Sally clenched her fists. She was not a violent person but how she wished she could take a swing at Ben’s handsome face. How dare he take her elbow and talk about fate and offer her his jacket as if nothing had happened?
‘We always knew it was just for the summer, Sally,’ he said and she clenched her hands tighter until her nails bit into her skin.
‘You know that’s not the problem,’ she said. ‘Are you just going to pretend she doesn’t exist?’
She had the pleasure of seeing some of the certainty fade from his face.
‘What do you mean? Who doesn’t exist?’
Sally had the sense that she was in some kind of alternate universe. For all his faults, she’d never pegged Ben as a liar.
It wasn’t that Sally regretted the way her life had turned out, although she did wish there had been a way to combine her archaeology degree and motherhood, but it had been her choice to drop out of university to work in the family café and raise her daughter. Their daughter.
But she did regret being such a fool as to fall for a handsome face, a cut-glass accent and a title.
After all, every Polhallow youth knew to avoid the rich and entitled crowd that flocked to their second homes for the summer. Sally had known better. But Clem had been away that summer, Sally’d been bored and Ben had been there, telling her she was beautiful and special and everything a girl of nineteen wanted to hear. No wonder she’d fallen for him hook, line and every other bit of fishing paraphernalia going.
And although she’d known he was leaving the country at the end of the summer and that there was no future for them, she had still naively believed that Ben was different, that they were different. That he had meant every word.
She’d never been so wrong.
‘Your daughter, Ben,’ she bit out. ‘Aren’t you going to ask me how Alice is?’
Sally stared at the father of her child, her head high, but the sense of wrongness increased. She’d dreamt of this moment. Of confronting him and telling him exactly what she’d thought of him. But now that she was here, it didn’t feel as satisfying as she’d hoped because in all her imaginings she had never seen him step back, brows drawn together and lips compressed tight, glaring at her as if she were the one in the wrong.
‘Daughter? What on earth are you talking about?’
‘Your daughter, Alice, nearly six and a half. The wonderful, lovable, amazing little girl who has never had a dad thanks to you, even though you are her birth father. That daughter!’ She couldn’t keep the biting anger from her voice.Ben stared at her. ‘Sally, I have no idea what you’re talking about.’
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