‘The baby can’t hear me!’ Raul said.
‘You discuss it so clinically.’
‘You told me yourself to keep it businesslike. Come on, Lydia, tell me what you want. You’ve had three months to get used to the idea. I’ve had less than twenty-four hours. Tell me what you’ve decided and we can work from there.’
And she tried to tell him just that.
‘There’s no need for me to have an apartment here. Of course we’ll visit often...’
A smile—a black smile—played on his lips, and she sat back as Raul chose his words.
‘And where would you stay?’ Raul asked. ‘The guest wing?’
As she nodded that dark smile faded.
‘Lydia, I don’t want my ex, or rather one of my one-night stands, as a regular guest in my home. I don’t want someone who has already said that she disapproves of me dictating the relationship I have with my child.’
‘And I don’t want my baby to be raised by a nanny.’
‘Tough.’ Raul shrugged. ‘Do you really see me getting up at night to feed it and...’ He pulled a face.
And, no, she could not see it.
‘Raul, I haven’t made any plans...’
‘Oh, I would say you set your plans in motion a long time ago,’ Raul said. ‘And I would suggest that when you “forgot” to take your Pill you thought you’d chosen carefully indeed.’
He enlightened her.
‘I said I don’t like children, and you decided I’d make a very good absentee father...’
‘No!’ she shouted.
‘Correct,’ Raul said. ‘Because I shan’t just be a chequebook father—I’m going to be very hands-on.’
He dismissed her then—she knew it from the wave of his hand.
‘We’re getting nowhere. We can try again tomorrow if you would like?’
‘You’re going to schedule me in again?’ Lydia asked in a sarcastic tone.
Raul ignored it but answered her question. ‘If you want me to.’
And that was how they would be, Lydia was starting to realise.
Parents, but apart.
So, so far apart that she could not see across the void.
‘Do you want to see the apartment?’ Raul checked before he closed this disaster of a meeting. ‘We should try to get as much as possible done while you’re still here.’
Raul heard the resignation in her voice and loathed it.
They had ended up fighting, and he knew he tended to win fights.
‘I think perhaps we should do this through lawyers,’ Raul admitted.
He didn’t want to fight Lydia. He just wanted the details sorted. He would leave it to them and then sign.
‘Raul, I can’t afford a lawyer.’
It was a very difficult admission for someone like Lydia to make.
But he just sat there and leant back in his chair, and wondered just who she took him for.
‘We both know that’s not true.’
‘Seriously, Raul. I know I live in a castle...’
‘Lydia,’ he told her as he sat there, and let her know himself how to nail him to the wall. ‘Call a lawyer—the best you can find—and tell him my surname.’
‘I can’t afford to.’
‘Try it,’ he said. ‘Tell them whose baby you’re having and I guarantee they won’t give a damn as to the current state of your finances. They’ll probably offer to hold your hand in the delivery room.’
‘For their cut, of course,’ Raul added.
He watched as she walked out, and usually he would be feeling delighted that a meeting had concluded early and he could get on to the next thing.
Yet she was the next thing.
When there was so much he should be getting on with Raul sat there thinking. Not even about the baby, but about her.
All roads did not lead to Rome.
But to Lydia.
* * *
Instead of thinking about the baby, which surely she should be, all Lydia could think about was Raul.
He was trying to get this sorted for both of them as best he could, Lydia thought as the realtor let both herself and Allegra into the apartment.
It was stunning, with crimson walls and drapes and a view of the canal.
In fact from one of the bedrooms she could see the balcony of his home.
‘I missed that when I came this morning,’ Allegra said when she looked to where Lydia’s gaze fell, and again she wrote something down.
‘Sorry?’ Lydia checked.
‘I’m sure you don’t need a view of Daddy’s home from yours! You’ll want your own life...’
Allegra was trying too, Lydia realised.
Lydia was so used to everyone being the enemy.
No one really was here.
They were trying to do this without lawyers, and she was fighting them at every point, and Lydia knew why.