The Spanish Billionaire's Hired Bride(10)

By: Rachel Lyndhurst

Helen scooped the cell phone up in one hand and swore as she fumbled and dropped it, buzzing like a hornet, on the floor. “Hello?” She managed to answer calmly and then felt the blood drain from her hands when she heard her mother’s strained voice.

“The bank’s brought everything forward. If we don’t come up with the money in one week, we’re out.”

Helen’s breath caught. “They can’t! Not just like that. Can they?”

“Apparently they can.” The connection crackled. “We’re set to lose everything in five working days time.”

“But, Mum, we had six months.” Helen squeezed her eyes shut to quell the panic.

“There’s nothing to be done now, love,” her mother said. “I thought I’d better call you about your things before the bailiffs get hold of them. Your dad and I are running out of places to send everything. Is there a friend who can look after them until you get back?”

There was a moment of silence as Helen sensed her mother was thinking exactly the same she was: back to what exactly?

Her head began to pound. “I can’t believe they’re doing this. Can’t we hold them off for another month? Perhaps by then we can find a way to meet the minimum payment—”

“It’s too late,” her mother blurted. “They won’t budge. We have to accept the inevitable. If there was any hope I wouldn’t be ringing you like this.”

Helen fisted her free hand to stop it shaking. “How’s Dad taking it?”

“Not so good. The doctor upped his heart pills yesterday.” Her mother’s voice sounded distant. “He blames the whole mess on himself.”

“He was only trying to protect us, Mum.”

“I know, darling, but if we’d known the legal fees would eventually outstrip the value of our land and property we’d have given in to the Skiptree Estate’s demands a lot earlier. At least that way we would have something left, somewhere to live at least. But we don’t have enough cash to fight the court case any longer. We have to give up.”

“And let that Skiptree woman bully us until she gets what she wants?” A hot tear slid over her bottom lashes, and Helen wiped it angrily away. “We can’t let her drive us out of our home!”

“Pride comes at a too high a price, I’m afraid. Not only has Lidia Skiptree exhausted every penny we have by dragging out the litigation, she’s also started to get to our customers. Orders have dropped off, and now, well, we simply can’t continue. Even if sales bounce back, we can’t afford to implement the latest health and safety requirements that were thrown at us last week. The sterilizing equipment’s packed up and we have to pour the milk down the drain.” Her mother’s voice rose a pitch. “She’s got us just where she wants us—reduced to selling a few eggs at the gate.”

“Damn the woman,” Helen snapped. “What idiot said money can’t buy you happiness? It’s getting her just about everything her dark little heart wants, even down to that ludicrous off-the-shelf title. Lady. She’s the furthest you could get from one. She’s a monster.”

“We aren’t the only ones.” Her mother sniffed. “She’s railroaded the sale of at least three other farms since she came back down from London. She’s determined to push this development of hers through.”

“Oh no …”

“We can’t fight her anymore. I’m sorry, my darling, but we have to face facts. It’s over.”

“No it isn’t, Mum.” Helen scraped the back of her sleeve over her sore eyes. “I won’t let her do this. It’s about time someone stood up to her and gave her a taste of her own medicine. There has to a way we can save Primrose Farm, and I’m going to do everything I can to give Lidia Skiptree a bloody nose.”

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