ROMANCE IN FRANCE

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Chapter 17

Carl shut the alarm off, just before it went off. He’d hardly slept at all for the last week. Since following Sonya the week before, his mind had been in a total turmoil turning the problems over and over again inside his head. The worst part about it was wondering if Jemma could be in on the plot too. He sighed miserably and dragged himself off the pallet scrubbing the heels of his hands into his eye sockets. Nothing had happened in the last week, and he was beginning to wonder if he was wasting his time. Maybe he should pack it in and return home. He finished shaving, and returned to his vigil in the bedroom window, shuffling his feet wearily.

A car drew up outside Sonya’s house, and Carl bucked up, ‘at last’ he said, watching eagerly. The binoculars he had bought made it easier to see what was going on. It looked as if it were a hire car; a young man left the car and walked up the path. He held a set of keys, which he dangled from his finger. Carl watched as the man knocked at the door. A moment later, the keys were taken from his finger by a hand. The young man sauntered back down the path, and a car that had parked further up the road, drove down and picked him up.

Carl sat glued to the widow, hardly daring to move in case he missed anything. The anticipation he’d felt slowly ebbed away as the day passed. At four o’clock in the morning he cursed softly to himself. Lying down on the camp bed he fell into a troubled sleep. The next day, he watched and waited, feeling tense and exhausted, the day, dragging sluggishly into the night.

It was three o’clock, and Sonya had retired for the night early. He wandered across the room wearily, to lie down, thinking he was going to get an early night.

He scrunched the pillow up under his head, turning over to go to sleep, when he heard a motor cough into life. Like a flash of lightening he was up and dashing to the window. The hire car was just pulling away from the kerb. He turned to leave the room and fell, headlong over the camp bed. Cursing himself in foul language that he wouldn’t normally have used for his stupidity, he picked himself up, and collected his jacket and keys. He had a good idea where her destination was, and would soon catch her up.

Sonya laughed mirthlessly, as she crept out of the back door; the keys she held in her hand were for the little black fiat she’d hired. She’d dressed in head to foot in black she was the black phantom. She was going to show those Robinson’s; she had meant what she’d said. She would take her daughter and hold her for ransom. They were pathetic, all would be in her grasp the vineyard and the caravan park, she had it all planned to the last detail. That stupid half-wit brother could have been in on the plan if he had helped her but she didn’t need him anyway.

The car started first turn of the key. The garage she had hired it from had known her father. He wouldn’t have sent her something that was inferior, because he knew he would have to face her retribution. Like her father before her, she knew how to deal the kind of punishment that would result in complete abeyance.

It wasn’t far to the village and at this time of the night she didn’t expect much traffic on the roads to hinder, either her approach to the vineyard or her getaway. All she needed to concentrate on was getting Alice away, before anyone found her. She knew which was Alice’s bedroom, and there would probably only be the brothers in the house. She had fired Mark’s rooms, so he would more than likely have moved to the other end of the house.

She sighed softly, pleased with herself. Until she caught the faint glow of headlights in her mirror, damn! There was someone behind her, she speeded up a bit and breathed a sigh of relief as she turned onto the corner that led down Coggin Hill to the vineyard. Only a couple more miles could that car be following her, she glanced in the mirror. No sign of it, good, she grinned corrosively her face was twisted in a parody of its former beauty.

The car hardly making a sound, she pulled up outside the kitchen door; silently she fitted the key into the well-oiled lock and opened the door warily. Grinning maliciously, she tiptoed across the kitchen floor and flitted through into the hallway like the phantom shadow she represented, creeping stealthily across the carpeted hall to the first stair. She was here she thought triumphantly.

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