Alva can’t remember anything. Not even the handsome Count Luca Mazareeze, her husband. Something had happened; there was an atmosphere of danger at the Palazzo. Although attracted to the Count, she sensed there were things he was not telling her. Too late she realizes her life is in danger but why?
Alva was in the hallway. Guido had brought in a small suitcase. Of course she would have very little to bring.
Count Luca San Giovanni Mazareeze looked down on her from the top of the stairs. She looked even smaller from this viewpoint and more slender and delicate than he could ever remember her being. Of course she would look delicate, she had been seriously ill after being injured in a near fatal accident. Her silvery blond hair was pulled back from her face and caught in a French pleat. There were tiny bruises beneath her eyes, more yellow than purple now, and several small healing cuts at her forehead and chin. The consultant that he had spoken to on the telephone had said the scarring was superficial and would not be permanent.
She was wearing a dark navy suit; it was not a good fit, the jacket being a little large at the shoulders, and the skirt at her hips. Her shoes were unflattering pumps but in spite of it, she was still that rather ethereal beautiful Alva that he remembered.
He went down the stairs; the luxurious carpet softening his tread, she seemed miles away and obviously did not hear him. She actually started like a frightened deer when he said her name. "Alva."
The man was tall and very dark; his skin a warm olive, his hair black and thick and luxurious and the eyes that swept her were the colour of old gold. His features were imperious; the Roman nose, fine sculptured cheekbones and thin, but well shaped lips, all giving him the appearance of the true aristocrat.
She knew his name, had memorized it. Count Luca San Giovanni Mazareze, that he was the il Perdone, that this island of Santa Caterina was his. All these things had been told to her in the hospital. All these things she could believe but what she could not accept, or even take in was that this man, this man who seemed so cold and aloof was actually her husband!
"You had a good journey?" He asked.
"Thank you, yes…" she murmured softly. "I am sorry about this, Conte but I don’t remember anything."
"So I understand," he murmured coolly. His eyes swept her from tip to toe and she felt her cheeks colouring. His appraisal obviously found her wanting for he turned to the Chauffeur who was still waiting by the door.
The Conte addressed him in rapid Italian, asking for Claudia to be sent for so that she could show the Contessa to her room. Alva caught some of it, looking confused at the term Contessa but of course, if she were still his wife, then it made sense that she was still the Contessa. They were not divorced, that much she had gleaned but they had been separated for two years. Odd that there had not been a divorce in all that time, yet she knew she dare not pursue the reasons just yet, if in fact ever, for she could not see herself ever having a conversation with this cold and rather snooty man.
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Publisher Robert Hale Limited, London.
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