‘So, if he started with nothing, he must be—clever,’ Maggie hazarded.
‘I believe he’s one of those.’ Belle wrinkled her nose. ‘You know, the kind of gifted person with a lot of foresight and a lot of drive who is always going to make good. I don’t believe he’s at all ostentatious about it, though.’
Belle raised an eyebrow. ‘Do you know him?’
‘I met him. Yesterday, as it happens. He was rather rude to me.’
Her mother blinked. ‘Why?’
‘I have no idea.’ Maggie frowned. ‘How come you know so much about him?’
‘Your aunt Elena has decided to put him on her list of eligible bachelors,’ Belle said ruefully.
They stared at each other, then started to laugh. Elena Chadwick was actually Belle’s cousin. She’d never married yet she wrote a column in a weekly magazine dispensing advice on all sorts of marital problems. When anyone took issue with her lack of experience on the subject, she protested that it was her unbiased views that were invaluable. She was a great promoter of innovative methods for ‘holding onto your man’.
She also kept and updated quarterly, to the delight of her readers, a ten most eligible bachelors’ list; the other noteworthy thing about Elena Chadwick was her talent for unearthing all sorts of unusual facts about people.
‘If I didn’t dislike him so much,’ Maggie said, still gurgling with laughter, ‘I’d feel sorry for him with Elena in hot pursuit! On the other hand, I have no doubt that he can look after himself.’
‘What’s he like?’
Maggie considered. ‘I don’t know, but he could be the kind of man women ride off with into the sunset without giving it a great deal of thought. Some women.’
‘Hmm…’ Belle said, echoing her daughter’s earlier Hmm of doubt and reservation, but accompanied by a searching little look that Maggie missed.
* * *
When she got home later, Maggie closed her front door and took her usual few deep breaths of sheer appreciation of her home.
It was a two-storeyed villa overlooking a lovely golf course on Hope Island. It had a small garden, a conservatory dining room overlooking a fountain and she’d inherited it from her paternal grandmother. She’d also inherited some of the lovely pieces that furnished and decorated it.
She’d been very fond of her father’s mother. Everyone told her she took after Leila Trent, not only in looks but personality although, curiously, this was the one area where they’d failed to agree. Leila had always insisted that if Margaret Leila Trent took after anyone, it was her father, David Trent.
‘But we never do anything but fight!’ Maggie protested, more than once. ‘Well, not always, but you know what I mean.’
‘That’s because, underneath, you’re so much alike,’ Leila insisted. ‘Oh, you’ve got your mother’s more gentle genes to balance it, darling, but essentially you’re a Trent and, whatever else you might like to say about your father, that means you have a lot of drive and a lot of nerve. Your grandfather was much the same.’
Once, Maggie voiced the opinion that she should have been a boy—to gain her father’s approval anyway.
Leila looked at her piercingly. ‘Don’t go down that road, Maggie. Your mother has and—’ She stopped, then added slowly, ‘You just be yourself.’
Leila would never elaborate on what she’d been about to say and six months ago she’d died peacefully in her sleep.
Maggie tossed her bag onto the settee and slipped off her shoes.
She’d managed to avoid Tim, although she’d spoken to him on the phone and accepted his apologies for what had happened. What she hadn’t been able to accept was his complete bafflement over the incident.
‘Jack’s just—normally—not like that,’ he said several times.
Oh, yes? she thought cynically, but she told Tim it wasn’t his fault and said simply that she’d be in touch shortly.
‘I hope that’s not a ‘don’t call us, we’ll call you’ message, Maggie?’
Maggie said no, of course not, but now, as she padded out to water her garden in her bare feet, she frowned, because the fact was that since Sunday afternoon’s incident she’d been curiously at odds with herself. She just couldn’t put her finger on why this was so. Why her smooth, successful life she’d been enjoying so much was suddenly not so appealing to her any more.