For the Love of a Devil

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For the Love of a Devil Page 5

by Margaret Carr

  He nodded. ‘Anna usually takes her with her to visit friends, only I thought . . .’

  Selina cut him off before he finished speaking, determined to put her point of view. ‘I would have preferred to take her with me but Mrs Vardos wouldn’t allow it. I am glad you are home this weekend, I was hoping we might have a word about certain aspects of Isobel’s routine.’

  Frowning, he turned on his heel and spoke over his shoulder as he made to leave. ‘Perhaps this evening.’

  Typical male, she thought, avoid the issue at all costs. Then, gazing down at the pretty opal in its silver mounting, she smiled and, placing it safely into her jewellery case, went to play with Isobel.

  Dinner that evening was a long drawn out affair. Demitri had brought a business colleague home with him and for some unfathomable reason, Uncle Ari was sulking. Anna on the other hand was playing the part of the perfect hostess even to the point of including Selina in the conversation, while not allowing her to contribute.

  When Anna stood up to signify that she and Selina should leave the men to their business, Selina glanced back at Demitri and raised her eyebrows in silent question, but he chose not to notice and went on talking to the other men.

  Selina made her excuses and went to her rooms. As she passed Isobel’s room she thought she heard a noise and opening the door peeped in. The little girl was sitting on the floor whispering to Melissa again. About to make herself known she hesitated when she heard Isobel say, ‘You can’t be too careful or Selina may go away and you wouldn’t want that, would you.’

  Selina tapped on the door. ‘Isobel, are you asleep?’

  A small rustling noise then a small voice said, ‘No, you can come and read to me if you want.’

  ‘Would you like me to read to you?’

  Two minutes later she was fast asleep.

  As she left the room she watched Demitri coming towards her from the dining room.

  ‘I thought we could talk in your lounge,’ he said as he drew alongside her.


  They entered her room together and Selina didn’t wait to offer him a seat but started talking at once. ‘I’m worried about Isobel.’

  ‘What exactly is it about my daughter that worries you, Miss Adams?’

  She frowned at the formal title. ‘The name is Selina.’

  ‘And mine is Demitri but you have always insisted on Mr Vardos.’

  ‘You are my employer, and that is one of the things I wish to discuss.’ The chill was back in his voice as he asked, ‘You wish to leave my employment?’

  ‘No, not at all. I know that you are a busy man and I can see that you love your daughter.’

  He acknowledged her words with a bow of the head. ‘But . . .’

  She had stood up to some awe inspiring consultants in her time but for some reason she couldn’t grasp, this was different. ‘When you engaged me you told me that I was to consult with Mr and Mrs Vardos at all times.’

  ‘When I am away, that is correct.’

  ‘They are very rigid in family routine. I have asked on several occasions to make little changes to Isobel’s time, like taking her shopping or just for a drink somewhere nearby, and while I can understand the need for security I do believe it would be to her benefit.

  ‘I am sorry if my request is annoying you but you did give your daughter into my care.’

  ‘It is your professional opinion that these outings would be good for Isobel?’


  ‘Then I will explain the matter to my sister-in-law.’ And with a nod of his head he was gone.

  Selina sat down with a sigh. She glanced at the half written letter on her desk but felt she could not concentrate while her thoughts were so mixed. Something about the man disturbed her out of all reason. He was attractive, confident, wealthy, a widower with a beautiful child. It was all so perfect, too perfect perhaps for didn’t perfection often hide a flaw.

  On Monday morning the three men set out for the company offices in Athens and Selina, who was breakfasting with Isobel, was summoned to Anna’s sitting room.

  ‘I believe you have been complaining to Isobel’s father.’ She spoke as soon as Selina entered the room. Selina waited to be asked to sit down but was kept standing.

  ‘There was no complaint, I simply asked permission to take Isobel out occasionally.’

  ‘You were told to consult me about Isobel’s routine.’

  ‘Which I did on several occasions.’

  ‘And you were told it was not in the best interests of the child.’

  ‘Mrs Vardos, I know you mean well by your niece, but as a nurse I cannot agree that such a strict routine is satisfactory.’

  Anna Vardos bristled with indignation. Not a tall woman, she was never the less extremely slim which made her appear taller. Her taut muscular frame sharpened the features of her face to the point where Selina would not have been surprised to see the bones cut through the skin that covered them.

  ‘Fortunately, Miss Adams, your professional authority carries no weight here. I shall be calling in a specialist and shall follow his suggestions for Isobel’s care. You may return to your duties.’

  Selina found herself outside the door before she had managed to formulate a reply. She was so furious at the smear against her professional ability and the woman’s obvious dislike of her it had left her dumbfounded. How could she possibly work in these conditions? Demitri had employed her and agreed to her request for more freedom for Isobel, but this woman was in charge and seemed determined to contradict her brother-in-law the minute his back was turned.

  Selina felt like a bone between two dogs. Making her way back to the dining room she found Isobel’s great pansy eyes watching her approach. ‘I did try to warn you. Aunt Anna doesn’t like anything to change.’


  She felt like saying, well that’s just too bad because I have your father’s permission, but she didn’t want Isobel caught up in the struggle between herself and Anna Vardos.

  ‘Have you finished your breakfast because Denys won’t like being kept waiting.’

  ‘You won’t let Aunt Anna scare you away will you, Selina?’ the little girl asked as she slid down from the chair and picked up her schoolbag.

  ‘No darling, I most certainly will not. Now come along.’

  Demitri did not return to the house that week nor the next. Selina struggled to hold her tongue and keep her job, while growing more attached to Isobel every day. She managed to widen the child’s playtime to include more activities and made story reading at bedtime a permanent cosy time. Cuddles were frequent and as time passed Isobel began slowly to relinquish her dependency upon Melissa.

  Anna kept her promise and sent for a specialist who came and examined Isobel then promptly agreed to everything the woman said. The child was delicate and in need of careful steady handling. This was vitally important considering the parental instability.

  Selina stood unashamedly outside the door listening, and was shocked at what she overheard. Clifford and Yvonne had suggested a mysterious death for Demitri’s wife, but this doctor was implying that there had been some mental illness in the family. Her mind flew back to Isobel’s whispered conversations with Melissa, her doll, and she became more determined than ever that this was not a healthy place for the little girl.

  The first thing Yvonne said when they met up two days later was, ‘Clifford is back.’

  Selina stared across the table at her friend. ‘What?’

  ‘Clifford’s back, he flew in this morning. He’ll be along as soon as he’s booked in. He’s been digging into the Vardos case and come up with some info he reckons you should know about.’

  ‘Yvonne, there is no way I am going to leave Isobel no matter what he’s discovered.’ But, she thought, I wouldn’t mind finding out more about Demitri’s wife’s death.

  ‘Hello there.’

  Yvonne flushed with pleasure as he walked up to their table.

  The same bright
blue eyes passed over Yvonne to stare in open admiration at Selina.

  ‘Clifford,’ Selina acknowledged, only too aware of Yvonne’s discomfort.

  He pulled out a chair and sat down between them, then taking Selina’s hand smiled into her face and murmured, ‘Pleased to see me?’

  ‘Of course,’ she said, easing her hand free.

  ‘I’ve booked into Yvonne’s hotel and I thought we might have dinner there tonight. There is something I have to tell you about your employer.’

  ‘Yes I know, Yvonne was just explaining but I’m afraid tonight is out. I have to pick her up at three.’

  ‘What time do you finish?’

  Selina smiled. ‘There’s no clocking on and off, Clifford, this is a little girl I love very much.’

  The smile left his eyes and his mouth thinned. The sun went behind a cloud and his golden hair was turned to wheat. ‘I hope not, for your sake.’

  ‘That’s a strange thing to say.’

  He groaned and moved restlessly in his chair. ‘Look, we have to talk, when and where I’ll leave up to you, but I wouldn’t leave it too long. Is Vardos at home?’

  ‘No, he hasn’t been for some time, why?’

  ‘OK, any chance I could come up to the house?’

  ‘No, I’ll meet you at the hotel tomorrow morning. I have to go now.’

  She wasn’t sure whether she wanted to hear what Clifford had to say or not. Whatever it was it sounded pretty serious. Please don’t let it hurt Isobel, she whispered silently to herself as she made her way back through the town.

  The next morning she hurried down to the hotel to meet Clifford. He was sitting in close conversation with Yvonne in the far corner of the lounge when she arrived. Seeing her he climbed to his feet and crossed the foyer to meet her.

  ‘There are some rather pretty gardens at the rear of the hotel. I thought we might walk there,’ he said, taking her arm.

  ‘What about Yvonne?’ she asked, turning back to look for her friend, but Yvonne had vanished.

  ‘She understood that we would want to be alone.’

  Selina raised her eyebrows at that but walked with him anyway. The gardens were indeed pretty and also fairly damp, for several water sprays criss crossed the lawns. After dodging two of these Clifford finally settled for a seat in an arbour well out of the way of any drifting sprays.

  ‘So, what have you to tell me that is so earth shattering?’ she asked, sitting back on the seat.

  Clifford cocked his head on one side to take a good look at her. ‘Demitri Vardos married Sophia Maria Niarchos, daughter of a wealthy shipping magnate, eight years ago when, on the death of her father, she came into a very large fortune. The father supposedly drowned in mysterious circumstances. Sophia Maria was suspected of knowing something about her father’s death but she never did say what.

  ‘Some people believed she was covering for her husband.’

  Selina opened her mouth to say something but Clifford raised a hand. ‘Let me go on. She died eighteen months after giving birth to the child. She was found at the bottom of some stairs in an old disused part of the house. It was passed off as an accident but a servant overheard violent quarrelling not long before it happened. But that servant never appeared at the inquest.

  ‘For heavens’ sake, Selina, can you see now why you must leave that place?’

  ‘I will leave it with pleasure but not without Isobel.’

  Clifford sat back, a look of astonishment on his face. ‘You can’t kidnap a child.’

  ‘I have no intentions of kidnapping anyone, but I can’t leave her.’

  Clifford threw up his hands in exasperation. ‘If he can do away with his wife and a father-in-law what on earth makes you think he couldn’t get rid of you too?’

  ‘Clifford, you’re exaggerating, why would he want to get rid of me? Even supposing he was a murderer to beat all murderers, he employed me, he needs me to look after his daughter.’

  A sulky look swept down over his face as he stood up. ‘I hope you don’t live to regret ignoring my advice.’

  Together they walked back towards the hotel. ‘Seriously, Clifford, I do hear what you are saying and I will be careful. If you do want to help me see if you can find out anything about Demitri’s brother and his wife. In the meanwhile I will try to find out what happened to the servant that overheard the quarrel.’

  He brightened up at that and they went to find Yvonne.

  Isobel was very excited when Selina collected her from school two days later. Apparently her teacher had been informed that Isobel was to be away for the next five days. Daddy was coming home and taking her to Cyprus. Her teacher had asked her to write a story about it for her homework.

  Selina’s heart had felt like a lead weight in her chest. Then she cheered herself up with the thought that she would have more time to spend with Yvonne and Clifford. That was not to be, however, for when Demitri did arrive home to announce his intention of taking Isobel with him to Cyprus, Selina was to be included.


  When she rang Clifford at the hotel and told him of the holiday he was very quiet. He promised to pass the message on to Yvonne, told her yet again to take care and that he would have left Rhodes by the time she returned, but promised to continue looking into the Vardos family and to let her know his findings.

  Her hands trembled as she packed and chewed on her bottom lip. Isobel, who was watching her from the other side of the bed, asked, ‘Don’t you want to come with us, Selina? You don’t look very happy.’

  Selina smiled. ‘Of course I do, darling. I wouldn’t let you go away for five whole days without me, even if you were with your daddy.’

  She laughed then and skipped around the bed.

  ‘You have forgotten to pack Melissa,’ she said, watching the little girl come towards her pulling a small bag on wheels.

  ‘Melissa wants to stay home.’

  ‘Does she, darling?’

  ‘Yes, she says there won’t be any secrets in Cyprus.’

  Selina pulled her close and hugged her. ‘Quite right, she is very wise your Melissa.’

  Isobel nodded.

  They were to fly by private plane to Paphos. It was the first time Selina had travelled in a small plane and she was quite as excited as Isobel by the experience.

  On arrival they were transported by car to their destination, a large villa in the Troodos Mountains. The people they were to stay with were old friends of Demitri. Paul and Sylvia Marcello, an Italian couple who had moved to the island several years earlier. They had two children, a girl of seven and a little boy of eighteen months.

  Selina assumed she would be in charge of the children but it soon became apparent that she was to be treated as a guest. The Marcellos already had a nanny, a lovely young Cypriot girl answering to the name of Cara.

  Isobel seemed quite happy to go off with Cara and the Marcello children so Selina took time to relax and look around her.

  Her room was light and airy with a door leading out on to a balcony. The green and white colour scheme in both the bedroom and en suite gave a cooling feel from the outdoor heat. She unpacked a couple of dresses and was hanging them in the wardrobe when a knock came at the door.

  ‘Come in,’ she called out, thinking that perhaps Cara needed her, but when she turned around Demitri stood in the doorway.

  ‘I hope you are comfortable.’

  ‘Yes, thank you. It is very kind of your friends to treat me as a guest.’

  He looked surprised, ‘How else should they treat you?’

  She closed the wardrobe door and turned to face him feeling rather embarrassed. ‘Well, I am your employee, here to care for Isobel.’

  He looked rather cross and spoke in a cool voice. ‘You are my daughter’s companion not her nanny. My life is taken up with business, Selina. On the few occasions I steal time to myself I wish us to enjoy ourselves and relax. Can you allow us to do that?’

  ‘Of course.’

  When he had
gone she sat down on the bed with a plop. It was the first time she had heard him use her christian name and it had sent goosebumps running up and down her spine.

  ‘Stop being stupid, Selina, just because he doesn’t see you as a servant,’ she hissed at the mirror. When had she stopped seeing him as an egotistical brute, she wondered. She shook her head and continued with her unpacking.

  Between shopping and picnics, swimming and dining the days passed with trips to the beach with the children, and visits to ancient sites. In the evenings there were barbecues and nightclubs. On the fourth evening the Marcellos had a business dinner to attend and left Demitri and Selina alone.

  ‘There is a party in the mountains this evening if you would care to accompany me. It is to celebrate a wedding, Greek style.’

  He didn’t sound his usual controlled self and Selina, who was longing to go, wondered if perhaps he was hoping she would decline. ‘Thank you, I would very much like to go, but if you would rather not then I . . .’

  ‘We can’t sit at home on our last night, we will leave in one hour.’

  And that’s you told, Selina thought as she made her way along to the children’s room to read Isobel her nightly story.

  The road curved precariously as they wound their way higher and higher into the mountains. Selina wore a wide flowered skirt and gypsy blouse and a warm shawl against the night chill. Demitri looked incredibly handsome in open necked shirt and loose cut black suit, the jacket of which lay across the back seat of the car.

  They drew up on a flat piece of land in front of the village square. There were several other cars and trucks all parked in a muddle around the first house on the edge of the square.

  From here were set many wooden tables and a variety of chairs and benches. Everywhere there were people, old and young, sitting, dancing, laughing and gossiping. Children ran in amongst them playing and squabbling.

  They were welcomed with shouts and waves. A path opened up in front of them and Demitri steered her towards an old couple sitting at the head of one of the tables. He hugged and kissed first the old man and then the old woman who hung on to him like a limpet. Speaking to them in Greek he introduced Selina.


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