From Chapter 37
‘Gramps wasn’t around anymore. Successful industrialists don’t have time for their daughters. My mother had her hands full with the boys. Teenagers crave attention. That’s all I was doing. It turned out I was quite normal. I finally grew up. Sports were helpful.’
He was as intrigued with her as ever. ‘What kind of sports?’
‘Gymkhana horse riding, till I was 15, and then some board surfing, on the odd occasion, and then, more recently, board sailing. I love to be at one with nature.’ She flicked back her hair and looked up at the sun.
‘So,’ he said in response, ‘we both know how to ride a horse – that’s a start isn’t it?’
‘Yeah,’ I guess so, she replied, ‘but I’d rather play golf.’
‘I’d be delighted if you’d play with me,’ he stated enthusiastically. ‘What did you do when you were “finished” at that “finishing school” of yours?’
‘I’ve told you,’ she answered: ‘my old man wanted me “barefoot and pregnant” in the kitchen next door – he thought it was time I settled down. We had a hell of a fight, but I had Guido on my side, and my mother finally came to the party and supported me.
‘I enrolled in a journalism course at Texas U, in Austin. I did quite well. My old man finally acknowledged my existence by coming to my graduation ceremony. And then our relationship became an armed truce, when I “informed” him I’d decided to go out on my own.’ Using her index and middle fingers, she drew quotation marks in the air, around the word “informed”.
‘That wasn’t his idea of how a good Italian woman should conduct herself. I basically told him, “Go fuck yourself!”, but I used more diplomatic language – as they taught me at finishing school. He finally came to realise he’d been a failure as a father, and backed off. From time to time, he still dangles my trust fund in my face, in the hope he can make me see reason and live my life according to his paternal script.’
‘Right,’ Luke acknowledged. ‘And your mother?’
‘Mum died when I was 20, a week before my 21st-birthday party. That rug was also pulled out from under me, and it was the last straw, as far as I was concerned. That’s when I moved to San Francisco to start living my own life properly.
‘That’s also why I wanted to know your views about gay marriage. Like Sydney, San Fran’s got a large gay community, and I’m lucky enough to have a lot of gay friends.’
His ‘naughty streak’ surfaced again. ‘And if you come to live in Australia among the “large gays”?’
She smiled, but was clearly fixated on wrapping up her story. ‘Some of them might miss me.’
‘Did you struggle to get a job?’
‘No,’ she answered, ‘not really. A few doors were opened to me because I topped my class and was the daughter of Louis Marchetti.’
Luke imagined the opening doors, and indulged in a quick fantasy about banging his boys up against her open doors . . . ‘So,’ he remarked, ‘he wasn’t entirely a waste of rations . . . Hang on a second: did you just say you topped your class?’
She had a palpable air of relief that she’d finally told her story. ‘Look, Luke, he’s not really a bad guy; it’s just he’s been hanging on to his old values in the modern world. I’m convinced that somewhere deep inside him, he’s just as sad as I am that we don’t have a relationship. I’m his only daughter. Maybe, if you and I finally get together, it’ll serve as an ice breaker.’
‘You topped your class?’ he persisted.
‘Yes,’ she replied, with a trace of impatience. ‘So what?
He considered his next question. ‘Can I ask you something personal?’
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Conspiracy Thriller
Rating – MA (15+)
Connect with Brian Bloom on Twitter