Moth to the Flame

By: Sara Craven

Juliet went to Italy to check on her sister, Jan. According to Jan,

she'd arrived just in time. Wealthy, powerful Santino Vallone was

trying to prevent Jan from marrying his young brother, Mario.

With courage and determination, schoolteacher Juliet came to the

rescue. Bravely she led Santino down a false trail by pretending to



But Juliet only had one side of the story. When Santino kidnapped

her, taking her to his castle by the sea, she realized the path she'd

chosen led to danger--and heartbreak!


'Well, I can't understand you,' Mrs Laurence said plaintively. 'Most

girls would give their eye teeth for a week in Rome with all

expenses paid.'

Juliet Laurence repressed a sigh and gave her mother a look of

affectionate resignation. 'You make it all sound so simple,' she said.

'It is simple,' her mother protested.

'And of course Jan will welcome me with open arms, without the

slightest idea that I've been sent out to spy on her.'

'What an unpleasant way of expressing it!' Mrs Laurence directed a

quelling glance at her older daughter. 'That is not my intention at all.

I admit that I'm concerned, but...'

'But you want to know what she's doing, and why she hasn't written

to you for nearly a month, without actually asking her directly,'

Juliet supplied accurately.

'But she never keeps me waiting so long for a letter,' Mrs Laurence

said defensively. 'Something's wrong, I know it is. I have one of my

feelings ...'

'Oh, Mim!' Juliet smiled ruefully. 'You and those "feelings" of

yours—the panics they've started! If you're so worried, why don't

you telephone Jan? It would be cheaper than sending me to Rome

to ferret out the information for you.'

'I can't phone her. I'd sound like one of those dreadful,

over-protective mothers who keep dragging their fledglings back to

the nest,' Mrs Laurence said fretfully. 'Jan would hate it. And I've

never pestered or interfered, have I?'

Juliet patted her hand. 'No, Mim, love, of course not.'

And if the thought fleetingly occurred to her that if it had been

herself all those miles away in Rome instead of her younger sister,

her mother's antennae might not have been quite so sensitive to

impending doom, she loyally suppressed it. After all, Jan was her

last-born, and Juliet had always known, ever since her sister's birth,

that Jan was the favourite child. It was an instinctive knowledge

and she had been able to absorb it without particular hurt, because

she knew that she was also loved and valued, and that what

favouritism there was had been wholly unconscious on her mother's


Jan, after all, was everyone's darling. She was incredibly lovely to

look at, for one thing. Strangers had hung over her pram, cooing

rapturously while she accepted their homage. She had continued to

accept it all through her childhood, at school and at play, and no

one had been in the least surprised when a career in modelling

beckoned when she was seventeen. And now she had been working

in Rome for almost a year at a leading fashion house, the latest in a

series of glamorous jobs.

Juliet did not grudge her sister one iota of her almost meteoric

success. No one, she had realised a long time ago, was ever likely

to offer her a career in modelling, even if that had been what she

wanted—unless it was to advertise tights or nail varnish. Her legs

were long and shapely, and her hands small and well cared for, but

her figure, although slender and rounded in the right places, would

never set the world on fire, she thought judiciously, and while she

shared Jan's basic colouring, her own hair tended towards a bright

copper rather than her sister's rich red-gold colour and her eyes had

more grey than green in them. Her face was thinner, too, its

cheekbones more prominent and the mouth more vulnerable.

It was odd to think of herself as the more vulnerable when she was

the older by eighteen months. When they had been small, she had

always been protective towards Jan, alert for the sort of mischief

that could lead to danger. Jan had seemed to accept this in much the

same spirit as she received admiration, but at the same time she

seemed to have been born knowing exactly where she was going

and what she wanted out of life, whereas Juliet had never really

known where her path would lead. It had led, eventually, to training

as a teacher, and she had just completed her probationary year. She

was happy and settled in her post in a primary school, but was that

really how she should be feeling at twenty-two? she wondered. She

had never let the knowledge that Jan regarded her as. a

stick-in-the-mud worry her in the past, because she had never

craved the sort of limelight that seemed to be her sister's life's

blood, but just recently she had begun to ask herself whether Jan's

strictures might not have a certain justice, and whether she was not

in grave danger of resigning herself to a rut.

There was Barry Tennent for one thing. He taught at the same

school, and they had been out together several times. Juliet

admitted that she enjoyed his company, and she knew that Barry

was ambitious, with his eye on a deputy headship before he was

thirty. Nor did she find him unattractive. But was that really all

there was to it—to marry a man because his prospects were sound,