For the Love of a Devil

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For the Love of a Devil Page 7

by Margaret Carr

  She looked at his kind concerned face and for a second contemplated asking his help. If he was a friend of Demitri he might be able to advise her as to how her employer would react to the news that she would not be going with him.

  The thought flew before it had time to take root and Selina watched with relief as the door closed behind the doctor.

  She could phone Yvonne and get her to bring a taxi and leave today, not wait for Demitri, but that was a coward’s way out. Anyway, they would kick up a fuss here at the hospital should she do that, and Demitri would in all probability be informed.

  Perhaps Clifford was right and she should just go home, but the thought of leaving Isobel with those treacherous relatives was more than she could stomach.

  Demitri just had to believe her. Clifford had discovered through a friend in foreign banking that the doctor Anna had called in to examine Isobel, and who had made the reference to instability in the family, had in fact been referring to the Niarchos family.

  Apparently Sophia’s mother had spent the last years of her life shut away from public life, due it was said, to her suffering from Alzheimer’s, but in fact she was quite deranged.

  * * *

  Demitri arrived that evening with Isobel in tow, shooting all Selina’s plans out of the window. Isobel ran to her and hugged her then chattered non stop about how lonely she had been and was it true that she was coming home tomorrow.

  The pain in Selina’s chest was a physical thing that felt as though it would tear her apart. Shaking her head she looked at Demitri, begging him to understand.

  Moments later he left the room and came back with Denys. Speaking quietly to his daughter Demitri nodded her towards Denys and they left the room together, Isobel giggling behind her hand as she skipped alongside the chauffeur.

  Now they were alone and the breath shuddered in her throat as she tried to speak.

  ‘I won’t be coming back with you tomorrow. I’m booked into the Hotel Miranda with Yvonne.’

  She hardly dared look at him. His next words shocked her to the core.

  ‘I understand you will not want to be under my roof when it is known that we are to marry.’

  Selina felt her jaw drop as her glance flew up to his face. ‘I don’t remember . . .’

  Her voice faded as his eyes searched hers. That last night in Cyprus, the whispered words she had barely heard for the beat of her heart. ‘I agreed to. I . . .’

  ‘You did, are you going to renege on that now?’ His voice was cool, his features carved from stone.

  She shook her head. ‘We need to talk, but not here, not now. Tomorrow at the hotel.’

  ‘As you wish.’

  Denys arrived back with Isobel, her little arms bulging with packages. ‘We bought you some presents,’ she cried, rushing forward and pushing everything on to the bed.

  ‘Oh my goodness, you did, didn’t you.’

  Denys disappeared straight away and Isobel scrambled up on to the bed to watch Selina open up her presents. After examining and exclaiming at magazines, chocolates, a fluffy teddy bear with a red heart and arrow through it and a pair of outsized slippers in the shape of dolphins, she gave Isobel a hug and taking hold of her hands told her that she wouldn’t be coming home straight away.

  ‘I have to have a little holiday first, so that I can get really well.’

  The little girl’s face fell. ‘Can’t you have a holiday at home?’ she asked.

  ‘I won’t be far away and you can always telephone me, can’t she, Daddy?’ And chewing her lower lip she looked up at Demitri.

  He was watching them with narrowed eyes. ‘Of course.’

  Isobel’s eyes filled but she went quietly when Demitri told her it was time to go. She broke away from her father to come back and hug Selina, and then they were gone.

  Now it was Selina’s turn to feel her eyes fill and spill over to run silently down her cheeks.

  * * *

  Yvonne was waiting for her when she arrived at the hotel. Demitri had driven her over from the hospital. Now he unloaded the bags Maria had packed for her. He had agreed to come back later that day for their talk once she was settled in.

  Yvonne had taken the morning off and both girls were sitting on the balcony leading from Selina’s bedroom.

  ‘So are you still determined to tell him what you know?’ Yvonne queried.


  ‘What do you think he’ll do?’

  Selina shrugged. ‘I wish I knew.’

  ‘Maybe you won’t have to. Maybe when you tell him his brother tried to kill you, he’ll come clean and admit the lot.’

  Selina gave a grim smile. ‘It doesn’t work like that here. Family is everything. Even if he believes me he must still protect Aristotle. If it was Aristotle who murdered Sophia, only Demitri could have covered that up to protect his brother.’

  Yvonne screwed up her eyes and gazed across at her friend. ‘So what, he demands you go back to his haunted castle and live side by side with his murdering brother, oh come on.’

  Selina dropped her head into her hands and Yvonne, getting up, moved inside. When she stepped out again she had two drinks in her hands. ‘Here, girl, you look like you need it.’

  Selina took the brandy and sipped. After a while Yvonne said, ‘You have to find that witness and get them to talk. If Demitri won’t shop his murdering brother then you will have to and to do that you need the person that witnessed what happened the night Isobel’s mum died.’

  ‘If I did that he would never forgive me.’

  Yvonne drained the last of the brandy and replaced the glass on the table. ‘No, but the child would be safe.’

  Selina looked thoughtfully at her friend and nodded. ‘You’re right, of course, it would break my heart to lose her, but if Aristotle was out of the way then she would be safe.’

  ‘Believe me,’ Yvonne said, with a catch in her voice, ‘the heart don’t break so easy. I had a little boy once, his dad was a shearer, moved on like they do, that little boy was the breath in my body. Then he became ill and no-one could help him. He died in my arms. I wished my heart would stop then but it just keeps going dragging me along with it.’

  Selina took her friend’s hand and held it right. She had sensed when she first met her that something was haunting her and now she knew and could find no words of comfort.

  * * *

  Demitri arrived during the siesta and was shown straight up to her room. Selina had returned to the balcony after lunch and was sitting there when he arrived.

  ‘Please take a seat,’ she invited, offering the chair Yvonne had sat in earlier that morning. Dive straight in, she told herself and drawing in a deep breath opened her mouth, but he beat her to it.

  ‘Will you be happy to leave the arrangements to me? I thought we could spend the first few days of our honeymoon in Cyprus then perhaps you would like to go to England to the apartment next to your friend.’

  ‘Demitri, please.’

  Raised eyebrows were the only response. ‘I have an apartment in New York also, a little shopping then perhaps the west coast and a few days’ rest.’

  Selina sat very still, her hands in her lap, eyes downcast. An uneasy silence fell between them.

  Frowning he asked, ‘You don’t approve?’

  ‘You are moving too fast for me. I need time to recover.’ She glanced up at him. His brow cleared and he smiled. It was like the sun coming out and it tugged at her heart.

  ‘Of course, my apologies.’

  ‘We know so little about each other, perhaps we can take this time to learn a little more.’

  ‘I know all I need to know of you. I have only Isobel, Aristotle and Anna and my grandparents in Cyprus who you have already met.’

  ‘What happened to Isobel’s mother?’

  The frown was back. ‘My wife died in a tragic accident, she fell down some stairs.’

  Some quirk in her mind sidetracked suddenly and she asked, ‘Has Maria always worked for you?’
/>   His eyes never left her face as he answered. ‘Maria came with my wife. She had been her nurse.’

  ‘I see,’ she smiled. ‘Did you have a nurse also?’

  He gave a sharp laugh, ‘Not for a long time.’

  ‘Will Aristotle and Anna continue to share our home?’ She couldn’t bring herself to say after we are married.

  ‘But of course, it is the family home. You don’t think it is big enough for all of us?’

  ‘I wasn’t thinking of the size, more of the order of things.’

  He smiled then, ‘Ah, you want change.’

  ‘In routine, perhaps.’

  He leaned over and took her hands in his.

  ‘I am head of the family and you will be my wife. You may make whatever changes you deem necessary.’

  * * *

  She called Yvonne as soon as he left. Her friend was at her door in minutes.

  ‘I have an appointment in ten minutes. What happened?’

  They sat on the end of the bed and Selina said quietly, ‘He’s asked me to marry him.’

  ‘My God, girl!’ The Australian stared, aghast.

  ‘I think the housekeeper might be our witness. She was the first wife’s nurse and came to the house with her when she married.’

  ‘So why didn’t she speak up at the time?’

  Selina chewed at her lower lip. ‘I don’t know, perhaps she wanted to be allowed to stay to care for baby Isobel.’

  ‘What did he say happened to his first wife?’


  Yvonne whistled. ‘He’s either blind or stupid or both. You didn’t put him right then?’

  Selina shook her head. ‘I have to speak to Maria first, but the only way I can do that is to go back, but we have agreed that I stay here until the wedding.’

  Yvonne stood up and paced the floor. ‘Will she come here to see you?’

  ‘I have never seen her leave the house. Most of the staff seem to live in or around the house. They are off duty from time to time but Maria is like part of the fixtures and fittings.’

  ‘Then what are you going to do, girl?’ she came back to stand facing Selina.

  ‘I don’t know but I’m going to have to think of something.’

  ‘I could give her a ring or take a message.’

  Selina smiled. ‘I think they might guess it was from me. Sorry, but I doubt Maria ever met an Australian let alone received messages from one.

  Yvonne winked. ‘I could be a pen pal.’

  They both laughed at that then Yvonne had to go back to work.

  Sitting on her own, Selina, racked her brains for a way to reach Maria without actually going to the house and knocking on the door. Without deliberate thought she heard again Isobel whispering to her doll Melissa. Demitri had said they could talk on the phone.

  Supposing she asked Isobel to pass a message to Maria. She rejected the thought immediately, it was a terrible way to use the child. But what else was she to do?

  Flowers arrived from Demitri and a note to say he would dine with her in the hotel that evening. An opportunity to confirm his permission to call Isobel? She took great care with her preparations that evening, covering what was left of her cuts and bruises with make up and wearing trousers and a loose top for comfort against a still sore rib cage.

  They met in the bar and had time for a drink before going in to dine. The meal was good and Demitri put himself out to be an amusing and charming partner.

  The service was impeccable and although Selina was aware of the envious attention of some of the other diners she was comfortably at ease.

  After the meal they moved into the lounge and were served coffee and small honey biscuits. As she replaced her cup on its saucer she sensed his unflinching gaze and looked up.

  His chin was resting against his two forefingers placed together above clenched hands, and as she watched he swung them forward to point at her.

  ‘I have arranged a temporary date for two weeks tomorrow for our wedding if you are agreeable.’

  ‘Isn’t that rather soon?’

  ‘You have no family to consider.’

  ‘No, but I have friends,’ she replied with an edge to her voice.

  ‘I thought a quiet affair, but if you wish something more I am sure the Islanders can give us an expansive occasion.’

  ‘No, I didn’t mean it like that.’ She hesitated. ‘I will be perfectly happy with a quiet affair. I just don’t want to feel rushed.’

  ‘Very well, we will leave the date open. You will let me know when you are ready?’

  ‘Of course.’ She smiled. ‘Perhaps Isobel would like to be my bridesmaid.’

  ‘You are fond of my daughter.’

  ‘I love Isobel.’

  ‘As you do her father?’

  Her breath caught in her throat. Did she love this dominating man, who may or may not believe her when she told him about his brother? Her eyes never left his face as she whispered, ‘Yes, I do.’

  He reached across the intervening space and raised her to her feet. Together they walked across to the lift, then down the corridor to the door of her room.

  Here Selina hesitated. He took the card from her hand and slipped it into the slot, opening the door. Without breaking eye contact he took her into his arms. His kiss took her breath away and her legs were trembling as he said, ‘Goodnight, sleep well,’ and walked away.

  He was long out of sight before Selina dragged herself away from the door and dropped her purse and shawl on to the chair. Kicking off her shoes she crossed to the window and moved out on to the balcony.

  Looking down she caught sight of him crossing the road to where he had parked his car. As he bent to climb in he glanced over his shoulder and up to her window. She stepped back into the room, with a smile twitching her lips. Tomorrow she would ring the house and ask to speak to Isobel.


  Isobel had passed on the message to Maria and Selina was waiting for her by the old doorway leading into the tiny square in the old town, the entrance she had come to for her interview after being falsely directed by Anna.

  Selina sat by the little fountain and chewed on her lower lip, not quite sure whether the woman would show or not. She didn’t think Maria would have gone to Anna with the message, but she might have decided to ignore it. At exactly four o’clock the large door creaked open and the tall dark figure of Maria slid through.

  Selina walked forward to meet her and offered to take her for a coffee. But Maria was adamant she had only a short time before she would be missed. So they sat on the edge of the fountain to talk.

  ‘Mr Vardos has asked me to marry him.’ She thought she saw approval in the woman’s eyes.


  ‘He tells me his first wife died when she fell down a flight of stairs.’

  Maria’s eyelids fell to guard against the sun that streamed down on the square and cast a cool shadow across the doorway.

  ‘It was those stairs, I believe,’ she said, nodding towards the door.

  Maria neither confirmed nor denied it.

  ‘Aristotle Vardos pushed me off that wall, Maria. Neither myself nor Isobel will be safe in that house and I think you know that. I don’t want to face Demitri with what I know until I have proof. A witness to that night will give me that proof. Will you help me, Maria?’

  The dark eyes stared straight through her. ‘Isobel will come to no harm.’

  ‘What about the harm already done? Who told Isobel that her mother had to fall down the stairs because she was naughty?’

  ‘What lies are these?’ she hissed at Selina.

  ‘Not lies, Maria, Isobel’s fears. Fears she only whispers to her doll.’

  ‘You have heard these fears?’ she snapped.

  ‘Yes. What did you see that night, what really happened to Sophia?’

  Maria sagged back on to the lip of the fountain like a deflating balloon. ‘They fight again, raised voices. Sophia is unhappy in this house, I kno
w this,’ she stated, staring into Selina’s face. ‘They want me to go but, Sophia, she goes to the master and he says I stay. They are angry about this but can do nothing. Sophia tell me to take care of Isobel. This night she hears Isobel cry, the master is busy in his study the baby is not in her crib, she follows the sound into the old part of the house.

  ‘I wake and hear also the cry of the baby. My sleeping quarters are on the lower floor. It is for me a time to get up the stairs and through the corridors to the top of the old house. Here I hear loud voices, I move forward and hear a scream. My Sophia is lying at the bottom of the stairs. Now Denys and Mr Demitri arrive and carry my poor Sophia to her room.’

  ‘Who are “they”, Maria?’

  She looked over Selina’s shoulder to the door. ‘Mr Aristotle and Mrs Anna.’

  ‘Did you see the baby?’


  ‘Was she still crying?’


  ‘Thank you, Maria. Will you be my witness when I tell Mr Demitri?’

  Selina held her breath.

  ‘I will never leave Isobel.’

  ‘You won’t have to if we can convince Demitri that Aristotle and his wife must go.’

  The housekeeper gave Selina a severe look. ‘The master is a good man, he believes in the family. He will not take kindly to what you say.’

  ‘He will believe me, Maria,’ Selina said, offering up a silent prayer at the same time.

  * * *

  ‘How did it go?’ Yvonne wanted to know the minute Selina entered the hotel foyer. ‘Is she going to help?’

  Selina nodded, ‘I hope so.’

  ‘So when are you going to tell him?’

  ‘Tomorrow I think. He is coming to take me out around ten.’

  * * *

  They drove to a small bay where a beautiful yacht lay at anchor. Selina could hardly believe her eyes when Demitri took her hand and led her down to the rocky edge.

  ‘This is where we picnic?’

  ‘On board the Andromeda, yes.’

  They climbed down into a small dinghy and Demitri rowed them over to the yacht’s steps. He tied up the dinghy and helped her aboard.

  At first she thought they were totally alone, then a woman appeared on deck with a tray of drinks.


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