And Lydia wasn’t thinking about sex.
She had been innocent of the level of hurt he might cause, for she had sworn she would let no one close ever again.
Oh, she was a fool—for she had.
So, so close.
Lydia wanted to retch as she thought of their lovemaking, and she held in a sob as she had a sudden vision of herself coming undone under his expert ministrations.
Had he been laughing on the inside?
Everything was tainted black.
Her phone rang again, and Lydia saw that it was Arabella.
She must have seen the photos.
Lydia was no doubt popular now.
‘Hey...’ Arabella said. ‘When are we going to catch up? How about tonight?’
‘I can’t make it.’
‘No, thank you.’
‘I’ve got to go.’
Lydia gave no reason.
Raul had taught her that much at least.
She ended the call and ran to the balcony and stood there dragging in air and trying to fathom how to face the man who had destroyed her.
Would he be like Arabella and barely flinch when he found he’d been caught out?
All her confidence was shredded.
She was no butterfly emerging, Lydia knew, but a dragonfly.
Didn’t they spread their wings for just one day?
Her wings were gone now, torn and stripped, and it hurt to be bare.
She stood clutching the stone balcony in the rain and wondered if she had time to pack and get out. But it was too late. She looked down and saw the empty speedboat and knew he must be on his way up.
Leaving without tears, leaving with pride, wasn’t just a wish but an imperative now—Raul must never know the hurt he had caused her, Lydia vowed.
Not one tear would she give him.
She would have been better off with Bastiano!
At least there she had known the score.
A whore, albeit with a ring on her finger.
And then it came to her—Lydia knew how to hurt Raul now.
She turned and saw him. His hair was wet, and had she not found out, Lydia knew they would have been naked soon.
Why did he have to be so beautiful?
How she wished there had been just another day till she’d found out.
‘Why are you standing in the rain?’ Raul asked.
‘I was just taking in the view before I go.’
‘I called and they can transfer my flight, but I have to leave soon.’
‘You don’t.’ Raul shook his head. He had a jet on call, after all, but more than that he wanted to say it.
‘Come and have breakfast and we can talk.’
‘No, thanks,’ Lydia said, and she wondered herself how she did it, because she actually managed to smile.
She had at her father’s funeral as she had thanked the guests for coming.
And she had smiled at Arabella that awful day in Murano as she had purchased the vase.
No one knew her, and now she would make sure no one ever did.
Yes, her innocence was gone.
In every sense.
‘I have a lot to sort out, Raul. I need to get home and face things.’
‘I know that, but it can wait a few days. Come inside—I brought breakfast.’
And Lydia knew she wasn’t that good an actress. She could not lie in bed and eat. And so she shook her head. ‘I need to go, Raul.’
He kissed her to change her mind.
And she let him.
Desperate for the taste of him just one more time.
He nudged with his hips, he cajoled with his tongue, and he nearly won.
He led her inside, but instead of going to bed Lydia reached for her case and placed it on the bed and started to pack.
‘I don’t get why you’re leaving,’ Raul said. He did not understand her mood.
‘Wasn’t it you who said I don’t need to give an excuse or a reason?’
Indeed it had been.
And so he watched as she put the red shoes into the case, and the underwear he had peeled off last night, and selected fresh for today.
Her robe was clinging and her nipples were thick, and Lydia, as she went and unplugged her phone, did not understand how she could both hate and want.
‘Can we talk?’ Raul said.
‘And say what?’ Lydia asked, and there was strain to her voice.
‘I don’t want you to leave yet.’
A few moments ago she would have knelt at his feet for those words, now she turned angrily.
‘Oh, sorry—were you hoping for a morning shag because you bought me a statue?’
Oh, it wasn’t her wings growing back—it was nails. Thick steel nails that shot out like armour.
‘Raul, thank you so much for your hospitality. I had a wonderful time.’
And she did know how to hurt him!
‘I think we both know I was never going to be leaving Italy a virgin. It was you or Bastiano. I chose you.’