‘But—Griff Morgan!’ Her eyes had widened with sudden recognition of the name. ‘You're the investigative reporter, aren't you?’ she realised incredulously.
Most people, in England at least, had heard of the name Griff Morgan; he had made a career out of the type of exposé stories that the general public couldn't help but notice, sparing that public none of the graphic details.
Yes, Griff Morgan knew of all the hell life had to offer, had seen most of it first-hand. Which probably accounted for that air of cynicism she had sensed about him on such brief acquaintance. And yet he seemed to have maintained his sense of humour too, those laughter lines about his eyes and mouth not a figment of her imagination.
‘That's me,’ he confirmed lightly, dismissing the idea of any importance being attached to that.
‘I read the stories on drug addiction you did last year.’ She shuddered at the memory. ‘They were harrowing!'
Something of the horror flickered in his own eyes, and then disappeared, the amusement instantly back in his expression. ‘They were meant to be,’ he said dismissively. ‘And the answer to the second question you asked me a minute ago is that, for the moment, I'm staying here.'
Sarah frowned at this knowledge. ‘When you say “staying here” do you mean—–?'
‘I mean,’ Griff Morgan took up her hesitant speech, ‘that until I decide otherwise I'm going to live at the villa. I always stay here when I can get away,’ he added with a shrug as she still didn't look convinced. Griff looked amused—at her expense! ‘I'm sure that once Virginia gets back from her cruise she'll confirm all this for you. In the meantime—–'
‘In the meantime I think you should let go of my hand!’ She extricated herself with difficulty, having suddenly become aware of a lightly caressing thumb against her palm, the intimacy of the action not lost on her. ‘I really do have to finish watering these plants,’ she added, slightly agitated, a delicate blush to her cheeks.
He strolled across the bedroom to sort through the crumpled clothes that lay in the open suitcase on the floor. ‘I just fell into bed when I arrived last night,’ he ruefully explained the untidiness. ‘I was a little tired. No—make that exhausted,’ he grimaced.
‘Have you been working on another story?’ She found it difficult to keep the avid interest out of her voice, intrigued in spite of herself.
Besides, it helped take her mind off the rumpled intimacy of the bed behind him, the indentation his head had left on the pillow still there from when he had got out of bed earlier.
‘Something like that,’ he said drily.
‘They said that when you did the drug-addiction stories last year you actually took drugs yourself.’ She frowned at the danger of that much dedication, important as it was to expose the people who pushed and sold those drugs.
‘Never!’ he denied harshly, making a visible effort to regain his composure as he realised he had briefly lost it. ‘I wouldn't get involved in that destruction for any price. No, Sarah,’ he shook his head, ‘I just gave a good impression of being involved. I was lucky enough to get away with it. Most of the people in that business play dirty.’ He frowned, the humour he made such an effort to maintain once again pushed aside in favour of a stronger emotion, anger this time. ‘Very dirty,’ he added grimly.
‘Is it worth risking your life just to get a story?’ She shook her head.
His mouth quirked, the warmth back in his eyes, making Sarah wonder if she had imagined the cold anger in his face a moment ago. Looking at him now, lazily relaxed, it was hard to imagine him being anything else. He looked like a man who enjoyed life to the full.
He tapped her lightly on the end of her nose with one long, tapered finger. ‘All of life is a gamble, little one,’ he drawled. ‘And if I didn't achieve more than getting a story for all that effort maybe it wouldn't be worth it,’ he added seriously. ‘But if it means just one of those ba—–one pusher,’ he amended tautly, ‘can be put behind bars then that's reason enough for me to take the risk. I can't believe that you, as a nurse, don't have a similar opinion,’ he cajoled.
She did. Of course she did. But, ‘I don't risk my own life trying to do something about it.'
‘You can't seem to make up your mind whether that's a good thing or a bad thing,’ he said teasingly. ‘Let's forget about all that,’ he dismissed firmly. ‘And you can answer me a question that's been puzzling me ever since I got here.'
Sarah couldn't look away from the warmth of those tawny-coloured eyes, mesmerised by their depths, held captive by the deep gold flecks within the light brown. ‘Yes?’ she prompted huskily.
He grinned, the cleft looking twice as endearing. ‘Where the hell is Jasper?’ His mouth quirked with humour. ‘I haven't seen the little devil since I arrived.'
Sarah gave him a slightly scathing look for the frivolousness of the question after they had been talking so seriously. But then, maybe this was his answer to not being completely destroyed by the horrors of life that he wrote about. As a nurse, she too had to deal with life or death situations which, if she'd allowed herself to become too emotionally involved, could have driven her completely insane.
‘Mrs Major felt it would be better if her cat went to board at his usual place while she was away,’ she dismissed, just glad that Clarissa hadn't volunteered her to look after the damned cat too! ‘Apparently, he needs a lot of care, and—–'
‘Virginia has created a monster,’ he acknowledged. ‘It comes of not having any children, I believe.'
‘I wouldn't know about that.’ Sarah was deliberately evasive, not wishing to get into a discussion about the other woman's private life with a man who was, at least to her, a complete stranger. Even if he did seem to know Virginia Major and her lifestyle very well.
It was in what capacity he knew the other woman that kept niggling away at her.
She gave him a searching look, seeing past the humour and charm to the rugged leanness of his body, the sensual knowledge in his eyes. In his mid-thirties, there was no doubting that he was devastatingly attractive.
But just where did Virginia Major fit into his life? Or, rather, he into hers, as he appeared to be the one who was a guest in her villa?
The other woman was older than him by at least ten years, possibly as many as fifteen. But she was still a beautiful woman, had a sexily voluptuous figure that showed to advantage in the fashionably flattering clothes she always wore, her hair still silkily blonde, her face youthfully beautiful with the aid of expertly applied make-up.
Sarah knew little or nothing about the other woman's personal life, and she knew that much to her chagrin, Clarissa hadn't been able to find out a lot about her private life either. Not that she hadn't tried!
Sarah wasn't too proud of the suspicions she now had concerning the relationship between Griff Morgan and Virginia Major, but she couldn't help wondering if the reason the other woman had kept so much to herself while living here was because she preferred the friends she had made while living in England—one very special ‘friend’ in particular. Goodness knew, Virginia Major would be far from the first woman to make a fool of herself over some unsuitable man. Who knew that better than Sarah herself?
Tawny-coloured eyes were narrowed on her as she looked up at Griff, his expression questioning. ‘Is there something wrong?’ He frowned.
‘Nothing at all,’ she denied briskly, breaking his gaze abruptly. ‘I really must finish up here and be on my way; I promised Stephen that I would take him swimming before lunch.’ And there was likely to be a temper tantrum if she didn't keep her word. Of the three children Stephen was most like his mother, given to venting his temper if he didn't get his own way.
Living in such close contact with Clarissa these last ten days had certainly given Sarah a new insight into the woman who had always seemed so beautiful and charming on the few occasions she had been visiting Sarah's mother at the same time as