The Demetrios Virgin(2)

By: Penny Jordan

‘The old man, his grandfather, had a reputation for running a tight ship, and if anything the grandson is even worse.’

‘They both favour a “the guest is always right even when wrong” policy, and woe betide any employee who forgets it. Which is, of course, why their hotels are so popular…and so profitable,’

That had been the general gist of the gossip Saskia had heard.

Her taxi was drawing up outside the restaurant she had asked to be taken to. Hastily she delved into her handbag for her purse, paying the driver and then hurrying quickly inside.

‘Oh, Saskia—there you are. We thought you weren’t going to make it.’

‘I’m sorry,’ Saskia apologised to her best friend as she slipped into the spare seat at the table for three in the Italian restaurant where they had arranged to meet.

‘There’s been a panic on at work,’ she explained. ‘The new boss arrives tomorrow.’ She pulled a face, wrinkling the elegant length of her dainty nose and screwing up her thick-lashed aquamarine eyes. She paused as she saw that her friend wasn’t really listening, and that her normally happy, gentle face looked strained and unhappy.

‘What’s wrong?’ she asked immediately.

‘I was just telling Lorraine how upset I am,’ Megan answered, indicating the third member of their trio, Megan’s cousin Lorraine, an older woman with a brisk, businesslike expression and a slightly jaded air.

‘Upset?’ Saskia queried, a small frown marring the elegant oval of her face as she pushed her long hair back and reached hungrily for a bread roll. She was starving!

‘It’s Mark,’ Megan said, her voice shaking a little and her brown eyes full of quiet despair.

‘Mark?’ Saskia repeated, putting down her roll so that she could concentrate on her friend. ‘But I thought the two of you were about to announce your engagement.’

‘Yes, we were…we are…At least, Mark wants to…’ Megan began, and then stopped when Lorraine took over.

‘Megan thinks he’s involved with someone else…’ she told Saskia grimly. ‘Two-timing her.’

Older than Megan and Saskia by almost a decade, and with a broken marriage behind her, Lorraine was inclined to be angrily contemptuous of the male sex.

‘Oh, surely not, Megan,’ Saskia protested. ‘You told me yourself how much Mark loves you.’

‘Well, yes, that’s what I thought,’ Megan agreed, ‘Especially when he said that he wanted us to become engaged. But…he keeps getting these phone calls. And if I answer the phone whoever’s ringing just hangs up. There’ve been three this week and when I ask him who it is he says it’s just a wrong number.’

‘Well, perhaps it is,’ Saskia tried to reassure her, but Megan shook her head.

‘No, it isn’t. Mark keeps on hanging around by the phone, and last night he was talking on his mobile when I walked in and the moment he saw me he ended the call.’

‘Have you asked him what’s going on?’ Saskia questioned her in concern.

‘Yes. He says I’m just imagining it,’ Megan told her unhappily.

‘A classic male ploy,’ Lorraine announced vigorously with grim satisfaction. ‘My ex did everything to convince me that I was becoming paranoid and then what does he do? He moves in with his secretary, if you please!’

‘I just wish that Mark would be honest with me,’ Megan told Saskia, her eyes starting to fill with tears. ‘If there is someone else…I…I just can’t believe he’s doing this…I thought he loved me…’

‘I’m sure he does,’ Saskia tried to comfort her. She had not as yet met her friend’s new partner, but from what Megan had told her about him Saskia felt he sounded perfect for her.

‘Well, there’s one sure way to find out,’ Lorraine announced. ‘I read an article about it. There’s this agency, and if you’ve got suspicions about your partner’s fidelity you go to them and they send a girl to try to seduce him. That’s what you should do,’ she told Megan crisply.

‘Oh, no, I couldn’t,’ Megan protested.

‘You must,’ Lorraine insisted forcefully. ‘It’s the only way you’ll ever know whether or not you can trust him. I wish I’d been able to do something like that before I got married. You must do it,’ she repeated. ‘It’s the only way you’ll ever be sure. Mark is struggling to make ends meet since he started up his own business, Megan, and you’ve got that money you inherited from your great-aunt.’