'A splendid story of heartbreaking consequences and ambition during the Spanish Civil War... A recommended read ' Glynis Peters, bestselling author of The Secret Orphan *** A country torn apart by war. Two love stories divided by decades. One chance to discover the truth... Feisty journalist Isabella has never known the truth about her family. Escaping from a dangerous assignment in the turbulent Basque country, she finds her world turned upside down, firstly by her irresistible attraction to the mysterious Rafael, and then by a new clue to her own past. As she begins to unravel the tangled story of her identity, Isabella uncovers a story of passion, betrayal and loss that reaches back to the dark days of Spain's civil war - when a passionate Spanish girl risked everything for her country, and for the young British rebel who captured her heart. But can Isabella trust the man she's fallen in love with? Or are some wartime secrets better left undisturbed...? Heartbreaking, gripping historical fiction about the tragedy of war, and the redemption of love. Perfect for fans of Angela Petch's The Tuscan Secret and Kathryn Hughes' The Letter. *** Praise for The Spanish Girl : 'An outstanding read... Epic, personal, intimate and beautifully written ' Lizzie Page, author of The Forgotten Girls 'A compelling tale of friendship, love and loss. Impeccably researched, the story is full of surprises ' Rhiannon Ward, author of The Quickening 'A fabulous read of love, loss, loyalty and bravery set against the fascinating backdrop of the Spanish War. I was engrossed from the start and a must read for fans of dual timeline women's fiction' Suzanne Fortin, author of The Forgotten Life of Arthur Pettinger
Release date: March 15, 2021
Publisher: Orion Publishing Group
Print pages: 320
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The Spanish Girl
The Skinny Boy
December 4th 1937
The skinny boy turned away from the broken window and snagging his sleeve on the jagged glass, he lost his balance, fell off the barrel, crashing hard onto the muddy ground. He puked and then wiped his mouth in one swift movement, more concerned a Nationalist soldier might have heard him than about the vomit seeping inside his shirt. Taking a deep breath he steadied himself and climbed back up.
The screams made his heart hurt. They came from the girl lying prostrate on the wooden table inside the farmhouse.
‘Scilla, I’m here,’ he whispered. ‘Here, by the window.’ He thought if he used her nickname that she would hear. But she did not. He could barely hear his own words. Pretending he stroked her sweat-drenched forehead, with gentleness, the boy rubbed the window frame’s peeling paint.
The terrified-looking woman who had been forced to stay in the corner of the room, was allowed to step forward. Under the officer’s orders, she cut the cord with a rusty knife and snatched the baby from the soldier. The boy didn’t know if the child was alive or dead, but then it whimpered. The woman covered the baby’s face with her hand and all became quiet, and then the boy looked towards the man who had ordered the murder – because this was murder.
Studying the officer, he etched every detail, line and furrow into his memory. The boy then jumped off the barrel and hid behind it. The same woman was pushing open the farmhouse door with her foot. She held the baby tight to her chest and ran down the dusty track, through the sea of yellow winter jasmine, never looking back.
He waited and watched. The two soldiers appeared from the house and together they carried Scilla outside. Her eyes were closed but her lids flickered. She was still alive.
Dear God, please let Scilla die soon.
They carried her down the track which led away from the farmhouse. The officer sauntered behind, kicking up damp lumps of dirt to cover the trail of blood.
The boy guessed they were taking her to the roadside ditches where previously he’d seen renegade Nationalists disposing of bullet-ridden Republican bodies. But the three men carried on.
Following behind unseen he realised they weren’t heading for the road after all. Instead, they walked towards the hill where the neglected olive grove was, like the rest of Catalonia, slowly dying.
It was when they, and he, reached the old twisted Freedom Tree – a place where with indulgence Scilla had played hide and seek with him – that the boy would feel true fear. He could have run away, back down the hill. It would have been the most sensible action. But he couldn’t; he had to watch. It was all he could do. So the boy stayed with his fear.
And it stayed with him.
Disorientated, I flipped over, pulled my arm from under the cover and touched the gash that travelled from elbow to wrist. A loud bang outside and I was properly wrenched from a sleep that had been too difficult to find. The previous night’s events surged back and in the blanched early morning light I still smelt burning rubber, still saw the civil guard striking the young student protestor and the boy’s eyes closing, never to open again.
Another blast but this time more violent and causing the pension’s thin walls to shudder. I threw off the sheet and leapt up, stumbling towards the grease-covered window. A vibrant orange fireball on Bilbao’s main bridge where the boy had died lit the dawn sky. I rubbed the glass with my palm. A car was ablaze; its petrol tank must have exploded.
Wiping my hands on a towel, I grabbed a jumper from a chair and shivering, made my way to the next room and knocked on the door. No reply. Had my guide already gone? We’d agreed the night before that it would be better travelling out of Bilbao separately. I’d hoped to catch him before he left, and thought I would – because every morning for the past two weeks of our assignment I’d had to wake him. Like all teenagers Tomás loved his sleep. I stared at the closed door in mild agitation; there were questions I wanted to ask Tomás about the man we were meeting later. Forewarned was always forearmed. Background information key.
I pulled the jumper over my head, opened the door and stepped inside the room.
A scrap of paper lay on the unmade and empty bed. I picked it up.
I’ll meet you in Balmaseda, at the clock tower. I’ll wait. Rafael is expecting us before nightfall.
Do you have my cigarettes? Bring them with you. I didn’t want to wake you.
The Ducados were still inside my bag. In the chaos of the night before I’d told my young guide to give them up; it was the same advice I’d have given to a son.
Familiar loneliness bit into me as I made my way back to my own room. I peered in the mirror above the grimy, chipped sink, and was horrified at the image reflected back. At thirty-eight, lack of sleep was having its effect. Grey shadows were visible in the hollows of my cheeks, my face narrow, sucked in. After splashing my face with cold water I rummaged around in my bag for perfume, which I sprayed liberally over smoke-infused skin and clothes; the pension’s plumbing didn’t stretch to a shower. Leaning across the bed I pulled my necklace from the bedside table and as I did every day, opened the heart-shaped locket and stared at the two photos embedded in the tiny frames. On the left was an image of my adopted mother, the right, the birth mother I’d never known. Her eyes were so like mine, almond in shape and bluebell violet. I touched the tiny photo on the right with the tip of my index finger and experienced the familiar thump of unexplained sorrow in my gut. Snapping the locket shut, I put it around my neck.
Half an hour later I was on the main arterial road leading away from Bilbao.
Pushing down too hard on the Citroën’s brake, everything on the passenger seat landed in the car’s footwell. My knuckles turned white as I gripped the steering wheel, my eyes fixed on the roadblock. Everyone had turned off their ignitions and the only noise I heard came from my own sprinting heart.
A civil guard was weaving his way through the lengthening queue of cars, his leather belt pulled tight around a waist that heaved for freedom. I’d been working as a journalist in Franco’s Spain for twenty years but fear of the Civil Guard still crawled through me. He stopped at the small truck in front, opened the driver’s door and yanked a man from the seat, throwing him against the bonnet. Slight in stature and wearing what looked like farmer’s clothes, the man was well over seventy I guessed. He’d begun to cry. I adjusted the rear-view, looked at myself, and was glad I’d put on lipstick. I undid the first three buttons of my blouse, and then a fourth for good measure, pulled my platform sandals from my bag in the footwell and quickly put them on. I got out, the bag slung over my shoulder.
‘Señor, might I ask you a favour?’ I said to the guard’s back.
He swung around, his face a picture of confusion. I straightened up and leant against the Citroën, glad too that I’d gone braless.
‘Step back in the car, señora,’ he said, making his way towards me.
I grabbed Tomás’s Ducados from my bag. Took one out. ‘Do you have a light?’ I planted what I hoped was a provocative smile on my face.
He didn’t reply but lit my cigarette. I tried not to cough as I inhaled and tried not to look at the old man who was staring at me. ‘Is there a problem, señor?’
The guard watched me for a few seconds and then his hand moved to the buttons of my blouse, a fat forefinger snaked up my chest. ‘A very big problem today, as you will know if you were in the city last night. You were, I think? Name?’
My throat constricted and I wasn’t sure if it was the cigarette or the anxiety. ‘Daria Martinez.’ Daria had been my alias for five years. I’d never had a problem with my papers and hoped today wouldn’t be a first.
‘Where are you travelling to?’ the guard asked.
‘Balmaseda. I’m visiting from Barcelona, to see family.’ My unbuttoned shirt was stuck to my back and it wasn’t hot.
His hand dropped away from my neck and cupped my left breast. I didn’t flinch. Finally after too many minutes and too much pressure on my nipple his hand snapped away, and he fondled the gun sitting at his right hip. ‘Papers.’
I threw the cigarette onto the dusty ground, delved inside my bag and handed him my documents. He didn’t even look.
‘Off you go.’
I nodded at the old man’s vehicle. ‘His truck’s in my way.’
The guard turned. ‘Get back in and on with your journey,’ he shouted to the trembling man, who did as he was told but not before looking at me, gratitude in his expression.
To me the guard said, ‘Have a good trip, señora. And next time you travel, I suggest you wear a bra.’
I got back in the car and as I accelerated away I gave the bastard a wave, which he ignored, already tormenting his next victim.
The old man’s truck ahead gathered pace, tyres dislodging the damp dust in his haste to escape. I took my hand off the wheel, threw the packet of cigarettes through the window and buttoned up my blouse, my thoughts already in Balmaseda, and the meeting with Rafael Daguerre.
The lush, emerald-coloured hills surrounding Balmaseda’s valley were in stark contrast to the dust of Bilbao’s outskirts. The town’s clock tower told me it was exactly noon. Above, the sky brimmed with clouds that fractured vertically as they disappeared into a bright blue midday horizon. It should have been pleasantly warm but a slicing wind was finding its way from the North Atlantic, and through the Citroën’s open window.
I turned off the radio but carried on humming the tune of Abba’s ‘Fernando’. And waited. Tomás should have been there by now. I thought of the roadblock, the Civil Guard and hoped Tomás hadn’t given them lip, something he was apt to do. The block would have been set up long before I’d got there. Attempting to dampen my fretting I flipped the radio back on and fell asleep listening to Bowie’s ‘Golden Years’.
A knocking on the Citroën’s window woke me and I turned to see Tomás’s smiling face. Groggy with the snatched sleep, I wound the window down.
‘Hey, glad you made it,’ he said, poking his head inside the car, his long dark hair falling fashionably onto his shoulders, his yellow shirt encasing his willowy frame like a well-fitting glove, although the ridiculously wide collar was tucked inside. I adjusted it for him. ‘Thanks!’ He ran around the car, opened the passenger door and got in. ‘You have my cigarettes?’
‘Sorry, gone. I bribed a civil guard with your Ducados. Did you get out of the city okay?’
‘Good.’ My hand found the locket, caressing it in thought. ‘How well do you know Rafael Daguerre, Tomás?’
‘Well.’ His chest puffed. ‘He’s taken me under his wing.’
‘You mean he’s recruited you?’
‘I didn’t need much persuading.’
‘There are other ways to achieve freedom rather than brute force. It makes the hard-line Basque nationalists, like Daguerre, no better than the Civil Guard.’
‘Your mother was hard-line during the civil war,’ he said in a hushed tone.
I didn’t reply, my eyes fixed on the windscreen.
‘I shouldn’t have mentioned your mother. Forgive me, Isabella.’
‘It’s okay.’ Tomás was a great guide but came without a censor button.
Responding to my green light, he pushed on. ‘Rafael says her body was never found.’
Breath caught in my throat. ‘Daguerre knows about my mother?’
‘It’s Rafael’s uncle who knew her.’
‘During the war?’
‘I think so, yes.’
The man I was going to interview, or his uncle, had known Sofia. I couldn’t believe it, but it wasn’t so outside the realm of possibility. My mother had been born in this region. All I possessed to give me some essence of Sofia, my mother, was the image inside the locket, two other old photos, and a tin box full of dried Spanish bluebells; the flowers were ones that she’d kept from her childhood in Bilbao, so Calida had told me. The only reason I still had these keepsakes was because Calida, mi segunda madre, my second mother, had risked her life to save them.
‘Have you tried to find out what happened to her?’ Tomás asked, breaking into my thoughts.
‘Of course I have.’
He dipped his head. ‘Sorry.’
‘What are you studying at university?’ I said, changing the subject, because talk of my mother had thrown me.
‘Good. You should stick with that and not get involved in nationalism or with men like Daguerre. Safer.’
‘You’ll love Rafael when you meet him. Everyone does.’
‘I don’t think so.’ I shivered, repulsed at the idea of everyone falling in love with a man who used violence to achieve his aims.
‘Whatever you say, Isabella.’ He pulled the rear-view, got out a comb from his shirt pocket, groomed himself, and then pushed the mirror back. ‘You follow me in the Citroën. Rafael’s base is about a mile from the centre of town.’
Daguerre was a myth, with no photographic images of him, although rumour had it that he was charismatic and intriguing. I huffed quietly to myself; although in fairness my French editor had intimated it wasn’t Daguerre who perched at the top of the tree these days, and that he wasn’t happy with the separatist movement he’d helped form. I had to bury my prejudices and place my personal opinions to one side before interviewing him, because personal opinion would impede a genuine response to my questions. And, if what Tomás had said was true, I might find something out about my mother, if I played the meeting right.
Tomás stretched like a cat, yawned and got out of my car, jumping back into his own.
I followed him, passing the town’s church that sat grandly on the main street. I caught sight of a robust bloom of vivid pomegranate flowers that surrounded the ancient building like an enormous garland. We continued on towards the more desolate outskirts and finally Tomás slowed down, honking his horn indicating we were there. I stopped the car and peered ahead. The house was hidden behind sickly trees that were attempting against the odds of a cold spring to burst into life.
Tomás was already standing outside his car. He opened my door and together we began walking down the silent track towards the house. A feeling of unease passed through me and I turned, glanced around, seeing only a thin stray dog.
We opened a dilapidated gate, although the farmhouse that appeared in front of us was newly whitewashed and stood as a jewel in its overgrown surroundings.
A chair-swing sat at the front of the house and a girl lay lengthways across it, her eyes closed. She was wearing a short, billowy red dress, her stomach swollen. Tomás turned to me and mouthed, shush. He crept up behind the pregnant girl and placed his hand on her forehead.
She opened her eyes. ‘Tomás!’
‘Cristina, my love. Bit cool for sunbathing?’
She sat up, grinned at Tomás and then looked towards me. ‘Hola, señora. You must be Isabella Adame?’
A mild smell of chocolate blew across the veranda and I noticed an open box by her seat. L’Atelier du Chocolat. The famous Bayonne chocolate company. She pulled Tomás next to her, while at the same time pushing the ornate box further beneath the seat with her foot.
‘I am, and you are …?’
Tomás interrupted. ‘This is the mother of my child, and my very-soon-to-be wife, Cristina.’ He took a breath. ‘Cristina is also Rafael’s niece.’
Cristina plonked a kiss on his cheek. ‘I hear the demonstration did not go well last night?’ she asked Tomás in a subdued tone.
‘No, it didn’t.’
‘Congratulations are in order by the looks of things?’ I said to Cristina.
‘It’s not really congratulations.’ She giggled self-consciously. ‘Tomás and I should have married first.’
‘The world is changing. It’s fine,’ I said. Cristina was around eighteen. Same age as Tomás. What was she doing here? It wasn’t a place where a young and pregnant girl should be. ‘Are you living here?’ I asked her.
She glanced at Tomás, her forehead creased in sudden anxiety, and it was he who replied. ‘At the moment, yes. Until we marry.’
I was about to ask more – always the journalist – when the door, which had been slightly ajar, opened. The man who stood in front of me looked very like Cristina: high forehead and dark brown hair, as opposed to Tomás’s jet-black mane. He had the same shaped nose as Cristina, wide at the nostril with a narrow bridge. Deep frown-lines on his forehead hinted at the future ones on his niece’s. He looked more like her father than her uncle.
Rafael Daguerre was six foot, at least. Some would say skinny, but I thought more sinewy and muscular. Lean. Faint pockmarks marred his complexion and a huge horizontal scar ran across his forehead. I guessed that normally you wouldn’t be able to see the blemish, as his hair would cover it. However, he’d just come out of the shower and his wet, thick chestnut hair was slicked back.
I opened my mouth to speak and for the first time in my life I was unable to find the words.
‘Cristina lives here,’ Rafael Daguerre said, drying his face with a crusty blue towel, ‘because Tomás’s mother would be given a hard time by her neighbours if she lived with them at the moment.’
At last I found my voice, determined to find it. During my career I’d come across numerous men as arrogant as the one standing in front of me. He was no different to any of them, and almost a cliché. ‘Señor, perhaps you should be encouraging Cristina to go and live with her own parents?’
The muscles in his face tensed but then in only a moment and unexpectedly, his expression softened. ‘Cristina is unable to live with her own parents because they are both dead.’
‘Ah, then I apologise. But still, I believe that Cristina should not be living here … and I’m sorry if you do not like my opinion.’
‘I respect your opinion.’
I tried to pinpoint derision in his tone but there was none. He hid it well. ‘That’s good to know.’
Finally, a smile slipped onto his symmetrical features. ‘Rafael Daguerre. Welcome, Isabella Adame.’
I held out my hand. He didn’t take it, instead clasping me gently by my elbow and guiding me nearer to him. It took me a few moments to pull away. I convinced myself his familiarity had taken me by surprise, and this was the reason for my delayed reaction. No man in Spain would treat a woman who they’d just met that way – no man a woman could trust anyway.
‘What happened to Cristina’s parents?’ I asked, fingering the top button of my blouse, and then my locket.
‘Cristina’s mother, my sister, died six months ago. My brother-in-law, Cristina’s father, was taken by the Civil Guard a year ago.’
‘I see. But, señor, this is an isolated house. You are an activist. All information can be bought. The girl isn’t safe here and you know it.’ I remembered the earlier feeling of unease.
His eyes lit. ‘A woman with spirit.’ He glanced at my ringless hands and heat rose in my face. ‘I appreciate your concern for Cristina,’ he carried on. ‘And Tomás tells me you’ve been no problem to work with these last weeks … in fact the opposite. I’m familiar with your editor and his publication, Le Canard Enchaîné. He is fair. Will you write a balanced article?’
‘That’s what I do, señor.’
‘And you do it well. You are sympathetic to Basque independence. But, unlike your mother …’ His voice trailed off and so did his eye contact. Still looking downward, he said quietly, ‘You aren’t extreme.’
Daguerre and I were still standing in the doorway, Tomás and Cristina sitting nearby on the veranda. ‘Tomás told me that your uncle knew my mother?’
‘During the civil war, yes, he did. Before Sofia disappeared.’
Turning, I threw a questioning look towards Tomás, destabilised with Daguerre’s use of my mother’s first name.
‘It’s why I wanted you to come, Isabella,’ Tomás said, his voice low. ‘Why Rafael wanted you to come.’ I caught Tomás’s slight, almost imperceptible questioning shrug directed at Rafael. The older man’s features were unreadable.
I inclined my head to Tomás, but said to Daguerre, ‘No, I’m not extreme, señor.’ Questions about my mother would come later.
‘Leave Tomás and Cristina outside. Come in, and sit,’ Daguerre replied, leading me into the house.
Once inside, he continued. ‘It’s going to take years for the government to clean out Franco’s men. I’m sure you’re aware that already the government is disposing of civilian Basque nationalists and using mercenaries from abroad to do their dirty work for them, and so keeping their own hands clean.’
‘This is part of what I’m investigating.’
Daguerre pulled on a wiry brown wool jumper. ‘The government intends a complete amnesty regarding Franco and his war crimes.’ This was something of which I was aware. ‘Bodies are being found all over the country.’ He dragged out a chair, moved to take my elbow again, decided against it, indicating instead with an extended arm that I should sit down, all the time watching me.
‘Señor Daguerre, it would be good if you were able to give me more information about this. Nothing will be published in a Spanish newspaper, but Le Canard Enchaîné and France, is a different matter.’
‘I can give you much.’
‘Excellent.’ I lifted my arm, found a tendril of hair and twisted it around my finger with too much vigour. ‘And your uncle. Is it possible for me to meet him?’
‘Of course. I will take you to meet Miguel later this afternoon. He lives further into the valley,’ he said, moving nearer. ‘He would very much like to talk with you, Isabella. And I’ll take Cristina to Miguel’s tomorrow too. You are right, querida, she will be safer somewhere else.’
Querida was an affectionate and personal term, and I flinched with its use. So arrogant, so rude, so obstinately self-assured. Daguerre held every character trait I’d assigned to him, and before we’d even met.
‘Please make yourself at home,’ he continued. ‘Bathroom is over there if you want to freshen up.’ He pointed to the back of the house. ‘I’ll leave you in peace.’ He turned and made his way outside.
Despite the crisp spring temperature I was too hot and the grime of the previous night still clung to me, the smell of my perfume long gone. In the bathroom I began washing away the dirt of the past forty-eight hours. I splashed water on my face and used the jasmine soap, looked in the mirror, despising myself as I wished I hadn’t left my make-up in the car.
When finally I made my way outside the front porch was empty. I smelt cigar smoke and followed its path. The three of them were sitting at a small table, its wood silvered by the elements. Cristina ate from a plate of cooked vegetables, menestra, whilst Tomás and Daguerre sipped anise. It was Daguerre who smoked.
‘Terrible habit,’ I said.
He stubbed it out. ‘Then, Isabella, I will stop.’ The cigar glowed in the bright red ceramic ashtray.
Tomás laughed and Cristina nudged him.
Daguerre got up, saying to Tomás, ‘I’m taking Isabella to Miguel’s. We’ll probably be gone all afternoon. Remember where the guns are kept.’ He flicked a glance towards Cristina. ‘Get your things together, niña, ready for tomorrow when I’ll take you to Miguel’s. Perhaps stay there until the baby is ready to be born.’
‘It’s safe here, isn’t it?’ Cristina asked, her pretty forehead creased into a frown.
Tomás placed a protective arm around her. ‘What have you heard, Rafael?’
‘Things I’d rather not hear.’ Daguerre sighed with weariness. ‘We know what we are dealing with concerning the Civil Guard, but the foreign mercenaries are a different matter. And, more efficient than the pot-bellied Guard.’
‘I didn’t see any pot-bellied guards last night,’ Tomás said, unsmiling.
‘But, Tomás, did you see any foreign mercenaries?’
Tomás didn’t reply.
‘They know how to remain unseen.’ Daguerre raked his hand through now dry hair. ‘We’ll take Cristina to Miguel’s tomorrow.’
‘Is there something you’re not telling me?’ Tomás asked.
‘Yes, is there, Rafael?’ I echoed.
Rafael looked straight at me and ignored Tomás. ‘I like you calling me Rafael.’
Daguerre drove an ancient truck that looked as if it might have predated the civil war, even Franco himself. He wiped the old leather with a rag that was dirtier than the seat, and we set off. Quickly, the lack of suspension as well as the smell of petrol fumes threatened my usually iron constitution.
‘Thank you for doing this,’ I said, with not a little of a begrudging tone in my voice, and I wound down the window a crack. ‘Although I’m not sure why you are.’
He turned his head. ‘Does there always have to be a reason?’ The corners of his lips lifted into an amused semi-smile. ‘Sometimes we do things because, eskubidea sentitzen dute.’
‘I’m sorry but my Euskardi is almost non-existent.’
‘Sometimes things just feel right.’ He rotated his head back, his line of vision secured on the road. ‘And I trust you.’
I took in his profile, the clean-cut lines of his cheekbones, the superiority of his expression. ‘Is it wise to trust someone you do not know?’
‘Tomás trusts you, and I trust Tomás. It’s enough for me.’
I only nodded in response, because I had no reply. A man like Daguerre would not trust so easily. He was either lying, stupid, or knew a lot more than I could ever guess.
By the end of the day I hoped to know which explanation was true.
‘When Miguel realised who Tomás was working with, he asked Tomás to bring you here,’ Daguerre carried on. ‘Your mother is somewhat of a legend in this region … so Miguel has told me.’ He turned again. ‘Miguel doesn’t talk of the civil war, but he’s keen to see you, Isabella.’
I didn’t want to beg information although, despite my initial feelings towards this man, and with reluctance, I admitted there was something indefinable about Rafael Daguerre which did put me at my ease. How could that be? ‘I know very little about my mother, especially her later life.’
‘What do you know about Sofia, about your family …?’
How much to tell him? What did I have to lose? I wanted to find out what his uncle could tell me about my mother. I was desperate to know.
‘In early 1937 Sofia left Barcelona to pick up Calida and Aurelio, her “adopted parents” and the couple who were to later bring me up. She collected them from the Basque region to take them to a more stable area of Spain for the duration of the civil war. On her return, she met my father, a French brigader. It was a whirlwind romance, so Calida tells me. And short-lived – he died at the Battle of Brunete the summer of 1937.’
I stopped talking and my eyes rested on the passing scenery, watching the hills rise and fall along the hazy horizon. I was enjoying the rush of wind pushing through the open window and caressing the skin on my face. ‘When my mother disappeared, Calida and Aurelio took me to France. My grandfather died during the civil war and so it was they who brought me up, as they’d practically brought up Sofia.’
I was re. . .
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