‘That’s kind of you, but…but I don’t actually think that I am pregnant,’ Lizzie fibbed. She was still in shock, battling to accept the reality of the situation, torn between tears of despair and joy. She longed with all her heart to believe that the man she loved would react to the news of the child they had created together with pride and love. But how could that happen when Ilios did not love her?
Pregnant. She was pregnant. It seemed so obvious now that she couldn’t believe she had not realised for herself. What should she do? Ilios had a right to know, of course. What would he say? What would he do? He wanted sons. Would the knowledge that she was carrying his child soften his heart towards her or harden it? Lizzie wished she knew. But if he rejected her and their child then at least his son or daughter would have a family who loved it in England.
A powerful surge of maternal need to protect her unborn child raced through her. Ilios might not want the child they had created together, but she would love it—doubly so, because she would love it for itself and because it came from Ilios.
Back at their table, she wanted to yawn again. On the other side of the table Ariadne smiled knowingly at her, telling her husband, ‘Lizzie is tired. She isn’t yet used to our habit of eating late, I expect. Ilios, you must take her home and look after her.’
Lizzie stiffened, horrified that despite her promise Ariadne might announce that she thought Lizzie was pregnant. But to her relief Ariadne announced that they too did not want a late night as her mother was babysitting.
They left the restaurant together, and said their goodbyes in a flurry of hugs and kisses in the street next to their parked cars. Ariadne’s warm hug for Lizzie was patently meaningful.
Leaning back against the comfortable support of the passenger seat of Ilios’s car, whilst he drove them back to the apartment, Lizzie closed her eyes, her thoughts driven by panic and despair. She was pregnant. She was carrying Ilios’s child. Despite the turmoil of her thoughts, somewhere deep inside Lizzie there was a small pool of calm and joy in the knowledge that she was carrying the most precious gift that life could give: the child of the man she loved.
LIZZIE gave Maria a wan smile as they stepped into the lift together. It was a week since she had realised that she was pregnant, and she still hadn’t told Ilios. But then she hadn’t really had much opportunity to do so, since he avoided her as much as he could. Lizzie wished that she was braver—that she had the courage to confront him, to tell him outright that he could treat her as he chose but his child had a right to his love. She had been out for a walk to try and clear her thoughts. Ilios was being so cold to her that she knew it was pointless her hoping that he would ever return her love.
The lift moved silently upwards. Lost in the despair of her own thoughts, Lizzie forgot to keep her back turned away from the glass wall and the yawning cavity below, the sight of which always made her feel nervous. She had suffered from a fear of heights for as long as she could remember, and the movement of the lift and its glass structure only made her feel worse.
A wave of dizziness engulfed her, making her lose her balance. The lift had stopped, but she felt too nauseous to move.
Maria took control, taking hold of her arm and supporting her as she guided her determinedly from the lift, across the hallway into the apartment. Lizzie felt too unwell to do anything but allow Maria to do so. A cold sweat had broken out on her forehead and her stomach was churning. When Maria released her to close the door, Lizzie slid to the floor in a dead faint.
When she came round Maria was kneeling on the floor beside her, her face flushed with excited delight as she a patted Lizzie’s hand maternally and assured her, ‘You do not worry. It is just the baby Ilios make with you makes you faint. He will be a big fine boy. Already he is causing his mama trouble. You stay there. I telephone Ilios and tell him to get doctor to come.’