A Deal with Di Capua(8)

By: Cathy Williams

And, actually, he had said remarkably little. There had been no need. He had just held out all those damning little tickets, receipts from the pawnbrokers, and she had known exactly what was happening.

Their glorious relationship had terminated with him believing her to be a cheap, worthless gold-digger who had conned him out of huge sums of money, for he had been a generous lover. He had seen the evidence of her greed in the proof of items of jewellery she had sold. Evidence that had been supplied by her one-time best friend and used against her.

Was it any surprise that he was staring at her as though she was something that had crawled out from under a rock, asking her whether she had known about the existence of a cottage that might be worth something?

Rosie took a deep breath. It made her feel giddy.

“It’s not going to happen,” he informed her coldly. “You. The cottage. Forget it. Look at me when I’m talking to you.”

“You have no right to boss me about.” But she did look at him. Thrown into shadow, his face was all menacing angles and planes.

“Amanda and I were not divorced at the time of her death. I will fight you through the courts if you try and get your greedy little paws on so much as a square inch of that place.”

“I never said that I was going to...” But a cottage, out in the country, away from the daily grind of the city; away from Ian, a man she had met once six months previously when she had decided that enough was enough, that it was time to try and join the ranks of the living... A man who had refused to take no for an answer, who had tried to force himself on her, who had become a silent, scary stalker.

A bolt hole away from it all suddenly presented itself to her like manna from heaven.

“Then why don’t you try and justify your sudden decision to check it out?”

“Maybe I think it might be the place to say goodbye to Mandy,” Rosie told him painfully, and he burst out laughing again, just as he had when they had been standing inside the chapel at the crematorium.

“So suddenly you’re all bleeding heart and flowers?”

“Why does it matter so much to you whether I go to that cottage or not? Why does it matter if I decide that it might be somewhere I could live?” Rosie asked.

“It sits on my grounds.”

“Mr Foreman said that it had some land, that Mandy had been cultivating it.”

“Ah, so your little ears had already pricked up even while you were mouthing all the right platitudes about wanting nothing from Amanda.” What else could he expect? The woman looked like an angel and spoke in a soft voice that reeked of milk and honey, and all things good, and yet didn’t he know better? He let his eyes rove over her body. Her coat was open and he could make out a stretchy black dress underneath. He had instant recall of the length of her limbs, entwined with his, as pale as his were brown; her small breasts which she’d used to complain about laughingly but which were perfect, the perfect handful, the perfect mouthful...

He yanked himself back from the brink of memories that had no place whatsoever in his life.

“If Mandy left me that cottage with the land, then why shouldn’t I take it?” Rosie was spurred into demanding.

“At last. A bit of honesty. I can deal with that. It’s so much healthier than the sad face and the honeyed words. If that will is as watertight as Foreman implies, then you’ll be amply recompensed for letting it go. And, as we both know, money talks as far as you are concerned.” He delivered a chilling smile.

What would he say if she decided to retaliate? Rosie wondered. But she knew that she would never do that. Maybe there was just that part of her that wouldn’t be able to deal with the ugliness of the truth, with the fact that, whilst he had been seeing her, he had also been seeing Mandy. Maybe that was something she would never, ever want him to confirm. There was such a thing as too much truth.

“It’s why I told him about all that stuff you flogged,” Mandy had said when challenged. “He was looking for an excuse to break up with you so I gave him one and he took it. Didn’t think twice, in fact! More fool you for thinking that he was your knight in shining armour. People like us don’t get knights in shining armour, Rosie. People like me and you and Jack live off the scraps. Angelo was just another guy stringing you along while giving me the come-on behind your back. You should thank me for getting rid of him for you. You’d never have been tough enough to handle him.”

And how could Rosie not believe her when, a month later, there had been a wedding? She had heard it on the grapevine.

So did she want to start a tit-for-tat fight now? Did she want to hear him tell her exactly how little she had meant to him? The past was the past and re-opening old wounds was only going to hurt her. Angelo would be just fine.