A Deal with Di Capua(10)

By: Cathy Williams

“I don’t own this, I rent it, and I would rather if we didn’t dwell on the past. I mean, it’s over and done with and we’ve both moved on.” She thought about Jack and the guilt that had followed her around for such a long time. She hadn’t hesitated in pawning those items of jewellery even though, in another place and another time, the thought of selling things given to her by the man she had fallen in love with would have been abhorrent. In a place and time where her conscience was clear.

She knew that Angelo despised her for what she had done. How much more would he have despised her if he had known the full story?

“So, in other words, the cottage really would be a fantastic opportunity for you—no rent to pay, no mortgage to cover. I’m not surprised that you’re desperate to put the past to bed.”

Rosie looked at him, sprawled indolently against the car door, a lurking, dangerous predator having fun with the prey that had once escaped him. She got the feeling that he would be happy to maul her should she make one wrong move. And expressing interest in a cottage he considered his definitely fell into that category.

Whatever had gone wrong in his marriage—and she was certain that something had somewhere along the way, for why else would Amanda have taken to the bottle?—here they now were and the past certainly had not been forgotten.

“I just want to have a look at it.”

“Like I said, I’ll expect you to inform me the instant you decide to go there. I’m going to give you my private number. Use it.”

“And if I choose not to?” Rosie dared.

“Word of advice—don’t even think of going down that road.”

* * *

Rosie spent the next week seriously wondering whether she should just leave well alone. James Foreman had been in touch again, had wanted to find out what she intended to do. There were all sorts of papers that required signing. She would need to see him; he could arrange a meeting. There were things he needed to discuss with her.

Still tense and preoccupied after seeing Angelo and being subjected to the full force of his hatred, and still smarting from his warning to ditch any thoughts of actually taking up the legacy that had been deposited at her doorstep, Rosie deferred any meeting. She honestly no longer knew what she should do. London had not turned into the stuff of dreams, but it was home, for better or for worse. Could she sacrifice it on a whim, because she was in a difficult situation at the moment? Difficult situations didn’t last for ever.

And how ethical would it be to accept something from a woman she had spent the past three years trying to forget? How hypocritical to imagine that she could conveniently overlook the dire circumstances of their broken friendship to take what was on offer because it suited her? Her lawyer had hinted at Amanda’s regrets but could accepting a guilt gift ever be justified?

In the end, Ian made up her mind for her. Just as he had been the reason for her considering the cottage in the first place.

The calls from him, containing barely veiled threats. The bombardment of text messages...

Rosie had been to the police ages ago to be told that nothing could be done. A crime had yet to be committed. With no chance of an injunction being issued against him, Rosie battened down the hatches and tried to ignore his attempts to intrude into her life. She wasn’t a kid. She was an adult. She could deal with a loser who couldn’t take no for an answer. She had dealt with far worse growing up! He was no match for any of those creeps who had tried to make her life hell on the grim council estate where she had grown up. Being attractive had never worked to her advantage. But she found that she could deal with wolf-whistles and boys circling her on their bikes and trying to get her to go out with them.

And she could almost deal with the hang ups and the text messages from Ian. But, returning to her house on the Friday two weeks after that eventful funeral, Rosie unlocked the front door, entered the house and knew instantly that something was wrong.

It was very late and the lights had all been switched off. It was the first thing to alert her to the notion that someone was either inside the house or had been inside the house. She always left the light in the hall on during the winter; it lent the illusion of homeliness and dispelled the reality of a place that was as inviting and welcoming as a prison.

With one hand on her mobile, she silently scoured the property, which wasn’t large. Just three rooms downstairs, including the kitchen, and one bedroom upstairs with a bathroom adjoining it. At the first sign of an intruder, she would not have hesitated to call the police but, having reassured herself that the place was empty, she soon discovered that there was no room to breathe a sigh of relief because someone had certainly been to the house and it hadn’t taken her long to find out their identity.