|Название||The Price Of His Redemption|
|Автор произведения||Carol Marinelli|
|Серия||Mills & Boon Modern|
In the car he had looked at the small houses and shops as they’d passed them and when the car had turned a corner he had seen in the distance a large imposing red-brick residence. They had been driven down a long driveway and he’d stared at the lawns, fountains and statues outside the huge house.
Daniil hadn’t wanted to get out of the car but he had, silently.
The door was opened by a man in a black suit who looked, to Daniil, to be dressed for a funeral or wedding but his smile was kind.
In the entrance Daniil stood as the adults spoke over him and then up the stairs he was led by the woman who had twice come to the orphanage and who was now his mother.
At the turn of the stairs there was a portrait of his new parents with their hands on the shoulders of a smiling dark-haired child.
He’d been told that they had no children.
The bedroom was large and there was only one bed, which looked out to vast countryside.
He had no idea what she meant until she pointed to a room off the bedroom, and then she had gone.
Daniil had a bath and wrapped a towel around himself, just in time, because there was a knock at the door. It opened and she approached him with an anxious smile. She started to go through his things and kept calling him by the wrong name.
He wanted to correct her and tell her his name was pronounced Dah-neel, rather than the Dae-ne-yuhl she insisted on using, but then he remembered the translator explaining that he had a new name.
That woman, his mother, had rubber gloves on, and his clothes, his shoes were all being loaded into a large garbage bag that the man in the suit was holding. She was still talking in a language he didn’t understand. She kept pointing to the window and then his cheek and making a gesture as if she was sewing and after several attempts he understood that she was going to take him to get his cheek repaired better than Katya had done.
He stared at the case as she disposed of his life and then he saw two pictures, which Daniil knew that he hadn’t packed. Roman had slipped them in, he must have.
It was the first word he had spoken since they had left Russia and the woman let out a small worried cry as Daniil lunged for the photos and told her, no, she must not to get rid of them and neither could she touch them.
His mother had fled the room and the man in the suit stood there for a while before finally coming to sit on the bed and join him in looking at the photos.
‘You?’ He had pointed to Daniil and then to one of the boys in the picture.
Daniil shook his head. ‘Roman.’
The old man with kind eyes pointed to his own chest. ‘Marcus.’
Daniil nodded and looked back at the photo.
Only then did Daniil start to understand that Roman didn’t hate him; he had been trying to save him.
Daniil, though, hadn’t wanted to be saved.
He had wanted to make his way with his brother.
Not alone, like this.
TECHNICALLY, LIBBY TENNENT LIED.
She had made it through the gold glass revolving doors and had walked across the impressive marble floor and was just at the elevators when a uniformed security guard halted her and asked where she was going. ‘I have an appointment with Mr Zverev,’ Libby said.
‘Perhaps you do, but before you can take the elevator, first you have to sign in at Reception.’
‘Oh, of course,’ Libby responded airily, trying to look as if she had simply forgotten the procedure.
Everything about the place was imposing.
It was a luxurious Mayfair address and, even before the taxi had pulled up at the smart building, Libby had realised that getting in to see Daniil Zverev might not prove the cinch that her father had insisted it would be.
Libby walked over to the reception desk and repeated her story to a very good-looking receptionist, saying that she had an appointment to see Mr Zverev, silently hoping that the woman wouldn’t notice that the appointment was, in fact, for her father, Lindsey Tennent.
‘And your name?’
‘Ms Tennent.’ Libby watched as the receptionist typed in the details and saw that her eyes narrowed just a fraction as she looked at the computer screen.
‘One moment, please.’
She picked up the phone and relayed the information. ‘I have a Ms Tennent here. She says that she has an appointment with Mr Zverev.’ There was a moment’s pause and then she looked at Libby. ‘Your first name?’
‘Libby,’ she said, but then, realising that given the way the security was in this place she was likely to be asked for official ID, she amended, ‘Short for Elizabeth.’
Libby tried to appear calm and avoided curling a stray strand of her blond hair around her finger or tapping her feet, as she did not want to appear nervous.
She was nervous, though. Well, not so much nervous, more uncomfortable that she had agreed to do this.
Maybe she wouldn’t have to because the receptionist shook her head as she replaced the phone. ‘Mr Zverev cannot see you.’
‘Excuse me?’ Libby blinked, not only at the refusal but that it came with no apology or explanation. ‘What do you mean, I have—?’
‘Mr Zverev only sees people by strict appointment and, Ms Tennent, you don’t have one.’
‘But I do.’
The receptionist shook her head. ‘It is a Mr Lindsey Tennent who has a 6:00 p.m. appointment. If he was unable to make it then he should have called ahead to see if sending a replacement was suitable—Mr Zverev doesn’t just see anyone.’
Libby knew when she was beaten. She had rather hoped they might not notice the discrepancy—as most places wouldn’t. She was almost tempted to apologise for the confusion and leave, but her father had broken down in tears when he’d asked her to do this for him. Knowing just how much was riding on this meeting, she forced herself to stand her ground. She pulled herself as tall as her petite five-foot-three frame would allow and looked the receptionist squarely in the eye.
‘My father was involved in an car accident earlier today, which is the reason that he couldn’t make it, and sent me as a replacement. Now, can you please let Mr Zverev know that I’m here and ready to meet with him? He knows very well the reason for my visit, or perhaps you’d like me to clarify that here?’
The receptionist glanced at whoever was standing behind Libby and then to the left of her. Clearly Libby had a small audience. The receptionist must have decided that the foyer wasn’t the place to discuss the great man’s business because she gave a tight shrug.
Another phone call was made, though out of Libby’s earshot, and eventually the immaculate woman returned and gave Libby a visitor’s pass. Finally she was permitted past the guarded barrier that existed around Daniil Zverev.
The elevator door was held open for her and she stepped in.
Even the elevator was luxurious. The carpet was thick beneath her feet. There was no piped music, just cool air and subdued lighting, which was very welcome on a hot summer evening after a mad dash across London to get here.
She should never have let her father talk into this, she thought.