A Secret Until Now - Page 52

But she’d done the right thing, almost definitely she’d done the right thing. They’d made a great child, but living together... No, she had made the right decision...totally!

Wasn’t the right thing meant to make you feel good?

She didn’t feel good; she felt like someone who had just slammed the doors of paradise shut and stayed on the wrong side, which was mad because paradise was a cool, calm place of serenity. Serene and Alex... No, she had made the right decision, hadn’t she...?

She lifted her chin and took a deep breath. For God’s sake, Angel, you’ve made your bed and now you have to lie in it...alone.

* * *

Things happened faster than Angel had anticipated. The young woman who was standing in for her nanny was available to accompany Jasmine on the next flight, and she seemed eager to. So it was less than twenty-four hours later that she was thanking her for accompanying Jasmine on the journey and saying goodbye, leaving her to wait for her return flight.

Jasmine, strapped into the seat beside her, was so excited she chatted constantly all the way from the airport, unable to keep still in the seat. When they reached the bungalow she was visibly flagging.

‘You like your bedroom?’ Angel asked as the little girl did her umpteenth circuit of the room.

‘Love it loads,’ she said, taking a seat on the bed, watching while Angel unpacked her small suitcase. Jasmine began to swing her legs metronome style, her heels hitting the wooden frame with a regular dull thud.

‘These shorts are too tight,’ she remarked as Angel took out a blue denim pair with cute ducks on the patch pockets. ‘But we didn’t have any time to buy some more.’

‘Don’t worry, we’ll buy you some new ones. There you go—all done,’ Angel said as she put the last T-shirt in the drawer and closed it. ‘How about a nap?’

The little girl looked offended. ‘I’m not a baby, and I want to go in the water. You promised.’

Angel sighed. Like an elephant, her daughter never forgot. ‘Everyone has naps in the afternoon in warm countries.’

‘Even grown-ups?’

Angel nodded. ‘Absolutely.’

‘So you’re going to take a nap too...with me?’

The logic was inescapable, and Angel, knowing a rash promise once made was hard to escape, dodged the issue.

‘Why don’t you change into your swimsuit and we’ll have a swim first?’ She floated the idea, knowing what the response would be. Watching her daughter leap up and down like a crazy thing on the bed made her realise how quiet her life was without Jas in it, how much emptier.

This was her. This was what she wanted, but did Alex, with his billionaire jet-setting lifestyle, have a clue what he was asking for?

Having left Jas to change into her swimsuit, Angel changed into her own one-piece—a black halter that she double tied at the neck. The last time she had been wearing it in a public pool, Jas had thought it funny to unfasten the bow and Angel had found herself in a very embarrassing topless situation.

* * *

He was nervous.

Alex gave a self-derisive smile. He was nervous of meeting a five-year-old child! Maybe nervous was not the best word to describe the combination of excitement, anticipation and trepidation in his gut. Carrying the gift—it had been a novel, actually a unique, experience for Alex to pick out a gift personally and not delegate the task to his excellent PA—he walked along the beach towards Angel’s bungalow. He was a few hundred yards away when he heard the sound of laughter.

He did not consciously follow the sound but he ended up on the shore, oblivious to the waves lapping over his leather shoes, watching the two playing a game that involved much splashing and lots of noise. The first glimpse of his daughter was as Angel lifted her high out of the water, a wriggling laughing figure whose high-pitched chuckle he could hear above Angel’s husky contralto tone.

There were few perfect moments in life, the really golden ones that stayed with you until the end. Alex had read somewhere that witnessing the birth of your child was considered by many to be one of them. He had not been there for the birth of his child so in some ways this was it: perfect. She was perfect.

‘Who is that man, Mummy?’

Angel, who had just surfaced from the water and was kneeling, turned her head and saw him. Her stomach flipped. She had never associated the word lonely with Alex Arlov but standing there he looked... She swallowed the boulder lodged in her aching throat and slowly got to her feet.

‘That’s my friend.’ She extended her hand to Jasmine. ‘Shall we go say hello?’

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