Jemma was on her way to the village, with Alice and Pup. It had been quite a while since she had walked into the village, believing it unsafe. It was a lovely day, the sun was shining overhead and the smell of spring flowers filled the air, and she just had to go out.
The strange happenings at the winery seemed to have stopped for a while, at least, and everyone thought Sonya had finally given up.
She hadn’t seen Michael since Christmas. After that night when Carl had kissed her, she knew whom she loved. It wouldn’t have been fair to Michael, to give him hope when there was none.
After Michael had phoned to ask her if she was all right, she had returned his bracelet with a letter. Explaining to him there was no hope for the kind of relationship that he wanted, although she would always consider him a dear friend. She had tried to explain in the letter, that it would be easier for them both if he tried to find someone else. He had phoned several times, begging her to give them more time, perhaps she would change her mind. Jemma had refused as gently as she could, feeling deeply sorry that she couldn’t return his love.
Now as she walked towards the village she smiled softly to herself, breathing in the clean air, she knew she had done the right thing. She may not have all the love she wanted yet, but she was sure in her mind, that Carl was the one she loved. Carl might be different when he came back from England.
Jemma collected the garlic and tomatoes she had come for from the greengrocers. Deciding to have a coffee, and buy an ice cream for Alice at the cafe, before returning home. She stood outside the paper shop, looking at the magazines on the stands.
Turning from the magazine stand, she positioned the pram ready to cross the road to the cafe, when suddenly a taxi swished swiftly past, pulling up outside the cafe. She quickly pulled the pram and Pup back behind the paper stands, instantly recognising Sonya as she flashed past them in the taxi.
She watched as the taxi driver helped Sonya out of the cab and received another nasty surprise, as she saw Michael, cross from the vets over to the cafe.
Michael helped the taxi driver to settle Sonya into a seat, and then entered the cafe. Sonya said a few words to the taxi driver, and he left her, entering the cafe as Michael came out with two drinks and sat down. Sonya began to converse immediately with Michael, as he sat down, waving her hands about in her usual demanding way.
Jemma watched them closely, first in curiosity and then in astonishment. Then, as the idea entered her head that Michael might be in partnership with Sonya, and causing all the accidents, the anger began to build inside her.
Carl, who had been following the taxi, pulled up in a car park on the opposite side of the road to the cafe. He observed her cautiously through the car window, pulling the sun blind down to hide as much of his face as possible. He saw Michael walk out of the cafe with two drinks and sit down at the table with Sonya.
‘Was Michael helping Sonya? Were they in it together?’ Carl’s temper flared as he watched the two of them together. His anger was very near the surface and nearly got the better of him, indeed it took an enormous amount of determination and inner strength not to dash out of the car and thump Michael again. He watched them intently, seething inside, what were they up to this time? ‘If only he could lip read,’ thought Carl longingly.
Michael seemed very agitated and kept waving his arms about. Eventually, Sonya tossed her head angrily, and called the taxi driver over. She gestured at Michael aggressively; telling him to help her into the taxi, then the taxi driver drove the cab away. Carl watched as Michael sat back down at the table and slumped his head into his hands, then he pulled away to follow Sonya.
Looking behind him in the mirror as he pulled away to check the traffic, he gasped in astonishment. ‘What was Jemma doing, crossing the road with the pram to the cafe?’ He watched through his mirror, speculating as she walked over to Michael’s table. ‘God! Was Jemma in on this too?’
His mind in a complete whirl, he continued to follow Sonya’s taxi. She returned home and Carl returned to his lonely vigil his mind seething with sinister possibilities.
Carl sat watching Sonya through the bedroom window. ’What was she up too?
If only he could find out?’ he wanted to ring Mark. Explain what he was doing and ask him for idea’s, try to warn him to be on the lookout, but if he rang it would probably be Jemma who answered the phone. He couldn’t speak to Jemma, what if she was in on Sonya’s plans to destroy them? She knew as much about the business as anyone else he realized. Jemma could have told Michael, and he would pass the information on to Sonya.
His mind whirled round in circles, one scenario following another passing in never ending circles before his mind’s eye, driving him nearly crazy.
That night, Sonya retired earlier than usual and Carl laid his weary body down to rest, the days’ happenings still floating around in his tortured brain. It took a long time before he finally dropped off to sleep. The alarm woke him with sore eyes and a raging headache.
Jemma walked home in a rage. When she’d seen Sonya leave Michael she’d hurried across the road to the cafe, and sat down angrily at Michael’s table. Michael had looked up in surprise, a smile on his face as he recognised Jemma. ‘Cherie, how pleasant to see you.’ said Michael happily
’I’ll give you pleasant!’ snapped Jemma aggressively. Michael sat back in his chair abruptly, shocked at the unpleasant response from the beautiful Jemma. He had never seen her so aroused.
’Was that woman Sonya, you were just speaking to?’
‘Yes’ said Michael; taken aback by the flashing green eyes that challenged him.
’Do you know her?
’Not very well,’ Michael replied unhappily, he didn’t know quite how to take this new Jemma. ‘Was she angry with him for talking to another woman, perhaps she was jealous. Maybe, there was a chance for him yet?’ He smiled his lazy sexy smile at her. ‘Are we jealous my little pet?’ his French accent was very prominent as he spoke to her teasingly. Jemma sat silently staring at him angrily. The look shining from the bright green eyes would have withered a tree. Michael gazed at her, completely bewildered by her attack. ‘Don’t be angry sweetheart.’ His blue eyes begged her. ‘Sonya, apparently, is my half sister, or so my mother tells me.’ Here he shrugged eloquently. ‘[A real bitch] my mother said and that’s her own mother, no recommendation for anyone is It.’ his hands lifted up expressively as he gazed pleadingly into her eyes.
What was she doing here?’ Jemma didn’t know for sure yet, if she believed him or not, ‘but perhaps she could wangle some more information out of him,’ she moved closer edging her chair nearer to the table, and watched him thoughtfully.
‘Oh, err, she rang me up a couple of days ago, demanding to see me, said she had a business proposition to put to me. We arranged to meet today. So, my Cherie, Now you will believe, she is not a girlfriend, yes.’ He smiled at Jemma, hoping to have placated her.
Jemma frowned; she wasn’t going to leave not until she had weaseled as much information as she could from Michael about what Sonya was there for.
‘Did you know she was once married to Mark?’
Michael sat back on his chair, and thought, a frown crossing his face. ‘I’m sorry Jemma. No, I don’t think I did. A couple of days ago, I didn’t even know I had a half sister. She rang the house and asked my mother if she could speak to me, it was then she told me on the phone that she wanted to meet me. Of course I questioned my mother. Why had she never told me before that I had a half sister, she was pretty upset about the whole affair, I don’t think, she actually told me the whole story. She did warn me though; that Sonya was a bad influence and that a very rich father, who had brought her up believing, she could have anything she wanted, had brought her up. She then told me that if I had any sense, I would take her advice and keep well away from her.’
’What did she want you for Michael?’
‘I’m sorry Jemma, I couldn’t find that out, all that I can tell you, is she wanted me to go to her house and pick her up. Then I was to bring her back over here, to somewhere near the village. After that, I had to wait for her and then drive her to another town. He replied softly it all sounded up in the air and very suspicious to me. So, I took my mother’s advice and told her, that I had to mend the car, as it needed some new parts and got out of it that way. I know it was a bit cowardly of me’ he said, pulling his face. Then he shrugged his shoulders again expressively.
‘Have you heard about all the accidents that have been going on at the winery?’ Jemma asked him, watching his face intently.
Michael looked pleadingly at her ‘I did here about the caravan that was set on fire, but living out of the village, I don’t hear, all the gossip.’
‘Well, there have been a lot of accidents and the house was set on fire. The brakes on the car were deliberately cut through the police say, and everyone, believes that Sonya has a lot to do with it. So, if you have any sense like your mother says maybe it would be better for you to keep away from Sonya.’ Jemma gave him a warning look as she rose from the table.
Pushing Alice’s pram away from the table, she called Pup, who lay sprawled out on the pavement in the afternoon sunshine and headed home.
She was still in a raging mood when she stomped into the house, her anger having built up even more as she walked home. Entering the kitchen, she snapped irritably at Abbey.
’Is Mark home, Abbey?’
‘Yes, he’s in the office Jemma.’
‘Whew! She’s walked in with the huff on’ thought Abbey, staring at her friends back as she marched through the kitchen into the office. ‘It’s not like Jemma to be so blunt.’
Jemma marched through to the office, leaving Alice in the kitchen with Abbey.
She walked straight into the office without knocking.
‘Jemma?’ a question in his voice Mark said looking up in surprise, it wasn’t like Jemma to just walk in, and she looked pretty upset it must be something important. He walked around the desk and pulled a chair up for her.
‘Here, sit down Jemma. What is the matter?’
‘I’ve just come back from the village Mark, and I saw Sonya, there. She was talking, to Michael.’
‘To Michael, so that’s what the matter is,’ thought Mark she’s upset because some girl had been talking to Michael.
‘She perhaps still liked Michael, then he suddenly, realised what she’d said.’
His face changed colour, and he sat down at his side of the desk, collapsing heavily, into the chair.
‘Sonya! And, Michael! Surely not! He gasped’
‘You thought exactly as I did at first, that they were probably in some kind of partnership together.’ She leaned across the desk; her hands tightly clasped together watching Mark’s face change. ‘Apparently, Sonya is Michael’s, half sister.’
‘Good lord!’ Mark replied sharply, sitting bolt upright in his chair and staring in amazement at Jemma.
’How did you manage to find that out?’
’I asked him how he knew her. He realised how upset I was, and thought I was jealous, he gladly gave me the information,’ she gave him a sorrowful smile.
’I see’ Mark sat back, a studios look, now embedded on his face. ‘What was she doing in the village? Did you manage to find that out as well?’ he asked her hopefully.
’Yes, Michael was quite happy to tell me. He didn’t know himself until a few days are ago, that Sonya was his half sister. She rang him up, and his mother told him about her. She also advised him to be very careful, because she was the sort to lead him into trouble. I’m glad to say that he took her advice. Michael told me all he could.’ They sat heads together over the desk, as she related the facts to Mark.
’Didn’t she give him any more directions?’ he inquired hopefully.
’No, Sonya, just wanted him to bring her to somewhere near the village and I think we know where that is, don’t we Mark?’ she gazed into his eye’s knowledgeably.
Abbey joined them in the office with Alice propped on her hip. ‘Whatever’ has happened Jemma? You were in a right huff when you came through the kitchen. Have you calmed down a bit now?’ she smiled across at Mark, hoping for some sort of explanation.
’I’ll explain everything later Abbey, first I think I should phone the police and see if there’s anything they can do,’ and he hurriedly picked the phone up, a worried frown on his face.
Jemma took her arm and led her back into the kitchen. ‘Shall we go and get the meal ready Abbey. I can, explain some of the things that have been happening.’
Mark followed them into the kitchen a few minutes later. His voice was rather tetchy, as he repeated what the police had told him. ‘It seems, they can’t do anything, unless, we have proof of a specific threat. But, they have said that a patrol car will be sent around this area twice a day, and once at night. I suppose it’s something, I explained about all the trouble we’ve had, and that Sonya threatened she would take Alice away. I think I may have got through to them this time.’
He mumbled despairingly. ‘I wish Carl, were here?’ Jemma and Abbey’s eyes met in sympathy for Mark.
The evening meal was a quiet affair; each sat eating their meal, deep in their own troubled thoughts. The girls put Alice to bed, and then wandered into the living room to join Mark. Abbey walked over to join Mark on the settee, sitting down at his side, and he slid his arm around her shoulders giving her a doleful look. The talk centered on the meeting of Michael and Sonya, each trying to guess what she would be up to next.
’Sorry Abbey, I thought it was all over. Everything was quiet again for a while. I thought that once you came home for good, we could start arranging the wedding.’
Abbey smiled up at him, her heart in her eyes. ‘Don’t worry so Mark, it will be soon.’ She snuggled up to him, trying to give him some kind of reassurance.
‘I wonder where Carl, is? We haven’t heard a word from him, since he went to England,’ Mark said despondently.
Jemma stood up.
‘Goodnight Mark, Abbey, I hope you don’t mind if I leave you, but I feel very tired for some reason. See you in the morning.’
‘Night Jemma, things will get better soon. You’ll see.’ Abbey smiled consolingly at her friend.
They both watched in quiet sympathy, as she left the room, then began discussing the future hopes for their wedding plans