Novel Name : Hot Revenge Box Set 2

Chapter 38

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Cara, quiet in her carrycot, begins to fuss. James casts an eye across. “I’ll take over those carrots,

“I thought you wanted help making the meal?”

He takes a carrot from her hand, prises the peeler from the other. “There are plenty of us here to help
with lunch. Only you can provide Cara's. And besides, we’re nearly done here. I’m going for a shower
in a minute. Why don’t you take Cara up to the nursery? You’ll be warm and quiet there.”

He stoops, lifting the tiny girl out from her blankets. She barely fills his hands as, supporting her head in
one palm, he cradles her to his chest. “Kirstie, would you go with Charlotte, please. Keep her company
while she gives Cara her feed.”

But I’m barely listening to his words. The expression on James’ face as he holds Cara…



Utter devotion…

The expression seems completely out of keeping with the front James projects; the stern-faced Dom.
But I know him well enough to know that front conceals a man of strong passions and utter loyalty.

God help anyone that threatens her…

Cara’s fussing grows louder. Abandoning my chestnuts, “Can I hold her? I’ll carry her upstairs for you.”

Charlotte eases up out of her seat and grins, looking much more herself. “Sure. She’s getting used to
having a lot of people around her.”

With only the slightest hesitation, James releases Cara to me. “It’s good for her; learning there’s a lot of
people she can trust.”

Although still so small, Cara is heavier than I’d expected and I hold her carefully, supporting her head in
the way I saw James doing. Her face, already red, is colouring up further and her fussing is turning to a
wail. “Definitely ready for her lunch, I think.”

Maybe it would be nice to have one of these of my own…

Then I realise that from across the kitchen, Ryan, peeling parsnips, is watching me.


I sit with Charlotte and Cara in the nursery, taking in the mass of murals, colourful and bright,
occupying the walls. Mobiles hang from the ceiling, dangling birds and horses and little bells which
sway and tinkle with the slightest movement.

From outside comes the slam of a car door.

More visitors?

Charlotte, feeding Cara, is still pale but a touch of pink blushes over her cheeks.

Recovering a day at a time…

Uncertain as to how I approach the subject, I speak carefully. “How are you feeling now?”

But she simply smiles slightly. “I’m getting better. I’m not coughing much now.” She strokes Cara’s face,
very gently, not disturbing her daughter from her meal. “The important thing is that Cara is healthy.
When they had me prisoner in there, yes, it was awful, but the main thing I was thinking about all the

time was whether they’d damaged her by drugging me. Or whether it was doing her any harm because
I wasn’t well…”

She seems set to keep talking but is interrupted by a tap on the door.

“May I come in?”

Charlotte adjusts her clothes, turning slightly, “The door’s open, Father.”

Not ‘Dad’…

Not yet…

How much more healing to do yet?

The door swings and Larry Klempner enters, then stalls as he sees me. “Oh... I didn’t mean to
interrupt…” He has something in his hand; small, but bright with gilt and ribbons.

“You’re not interrupting,” smiles Charlotte. “We were just talking.”

I start to rise from my seat. “I’ll just…”

… But Charlotte waves me down. “It’s fine, Kirstie.” She waves across the room to another chair. “Pull
up a seat. Join us.”

Klempner shuffles, his eyes darting to mine, then, “I, um, I have something for you. A Christmas gift…”
He stares at his feet, then looks up again. “… I had no idea what it should be; what would be
appropriate. You already seem to have everything in your life. A home. Money. All the things you want.”

Awkwardly, he offers the package to Charlotte. “Anyway… I bought you this.”

The package is small, square and flat.


Odd choice…

The long-estranged daughter and father…

And judging by Charlotte’s baffled expression, I’m not the only one to think so.

Carefully, she detaches Cara, wrapping the shawl around her. “Could you take her for a moment,

She blinks as she reaches to accept Klempner’s gift, then slides the ribbons to one side and peels
aside the wrap.

And yes, it’s a music CD.

“Oh!” Charlotte presses a knuckle to her mouth, raising her gaze to her father.

I’m baffled by her reaction. “What is it, Charlotte?”

She’s shiny-eyed. “Scheherazade.”

Klempner shifts as though the ice is cracking under him. “I had no idea what to give you, Jenny. But I
did want to give you something, even if it was only… acknowledgement.”

Charlotte bursts into tears. Falling forward onto her own lap, she drops her face into her hands,
gasping and sobbing. I want to hug her, to ask her what’s wrong, but I have Cara in my arms. Klempner
simply stands, looking helpless, almost stricken.

From the hall outside, the bang of a door, the thumping of feet, and our own door crashes open, James
charging in.

Barefoot and bare-chested, traces of foam fleck his half-shaved face. A series of vicious-looking
circular bruises are centred over his ribs, like the worst squash-ball impact you ever saw. They’re a
good match to the purple-red bruising on his eye.

He looks more as though he just emerged the battlefield than a kitchen…

Perhaps he did…

He takes one look at Charlotte, shaking and crying, tears streaming down her face. Snarling, he places
himself between Charlotte and Klempner, bullying up close, eyeballing him. “What happened?” he
demands. “What did you do?”

Klempner stands there, blinking rapidly, palms raised to protest his innocence, but I interrupt. “He didn't
do anything, James. He just came in and gave Charlotte a Christmas present. Then she burst into

James flashes me a glance.

“Really,” I say. “That’s all that happened. I don’t know why Charlotte’s crying, but it’s nothing Larry did.
At least, not deliberately.”

Charlotte, still clutching the CD, speaks through her sobs. “I’m okay. Really, I’m okay.”

Visibly, she’s trying to pull herself together. Beside me, if anything, Klempner is the one looking upset.
Or perhaps bewildered would be closer.

James, calming a little, squats down by Charlotte, holding her by one shoulder, steering her face to his
by the chin. “So why are you crying? What’s wrong?”

“Nothing's wrong.” She gulps and gasps, pulling the back of her hands over streaming eyes. “That's
just it. Nothing's wrong. Everything’s alright. I’ve got Cara. Mom's here. You're here. And Michael. And
Beth and Richard. Kirstie and Ryan are here. And even…” She raises teary eyes to Klempner… “Even
you’re here.”

She gulps again. “I’m sorry. I’m being silly, I know. Everything’s perfect. It’s just…” She holds up the CD
and bursts into tears again.

James lets out air, sweeping a hand over the top of his head, then straightens up, releasing Charlotte.
He turns to Klempner. “My apologies. I assumed...”

“Forget it. You think I'm going to hold it against you that you want to protect Jenny?” Tentatively,
Klempner reaches out, squeezing Charlotte’s shoulder.

She gives her father a watery smile, biting at her lip.

“I’m sorry,” he says. “I didn’t mean to upset you.”

From outside comes the clattering of feet on stairs and Michael, shedding snow from his boots, bursts
in, then stalls. His head swings as he takes in the tableau. “What's going on? I heard...” Then his gaze
drops to Charlotte. “Babe? What’s…”

But James interrupts. “Nothing's going on. Charlotte's just a bit emotional.” He jerks his head at the big
blond man and down to her.

Michael hunkers down close, then wraps his arms around her, almost enveloping her. “Still flooded with
hormones, Babe? Try to stay calm, eh. It’s Christmas and everyone’s here for you.”

As he speaks, James reaches for the CD, easing it from her fingers. He examines it then clicks his

Charlotte sniffles. “I know. That’s what started me off.” She squeezes Michael’s arm. “And you’re right,
I’m not thinking like myself.” Then her smile blossoms. “I hope I’m better than this the next time,” she
says, “when it's yours.”

Klempner cocks a brow…

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