The Carlotta Diamond

The Carlotta Diamond
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The wedding night surprise! Charlotte Christie wore white on her wedding day–and a priceless diamond necklace. Little did she know that her new husband, British billionaire Simon Farringdon, didn't believe she was an innocent. Nor did she realize that the Carlotta Diamond was his real motive for marriage.But the unexpected passion of their wedding night changed Simon's plans. His new bride was a virgin and he wanted her…


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The Carlotta Diamond

Lee Wilkinson














Farringdon Hall, Old Leasham

RUDY had just arrived at the door of the sickroom and raised his free hand to knock, when he heard his brother-in-law’s low, well-modulated voice, and paused to listen.

‘So what exactly is it you want me to do?’ Simon was asking.

‘I want you to try and trace Maria Bell-Farringdon, my sister,’ Sir Nigel’s voice answered.

Sounding startled, Simon said, ‘But surely your sister’s dead? Didn’t she die very young?’

‘That was Mara, Maria’s twin sister. They were born in 1929—I was three at the time—so Maria will be in her mid-seventies by now, if she’s still alive…’

His curiosity aroused, Rudy stayed where he was, his ear pressed to the door panel.

‘The last time I saw her was November 1946. Though she was barely seventeen at the time, she was pregnant and unmarried. Despite a great deal of parental pressure, she refused to name the father, and after a terrible row, during which she was accused of bringing disgrace on the family, she just walked out and vanished without a trace. Our parents washed their hands of her, and her name was never again mentioned. It was just as if she had never existed. But in March 1947 she wrote secretly to me, saying she’d given birth to a baby girl. The letter had a London postmark—she was living in Whitechapel—but no address. I raised as much money as I could—I was still at college then—and waited, hoping she would contact me again, but she didn’t, and that was the last time I heard from her. After my parents died I made a couple of attempts to find her, but without success. I should have kept trying, but somehow I let it slide. I suppose I thought I was immortal and had plenty of time…The doctor doesn’t agree, however. His verdict is that I’ve three months to live at the most, so it’s suddenly become urgent that I find either Maria or her offspring.’

‘Do you want to tell me why?’ Simon asked.

‘Of course, my boy,’ Sir Nigel assured his grandson. ‘It’s only right that you should know.

‘If you’d like to open my safe, you know the combination, and take out the leather jewel case that’s in there…’

There was a faint sound of movement, then Sir Nigel continued, ‘This is why. It’s come to be known as the Carlotta Stone. Some time in the early fifteen-hundreds it was given to Carlotta Bell-Farringdon by an Italian nobleman who was madly in love with her. For generations it’s been passed down to the eldest of the female line on her eighteenth birthday. Mara—who had a heart defect—died as a child, so the diamond should rightfully have gone to Maria, to be passed on to her daughter. Though a lot of years have gone by, it’s an injustice that I would like to put right before I die, so I just hope you can find her.’

‘I’ll certainly do my best, but at the moment my hands are full with the American merger, and I’m due in New York tomorrow. However, if you’d like me to concentrate on finding Maria, I’ll send someone else over to the States in my place,’ Simon offered.

‘No, no…You’re needed there. The negotiations are very delicate and I don’t want to see them fall down at this stage.’

‘In that case, so as not to waste any time, I’ll hire a private detective to start making enquiries immediately. Of course, it will have to be done with the greatest discretion,’ Simon said.

‘Quite right, my boy. In fact I’d like the whole thing kept under wraps. Not a word to a soul,’ Sir Nigel warned.

‘Not even Lucy?’

‘Not even Lucy. For one thing, I’d prefer it if Rudy didn’t get to know, and for another, I understand one of her friends is a so-called journalist. The last thing I want is for the story to get into the gossip columns. They always blow these things up out of all proportion, and I’d be extremely upset if there was any breath of scandal.’

It would serve the autocratic old devil right if there was, Rudy thought vindictively. He’d be only too happy to see Sir Nigel, his precious grandson, and the whole of the Bell-Farringdon family taken down a peg or two.

‘In any case it would pay to tread carefully,’ Simon said, ‘keep the reason for the search a secret until we’re certain we’ve got the right person.’

‘You’re quite right, of course. The Carlotta Stone is priceless, and I wouldn’t want to risk it going to some imposter with an eye to the main chance.’

There was a silence, then Simon said thoughtfully, ‘There’s not a lot to go on, and it’s quite possible, not to say probable, that Maria changed her name. However, modern technology should make it a great deal easier…’

‘Good morning, Mr Bradshaw.’ The nurse’s decisive voice made Rudy spin round and almost drop the books he was holding. ‘Just leaving?’

Recovering himself, he said, ‘No, as a matter of fact I was just about to knock.’

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