Chapter Thirty-Two: Silver Skulls

"Blake is going to hear about this." Delia Simms did her best not to scream and stamp her foot. Standing before Lady Violet in her pajamas she felt exactly like a prisoner in chains!

"Of course Blake is going to hear about this." Lady Violet was eating breakfast at her desk, looking cool and crisp as always in a white lace blouse and tailored black slacks. "But is Blake going to hear about your little French getaway from a woman or a child?"

"I don't get it." Delia scowled as she watched Lady Violet nibble on a flaky croissant and sip steaming coffee behind her big desk. It was past breakfast, really closer to lunch. But the angry redhead in the rumpled pajamas had not eaten the night before. She hadn't slept much, either. All she could think about on the plane flight over was escape, getting free and running for the hills.

"Blake, I've been kidnapped! I'm not clever enough to run my own career or choose my own songwriters or even decide where to record my next album. Please make all my decisions for me!"

Lady Violet did Delia's voice perfectly, capturing her frightened, confused state of mind as well as the breathless way she talked.

"You want me to record my next album here?" Delia dropped into the cushioned chair in front of Lady Violet's massive desk. Defiance warred with her desire for independence. Was she really a prisoner here? Did she really want Blake to come to the rescue?

"Why not? You've stayed with me in southern France before." Raven-haired Lady Violet pushed a plate across the desk, loaded with fruit and pastries. "Just tell Blake you've decided to explore other options. And that it's your choice, because it's your career."

"I don't trust you, Lady Violet. And I don't like the way you do business." Delia felt like a fool, stuffing her face with food when a moment ago she'd felt like running for the hills. But where could she go? She was in France, with no money and no passport. She didn't have any clothes to wear or even a proper place to stay.

"Strong, successful women don't always play by the rules, dear." Lady Violet didn't seem to be scolding Delia. She spoke quite softly. Just then she got a telephone call, and she pushed a button on her desk and began chatting away in perfect French.

"That was Paris," the older woman explained, springing up from her desk and tossing a chic designer bag over one slim shoulder. "I've got perfume sales to go over, and a merger to negotiate."

"You mean you're just leaving me here?" Delia didn't understand why she felt so let down. She didn't want to spend time with Lady Violet. What she really wanted was to get out of here!

"Actually, I thought you might want to relax for a day or two." Lady Violet patted Delia on the shoulder, as though to lift her spirits. "Remember, once you call Blake you can have the rest of the afternoon off. Swim and sun, walk in the flower garden, have a nice long rest by the pool. You're in charge, Delia dear. But Mrs. Huddleston will be close by if you need anything."

"Right, I'm in charge." Delia didn't believe a word of what Lady Violet was saying. Mrs. Huddleston was her jailer, and would punish her if she misbehaved. Delia shuddered, remembering the way the housekeeper had twisted her arm to make her board the plane. Now she was in France, all alone in a villa on the Riviera with a scheming businesswoman and her cruel housekeeper.

"Hey there, superstar! How's it going?"

Daisy Dooley was standing in the doorway in black leather, grinning and flashing her familiar necklace full of silver skulls.