Jo’s mouth dropped open. ‘Why would her safety be at stake?
‘I thought he’d hit her,’ he said flatly.
‘Oh,’ said Jo in a small voice.
A look passed between Alex and his sister that Phoebe couldn’t identify and that nugget of shame threatened to resprout inside her. ‘Nevertheless,’ said Phoebe, forcing it down, ‘you overreacted.’
‘We’ve already been through that,’ grated Alex.
‘I could put it down to jet lag if you’d like,’ said Phoebe helpfully, and then shuddered at the dark scowl that crossed his face.
Jo sighed and her shoulders slumped. ‘Was Mark very drunk?’
‘As a skunk,’ said Phoebe, ‘and after some time in the pond he smelt a bit like one too.’
Jo’s nose wrinkled. ‘What was he doing in the pond?’
‘Making friends with the wildlife,’ said Alex dryly. ‘Someone forgot to put up a fence.’
‘No one forgot,’ said Phoebe. ‘It’s deliberate. It’s cool. The fencelessness of the San Lorenzo Roof Gardens symbolises the uninhibited harmony between man and nature, and is part of its uber-cool appeal.’ At least that was what the website claimed.
‘It’s absurd,’ Alex growled. ‘Your boyfriend,’ he said, emphasising the word with sharp disdain as his gaze skewered Jo to the spot, ‘could have caused serious damage.’
‘It’s not his fault,’ said Jo, her face falling. ‘He’s up to his ears in debt.’
‘Idiot,’ muttered Alex.
‘Spoken like a true billionaire,’ said Phoebe tartly.
Alex’s eyes glittered dangerously. ‘There you go again,’ he said, shaking his head as if in disappointment. ‘Jumping to conclusions and making rash assumptions. I haven’t always been a billionaire. I know what it’s like to have nothing but debts.’
So do I, thought Phoebe, and tried not to think about the enormous loan she’d taken out to set up her business.
‘But I didn’t drown myself in drink,’ Alex added.
‘Lucky you.’ There were times when Phoebe felt like mainlining vodka, but so far she’d managed to resist.
He turned to Jo. ‘I don’t think you should see him again.’
‘Thanks to you I probably won’t,’ Jo fired back.
Right. Phoebe had had enough of this. Sibling squabbling had no place here. ‘Perhaps you two could continue this discussion another time,’ she said in a voice that brooked no argument. ‘Jo, you need to go back inside and mingle. Alex, you need to get a drink and relax. And I need to get on with making sure nothing else goes wrong.’
Phoebe spun round to see the portly form of Mr Bogoni barrelling towards them, huffing and puffing and looking as if he were on the verge of exploding. Her spirits dipped at the expression on his face. Oh, Lord. What was the matter now? Surely one mishap was quite enough for one evening.
‘Ms Jackson,’ he said again, smoothing his hair.
‘Mr Bogoni,’ said Phoebe, flashing him a bright smile that as usual didn’t manage to dent the icy demeanour. ‘You’ll be delighted to know that the flamingo remains unharmed.’
‘I am indeed glad to hear that, but unfortunately we have another problem.’
‘What sort of problem?’
‘I think you’d better come with me.’