About the book
Wealth and privilege can’t buy you love….or keep your secrets safe
The de Santoval sisters are heiresses to a glamorous fashion house, and the darlings of LA society.
Violetta is the hottest reality TV star of the moment, with a fierce press interest to rival Hollywood’s A-list. Carlotta is an exclusive horse trainer, as wild as the stallions she breaks in. Fine-arts consultant Grace is hiding a dark secret she must keep hidden at all costs. Their mother, wealthy fashion maven Birdie De Santoval, lies unconscious following a mysterious accident. Blame soon falls on their powerful but ruthless tycoon father, the missing Leon De Santoval.
Beneath the ritzy façade of the de Santoval family lies a web of deceit and betrayal that hides a secret that threatens to destroy them all…
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2JbOZrI
‘Thank you, Mrs Calthorpe.’
Grace accepted tea in a Coalport cup and saucer from the older woman. As Grace held the delicate cup, she thought about how much Birdie would love this tea set.
‘Please, call me Dominique,’ said the elegant older woman.
Grace heard her phone ring in her bag. Shit, she thought, I forgot to turn it off. She reached into her Chanel tote and saw it was Thea calling. I’ll call her back, she thought, she probably wants to know if I’m coming down for the weekend. She switched her phone to silent.
‘Excuse me,’ Grace said to Dominique.
‘That’s fine, dear. I expect you are very busy.’
‘No, no, I have time,’ Grace replied.
She looked around the room. It was filled to the brim with antiques, paintings, and objects de art. Grace had worked for three months to get Dominique Calthorpe, the wife of a recently deceased media scion, to grant her an interview. Grace’s firm, Cranfields, wanted to manage the sale of her estate. Dominique was moving to France to be with her daughter and everything, she informed Grace, was to be sold.
Grace knew that the other auction houses had already been to see her. Cranfields was the smallest house but Grace’s reputation as having the best taste in the industry, as well as innovative ways to market the estates, had allowed her to get half an hour with Dominique. Also Birdie’s phone call to Dominique had no doubt helped. The network was always there to fall back on, Birdie had reminded Grace when she complained that Dominique wouldn’t return her calls.
Graciela De Santoval was the most like her mother. Elegant, refined, the most beautiful of the triplets, she harboured a taste for the best things in life. Never in a gauche way, of course, but more bespoke. She read the restaurant reviews before she made any booking, she knew the best new artists and the most valuable old ones. She never wanted any surprises, and carefully curated her life to avoid any sense of the ugly. She always wanted to be surrounded by beauty, as a shield from the ugly world that existed.
This control of her decisions gave her a sense of security. Grace, as she preferred to be known as, had never done a spontaneous thing in her life. She dated the most eligible men, had only had three lovers and made love with the light out. Her orange Hermes day planner was filled with small ticks written with a small gold pencil, and her well organised iPhone was snug in its matching leather, her monogram in gold on the back.
‘Come and see the art, my dear,’ Dominique said.
Grace followed her into the large foyer. On almost every part of the wall up the stairs hung paintings, all different frames and styles. Modern sat next to old masters and Grace felt herself take a sharp breath inwards.
Dominique looked up at the works. ‘I like to look at the art. When we first moved in here, I took all the paintings and a hammer and nails and hung them myself.’
‘A mosaic hang,’ Grace said, as she looked up the stairwell.
‘Yes!’ said Dominique, seemingly pleased that Grace understood her style. ‘Not popular here but in Paris, where the apartments are small but the taste is grand, one must do what one can with the limited space. It was not like we didn’t have the room here but I wanted to make the house seem smaller. It is very large.’
Dominique gestured towards the stairs. ‘Go and look, I think you will find some little masterpieces among them. There are even a few of Henry’s that I hung after he retired and took up painting.’
Grace was silent as she walked the stairs. There were Sargents and a divine Mary Cassatt that Grace would have liked for herself. A few Rockwells, several Turners, two Jessie WiIlcox Smiths, a Walter Gay and many more. Grace was overwhelmed. Interspersed were canvases of Henry’s art, modest and impressionistic in style, of the harbour and the gardens at the Calthorpe estate. They were sweet, if a little amateur, but they had an innocence about them that Grace admired. Grace had studied art at Wellesley, majoring in Modern Art and American Art. She was excited by the collection that Dominique had put before her and felt herself trying not to show too much enthusiasm in front of Dominique’s calm demeanour.
‘I like your husband’s work very much,’ Grace said truthfully.
‘He was good,’ said Dominique. ‘You wouldn’t sell that though, would you?’ she asked anxiously.
‘Not unless you wanted us to,’ said Grace gently.
‘No, but the other auction houses said they wouldn’t get anything for his work. I found that rather insulting.’ Grace covered her smile as they walked back to the overstuffed sitting room. She moved her bag and saw her mother had rung again. Probably checking to see how it had gone with Dominique. Grace stifled an urge to text Birdie to leave her alone and instead focused on Dominique.
‘If you wanted us to sell your husband’s work then we would. I see no reason why they wouldn’t fetch a reasonable price, given the artist and his technique. It is impressionist in style and that sits well with the conservative market,’ Grace said honestly.
Dominique beamed at her. ‘Well, I wouldn’t sell them ever, they mean more to me than anything else here. My daughter has what she wants from the collection, the rest mean nothing to me.’
‘Of course,’ said Grace. ‘Needless to say, Cranfields is not the biggest auction house that has come to see you but we are the most attentive and we will certainly treat everything with the respect it deserves, particularly Henry’s paintings, if you do ever decide to put them up for sale.’
Dominique smiled at her. ‘Thank you, my dear. Just what I wanted to hear. Well then, you better see the rest before you start,’ she said, standing up.
Grace was flummoxed. ‘Start what, Mrs Calthorpe?’
‘The inventory, my dear. You have the whole house to catalogue. I know you said your auction house was small but I thought there would be more than just you,’ Dominique said as she walked through the sitting room into a study filled with art nouveau objects.
Grace stood behind her and silently clapped her hands. ‘Oh thank you, Dominique, and yes there are more of me,’ she smiled.
‘Well, you should ring for reinforcements then.’
Grace pulled out her phone and saw another message from her mother’s house, but instead she rang Cranfields. ‘Alan, it’s Grace. Yes, we got it. Get yourself down here. There is more art nouveau than I have ever seen and she has a Cassatt, yes a Cassatt!’
As Grace spoke she remembered how much Birdie loved Mary Cassatt’s work and thought about her mother and felt guilty. She quickly dialled the number that had been harassing her all morning.
‘Hi Thea, it’s Grace. Is Mom there?’ she said quietly so Dominique who was in the next room wouldn’t hear.
Grace was silent and felt the colour drain from her face. ‘I’m coming now.’
‘Dominique, Dominique,’ she cried.
The old lady rushed into the room.
‘I have to go, it’s my mother, she’s been hurt. She needs help. I’m so sorry.’
Dominique waved her hand at her. ‘Go, go, family first, always child.’
About the author
Katet Forster lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband, two children and dogs and can be found nursing a laptop, surrounded by magazines and talking on the phone, usually all at once. She is an avid follower of fashion, fame and all things pop culture and is also an excellent dinner party guest who always brings gossip and champagne.
Twitter handle: @kateforster