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Authors: S Quinn

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Bound by Ivy

BOOK: Bound by Ivy
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1

‘Sophia Rose,’ Marc
says. ‘Will you marry me?’

Oh my god. Oh my GOD. I stare
into Marc’s beautiful blue eyes, and they’ve never looked more intense.

I put a shaky hand to my mouth.

My gaze drops to the huge pear-shaped diamond glittering in Marc’s fingers. In this room, surrounded by ivy and roses, I couldn’
t imagine a more perfect setting for Marc to propose. But it’s still a shock.

This scene couldn’t be more out of a fairy tale if it tried. I’m
standing here in my blue Belle dress with its big sticky out skirt, and Marc kneels before me, a handsome prince in a tailored black suit and crisp white shirt.

‘Marc,’ I whisper through my fingers, a smile growing on my face. I’m so utterly surprised that I can barely make my lips work.

Marc’s eyes hold
mine, and I feel like I’m falling into them.

I glance at the ring again. My god, it’s beautiful.
He’s beautiful. This is real. This is really happening.

CLICK.

The sound of the dressing room door makes me jump.

‘Hello?’ I call out
.

Marc
looks at the door with a questioning frown. ‘Did you invite someone down here?’

I shake my head.

Light spills onto the dressing room floor, and a pale, pointy female face appears.

I don’t quite register who it is at first, because the face is so out of place in my dressing room. But
then the icy blonde hair, sharp nose and cold eyes all come together.

It’s Cecile.

‘You bitch.’ The words are hard and low, and hit me right in the stomach.

Marc stands and clamps an arm around my shoulder. He snaps the ring box closed and slides it into his pocket.
‘This is Sophia’s private dressing room.’

Cecile is wearing a fitted red-wool dress with long, white gloves, and her shiny hair is piled up on her head with diamante pins. Her eyes are red and angry, and her body is all tensed up.

 

‘Giles is being charged with kidnapping,’ she hisses at me. ‘Because of you. Because of the lies you told.’

‘I didn’t tell any lies about Getty,’ I say. ‘He’s a dangerous man. And he’s where he needs to be.’

‘You
knew
what he was to me,’ says Cecile. ‘And you couldn’t stand that, could you? You couldn’t stand that I was involved with someone famous too. So you had to ruin things.’

I let out a startled laugh. I don’t mean to, but … Cecile is talking crazy.

‘You didn’t want to be involved with him,’ I say. ‘You said he was a monster.’

‘He’s the fa
ther of my child,’ says Cecile. ‘But there’ll be no wedding now. No marriage. I’ll be a single parent …’

She
turns to Marc, her whole face changing, her eyes lost and desperate. ‘Marc, oh, Marc. Why can’t you see what Sophia really is? She’s nothing more than a liar. She has no class. No money. I would have been so much better for you.’

He
r thin fingers go to Marc’s shirt, making little white fists as they grip the fabric. ‘
Please
. I have no one now. There’s still time. Choose me.’

My body stiffens.

‘Cecile, you should leave,’ I say, in a low voice. I reach forwards and pick her fingers from Marc’s shirt.

She falls ba
ck, her eyes wild now, darting back and forth over my face.

Suddenly,
I notice what a mess she is. Her makeup, usually so carefully applied, is wonky in places, and her face is so heavily powdered that she looks like a dusty ghost.

Her d
ress isn’t sitting right either. It’s twisted at the waist, so the hips are all puckered.

She turns to me.
‘You ruined my LIFE!’ she shouts, her eyes bulging. ‘You don’t deserve Marc. You don’t deserve anyone. And you’d better believe you’ll pay for what you’ve done.’

She
turns and charges out of the room, slamming the dressing room door behind her. I hear the fast click of high heels running down the corridor outside.

I go to run
after her, but Marc’s arm tightens like a vice around my shoulders.

‘Le
ave her.’


I don’t want to leave things this way,’ I say, struggling under his arm. ‘I need to straighten things out.’

Marc holds
me firm.


Marc,
let me go
.’

He doesn’t. Instead he
grasps me firmly by both shoulders and turns me to him. ‘You’re not going anywhere until you calm down.’

‘I … thought I was
calm.’

‘If you w
ere calm you’d realise that it’s dangerous to go after someone in that state. She doesn’t know what she’s saying or doing. She might hurt you.’

I put a hand to my chest and feel my heart is racing.

Marc moves his face closer to mine. ‘Now isn’t the time.’ He gives me a firm kiss on the lips. ‘Okay?’

I
let out a long breath. ‘I will be.’

‘Now t
ell me what’s going on,’ says Marc. ‘What business does Cecile have defending Giles Getty?’

2

My eyes drift over Marc’s shoulder to the roses and ivy strewn around the room. ‘She’s pregnant,’ I say, ‘and he’s the father of her child.’

Marc’s eyebrow shoots up.
‘Good god. Tell me you’re joking.’

‘No.
I’m not.’

‘Why didn’t you tell me earlier?’

‘She told me in confidence. There didn’t seem to be any reason to mention it.’

‘God.’ Marc’s eyes cloud over. ‘That bastar
d. He doesn’t care who he hurts.’

‘She was so scared when we talked
about it,’ I say. ‘Her family will disown her if they find out she’s pregnant. Unless she marries the father.’

‘Unlikely, since
Getty’s on his way to prison.’

‘Yes,
’ I say. ‘Hopefully for a long time.’

Marc takes my fingers and grips them tightly
against his chest. ‘I won’t let him get anywhere near you, ever again. I have the best legal team in the country working on keeping him behind bars.’

I feel
my fingers warming against his body.


I will always protect you, Sophia. Always.’

I give a little shudder. When his voice goes all deep and intense like that, it does t
hings to my body, even when my mind is all churned up and running around in circles.

‘Cecile really was acting crazy
,’ I murmur. ‘I guess she must have snapped.’

‘We all have a breaking point
.’ Marc’s brows pull together and the smile leaves his face.

‘Marc?’

‘If anything ever happened to you, it would destroy me.’ He drops his hand to his trouser pocket and pulls out the ring box, turning it in his fingers. ‘I don’t want that little scene ruining your memory of getting engaged. I’ll ask you another time. When the moment is right.’

‘You’re not going to ask me
again now?’

‘No. The timing
should be perfect. Patience Miss Rose.’ He drops the box back into his pocket. ‘There’ll be another moment.’ That spiky, quirky Marc Blackwell grin appears on his face. ‘Would you have said yes?’

‘I just might have done.’

Marc’s grin turns into a little smile that shows his dimples, and he scratches his temple. ‘I’m pleased to hear it.’

I hear music floating down the corridor outside, and realise the party must be starting. I think of my Dad, Jen and everyone else up there, waiting for us.

‘Does anyone know you were planning on proposing today?’

‘Just your father
. I asked his permission.’


Was he surprised?’


Very, very surprised. And a little shocked.’

‘But he said yes?’

‘He said as long as you were happy, he was happy.’


It’s important to me that he approves.’

‘Oh?’ Marc raises an eyebrow.

‘Mum was a real believer in family approval. She wouldn’t marry Dad without permission from her family. And when she was dying, she told Dad that he and I should always pull together. I know she wouldn’t want me marrying anyone without Dad’s blessing.’

The music outside gets louder.

‘I should change,’ I say. I have my most comfortable jeans and Converse waiting in the wardrobe, and can’t wait to put them on. ‘Weren’t you worried that Dad might have refused you?’

Marc
squeezes my hand. ‘Terrified.’

3

After I change, Marc and I head to Leo’s dressing room.

My dressing room is in the old part of the theatre, but Leo’
s is in the new, modern part, which is all carpeted and clean.

Marc
frowns. ‘Your dressing room should be here. In the newer part. The air quality is better.’

‘I guess I’m not a big star like Leo.’

‘You’re every bit as important to the show. I’ll make sure your dressing room is changed.’

‘No really. It’s fine. I
like my dressing room. Actually, I prefer it to Leo’s. It’s more me.’

Marc raises an eyebrow. ‘You’ve be
en to Leo’s dressing room before?’

I sense by his tone that he’s not
happy with that idea.

‘Yes,’ I say, as we head into the modernised part of the theatre. ‘A few times. It’s all bright lights, red carpet and framed show bills. It’s nice. Very Leo.’

Marc’s jaw grows tense. ‘I trust he was the perfect gentleman.’

I hesitate. Marc’s idea of the perfect gentleman
might be a little different to Leo’s.

‘You’ve got nothing to be jealous of,’ I say, by way of an answer.

Marc’s eyes darken. ‘I’m glad to hear it.’

‘You and Leo work
ed together years ago,’ I say. ‘You should know what a nice guy he is.’

‘All I remember of Leo Falkirk,’ says Marc,
‘is that he was unreliable and often turned up late. I wouldn’t trust him with anything important. And that includes you.’


Leo was a teenager when you knew him,’ I say. ‘He’s never been late for anything since I’ve known him. He’s a good guy. I promise.’

‘In my opinion, that has yet to be proved.
Especially after that little publicity stunt he pulled with you outside the theatre. When he led you into a crowd of baying photographers.’

‘That was an accident. He didn’t know I’d trip
.’


A responsible man would never have let you get anywhere near that crowd.’

We walk on in silence for a moment.

‘I loved the ring,’ I say.

Marc’s jaw loosens
a little. ‘It was my grandmother’s, then my mothers. Of course, as soon as my father found out it was a real diamond, he sold it. It took me years to track it down again. In the end, I found it in a pawn shop in Whitechapel.’

I squeeze his hand
. ‘You’re an amazing person, Marc Blackwell. After everything you’ve been through ... the childhood you had ... to be the man you are ...’

‘The most amazing thing about me is you.’

We reach Leo’s dressing room and hear the murmur of voices and the dim sounds of Johnny Cash.

Marc
drops my hand and pushes the door open hard. A little too hard. I can’t help thinking he’s imagining it’s Leo’s face.

The dressing room is large, but there are so many people crammed inside that it
looks pretty tiny right now. Three tuxedoed waiters squeeze through the crowd handing out glasses of champagne and topping up glasses.

‘Hey.’ I grab Marc’s
hand back. ‘Be nice, okay? You and Leo aren’t enemies.’

‘Aren’t we?’

‘No. He’s in awe of you. He thinks you’re amazing.’

‘It’s what he thinks of
you
that worries me.’

We walk into the room
, and I see Jen and my Dad squashed together with Tanya and Tom.

Tom is chatting away in his loud voice, and Tanya, Dad and Jen are listening and laughing.

Jen looks amazing in a cream bodice dress with gold embroidery. Tanya and Tom are in evening wear too – Tanya wearing a subtle black dress with a pretty solitaire diamond necklace, and Tom, flamboyant as ever in top hat, tails and red dickey bow.

My dad looks a little uncomfortable. He’s wearing his very smartest jeans – the black ones with no stains on them
– and a white shirt that I remember him buying for my grandparents’ wedding anniversary fifteen years ago. He’s clutching his champagne glass by the bowl, like it’s a pint of beer, and he’s staring at the door.

Le
o and Davina are standing by a huge stereo system that I guess must have been brought in for the party. Leo is roaring with laughter, and swigging from a bottle of champagne.

‘Soph
!’ Jen sees me first and pushes through the crowd. Her shoes are so high that every step threatens to tip her over, but she just about manages to stay on her feet.

She reaches me and throws her arms around my shoulders
. ‘Oh my god, you were amazing. Just amazing! Come on! Everyone’s dying to tell you how well you did.’ She drags me across the room by my arm.

Marc follows,
keeping a firm grip on my hand.

When we reach Dad, Tom and Tanya, Marc’s grip is tighter than ever.

‘Sophia!’ Tom’s booming voice nearly knocks me over. ‘What a performance. Absolutely terrific. You were sensational. All those rehearsals really did pay off, didn’t they? You and Leo were on level pegging up there. I’d never have known he’d been in the business any longer than you.’


You were very good, love,’ says Dad. He looks a little tired, and keeps glancing at the door, like he’s waiting for someone.

‘You were great, Soph,’ says Tanya, giving my shoulder a squeeze. ‘I loved it. And I usually hate musicals.’


Tanya
,’ Tom chastises.

‘What? It’s true. I do hate musicals.’

‘But that’s hardly what Sophia wants to hear right now.’

‘It’s fine, it’s fine.’ I smile. ‘I take it as a compliment, believe me.’

‘So what happens over Christmas?’ Tanya asks. ‘Do you have to perform on Christmas day, or what?’

‘Not on Christmas day,’ I say. ‘But I will on Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve and then all through January.’

Tom’s eyes widen. ‘How do you feel about
that
?’

‘I’m trying not to think about it. I love Christmas. But it’s just one year. And at least I get to spend Christmas day with my family.’

‘You’ll be back at the cottage for Christmas then?’ Jen asks.

‘Of course. I always spend Christmas there
.’

‘Well,
you never know. Fame might have changed you.’

‘I’m not
famous
. I’m notorious. And I wish I wasn’t.’

‘You may not be famous yet,’ says Tom, ‘but I’m guessing when January is over you’ll be well on your way.’

‘What are you two doing for Christmas?’ I ask Tom and Tanya, eager to change the subject.

They look at each other, and Tanya gives a sheepish grin. ‘My parents are spending Christmas in Spain this year, so I thought I’d hang out with Tom’s family. They’ve got an estate out in Surrey, so there’s plenty of room for me.’

‘Our first Christmas together,’ says Tom.

‘God, I’m terrified,’ Tanya says. ‘Aren’t you?’

‘Not in the slightest.’

‘But what if your family don’t like me? What if they can’t understand the way I talk?’

‘They’ll love you. And I can translate. I understand northern now.’

Tanya rolls her eyes. ‘It’s not a foreign language!’

‘Not foreign, my love. Exotic.’

Tanya laughs.

‘I’m going to miss you two over Christmas,’ I say.

Jen puts a hand on my shoulder. ‘Don’t worry, you won’t be lonely. I’ll come round you
rs for a drink on Christmas day, just like always.’

‘Will Mr Blackwell be joining you for turkey?’ T
om asks.

BOOK: Bound by Ivy
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