For the Love of a Devil

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For the Love of a Devil Page 6

by Margaret Carr

  She was grabbed and kissed by the gummy old lady who mumbled away in her own language, while the old man, introduced as Andreas, inspected her from knowing eyes.

  It appeared that the modern-thinking bride and groom had gone to Paris for their honeymoon. After that it seemed to Selina that everyone wanted to know her. They sat at the rough wooden tables with others and ate lamb cut from the spit, drank cups of the local retsina and ate small honey and almond cakes.

  Demitri made her laugh when she tried to keep up with the others as they danced around in a circle to the wonderful bouzouki music. Then as the night progressed the men alone got up to dance. Making a line with arms entwined across each other’s shoulders they moved slowly at first to the strains of the music.

  Then as the music grew louder and faster they broke up and the music slowed once more. A woman entered the area holding a handkerchief and a man broke away from the others and started to dance with her.

  It was Demitri, and as Selina watched the handkerchief wave and twist about them her heart shivered in her chest sending wavelets down the length of her body. The dance and the bouzouki told a breathtaking story that kept her spellbound.

  When he came back to her his smoothed-back hair had curled across his brow and firelight leaped in his eyes, his lips curled in a smile and his nostrils flared with the exhaustion of the dance. Taking her hand he led her out into a slower dance. Other couples joined them. His shirt sleeves were rolled up to the elbow and dark curls sprinkled his throat. She felt the warmth of him and closing her eyes just let the dream unfold.

  Had she imagined it or had he whispered that he wished the night might never end? She dared not look up in case she gave her thoughts away. But the night did end and as they climbed back into the car she sighed.

  Smiling he asked, ‘Does that mean you have enjoyed yourself?’

  ‘Yes, very much, who were the old couple, they seemed very fond of you.’

  He started the engine and answered as he reversed. ‘My grandparents.’

  The next morning they flew back to Rhodes. Isobel was very quiet and Selina hoped she wasn’t sickening for something. That would give Anna all the ammunition she would need to curb what little freedom the child already had.

  Before they parted company Demitri asked her to come to his study after dinner. ‘I shall be leaving first thing in the morning, but I would speak to you before I go.’

  She nodded and moved off with Isobel.

  That evening at dinner she was made to feel uncomfortable by Anna whose gaze rarely left her. At the finish it was a relief to get up and leave the table to follow Demitri to his study. No sooner had the door closed than she was swept into his arms. His lips firm and demanding lay gently over her own until, surprised at her own temerity, she kissed him back.


  Yvonne was waiting for her in the small beauty salon in the foyer of the Hotel Miranda.

  ‘Have you time for a coffee?’

  ‘Sure, I don’t have another appointment for an hour.’

  They made their way down to the beach and sat down in one of the many cafés along the seafront. Selina sensed her friend watching her. ‘Well, what is it?’

  ‘Something’s happened, hasn’t it, come on tell your best mate, girl.’

  Selina shook her head. ‘Nothing’s happened. I had a very enjoyable holiday that’s all.’

  Yvonne ordered the coffee then sat back and said, ‘Right, out with it. I want to know every detail.’

  So Selina told her of all the places they had been to, the sights they had visited and the things they had done, but she stopped short of mentioning the party on the last night.

  ‘Well, if these people had a nanny and Isobel was happy with the other children you must have had a lot of time to yourself?’

  ‘Not really, we went everywhere in company.’

  ‘The Marcellos, Vardos and you.’

  ‘Please don’t say it like that, he’s not the person you think he is.’

  ‘A murderer.’


  ‘Selina, girl, look here,’ and she dragged a folded envelope from her pocket. ‘Clifford left this for you and he’s going to ring you tonight.’ She handed it over the table but Selina refused to touch it.

  ‘I’ve had enough of Clifford and his ridiculous ideas. Demitri is not a murderer, someone in that house may be, but it is not Demitri.’

  ‘Oh, my God! It’s happened, hasn’t it? You’ve gone and fallen for him.’

  Selina had never known herself to flush before even in the most embarrassing situations, but now as she felt warmth creeping up her throat and into her face she knew that was exactly what she was doing.

  ‘Yvonne, you’re just being silly. He is my employer and a good one and I don’t like to hear people casting aspersions about him.’

  The coffee came and they drank up, but the normal camaraderie was lacking. Soon Yvonne had to get back to the salon and Selina was disgusted to find herself relieved. The letter was still lying on the table as Selina got up to go. She grabbed it reluctantly and stuffed it into her bag.

  The shops and restaurants in the town were closing down for the winter, though the seafront establishments would stay open all year round for the cruise ships that would call. Several open trucks full of tables and chairs passed her as she walked. Here and there she saw empty cafés already whitewashed and with large stones on their roofs to guard against the winds.

  Her wanderings took her back to the little taverna with the canary under its awning. The proprietor beamed when he saw her sitting at a table in the shade. She ordered a Greek salad and a glass of fresh orange.

  They chatted as he served her and she smiled to see the same gentleman reading his paper in the same seat in the corner. The canary still sang and a lump grew in her throat until it threatened to choke her. Unable to finish her meal she left money under the plate and hurried away.

  Returning from collecting Isobel from school she was surprised to bump into Aristotle Vardos on his way to his wife’s sitting-room. He made a great fuss of Isobel and turning to Selina attempted to kiss her on both cheeks as was tradition. Selina managed by a swift twist of her head to avoid actually touching him. His smile was wide as his eyes slowly dropped the length of her body.

  She couldn’t control the shiver that passed over her as she and Isobel moved along to their own quarters. Dinner that evening was a silent affair as Anna cast hate-filled glances and Ari Vardos glowered down at his plate most of the time. Selina was glad to escape and return to her rooms.

  Isobel was sitting in the middle of the floor talking quietly to Melissa when Selina looked in on her way past. ‘Selina mustn’t fall down the stairs, Melissa,’ the little girl whispered. ‘They say she’s been naughty and must be punished but we wont let them hurt Selina, will we, Melissa.’

  Selina clamped a hand over her mouth and backed slowly away from the room. Hurrying along to her own room she sat down on the bed and stared vacantly across the space, she was numb with shock. It was all a game, she told herself, just part of the child’s imagination, wasn’t it?

  Common sense told her she was right, but Clifford’s warnings echoed through her head.

  Obviously Isobel had heard the story of her mother’s death and it had played on her mind. Perhaps now she was afraid that anyone she formed an attachment to would end up the same way as her mother. But who were the mysterious they, and why would they tell Isobel that she, Selina, had been naughty and must be punished? Did the child believe her mother had been naughty and if so who had told her such an awful thing?

  Sleep came slowly that night as she tossed and turned in bed unable to rest. She didn’t for one minute believe that Demitri had killed his wife, yet someone had told his daughter that her mother had died because she was naughty. Why would anyone do that? Isobel was only a baby when her mother died so she couldn’t have been a witness, so why would anyone tell her such a tale, to what end?

  Selina awoke wi
th a dreadful headache the following morning. Demitri was due back in two days’ time and she was determined to tell him all she knew and ask him to remove Isobel from the house. When she went to escort Isobel to school she was told by Maria that Madam had taken the child and would drop her off on her way to an appointment. Anna had never done this before and Selina worried at this sudden departure from the daily routine.


  She was busy writing another letter to Caroline when she became aware of the sitting-room door opening behind her. Thinking it had to be Maria she half turned in her seat and was horrified to see Ari close the door behind him and walk into the room.

  ‘Er, can I help you?’ she asked, laying down her pen and rising to her feet.

  ‘You could be a little more friendly. My wife is a hard task mistress, I could put in a good word for someone more prepared to be one of the family.’ His brown eyes smouldered with warmth and his smile stretched from ear to ear.

  ‘I don’t think I understand you, Mr Vardos.’

  ‘You English are so, how do you say, stiff backed. Relax a little, we can see how much you love the little one.’ He moved towards her as he spoke.

  ‘I was given to believe by Mr Demitri Vardos, my employer, on my arrival that these rooms were to be allocated to me. I neither invited you here nor heard you knock and I would ask you now to leave.’

  ‘Come come, this is my home and of course you are welcome. My brother left strict instructions that you were to be treated as a guest. But as a guest you must be a little sociable, yes?’

  ‘Of course, so I ask you again what can I do for you?’

  ‘You can give me your company. Perhaps we can take a stroll in the garden?’

  Selina could see no way out of this with only the servants in the house, so she agreed. So they left the house by the side door and walked through the shrubbery to the lawned area, which was dry and lumpy from lack of both water and care.

  Ari tried to place his arm around her shoulders but she kept her distance.

  They came to a rock wall that made up the boundary of the garden and overlooked a deep chasm that had once been the moat of the old town. Here Ari sat down and indicated that Selina should do likewise. Uncomfortable, she never the less sat down and Ari started to talk about his and Demitri’s childhood.

  As she listened it came to Selina just how jealous of Demitri Ari was. Their mother, a Greek Cypriot peasant, had bewitched a Greek aristocrat while he was on holiday in Cyprus and he had carried her off to Greece. His family had disapproved of her and cut him off.

  Demitri was born within the year and his birth had brought forgiveness and acceptance back into the fold. Aristotle’s birth had killed their mother and their father had never forgiven him.

  They had grown into competitive young men both wanting and needing success, but whereas Demitri had never forgotten his mother’s roots in Cyprus, Aristotle had denied them.

  Aristotle had married for money when Demitri always claimed to have married for love. Aristotle was the business’s accountant with a wife who had failed to produce a son. Demitri had only a daughter, but she in turn might provide a son to inherit.

  And thereby lies the truth, Selina thought with a shudder. Should Demitri and Isobel die Ari and Anna would inherit. If poor Sophia had lived she might yet have borne a boy, so she had to die. And if Demitri married again what then?

  Her thoughts distracted by this sudden conclusion, she failed to notice Aristotle rise to his feet until she felt his breath on the back of her neck. She raised a hand to ward him off, but was too late—the next sensations she had were of falling, pain and blackness.

  * * *

  She was cocooned in a soft blanket, sinking down into a bottomless bed. Now pain niggled, chewing at her, she was floating, rising towards the light and the higher she rose the more pain hurt. She knew she didn’t want to go there, she wanted to stay in her blanket but someone was pulling her back.

  The light was blinding, it hurt her eyes. Voices rose and fell in waves. Her eyelids felt too heavy to lift but struggled upward a crack to reveal the hazy blurs of people around her bed.

  There was a pause in the voices and a following silence broken by a sharp, ‘Thank God.’

  The room emptied as if by magic, until only Demitri leaned over the bed. She felt his fingers run over her face and heard his shaken voice offer up prayers for her safe return but by then she was asleep.

  The doctor who had attended to her knee was there when she woke. ‘No need to ask where I am,’ she whispered. ‘How did I get here?’

  ‘By ambulance two days ago.’ He smiled down at her. ‘You had us worried for a while but all the signs are for a good recovery now.’

  She closed her eyes and licked parched lips.

  ‘Nurse will be in shortly with a drink and to make you more comfortable. Then when you are ready we will release your anxious visitors.’

  When the nurse had been and gone, Selina lay back and sighed. Her visitors were Yvonne and Clifford, who had flown back the moment Yvonne had phoned him.

  A mixture of concern and relief showed on their faces as they hurried across to her bedside. Clifford placed a chair for Yvonne before coming forward and taking Selina’s hand in his.

  ‘They have only given us a few minutes, we’ve heard the official story and don’t believe a word of it. What did they do to you, love? I’ve told Vardos that we’ll see him in court, he’s not getting away with this.’

  Selina shook her head wearily on the pillow. ‘He wasn’t even there.’

  ‘Don’t distress her, Cliff,’ Yvonne interrupted. ‘How you feeling, girl?’

  Selina smiled.

  ‘Beaten up, eh? Never mind, we’ll have you out of there in no time. I’ve brought you a few things you might need, toothbrush and such like.’ She emptied a bag into the drawer of the bedside table. ‘If you need anything else just holler.’

  A nurse appeared in the doorway a few minutes later and they were ushered out. Selina looked up as the door opened again and Demitri Vardos walked in. He stood looking down at her a long time without saying a word. Then he crossed to the window and with his back to her asked, ‘When I employed you I wasn’t aware that you were involved with Harris. I was given the impression he was a mere holiday acquaintance.’

  When she replied it was with a wobble in her voice. ‘He was. I first met him at my friend’s wedding prior to the holiday.’

  He swung round from the window and crossed swiftly to the bed. ‘Then why is he behaving in such a proprietary way?’

  She sighed. ‘It’s just the way he is.’

  He sat on the edge of the bed and taking her hand raised it to his lips. ‘When they told me, I was so afraid for you. I want you to be mine and I will move heaven and earth to make it so. I could not let you go.’

  She could see the muscle working along his jaw and knew he was in the grip of real emotion. ‘I wouldn’t want you to.’

  He kissed her gently. ‘Doctor Thesos tells me you will recover quickly then I can take you home. Isobel misses you and sends her love.’

  Selina grew cold at his words and her goodbye smile was dredged from the very bottom of her soul.

  * * *

  ‘How can I tell him,’ Selina scolded, two days later, after Clifford had revealed what he had found out about Aristotle and Anna.

  ‘Are you going to go back with him then and pretend nothing has happened?’

  Reluctantly Selina shook her head. ‘I’m moving into the “Miranda” with Yvonne.’

  ‘Why not come home with me,’ Clifford coaxed, ‘you know it’s for the best.’

  Selina looked at him sitting in the chair opposite. Today was her first day out of bed and she had been allowed to sit up for her visitors. She was feeling much better in herself, but the weight of worrying about what she should do was threatening to drag her down.

  Now, she knew what she must do and drawing a deep breath took the first step. ‘Clifford, I am deeply gra
teful for your care and effort at trying to keep me safe and while I hope we will always be good friends I cannot offer you more because I love Demitri Vardos. You have given me the official view of my accident, of how I came to fall from the wall and I have decided to tell Demitri the truth. Whether he believes me or not is up to him, I hope and pray for Isobel’s sake that he does, if he does not then and only then will I come home.’

  He dropped his head in his hands and murmured, ‘Aristotle Vardos tried to murder you. Do you really think his brother is going to believe that?’

  ‘If he loves me he will.’

  He looked up then. ‘I accept that you don’t love me now, but good friends have been known to fall in love in time. And when you do eventually come home I’ll be waiting for you.’ He kissed her goodbye and as he turned to leave Demitri entered the room.

  By the deep frown on his face Selina knew he had seen the kiss. ‘He’s going home.’


  ‘He’s been a good friend,’ she said, pulling down her brows thoughtfully.

  ‘They have told me I can take you home the day after tomorrow if the results of your tests are satisfactory.’

  Selina breathed a sigh of relief which Demitri immediately translated as a sign of pleasant anticipation. Though in her heart Selina knew she was only delaying the inevitable for one more day.


  Selina’s blood pressure was up the next morning. Dr Theoso frowned as he studied her chart. ‘I had expected better than this, young woman.’ He looked up the bed to where she lay pale and drawn. He came round to the side and placed a hand on her brow while taking her wrist in the other, smiling down at her now.

  She’d had a restless night and still didn’t know what she was going to say to Demitri.

  ‘Is something bothering you?’

  ‘No Doctor, I’m fine really, just excited to be going out tomorrow. I didn’t sleep very well last night.’

  He nodded. ‘Well, we can fix that tonight, make sure you get a good night’s sleep. We can’t have you looking like this when Demitri comes to collect you.’


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