‘Why? So you can frighten me with this?’ She stared at one clenched fist pressed into the wall at the side of her face.
‘What?’ His face paled. ‘Is that what you think of me? Is that what you think I’m trying to do to you, Lisa? No.’ He turned away.
This was supposed to be about him! Lisa raged at herself inwardly. Tonight was supposed to be about Tino—not about her. What had she done? Fear made her weak… fear that, having lost control with a man for the first time in her life, she was being used for sex as her mother had been used. She would never shake it off, and Tino needed someone whole, someone untouched by shadows, someone who could help him as she never could.
‘You’re right,’ Tino exclaimed before Lisa had chance to express her thoughts. ‘I’m no good at this—I should take you back.’ He held out his hand, and then, as if remembering how things were between them, he let it drop down to his side again.
By the time the first fingers of dawn were edging over her balcony Lisa had finished packing. First thing on Monday she would ring all the boutiques and find out how much money she owed Tino. The monotony of packing had soothed her a little and made her see that it was better this way. There hadn’t been time to work through everything in the past that stood between them… How could there ever be enough time for that? The men’s dance in the taverna had been the turning point when she had realised that they could never have a future together.
The rational part of her insisted that the dance had been nothing more than a celebration of the men’s heritage—but when would the past rear its ugly head again? When would it destroy them both? She had to leave Stellamaris before that happened.
‘Do you mind if I come in?’
Lisa’s eyes widened with surprise to see Tino leaning into her room from the balcony outside. ‘Be my guest.’ She tried for casual, but her heart was juddering. She hadn’t expected this. It would have been easier not to see him before she left. She still wanted him so badly it was like a continual ache in her heart, and for that reason alone she had to go. She couldn’t hurt him; she could never hurt him, and if she stayed she knew she would.
She waited tensely, watching him view all the debris on her floor. There were shoeboxes and tissue paper scattered everywhere. ‘I’ll pay you for everything.’
He silenced her with a gesture. ‘You wanted to say something to me last night, Lisa, and we never got the chance.’
‘It doesn’t matter now.’ She looked away, ashamed that when she’d had her chance to ask him about his nightmares she had allowed her own fears to take precedence over his. Because she loved him she had to leave before she caused him any more harm—or herself.
‘I hear you’re leaving around noon?’
‘Yes, that’s right.’
‘Then why don’t we have breakfast together before you leave? There’s plenty of time.’
‘No.’ She could see he was surprised at the force of her refusal. ‘I’m really not hungry.’
‘You don’t need to be hungry to enjoy breakfast overlooking the sea.’
‘It’s too early for me.’
He frowned as he studied her. ‘But you always like to see the sun rising over the ocean.’
‘Generally, yes. But today—well, I think it’s better if we make a clean break.’
‘Do you really believe that?’
As he took a step forward she could have touched him. She was sure she could feel his body heat warming her. ‘I still have some clearing up to do.’
‘Can’t you leave that for now?’
‘I can’t leave the room like this.’ She looked around.
‘I promised Stella you would come.’
Taking a deep breath, Lisa turned away from him to stare out across the balcony. Sunrise was playing tricks with the horizon and the sea wore a pink-tinted blanket of cloud. It was like a dream. If only it could have been a dream, how much easier that would have been for all of them. But it wasn’t a dream, it was all too real, and how could she leave Stellamaris without saying goodbye to Stella? Saying a final goodbye to everything that Tino was.