Although Lara Fairmont directs passion and focus into her London business, it goes bust with spectacular finality. Despondent, almost bankrupt, she nabs an astonishingly well-paid job as a carer for an elderly grande dame of Lobster Cove. What could be easier? Almost anything, for a start. A heady mix of misunderstanding, folklore, suspicion, and the hand of fate unbalances Lara from the moment she steps into Lucas Dalton’s desolate mansion on the shore. How many unanswered questions can there be? For a start, is her boss, Lucas – deep-sea diver, oil-rig maintenance man, and closet architect – unhinged? Is he way out of control, or merely lost in a dark place? Where’s his wife? Why so little light, and so much shade? Bewitched, Lara falls in love with the beauty of Maine, and the inexplicably irresistible Lucas. But, is he the devoted son, widower, and father he claims to be, or someone entirely different?
“Thanks,” I say, looking at his other hand, unmarked and big, with the teeniest trace of hair, strong fingers and healthy, short rectangular nails. His hands match his teeth: perfect, with character.
Why am I even thinking about these things?
“Look,” he says. “All Amy did was get my mother’s and Lis’s names mixed up.”
All? What about the seventy years separating the two? “Can’t you postpone your trip?”
“We’re decommissioning a rig in the North Sea this week. One of the legs needs urgent assessment. There’s a corrosion problem. It’s an emergency so, no, I can’t postpone my trip.”
“Well, I can’t stay.”
He shrugs. “Then you will be responsible if that platform collapses, dumping everyone in the sea. Their chances of survival will be zero. Husbands, sons, brothers, fathers of children will be drowned—”
This is not jolly. “It’s not my fault that Ocean Kazang has a wonky leg!”
“Ocean Zen. And as it happens, it is not an Ocean Zen rig that has the problem. It’s the Trident 202. It’s not your fault, of course, but it will be your fault if I have to delay my departure and something bad happens.”
Blackmail! “How ridiculous to design an oil rig with corrosive legs.”
“There’s no such word.”
“Corrodible. Believe me I know.”
He sits again, opposite, and rests his jaw in his hand, the one with the scars, and studies me. “The ocean is a hard taskmaster, Lara Jasmine Layla Fairmont. We fight a constant battle.”
Well, at least he’s read my CV.
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