فصل 03

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فصل 03

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Chapter three

Anthony Browne

Anthony Browne knew he had been a fool to get involved with Rosemary Barton. After all, he wasn’t staying at Claridge’s hotel for pleasure - he was in London to work. But Rosemary was beautiful enough to excuse the fact that he was neglecting his business affairs for a little while. Luckily, his fascination with her soon began to fade, and he knew that it wasn’t love after all. But they could still have a good time together. Rosemary danced wonderfully and whenever they went out, other men turned round to stare at her. It was very pleasant, as long as you didn’t want to talk to her. She couldn’t even listen intelligently. But he had taken her out, danced with her, kissed her in taxis and was on the way to making a bit of a fool of himself over her… until that incredible day.

He remembered the expectant look in her dark blue eyes as she said softly, Anthony Browne is a nice name!’

‘It’s very respectable,’ he replied, lightly. ‘There was an advisor to King Henry the Eighth called Anthony Browne.’

‘But you must be from the Italian branch of the family.’

‘Because of my brown skin? I had a Spanish mother.’

‘Oh, that explains it, Mr Anthony Browne.’

‘You’re very fond of my name,’ he laughed.

‘Well, it’s nicer than Tony Morelli.’

He couldn’t believe it! He caught hold of her arm. ‘Where did you hear that name?’ His voice was suddenly dangerous. ‘Who told you?’

She laughed in delight at his reaction. ‘Someone who recognized you.’

‘Who? This is serious, Rosemary!’

‘My wicked cousin, Victor Drake.’

‘I’ve never met him.’

‘He probably wasn’t using that name when you knew him. I expect he had chosen to give a false one, in order to save the family embarrassment.’

Anthony said slowly. ‘I see. So, you mean that we met in prison, then?’

‘Yes. I saw Victor recently, and I was telling him what a disgrace to the family he was when he grinned and said, “You aren’t so perfect yourself, sweetheart. I saw you last night dancing with a chap who calls himself Anthony Browne. In prison, we knew him as Tony Morelli”.’

Anthony smiled. ‘Well, I’d like to see him again. We ex-prisoners must stick together.’

‘You’re too late. He sailed to South America yesterday.’

‘So you’re the only person now who knows my guilty secret?’

Rosemary nodded. ‘And I won’t tell.’

‘You had better not. You don’t want your pretty face slashed, do you? There are people around who are very happy to ruin a girl’s beauty. And murder doesn’t only happen in books and films. It happens in real life, too.’

‘Are you threatening me, Tony? ‘

‘I’m warning you. Forget the name Tony Morelli - do you understand?’

‘But I don’t mind, Tony. It’s exciting to meet a criminal. You shouldn’t be ashamed.’

He looked at her coldly, wondering how he could ever have cared for her. She was just a silly girl with a pretty face. He would have to leave. He couldn’t trust her to keep his secret.

She smiled her enchanting smile. ‘Don’t look so fierce. Will you take me to the Jarrows’ dance next week? ‘

‘I won’t be here. I’m going away.’

‘Not before my birthday party! You can’t! I’ve been very ill and you mustn’t upset me! You must come.’

He was going to refuse - but at that moment, through the open parlour door, he saw Iris Marle coming down the stairs. Tall and slim, with dark hair and grey eyes. And Anthony Browne changed his mind.

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