“Don’t worry, Mihovil. I’ll speak with Makso and try to put in a good word for your papa.”
“Would you?” Mihovil’s head lifted and he looked bright again.
“Of course. These incidents where people shout and get angry always seem worse at the time. All will be well, don’t worry.”
Mel was troubled as she watched the boy walk away, many thoughts going round in her mind. She thought back to the message on her balcony this morning.
Please help me.
Was that note from Mihovil, secretly reaching out to someone to be heard? He couldn’t burden his parents with his concerns. Young men felt they needed to be strong for their families.
Mihovil was so shy, especially with that birthmark. When she knew him better, she might ask him about the note and see if he would open up and admit to having written it.
The Villa Lavanda, peaceful though it appeared, was a hotbed of conflict and divided loyalties.
Mel thought about Greg Brodie, and couldn’t help feeling he was on Makso’s side. He must have heard the commotion, as his quarters were close by, yet he hadn’t come out to help.
She didn’t want to take anyone’s side, just to get on with her job. She turned to go back to the study.
As she did, she saw a movement towards the top of the house. On a balcony, just for a few seconds, stood a small but very beautiful woman.
It was the first time Mel had caught sight of Makso’s wife. Hiroko Yurcich was like a delicate bird; slender, around five feet tall with a length of jet-black straight hair.
Like many eastern women, Hiroko moved gracefully, like a leaf floating on a still lake. In a moment, she disappeared. She must have heard the argument going on, but she hadn’t come down to defend the staff against her husband.
Mel gritted her teeth. One thing was for sure – even if Makso wasn’t going to introduce them, Mel was going to go up there and introduce herself. Part of her job was to look after Hiroko and the baby. She couldn’t do that if she spent all her time down here.
Taking a deep breath, she set off upstairs.
* * * *
Greg Brodie was livid with himself. He’d heard shouting from inside his small apartment by the pool, but had stopped himself going out.
He’d wanted to confront Makso and speak up for Ivan, but he couldn’t do that, could he? He must tread carefully.
What’s more, he was homesick. How long all this would take he didn’t know, and having Mel Sanderson in the mix wasn’t making things easier.
She was a feisty girl, but in this situation, having a mind of your own could bring problems, both for herself and for Greg. He still didn’t know what she was really doing here.
Greg looked at his watch. If he didn’t hurry, he’d miss his appointment at the internet café in Vodnjan.
It was difficult keeping under the radar. He dared not use the computer here. There were eyes and ears everywhere and Greg must be careful.
He needed to discuss Mel with someone. What was she really up to? He must get to know her and win her confidence.
He should do research into her background. This game of cat and mouse was difficult, but he was an experienced player.
He changed out of his work clothes and into smart jeans and a black T-shirt, just as if he was setting off for one of the bars, like he did most late afternoons. It was surprising what you could pick up from the locals once they’d had a little alcohol and their guard was down.
Act normally, he thought. Keep your cool and keep your head down.