Returning from her much-needed holiday in the sun, Shelley is met by shocking news. She hadn't even known Great-uncle Nicholas was dead. Her saviour three years ago when she had badly needed a friend, he had allowed her to rent one of his cottages and a sail-loft in a lovely Cornish harbour for her glass-making business. Now all the property belongs to his grandson, Adam. Shelley knows she can expect no mercy from Adam. For hadn't she walked out on him, and her family, just before their wedding - without any explanation?
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Adam Trelawney lifted the newly installed telephone from a large plan spread out on the floor of the empty room, and set it on the marble hearth.
Rolling the plan into its protecting cardboard tube, he straightened with athletic ease and brushed dust from the sleeve of his beautifully cut dark business suit.
He surveyed the room. Its exquisite proportions were repeated throughout the house.
Late-afternoon sunlight streamed in through long, elegant windows, the cracked and missing panes now replaced. Even the cobwebs, dust and years of neglect could not detract from the high moulded ceiling and white marble fireplace.
The decorators had started outside. Interior work would begin tomorrow and once that was finished the hardwood floor, now muddy and dirt-streaked, would again reveal its mellow beauty.
Absently turning the cardboard tube in his hands, Adam moved to the window. It would take longer to restore the gardens. He had already put word out, hoping to find the men who used to work here. Men who knew the soil and the needs of the plants, shrubs and trees that grew in it, and who would require little supervision. Given the money he was prepared to pay there would be no shortage of willing applicants. He lifted his gaze to the town on the far side of the river.
Turning abruptly he left the house, locking the front door behind him. His shoes crunched on the weed-choked gravel. As he approached the maroon Daimler it occurred to him that he would have to buy another car, something smaller and more suited to the narrow, winding Cornish roads. He’d keep the Daimler though. It would be useful for trips up to London.
He got into the car, tossed the plan onto the back seat, and glanced out of the side window at the house. What was he doing here? Why had he bought this place? He had washed his hands of her, put her out of his mind, over and over again. She had walked – no, run – out of his life without a word of explanation. Had it not been for the strange business of his grandfather Nicholas’s will it was unlikely their paths would ever have crossed again.
His mobile beeped softly. He lifted it to his ear. ‘Trelawney.’ He listened. ‘No, not this afternoon. It will have to be tomorrow.’ He turned his head and his gaze focused on a row of four terraced cottages on the quay almost directly opposite. ‘I have a meeting.’ He listened again. ‘Important? It could be,’ he said quietly and replaced the receiver. His long, powerful fingers lingered for a moment on the cool plastic as he brooded.
Then his jaw tightened. One corner of his mouth lifted in a grim smile and, with the self-assurance that characterised all his actions, he started the big car. At the top of the curving drive, he turned on to the road that would take him across the bridge and into the town.