The Playboy of Puerto Banus(6)

By: Carol Marinelli


‘Just an old flame. We ran into each other again. She lives in England but I’m seeing her at the wedding tonight…’

‘Araminta!’

‘Stop there…’ Raúl smiled. That was all that was needed. He knew the seed had been sewn.

Raúl knocked on his father’s door and stepped in.

There should have been flames, he thought afterwards. Or the smell of sulphur. Actually, there should have been the smell of car fuel and the sound of thunder followed by silence. There should at least have been some warning, as he was walked through the door, that he was returning to hell.





      CHAPTER THREE

ESTELLE FELT AS if everyone knew what a fraud she was.

She closed her heavily made-up eyes and dragged in a deep breath. They were standing in the castle grounds, waiting to be led to their seating, and some pre-wedding drinks and nibbles were being served.

Why they hell had she agreed to this?

You know why, Estelle told herself, her resolve hardening.

‘Are you okay, darling?’ Gordon asked. ‘The wedding should start soon.’

He’d been nothing but kind, just as Ginny had promised he would be.

‘I’m fine,’ Estelle said, and held a little more tightly onto his arm, just as Gordon had told her to do.

‘This is Estelle.’

Gordon introduced her to a couple and Estelle watched the slight rise of the woman’s eyebrow.

‘Estelle, this is Veronica and James.’

‘Estelle.’ Veronica gave a curt nod and soon moved James away.

‘You’re doing wonderfully,’ Gordon said, squeezing her hand and drawing her away from the mingling wedding guests so that they could speak without being overheard. ‘Maybe you just need to smile a bit more,’ he suggested gently, ‘and, I know it calls for brilliant acting, could you try and look just a little more besotted with me? I’ve got my terrible reputation with women to think of.’

‘Of course,’ Estelle said through chattering teeth.

‘The gay man and the virgin,’ Gordon whispered in her ear. ‘If only they knew!’

Estelle’s eyes widened in horror and Gordon quickly apologised. ‘I was just trying to make you smile,’ he said.

‘I can’t believe that she told you!’

Estelle was horrified that Ginny would share something as personal and as sensitive as that. Then again, she could believe it—Ginny found it endlessly amusing that Estelle had never slept with anyone. It wasn’t by deliberate choice; it wasn’t something she’d actively decided. More that she’d been so shell shocked by her parents’ death that homework and books had been her escape. By the time she’d emerged from her grief Estelle had felt two steps behind her peers. Clubs and parties had seemed frivolous. It was ancient ruins and buildings that fascinated her, and when she did meet someone there was always a panic that her virgin status must mean she was looking for a husband. More and more it had become an issue.

Now it would seem it was a joke!

She’d be having strong words with Ginny.

‘Virginia didn’t say it in a malicious way.’ Gordon seemed devastated to have upset her. ‘We were just talking one night. I really should never have brought it up.’

‘It’s okay,’ Estelle conceded. ‘I guess I am a bit of a rarity.’

‘We all have our secrets,’ Gordon said. ‘And for tonight we both have to cover them up.’ He smiled at her strained expression. ‘Estelle, I know how hard it was for you to agree to this, but I promise you have nothing to feel nervous about. I’m soon to be a happily married man.’

‘I know,’ Estelle said. Gordon had told her on the plane about his long-term boyfriend, Frank, and the plans they had made. ‘I just can’t stand the disapproving looks and that everyone thinks of me as a gold-digger,’ she admitted. ‘Even though that’s the whole point of the night.’

‘Stop caring what everyone thinks,’ Gordon said.

It was the same as she said to Andrew, who was acutely embarrassed to be in a wheelchair. ‘You’re right.’

Gordon lifted her chin and she smiled into his eyes. ‘That’s better.’ Gordon smiled back. ‘We’ll get through this together.’

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