A Deal with Di Capua(4)

By: Cathy Williams


“In fact, I finished at catering college a couple of years ago and I’ve been cooking at one of the top restaurants in London ever since. It’s hard work, but I enjoy it.”

“I can’t picture you behind the scenes. Nor can I picture you giving up a lucrative lifestyle of generous tips to take a pay cut.”

Rosie flushed. “I don’t care whether you can picture it or not. It’s the truth. You know I always wanted to go into the food business.”

“I stopped believing what I thought I knew about you a long time ago. But you’re right. Who wants to waste time bickering over a piece of history that has little relevance now? Let’s change the subject. Have you managed to net some poor guy? I can’t imagine you’d still be single after all this time.”

Angelo had no idea what possessed him to ask that question, but why fight the truth? It was something he had wondered about over the years. He didn’t like himself for his curiosity, not about a woman he had so thoroughly eliminated from his life. But, like some low-level virus, the question had circulated in his bloodstream, pernicious and resistant to the passage of time.

Rosie stilled. She could feel the sudden grip of clammy perspiration.

“I’m still single.” She tried to laugh but there was a nervous edge to her laughter.

Angelo looked at her narrowly, head tilted to one side. He hadn’t seen her for years, yet it seemed that he could still tune in to the nuances in her voice, the slight pauses and small hesitations that were always a clue as to what was going through her head. So there was a man in her life. His lips thinned as the silence hummed between them, broken only by the hushed voices of the people waiting to enter the crematorium.

“Now, why is it that I don’t quite believe that?” he asked softly. “Why lie, Rosie? Do you think I care one way or the other what’s going on in your life?”

“I know you don’t. And it’s none of your business whether I have someone in my life or not.” She was tempted to tell him about Ian, to pretend that there was someone significant in her life, but she couldn’t bring herself to lie. In fact, just the thought of Ian made her feel a little ill.

“I should go,” she said with a hint of desperation. She took a couple of steps back and nearly stumbled. She was no longer accustomed to wearing heels.

“Good idea,” Angelo said smoothly. “And then we can put an end to this charade of pretending that we’re actually interested in each other’s lives.” He turned away abruptly, but couldn’t walk away because the group who had attended the cremation, now standing outside, was splintering apart.

Rosie guessed that they would be making their separate ways to whatever pub they intended to go to. She saw Lizzy give her a little wave and wondered what the other woman must be thinking—that a friend had rolled up and after a three-year absence had shown surface interest before disappearing outside with the husband of the deceased.

She had barely paid attention to any of the other people there, but now she could recognise that a short, rotund man bearing down on them had also been there in the front row and she forced herself to stand her ground. As did Angelo, although once again she saw him glance at his watch.

She wondered what their marriage had been like. She had walked away and never looked back. Had they been happy? She couldn’t think so, but who knew?

“Foreman.”

Angelo greeted the man curtly before reluctantly turning around to make introductions.

It seemed that James Foreman was a lawyer.

“Nothing big and fancy.” James extended his hand out to Rosie. “Small practice near Twickenham. Brr, cold out here, isn’t it? Still, what can you expect in the middle of February?” He seemed to suddenly remember that he was at a funeral and altered his tone accordingly. “Terrible shame, all this. Terrible shame.”

“Miss Tom is in a bit of a rush, Foreman.”

Rosie nodded awkwardly. “I’m afraid I won’t be able to make it to the pub—one of Amanda’s friends mentioned that everyone would be gathering there to pay their respects. I’ve travelled all the way from East London and I really need to be getting along.”

“Of course, of course! But I need to corral the pair of you for a word.” James Foreman looked around him with a little frown, as though searching for somewhere convenient into which the corralling could take place. Rosie, by now, was thoroughly confused. More than anything else, she wanted to be gone. It had been a mistake seeing Angelo again. That part of her life was a chapter that should be firmly closed. Coming here had reopened it and now she knew that their brief, embittered encounter would prey on her mind for weeks ahead.