‘No!’ Lizzie protested, horrified. ‘No, Maria, please…’ she begged her. This wasn’t how she wanted Ilios to learn that he was to become a father. ‘There’s no need. I’m perfectly all right.’ But it was no use. Maria already had the phone in her hand and was speaking at speed into it in Greek, gesturing as she did so.
Very carefully Lizzie got to her feet and made her way to the living room, where she sat down on one of the sofas. She still felt queasy, and slightly dizzy, but then she hadn’t eaten any breakfast this morning. She’d planned to eat something whilst she was out, but she hadn’t, and now she suspected the baby was making its displeasure known. A haunted smile touched her mouth as Lizzie remembered how firm she had been with Ruby about eating properly when she had been carrying the twins.
She could hear Ilios’s voice in the hallway now, as he spoke in Greek to Maria. Her heart was jumping, her mouth dry. Matters had been taken out of her hands and there was no going back. Thanks to Maria, Ilios would now know that he was going to be a father. What would he say? What would he do?
The door opened and he came into the living room, striding towards her and then standing over her. He wasn’t wearing a jacket, and his shirt emphasised the powerful width of his shoulders—shoulders that a woman could lean on, so long as that woman wasn’t her.
‘Maria says you fainted.’
Ilios’s voice was harsh—with anger? Lizzie fought down the threatened return of her earlier nausea. Ginger biscuits—that was what she needed. They had worked for Ruby, she remembered.
‘Is it true that there is to be a child?’ Ilios demanded grimly.
Lizzie couldn’t bring herself to speak. She could only nod her head, well able to imagine how unwelcome to him her confirmation would be.
Anger seized Ilios—a furious, savage, blinding rage that exploded inside him like a fireball, devouring reason, humanity and compassion. This was the very last thing he wanted—to be tied to anyone. And especially to this woman, who he had been fighting to keep out of his thoughts, his desires and his emotions, by anything, but most of all by a child. A living, breathing human life that would bind the three of them together with cords that no mere man had the power to break. Ilios wanted to bunch his fists and cry out to the gods his denial of this claim on him. He did not want it and never would.
‘You did this deliberately—despite the fact that you knew I would not want it,’ he accused Lizzie, conveniently forgetting that he himself had played the greater role in his child’s conception. ‘No doubt you were hoping to force me into accepting both you and your child—a child I expect you see as a meal ticket that will enable you to live in comfort for the rest of your life.’
Lizzie felt sick with grief and pain.
‘No!’ she told him. ‘That is not what I thought.’
‘No?’ Ilios challenged her. ‘Do you think I am such a fool that I can’t see now what you really wanted when you claimed to desire me? What you really desired was what you are now carrying within you. My child—born into a legal marriage. A child that I cannot deny or refuse to accept. A child that will have a lifelong financial claim on me.’
‘That’s not true,’ Lizzie denied frantically.
‘You had it all planned, didn’t you?’ Ilios gave her a look of biting contempt. ‘Well, I refute your claim and I refute your child. Both you and it are as nothing to me. Less than nothing.’
That was all Lizzie needed to hear. Ilios’s cruel words had fallen on her like blows—blows she would not allow her child to bear.
She stood up, despite the fact that she felt so weak, and started to walk towards the door.