It wasn’t the Venice apartment she wanted, nor the monthly payment dump in her account, or flights on his jet for time with Daddy.
It was Raul.
And for a tiny moment she had considered that desire attainable.
That was why she still held on to the statue—because when she’d opened up that box and looked down from the balcony for a second she’d thought it was possible that someone might actually love her.
Allegra was talking with the realtor, and then she excused herself to take a call on her phone.
From her affectionate tone, it was her husband, and from what Lydia could glean they were discussing what they would have tonight for dinner.
She almost smiled as she recalled for the millionth time one of her and Raul’s conversations.
Only she couldn’t smile.
Because if they were a couple she’d be texting him now, or telling him tonight, and they’d be laughing at their own private joke.
But they weren’t a couple.
And in that same conversation he’d told her he never wanted marriage.
She looked out to the canal. She was back where she had longed to be, but she ached at the coolness between them.
Lydia didn’t just want the parenting side of things to be sorted.
There was a reason she was resisting everything he suggested and she faced the lonely truth—
Lydia wanted Raul, herself and the baby to be a family.
Loretta set down Lydia’s dinner. Homemade fettuccini and a creamy sauce that smelt delicious. Finally Lydia’s appetite was back.
‘It looks lovely.’
‘It is nice to have someone to cook for.’ Loretta accepted the compliment. ‘This is a recipe from Casta. I haven’t made it for years.’
‘You’re from Casta?’
‘I worked for Raul’s father, and now for him. I know who I prefer.’
Lydia didn’t respond at first. She assumed from that that Raul worked her too hard.
‘I guess Raul must be demanding.’
‘Raul?’ Loretta laughed. ‘No. I love working for him. It’s been nearly ten years now, and I still pinch myself to make sure that it’s true. I worked in his father’s bar for more years than I care to count. Then Raul brought me to Rome and I used to take care of the apartments, and then I ran the housekeeping side of his first hotel.’ She gave Lydia a smile. ‘I’ll leave you to eat.’
‘Thank you,’ Lydia said. Only she didn’t want to be left to eat—she wanted to chat with Loretta, and she wanted to know more about Raul, but it wasn’t her place to ask.
What was her place?
Lydia didn’t know.
And so she ate her dinner and had a bath, and then pulled on summer pyjamas which were short and a bit too tight, then lay in her bed in the guest room while no doubt Raul headed out.
Perhaps for another dinner to discuss her and the baby.
His latest set of problems.
And all because he wanted to get back at Bastiano!
Lydia didn’t have the energy to think about that right now.
She was hurting.
They had to talk.
And, no, she didn’t care if she was running outside his schedule and it wasn’t her appointed hour.
They were going to discuss this.
Even the difficult things, like nannies and visiting times.
She had no idea where in the house he was.
But she’d find him.
And if he wasn’t at home...
She would wait.
* * *
Raul was actually in his office.
He looked up as Allegra stopped by on her way home and told him what she had organised.
‘I’ve arranged two other apartments for Lydia to look at tomorrow, and there’s a courier coming tomorrow at nine.’
‘You said you had a package you wanted hand-delivered to Casta?’
‘How did you find her in the end?’ Allegra asked as she pulled on her coat. ‘I think I visited maybe fifty castles and rang a hundred more.’
‘She found me,’ Raul replied.
Only that wasn’t quite true. But he didn’t run everything by Allegra, and he certainly wasn’t going to discuss the meeting he’d had with Bastiano with her.
‘Anything else?’ Allegra checked.
‘I don’t think so.’
She was gone.
And Raul didn’t blame her a bit.
Last night she had worked till close to midnight, trying to have things as prepared as possible for today.
And tonight he had kept her again past ten.
He looked up and there was Allegra, still hovering at the door.
‘I just thought I should let you know I’m also looking for a nanny.’
‘Maybe hold back on that till Lydia has got more used to the idea.’