Inherited by Ferranti

By: Kate Hewitt


‘How can we? I know what my father meant to you, and I hate him, hate him—’ She broke off, weeping, half amazed at the emotion that suddenly burst from her, tears trickling down her cheeks. ‘I always have,’ she continued, but then her voice was lost to sobs, her shoulders shaking, and Marco had enfolded her in his arms.

She pressed her face into his hard chest as he stroked his hand down her back and murmured nonsense endearments. She hadn’t realised she had so many tears left in her and, more than just tears, a deep welling of grief and sorrow, not just for the father she’d had, but for the father she’d never had. For the years of loneliness and fear and frustration. For the fact that even now, seven years on, she was afraid to trust someone. To love someone, and the result was this brokenness, this feeling that she might never be whole.

‘I’m sorry,’ she finally managed, pulling away from him a bit to swipe at her damp cheeks. Now that the first storm of crying had passed, she felt embarrassed by her emotional display. ‘I didn’t mean to fall apart...’

‘Nonsense. You needed to cry. You have suffered, Sierra, more than I could ever imagine. More than I ever knew.’ Sierra heard the sharp note of self-recrimination in Marco’s voice and wondered at it. ‘Come, let us sit down.’

He guided her to one of the leather sofas and pulled her down next to him, his arm around her shoulders so she was still nestled against him, safe in his arms. Neither of them spoke for a long moment.

‘Will you tell me?’ Marco finally asked.

Sierra drew a shuddering breath. ‘What do you want to know?’

‘Everything.’

‘I don’t know where to begin.’

He nestled her closer to him, settling them both more comfortably. ‘Begin wherever you want to, Sierra,’ he said quietly.

After a moment she started talking, searching for each word, finding her way slowly. She told him how the first time her father hit her she was four years old, a slap across the face, and she hadn’t understood what she’d done wrong. It had taken her decades to realise the answer to that question: nothing.

She told him about how kind and jovial he could be, throwing her up in the air, calling her his princess, showering her and her mother with gifts. ‘It wasn’t until I was much older that I realised he only treated us that way when someone was watching.’

‘And when you were alone?’ Marco asked in a low voice. ‘Always...?’

‘Often enough so that I tried to hide from him, but that angered him, too. No monster likes to see his reflection.’

‘And when you were older?’

‘I knew I needed to get away. My mother would never leave him. I begged her to, but she refused. She’d get quite angry with me because she loved him.’ Sierra shook her head slowly. ‘I’ve never understood that. I know he could be charming and he was handsome, but the way he treated her...’ Her voice choked and she sniffed loudly.

‘So why didn’t you run away? When you were older?’

She let out an abrupt yet weary laugh. ‘You make it sound so simple.’

‘I don’t mean to,’ Marco answered. ‘I just want to understand. It all seems so difficult to believe.’

How difficult? Sierra wondered. Did he believe her? Or even now did he doubt? The possibility was enough to make her fall silent. Marco touched her chin with his finger, turning her face so she had to look at him.

‘I didn’t mean it like that, Sierra.’

‘Do you believe me?’ she blurted. The question felt far too revealing, and even worse was Marco’s silence after she’d asked it.

‘Yes,’ he said finally. ‘Of course I do. But I don’t want to.’

‘Because you loved him.’

Marco nodded, his expression shuttered, his jaw tight. ‘You know how I told you my own father left? He was hardly around to begin with, and then one day he just never came back. And my mother...’ He paused, and curiosity flared within the misery that had swamped her.

‘Your mother?’

‘It doesn’t matter. What I meant to say is that Arturo was the closest thing to a father that I ever had. I told you how I was working as a bellboy when he noticed me... I would have spent my life heaving suitcases if not for him. He took me out for a drink, told me he could tell I had ambition and drive. Then he gave me a job as an office junior when I was seventeen. Within a few years he’d promoted me, and you know the rest.’ He sighed, his arm still around her. ‘And all the while he’d encourage me, listen to me...accept me in a way my father never did. To now realise this man I held in such high esteem was...was what you say he was...’ Marco’s voice turned hoarse. ‘It hurts to believe it. But I do.’

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