The Ferrari stopped and the tinted window slid down to reveal grinning white teeth in a tanned face.
‘Terribly sorry,’ said the driver, ‘but I’m lost. Do you know the way to Cap-Ferrat?’
The girl leaned down until her perfect features were level with his.
‘Yes,’ she said, ‘My father has a villa there.’
‘Cool. Would it be too cheeky of me to ask you to hop in and show me? I’m late for a meeting.’
She assessed the handsome face, the well-cut hair, the fine linen shirt over muscular arms as they rested on the wheel, the Patek Philipe on his wrist.
‘OK.’ She strolled around the long bonnet and slid into the leather seat beside him.
‘So,’ said the man, revving the engine, ‘am I on the right road?’
‘You are. Head out of Cannes and I’ll tell you where to turn.’
He accelerated away, pressing her into her seat. He drove the car well: a rich man used to rich toys. Someone from her world.
‘What’s your name?’ she asked.
He noticed her long legs and gleaming hair. The designer clothes and bag. She glowed with wealth. Someone from his world.
‘Do you live nearby, Brigitte?’
‘Monte Carlo. And a penthouse in Mayfair.’
‘Oh? I’ve got a place overlooking the Thames. Just four thousand square feet – nothing fancy.’
He slowed to guide the Ferrari round a hairpin bend. They were climbing higher. The yachts in the bay looked tiny now.
‘My apartment is – ‘
A siren screamed behind them. Police.
But Alexander didn’t slow or pull over. He floored the accelerator and the car shot forward, gripping the narrow road as it swung out of the bend. Another police car darted from a side road and slammed to a halt, blocking the way ahead. Alexander braked, the Ferrari swerved, and Brigitte got a sickening vision of the sea far below as they lurched to a stop on the edge of the cliff.
The doors of the police cars flew open and officers piled out, pulling guns from their holsters as they ran.
‘Sort de la voiture!’
They both got out.
An officer handcuffed Alexander. ‘Gary Butcher,’ he said in a thick French accent, ‘I arrest you for car thefts and burglaries on the Cote d’Azur.’ He shoved him towards the slewed police car, pushed him onto the back seat and slammed the door.
Another policeman turned the Ferrari carefully in the road, then all three cars drove away down the hill.
Brigitte stood in the dust as the engine noise died away, then began the long trek back into town. Her week in Cannes was gone and so were her savings. Time to return the borrowed Chanel dress and bag to her model friend and go back to her job at Primark in Slough. So… ‘Alexander’ wasn’t the wealthy businessman he pretended to be. There would be no rich husband this year. She snorted with anger. You couldn’t trust anyone these days.