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Authors: Sara Craven

Moon of Aphrodite

BOOK: Moon of Aphrodite
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Helen could perfectly well understand why her Greek mother had run away from an

unwanted, arranged marriage and cut herself oil from her tyrannical father for ever. Now

that father, Helen's grandfather, wanted Helen to visit him in Greece—and unwillingly

Helen had been persuaded to go. Then, too late, she realised her grandfather _had set

a trap—to ensure that a chosen bride of the Leandros family did not escape a second

time ...

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It was imperative that Rachel should go off to Colombia to find her brother, who was searching for a

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Solitaire, her kindly Uncle Jim's house in the Vendee region of France, represented a welcoming

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realised. And if she did not get away quickly, there would be even more unhappiness—for Luc

Damarais was right out of her league.





All the characters in this book have no existence outside the imagination of the Author, and have no relation whatsoever to

anyone bearing the same name
or names. They arc not even distantly inspired by any
individual known or unknown to the
Author, and all the incidents are pure invention.

The text of this publication or any part thereof may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic

or mechanical, including photocopying
recording, storage in an information
retrieval system
or otherwise, without the
of the publisher. This book ii sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be
lent, refold, hired out or otherwise circulated
without the prior consent of the publisher in any form of
binding or cover other
than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including
this condition
being imposed on the subsequent

published 1980

Australian copyright

Philippine copyright 1981

This edition 1981

o 263
73421 8

Set in Linotype Baskerville 10 on 11 pt.

Made and printed in Great Britain by Richard Clay (The Chaucer Press),
Ltd., Bungay, Suffolk


'I'M not going and that's final,' Helen said.

Hugo Brandon gave a worried sigh and pushed a hand through his thick thatch of

greying hair. The letter lay between them on the breakfast table, flimsy, foreign-

looking, the handwriting spiky and black, managing to convey an impression of


He said, 'Don't be too hasty

'Too hasty?' Helen’s’ eyes flashed fire. 'Dad, you can't be serious! After the way he

treated you and Mother —cutting her off completely like that. Refusing al com-

munication, even when she was so il and begged him to write and say she was


Her father was silent, staring down at the tablecloth, his fingers drawing a restless

pattern on it.

She said, 'Or that's what you've always told me, Dad, dozens of times. Are you going to

say now that it wasn't true?'

'Oh, it was (rue. And more.' Hugo's voice was heavy. 'But he's an old man, Helen, a sick

old man. You're his only grandchild, and he wants to see you. It isn't that


'My God!' Helen said explosively, and there was a tense silence.

letter from Grandfather Korialis had come like a bolt from the blue. Helen had read

it twice and she stil could hardly believe the contents. For nearly nineteen years, her

Greek grandfather had chosen to forget her existence. He had not even acknowledged

the news of her birth. And now this demand for her presence at his vil a on the island of

Phoros, just off the Greek mainland. Surely he couldn't real y believe that after al this

time, al this bitterness, she would simply present herself to order.

But perhaps he did. Perhaps when you owned a chain of hotels
like Michael Korialis,

when you said 'Jump', everyone jumped.

Wel , she, Helen, was neither his employee nor beholden to him in any way. On the

contrary, she thought broodingly, she would be the exception to the Korialis rule. She

would not jump.

Hugo said gently, 'Has it occurred to you to think what your mother
would have wanted

you to do?' >

Helen had a brief unhappy image of her mother not long before her death six years

previously, the sweet high cheekbones, which Helen had inherited, thrown into

prominence by the haggard thinness of her face.

She knew what Maria Brandon would have wanted —had wanted al her married life,

happy though it had been. She had
wanted to be reconciled with the stern man in

Greece who had cast her off from him completely when she had defied him and the

marriage he had arranged for her, to elope with the tal English artist who had been

staying in a nearby vil age.

She knew that if it had been to her mother that this unexpected olive branch had been

extended, then she would have accepted it without a second thought, and joyful y too.

But I'm not capable of that kind of generosity, Helen told herself flatly. After years of

slights and neglect, I can't just perform an about-face and pretend that it al never

happened. Al this time, he's ignored the fact that I'm alive, yet now he wants to see

me. It makes no sense.

But at the
same time, having read her grandfather's letter, she was uneasily aware that

it made al the sense in the world. The letter had not been long, but it had been very

much to the point.

He had suffered a severe heart attack, he wrote, and wished before he died to see his

only grandchild. An air ticket to Athens would be provided, transport to the island

arranged, and al her expenses met. He would expect her to stay at his vil a for a

minimum of one month. .

The tone of the letter had been so much like a business contract that she had almost

looked for the inevitable dotted tine on which to sign,

She glanced up and saw her father watching her, his face grave and a little

compassionate, as if he sensed her inner struggle.

She said reproachful y, 'You're not being fair. But it makes no difference. Even if I

wanted to go—and I don't—it wouldn't be possible. We're coming up to the height of

the tourist season, and you know how busy the gal ery becomes.'

Hugo nodded. 'I know, but I'd be prepared to release you, and find another assistant, if

you were wil ing to go to Phoros.'

'I don't understand you.' She spread her hands helplessly.

'I'm not sure I understand myself,' he admitted. 'I only know that I'm tired of the

bitterness and enmity, and that this seems a good way to end them once and for al .

But if you real y feel that you can't do it, then I won't press you. The ultimate decision

must be yours.’

'If he'd invited you as wel ...' she began, but he cut across her with a wry smile.

'Now that real y would be impossible for al sorts of reasons. It's you he wants to see—

Maria's daughter.'

'I feel I'm being blackmailed,' she said in a low voice. 'Not very subtle pressure is being

applied and I don't like it.' Her voice deepened passionately. 'After al , he didn't respond

when Mother was so il .'

'Your mother underplayed the seriousness of the situation, perhaps deliberately, I

don't know. She always made excuses for him and his actions al her life. Perhaps she

was letting him down lightly for the last lime.'

Helen said, 'Yes,' almost absently, Her hand reached for the letter, screwing it into a

bal . Her eyes met her father's in defiance and appeal. 'I may look like her, Dad, but I

haven't her forgiving nature. He may be a wealthy and powerful man, but he can't

come and go in our lives, just as he pleases.'

'Are you prepared to tel him so?' Hugo's voice was gentle and without censure.

'I don't intend to reply at al .' She tossed the bal of paper into the waste bin. 'Problem

disposed of. Now

let's change to a happier topic. Did you get the message from Paul that I left for you

last night?'

'Yes.' Her father smiled. 'And I've telephoned him. He's been working real y hard, and

the exhibition won't have to be postponed after al .'

'It never does have to be postponed,' Helen smiled in response. 'It's just eleventh-hour

panic on his part. God knows why. Or you do, perhaps?'

'I have an idea,' said Hugo. 'Though I must admit no one ever clamoured to put on an

exhibition of my work.'

Helen gave him an affectionate smile before rising to busy herself clearing the breakfast

things from the table. Her father's work, as far as she could judge, had been competent

but not outstanding, but he possessed the eye of a judge, a connoisseur where other

people's painting was concerned. He was also a realistic man, and had recognised quite

early in his career that he would probably never earn enough from painting alone to

support himself, plus a wife and child. A legacy from an uncle had enabled him to buy a

share in a gal ery near the West End. The gal ery wasn't doing too wel , but Hugo

Brandon had changed al that, and within five years he had been able to buy his partner

out and replace the gal ery's
rather pretentious name with the single word 'Brandon'.

He made a name for himself on both sides of the Atlantic and in Europe as a man who

could spot a real talent in the making. And Helen had never asked anything better than

to join him in his work.

But sometimes she wondered if he ever regretted that it was not his own signature that

his customers sought on their canvases. Was he happy, she thought, was he fulfil ed, or

had he settled for second best? She hoped not, but doubted whether she would ever

know the truth.

One thing she had never doubted was his love for

her, and for his late wife. But again she wondered if he would have worked quite so

hard to make the gal ery a success financial y as wel as artistical y if he had not married

a rich man's daughter. Perhaps he had been determined that Maria would never count

the cost of al she had given up in order to become his wife.

God, she thought rueful y, as she stacked dishes in the drying rack, everything's so

complicated. Except for my life, she amended hastily.

Helen had enjoyed the year since she had left school. She liked the fact that their flat

was sited immediately over the gal ery, as wel as the work she did there. She was

beginning to be a good saleswoman, and learning about art as wel , which pleased her.

And without being conceited, she was aware that her own attractions —a slim body

with rounded breasts and hips, an oval face with high cheekbones, and clear hazel eyes

fringed by lashes shades darker than her honey-blonde hair— contributed to her


Her mother had been blonde too, but her eyes had been brown like pansies, and ful of

BOOK: Moon of Aphrodite
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