It looked. as if there was little hope of establishing her innocence. avoiding the lighted areas on the terraces. No. Rory would have a field day. and he had been forced to adopt this method. Sonia dared not read it there. concise note. That it came from Gary she was certain. The jewellery was safely back in his possession. She kept the note tightly clutched in her hand and stayed out of the water until twelve-thirty. she told herself. Once there. In all probability. and shortly disappeared. when she made her way back to her room to change for lunch.hadn't actually helped. she read the short. if the note were discovered and proved to be his writing. he had cleverly got someone else to write it. he would be only too pleased she was out of his hair once and for all. It didn't look like Gary's. Soon after lights out she cautiously made her 17 0 . who was quite near. She was not surprised when she received the note. then she thought of his position as her lawyer. She was not sure the action hadn't been spotted by Atlas. she thought grimly. It told her to make her way down to the swimming pool after lights out. He had probably also arranged to get her off the island and back to England.
way down the dark passages of the staff quarters. she peeped cautiously out on to the terrace itself. The terraces were well lit by soft coloured lights. containing her passport and various necessary documents she would have been lost without. and her shoulder bag. what was he doing here at this time? The thought almost made her turn around and slip back into the safety of her 171 . She decided not to take her case. she drew a breath of thankfulness. He was smoking a cigar and had a drink in front of him. Sonia knew she would have to avoid the paths and kept to the bushes bordering the terraces. Sonia's heart hammered. Once outside the building. Rory Maragal sat alone at the nearside table. and drinks were served to guests preferring to spend the evening in the cool night air. The terraces sloped gradually down the side of the hill the camp had been built on. thanking providence Rory Maragal had not confiscated them. then quickly drew back. Now she had the hardest part to negotiate. Nearing the bottom terrace. as it would only hamper her progress. Wearing a navy blue sweater and jeans. sneakers. For one awful moment she wondered whether he had written that note himself. she hugged the side of the passage farthest away from the outside lights. plus a dark scarf she had had the forethought to snatch up in order to cover her hair. So far so good. If not.
It was a human failing to want what you couldn't have. she had to hug the 17 2 . she thought bitterly. What on earth was she going on about? Rory Maragal had never been in love with her. determined now to put as much space between them as possible. She noted the way his strong lean fingers curled around his glass. She knew she ought to move on. Then she caught herself up quickly. Gary loved her— look what he was doing for her now.room. She was just being silly. She moved on quickly. Making her way stealthily past the main swimming pool partially lit. especially if it had once been within your grasp and you had spurned it. Then she relaxed. the china doll had come to life. on towards freedom. she could stop fooling herself on that count. a sudden crazy impulse came over her to rush over to him—and what? Tell him she loved him? She gulped. But it was too late. Her heart jerked. She found herself strangely reluctant to take that freedom. He wasn't reclining on a terrace enjoying a late cigar with a drink in front of him ! Gary was doing something about her. He would hardly be sitting there if he was supposed to be meeting her at the pool. freedom from the man who had bedevilled her since her arrival on the island. She stood there watching him. His head was in profile as he gazed out over the surrounding valley.
He slipped through. she guessed. She knew a moment's panic. Sonia glanced down. `Come on. she knew. and they swung back silently. `Sonia?' whispered a voice. 'Kirk. let's get out of here. 'Here. at your service. then. ma'am.' softly.shadows.' She had no choice but to follow him. and on to the edge of the camp itself. He laughed softly. They passed a small clutch of buildings beyond the pool used for stores. It was not Gary. the lighting there was practically non-existent. the twinkling lights out at sea telling her 17 3 . 'Won't have to.' He bent down and pushed two slats of the fence. Sonia stared at the six-foot fence facing them. `Is that you. I can't possibly scale that!' she whispered. She knew the way well enough and kept going until she reached the far end of the pool. 'Kirk. Gary ?' A figure loomed up beside her. Below. he was not tall enough. The fence was a precaution against children wandering out of bounds. she called. Turning towards it. Gary. Now they were on the cliff top. then helped her through. would be waiting by the children's pool.' Sonia hadn't much time to think about this as he caught her arm. She did not understand what was happening or why Kirk should help her. murmuring softly. was the beach she had caught a glimpse of on her arrival.
accepting the flashlight he gave her. 'I don't get it. The sea lapped the shore close to where she was standing. and don't look over the cliff top. I thought they'd concentrate on the island first—in any case I didn't think you'd be searched. she was profoundly relieved to find herself walking a narrow but definite path twisting tortuously down to the beach. As she had imagined herself descending a sheer cliff face. didn't I ? So I get you out. It seemed an age. then still keeping his voice low said. Why did you come? Did Gary put you up to it ?' His voice sounded indignant. It's as simple as that ! ' Sonia stared at him. no one put me up to it. but eventually she was standing on firm beachy ground. Keep the light down on the path. thought it was a bit late for his advice about not looking down. Sonia looked at him. Kirk carefully replaced the slats. 'You put those things in my pocket ! ' she exclaimed indignantly.how high up they were. 'We follow the path down. wishing she hadn't looked. I'm sorry. She saw him shrug. 'Sure. but I thought you'd get clear in time. 'Honey. and she knew he was grinning.' Sonia.' 174 . `We made it ! ' exclaimed Kirk. She closed her eyes. I got you in this mess. I'll go first—watch your feet. Kirk. honey.
Kirk? You must have known you wouldn't get away with it. according to Rory. They rounded the cliff face and here the beach was wider. 'But why. it's a wellknown collector's piece. have we?' Sonia looked at the boat. 'In this?' she asked. You'd be surprised at the way some collectors snap up these pieces without any questions asked. Again the shrug. Then he said abruptly.' He caught her hand and led her under the towering cliffs above. I've got the yacht anchored in the bay.' 175 .' he said. He moved quickly and Sonia was too breathless to ask any more questions.' He scuffed the sandy sail with his sandal. No one would touch that eagle. chuckling.Sonia was nonplussed. Sonia saw the dark hull of a boat loom up before them as they neared it. She saw the flash of his teeth as he answered. Kirk climbed aboard and reached a hand down to her.' `But your father ! ' exclaimed Sonia. `We haven't had that trip to the Bahamas yet. `Come on. It's as well we get a head start before they discover you're missing. Come on. `Where are we going ?' she asked. I guess I could have found a market for it. 'Oh. `Not unless you're a champion rower. `No. I've got a boat round this cove.
she surmised. It's all taken care of. What was more. he wouldn't have believed her. it would have been no use telling Rory. She could have gone back and waited until she'd seen Gary again.`But. If only he'd told her before she left Mainsprings. He laughed softly. Well. that was different. breaking into her musings. she didn't condone his action in 176 .' he said above the roar of the motor starting up. Kirk would have had plenty of time to get clear himself. 'Just one to celebrate putting it over Maragal. then subsided as he caught her hand and pulled her firmly into the boat. but Gary would have. Sonia shook her head. The yacht was small but in the luxury class— it belonged. Kirk—I'm not sure—' she began. 'Relax. to his father. even including a tiny bar that Kirk made straight for as soon as they arrived.' he grinned. `Come on. She looked at Kirk. She was beginning to have qualms about the whole thing. She must get back to Gary and somehow get Kirk to own up. 'Kirk ! ' she gasped as she got her breath back.' He slipped quickly out of the boat and gave it a push out. 'What would you like?' he asked. 'We'll talk it over in more comfortable surroundings. The compact salon was well fitted out. then got back again and started up the motor. thought Sonia.' Kirk urged. honey.
his way. 'I was loaned it on the understanding that I got the hell out of it. then went back to the bar and added more lime.' he said. Sonia did. Sonia sipped her drink and made a face. please. He got up and took the drink from her.' interrupted Kirk. There was one hell of a row after you left that night..' `That's how I felt about it. 'Have you quarrelled with your father?' she asked.taking the pieces. 'Just a small vodka and lime. She stared around at the fittings as he fixed the drink. unable to stop herself from answering his grin. `Not hard to see why either. 'Try that. Kirk.' he said as he stared at his glass. 'He did? Well. `That's one way of putting it.' she said. but he had tried to put things right.' she lied. 'I'm out on my ear.' Sonia's eyes opened wide. I told you he was crazy about you. then looked at him. 'Your father's?' she asked. didn't I?' 177 . It was still extremely strong. `You've gone heavy on the vodka. of all the ..' he said.' she accused him. He made a wry face. as he handed her the drink. 'It's better.' His eyes narrowed. 'Of course. `Maragal ordered me to stay away from you. `Skol! ' he said.' he gave her his characteristic grin again and raised his glass.
' He drank some of his whisky. 'Come on. I guess I blew my top. she thought. Okay.' she said sympathetically.Was was the operative word. baby. honey. but what really riled me was the fact that he'd got you. I told Maragal just what I thought of him and he floored me before I could defend myself. didn't I?' Sonia was beginning to feel slightly sleepy. do you?' His eyes narrowed. 'He got his pieces back and I got nabbed. What with him laying down the law. Kirk. he'd got you and he was keeping you. You don't honestly think he believed you'd taken that stuff. Kirk continued. I'd played right into his hands.' Kirk's grin got wider.' Sonia obligingly sipped a bit more. 'Not such a good idea. then looked at her glass. 'I'd just about had enough. and you wouldn't have 17 8 . Dear old Dad takes his part and tears me off a strip right in front of him. It hadn't been love either. 'I won't have another. You were in for a long. long stay. It must have been the sea air. 'Well. He grinned. 'No. 'It must have been pretty rotten for you.' she said. you've barely touched yours. was it?' she said dryly. 'Sorry. but there's a bit more. he got his precious eagle back—I was as sore as hell about that. She blinked and concentrated on Kirk. sure got my own back. and Dad getting on at me.
He's even moved in these last four days. I reckoned it was time I hooked you out of there. I caught on.got out until you saw things his way.' she murmured. 'Since you've been at that camp. She blinked again— what on earth was wrong with her? Suddenly she found herself yawning. she didn't need to ask who they belonged to. and looked at Sonia. He poured himself another drink. perhaps the drink would wake her up a bit.' Sonia's lids felt heavy. 'Lifting that stuff was a piece of cake. 'I think I ought to get some fresh air. She was getting more and more sleepy. I wasn't sure where he'd taken you. 'Terribly sorry.?' she began. but when I found out where he was spending most of his time.' He finished his drink. Sonia gasped.' He walked towards a wall cupboard and opened it. honey. 'How .' He stared at the cups he had left on a side table. She took another sip. Indented on either side of them were emerald eagles. 'I've evened the score now. You'll 179 . he's spent most of his time up there.' She attempted to get up. Kirk sat beside her. He gave his staff time off when he moved into the camp. Sonia was sure. but found her limbs too heavy to move. . taking out two small but exquisite gold cups. 'It's okay. 'Sure you don't want another?' he asked. Kirk came back and sat opposite her.
'You know. honey. carried made a small cry of protest. Sonia. like an echo. somewhere where I know I can find a market for the Maragal treasures.' He stood looking down at her.get all the fresh air you need once we're on the way. 'but I had a feeling you might have backed out. We've plenty of time to get acquainted. 'losing those cups won't hurt half as much as losing you. even if it was Rory Maragal's valuables he was selling.' 8o . She found she was being picked up and at the sensation of being. She was put on a bed.' he drawled.' She heard his voice. I'm sorry it had to be this way. Vaguely she knew she didn't want to help him spend his ill-gotten gains.' he said as he laid a coverlet over her. but it sounded a very long way off. For once in his life Maragal's lost out. We're going much farther than the Bahamas. Again his voice came from afar. I'm not that bad. Sonia desperately fought sleep. 'Don't worry.
There was a resigned. 'And what have we here? The Sleeping Beauty. drops. shake out of it. but someone was trying to rouse her.' The next time she almost surfaced it was still light and there was a lot of noise quite near her. When she next attempted to open her eyes.' She was lifted up and a cup held to her mouth. no doubt ! ' Once again her peace was disturbed. `Come on. her befuddled senses told her it was morning.O. she just wanted to sleep. she wanted to tell them to go away. she didn't know. Her head lulled back against the shoulder supporting her. sleep it out. She tried hard to concentrate. Try and drink this. but hadn't the energy. her heavy lids closed back over her eyes.CHAPTER TEN FROM that time on Sonia lay in deep sleep. 'Okay. but gave it up. The voice sounded quite close to her and was vaguely familiar. Whatever it was. but it was no use. sweetheart. She was 181 . What part of morning. She made an effort. guess I overdid the K. shouting and feet stamping up and down steps. it did not concern her. hon.
She didn't know who he was. She half 182 . She caught a glimpse of hard eyes. `Kirk?' she muttered. She vaguely remembered Kirk doing the same thing. 'or I'll pour it down your lovely throat. 'Drink it. She protested weakly and having no strength to support herself subsided slowly back down towards the pillows. 'Come on. A cup was put to her lips. and the next moment she was pushed roughly back on the bed. this time with a little success. no.caught by the shoulders and pulled none too gently upright.' Sonia tried to open her eyes again. she drifted off into dreamland again. the face before her floated to and fro. damn you!' he said.' said the voice. You can drop the act now.' She was again roughly pulled upwards. She resented being shouted at. She couldn't focus. Sonia found her lashes glued to her eyes. shall we?' Left in peace. Well. 'Drunk. but all too soon that wretched voice pushed itself into her conciousness. She made a determined effort. This seemed to infuriate the person with the cup. but she didn't want him around. 'Oh. 'Look at me. we'll see what a few cups of black coffee will do. by heavens !' said a disgusted voice. the game's up. Once again she was pulled upright and a steadying arm held round her. `No doubt celebrating your success. you don't.' he said harshly.
we'll talk about it tomorrow. it was hard to concentrate. and they puzzled her. but awake enough to take in her surroundings. then 1 83 . she sighed. Chloe was holding her hand and telling her everything was going to be all right. perhaps now she'd get some peace. Her gaze took in the sumptuous bed she lay in.' Sonia heartily agreed with this decision. swept over the thick golden material of the coverlet. and the silk sheets. Chloe was with her. her senses had cleared. etc. you'll get the thrashing of your life. 'You sound just like Rory Maragal.' she said.' she said quite plainly `By heavens. then her head lulled back on to the shoulder and she sank once more into oblivion. 'drink. she was still inexplicably tired. She was still hazily concentrating on the man's words. Sonia wished she wouldn't talk so much. `Go away. will you? When you've sobered. and on receiving no reply.raised an arm that felt like lead. Chloe was demanding to know why she had been so stupid as to listen to Kirk in the first place. When she next awoke. either that or I'll throttle you!' She tried to sip. 'Oh well. On her next awakening. Her eyes were still too heavy to open properly. and giggled. She found it funny.. but her throat muscles would not oblige. and she turned her head away.' shouted the man. but she knew her voice.
She was in her nightdress. she almost screamed and gingerly felt her neck.travelled on to the walls of the room. a slightly darker green than the walls. She twisted it round and tried again. but could not find the catch to release it. If only she knew how they'd got there ! With a quick movement she removed the eagle. 184 . It was a gold chain and as she held it away from her the glinting lights of the attached eagle scintillated before her. Her eyes came to rest on a large picture almost opposite her. there were miniatures in delicately ornamental golden frames. Now she knew where she was ! She sat up quickly. Next she gave her attention to the bracelet. She felt a heaviness on her left arm and stared at the cause. tinted a gentle sea green with gold scrolls entwining here and there. She closed her eyes. and this gave her a few bad moments too. Back to the walls again. his haughty expression and the shield his long fingers rested on brought her to her senses with a rush. the gold motif more in evidence making the area shine as the light caught it. The Maragal betrothal bracelet was on her wrist. something cold moved around her neck. feeling less like a chained slave when it was off. The ceiling was a work of art. As she stared A them. A portrait—a man in Spanish armour. and heavens above ! the large emerald ring on her third finger.
still with no success. Her lips straightened. Then she pulled at the ring, and her eyes opened incredulously when this too would not budge. She was getting frantic now; what excuse could she give Rory if he came in and found her actually wearing the wretched articles? She would have to plead guilty but insane, she thought, as she tried to keep calm for another go at removing them. In the end she had to admit defeat. Her efforts had exhausted her, and she lay back on the bed and tried to make sense of it all. The door opened and Gary strode in. He walked swiftly to the bed. Sonia just looked at him. She didn't know how to explain her presence in Rory Maragal's house, let alone in one of his bedrooms! Then she saw the man himself follow Gary in, and her smouldering eyes met his bland ones. Would Gary still represent her? she wondered. If ever she needed his help, it was now. He caught her hand. 'Sonia ? Are you all right?' he said. She couldn't understand the question. Gary looked worried. Perhaps she was mad after all! She managed to answer calmly enough. 'I'm a little sleepy, that's all, Gary, don't look so worried.' He looked down at her, his eyes taking in the ring and bracelet. He stiffened and looked back at Rory, and some sort of communication 185
passed between them. Gary sighed and released her hand. He swiftly bent and kissed her cheek. `All the best, sweet', he murmured. Sonia blinked and watched him walk to the door. Alone once more, Sonia was now convinced she had lost her sanity. This must be what was known at 'lucid periods in between'. Perhaps that was why she felt so tired. The door opened again and Rory walked back into the room. He stood looking at her for a moment or so. She could not read his expression, but stared back at him. 'And how is my Snow Queen?' he murmured. Sonia might be mad, but she was not that far gone. 'I am not "your" anything, Mr Maragal,' she said coldly, then remembered the ring and bracelet; she might as well get it over with. She held out the hand towards him. `You're not going to believe this, but I've no idea how they got there, and can't even think up a good story to cover it.' He walked over to her. 'I can,' he said blandly. Sonia did not like the smug look on his face. He picked her hand up and caressed it, and Sonia felt the alarm bells ringing. 'I've decided to marry you,' he announced calmly, and went on before Sonia could recover in time to add her sentiments on the matter, 'I can't see any other way of making sure my collection stays intact. 86
You do seem to have a morbid fascination for it. Perhaps once it's yours, I can sleep in peace.' Sonia found her voice, admittedly it was one octave ,higher. 'I suppose I have nothing to say in the matter ?' she demanded, her eyes glinting green sparks. He further enraged her by shaking his head and answering, 'Nothing that will make the slightest difference.' `You called me a china doll,' she said accusingly. 'You said you wanted a real woman.' His hand still caressed hers. 'I do,' he replied calmly. 'I want the woman I brought to life under my lips that night.' His arm slipped round her shoulders. 'I found her once, I intend to find her again.' He was getting dangerously close. 'I don't love you,' lied Sonia, not ready yet to capitulate. His eyes met hers. 'Don't you?' he murmured. `Well, we can put that right, can't we ?' He pinned her back on the bed. Seeing the determination in his eyes, Sonia tried to still her pounding heartbeats. 'Even Kirk wouldn't go that far,' she managed to get out. His eyes flashed and she held her breath. `Kirk was a fool,' he said quietly. 'Don't make the mistake of classing me with him. He wouldn't be walking about at this moment if he'd laid a finger on you.'
' he said quietly. 'And give you the pleasure of turning me down? Oh no. His lips crushed hers. . She looked at the ring.' he said grandly. `I told him myself.' was as far as she got.She realised quite suddenly this man loved her.' He shrugged slightly.' 'But. my love. 'I do hope you are going to be sensible. He didn't believe me until he saw the ring. You'll marry me because I say so. to throw caution to the winds. I can't. you still haven't ! ' He drew her close. 'you hadn't even asked me then—and come to think of it. 'Not that it surprised anyone.. Again she knew the urge to respond. 'I don't .' Sonia could only look at him. we start as we mean to go on.. then remembered Gary.. He smiled. my love. He was telling her so in his own way.' stuttered Sonia. then back at Rory. and Sonia thought he had a lovely smile when he chose to show it. but she was still afraid. 'The whole island knows we're getting married. His eyes were hooded. 'Gary?' she asked. .. it did things to her.' Sonia thought about this dictatorial state18 8 . Rory raised his head and looked at her. 'I got the truth out of Chloe. You appeared to be the only one who didn't know how I felt.
'Chloe did. I'll bring her to see you. Rory?' He looked down at her curled like a kitten in his arms. She began to get sleepy again.' he said softly. 'Who put me to bed. The doctor said it will take a day or two to wear off. Dilson overdid the tranquillisers. She murmured. The warmth of his arms was lulling her back to the cotton wool fields.' Sonia heard his voice slightly fading and because she didn't want him to go away.ment. 'When you come to again. Rory understood. and gently kissed her eyelids. It was unique anyway. she slipped. her arms round his neck and nuzzled against his strong jaw.' 189 . and decided she liked his method of proposal. a voice caressingly near her ear murmured. Before she drifted once more into oblivion. 'I'm not leaving you—ever.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.