Home > Her Best Worst Mistake (Elizabeth and Violet #2)(10)

Her Best Worst Mistake (Elizabeth and Violet #2)(10)
Sarah Mayberry

She slipped into the bitter cold and pulled the door shut behind her, trying to race through the necessary steps so she could retreat to the warmth and comfort of her apartment.

The man seemed to loom at her out of nowhere, tall and broad and angry. She squeaked with terror and jumped backwards, slamming the back of her head against the door.

“Where is she? Where are you hiding her?”

She pressed her hands to her chest and glared at her assailant.

“Blooming hell, Martin, you almost made me wet myself. Ever heard of the telephone?”

“And have you hang up on me? I’m not stupid, Violet. Tell me where she is.”

She rubbed the back of her head. “If E didn’t tell you where she’s gone, it’s not my place.”

He moved closer. Despite the fact that she didn’t believe Martin St Clair would hurt a fly, she felt a twinge of alarm. She’d never seen him so angry. Or so disheveled, now that she really looked at him. His hair was ruffled and his face bristly with five o’clock shadow. He looked positively rakish compared to his usual anal, meticulous appearance.

“What’s wrong? Didn’t you get a chance to iron your underwear this morning?” she asked.

He flicked a gaze down her figure-hugging outfit. She was wearing a push-up bra beneath a plunging vintage sequined top. Her black skirt was short - okay, very short - and her stockings lacy. Her knee boots boasted high, spiky heels. Her bedroom mirror told her she looked foxy, but Martin’s condemning glance begged to differ.

“You’ll excuse me if I’m not prepared to take fashion advice from someone who dresses from the Playboy catalogue.”

He sounded so snooty she had to laugh, even though a small part of her smarted at his open contempt. It seemed the gloves were well and truly off now that Elizabeth wasn’t standing between them.

She flicked her hair over her ear, displaying her multiple piercings. She knew he particularly hated them because Elizabeth had told her so once.

“Shouldn’t you be sweet talking me? Isn’t that what people normally do when they want something?”

Martin’s breath steamed in the air between them. She watched as he made a visible effort to rein in his temper.

“My apologies. My only excuse is that I haven’t been sleeping well. I want only what’s best for Elizabeth. Please tell me where she is.”

Every word was torn from him like teeth at the dentist’s.

“E is the best judge of what’s best for her,” Violet said. “You and the Whittakers are always trying to decide things for her, push her into whatever shape you want her to be. Let her do her own thing for a change. If you two are meant to be, she’ll come back.”

She was shivering with cold and she turned to open the door to her apartment. She assumed Martin’s silence meant she’d finally gotten through to him but when she tried to slip into the relative warmth of the stairwell he blocked the door with his arm.

“Please, Violet. If you want me to beg, I will.”

He held her eyes, not even trying to hide his hurt and pain.

Until this moment she had been convinced that he merely saw Elizabeth as a trophy, yet another accomplishment he’d acquired on his climb up the social ranks. But the look in his eyes...

“You really love her, don’t you?” she asked quietly.

“Of course I do.” He said it as though it was the most natural and obvious thing in the world.

For a moment - a hundredth of a second - Violet felt a squeeze of envy in her heart. Would that she had ever inspired so much heart-felt devotion in a man. Her past boyfriends had all been out for what they could get, be it sex, free room and board or endless emotional support. She’d never had anyone - ever - state their love so unequivocally.

“She’s gone to find her father. Her real father,” she said.

He didn’t say anything, just continued to look at her in mute appeal.

Bloody hell.

“Okay, all right. She didn’t expressly tell me not to tell you. Which doesn’t mean she won’t tear strips off me when she finds out I’ve squealed, but still. She’s staying at some old pub called the Isle of Wight on Philip Island, in Australia. She flew out yesterday and I spoke to her this morning.”

“Australia?” Martin looked dazed.

“That’s right. Now, if you don’t mind, I’ve got several Playboy catalogues I need to get through before taking to the streets for the night.”

Martin nodded his head once in brief thanks, then he was gone. She slipped inside the door and locked it behind her.

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