Iris Brown is a single parent doing her best to raise her beautiful two-year-old daughter, Paola. But when Sergio, Paola’s father, a dashing-but-arrogant Spanish businessman comes back on the scene, everyone’s lives are thrown into chaos. She fears he may take Paola away from her. Iris must decide what’s best for her and her daughter, and whether she can ever trust Sergio again.
He broke her heart once. Will she let him do it again?
Iris Brown strolled contentedly and unhurriedly along the leafy avenue, her young daughter happy in her stroller. Though her small frame struggled pushing the heavy buggy up the slope towards the park café and her child’s promised ice-cream, Iris delighted in the glorious feeling of the late afternoon sunshine warming her back against the chill of the spring breeze. If she really concentrated on the beautiful blue sky and greenery surrounding her, she could almost imagine she wasn’t actually in the centre of London.
Taking her time, and making the most of the fresh air after being sat at her laptop working for the last few hours, Iris chatted away to her daughter, asking about her day at playgroup and what she’d like for tea.
Iris was so enjoying her walk that at first she was unaware of the group of very serious and intense businessmen striding along the gravel path towards them. Only when they were about to pass did Iris fleetingly register them, noting their dark hair and tanned skins. But hearing a curt “buono” in a voice she instantly recognised, she experienced a sickening jolt throughout her body and became rooted to the ground with shock.
It couldn’t be. It just couldn’t be. She caught the eye of the speaker and saw recognition reflected there. He stood stock still, looking as astonished as she felt.
Surprised as she was, Iris couldn’t help but notice that Sergio Batista-Sanchez was just as handsome as ever. His confident, faintly haughty air hadn’t changed a bit in the three years since she’d last seen him. Tall and imposing, he was the very image of the impeccably dressed, conservative man of business. Only his ever-so-slightly too long and messy hair hinted that there might be an undercurrent of rebellion hidden beneath the surface.
With horror, Iris tracked Sergio’s eyes as they moved from her to her daughter and took in her beautiful Mediterranean complexion which contrasted starkly with Iris’s own far paler skin and blond hair. Understanding flashed across his dark eyes, and he took a hesitant step towards them.
Impulsively, Iris fled, her heart thumping wildly in her chest as she sought to quell the terror she could feel rapidly building inside. There was little if any thought involved in her actions other than her desperate need to get away from Sergio as quickly as possible. She hadn’t gone to so much trouble just to have it all ruined now. Trying to quell her panic, she put her head down and concentrated on getting to the relative safety of her home. She knew Sergio would be watching her go, and taking note of the direction she took, but was also sure he wasn’t the sort to run after her. That would be far too undignified for such an important man in front of his not-quite-so-important colleagues.
She reached the sanctuary of their poky rented ground-floor flat and locked the door firmly behind her. Her heart rate began to slow, and she was able to deal with her little girl’s continued requests for ice cream.
She found a choc ice in the depths of the freezer, placating her easy-going daughter. Iris’s mind returned to the problem of what she should do.
Would leaving London help? Probably not: she was sure now Sergio knew about her secret, he would follow her wherever she went. He was the type of man who could find out anything he wanted with just one phone call. Maybe she could buy herself some time if she went to her mother’s? It wouldn’t take long to throw some things in a bag, and her mother was only about an hour away by train. But how would her mother react? They weren’t close, hadn’t seen each other for well over a year, and her mother was a woman who liked her whole life to be very carefully organised, with absolutely no surprises. Children were never a welcome addition to her schedule. Iris was still thinking about calling to test the waters, when she heard her front-door buzzer. She had to admit she was impressed with his speed. How had her ex-lover managed to get rid of his work associates, find out her address, and be outside her front door in less than half an hour?
Iris’s immediate reaction was to ignore him, but the buzzer continued relentlessly, and she finally went over to the door, telling her little girl to stay where she was in the kitchen. Steeling herself, and taking a deep breath in an effort to control her nerves, she opened the door. She managed to appear perfectly calm and composed to a furious Sergio who tried to step into the flat saying: “Iris. We need to talk. Now.”
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