When she reached it she turned round and told Ilios proudly, ‘Your child might be less than nothing to you, Ilios, but to me he or she is the most precious thing in my life. You’re right. I did hope for lifelong security from you when I told you I desired you, even if at the time I didn’t recognise it for what it was myself. But the lifelong security I wanted wasn’t your money, it was your love—in exchange for my love for you. Now that you’ve made it plain that that can never be, I shall remove both my unwanted presence and your equally unwanted child from your life—permanently.’
‘Good,’ Ilios told her coldly. ‘And the sooner the better.’
ILIOS had gone out. Lizzie didn’t know where. She wasn’t going to cry. What would be the point? Instead she did everything that had to be done. She booked herself a seat on the first available flight, packed her trolley case. She wasn’t going to take anything that had come to her via Ilios—except, of course, his child. But then he didn’t want that child—had denied it, spoken callously and dismissively of it.
She was crying after all. Tears were flooding her eyes to run down her face before she could stop them. Carefully she wiped them away with a tissue.
She had done everything she needed to do, including calling herself a cab.
The intercom rang.
It was time for her to go.
She dropped the tissue beside the notepad next to the telephone, where she had written down her flight number, and headed for the door.
Would she have gone yet? Ilios hoped so, he told himself as he unlocked the door to his apartment and went inside.
But it wasn’t pleasure or even relief that gripped him and twisted his emotions with ruthless, painful intensity when he stood in the master bedroom. Only the lingering echo of Lizzie’s scent remained to show that she had ever been there. On the bedside table on his side of the bed were her engagement and wedding rings. He picked them up. Lizzie had such slender fingers, elegant hands. The rings felt warm. Ilios curled his hand round them. Lizzie’s warmth. An image slid into his head of Lizzie’s hands holding their child, Lizzie’s face looking down at it, her eyes warm with love.
Fresh anger filled him. Broodingly he pushed the rings into his pocket. What was the matter with him? He was behaving like…like a lovesick fool. He was the one who had wanted her to go. Who had forced her to go. Forced her to go even when he had seen how unwell she looked. What if she fainted again? What if she did? Why should he care?
Ilios walked into the dressing room and removed his jacket. A wisp of lace trapped in the closed doors of Lizzie’s closet caught his eye. She’d obviously missed something when she’d packed. He pulled open the door, a fresh surge of anger burning through him when he saw all the clothes hanging there. The clothes he had bought her. What was she trying to prove? Did she really think he’d be impressed because she’d left them? Well, he wasn’t. The truth was that he would far rather she had taken them with her. Why? Because he was afraid that they would remind him of her, and that he might start regretting what he had done?
Of course not. That was rubbish. Was it? Wasn’t he already missing her? Hadn’t he regretted his cruelty to her almost from the minute he had left the apartment?
Didn’t the fact that he was here now, pacing the floor, unable to work, unable to stop thinking about her, tell him anything about his own feelings? About her—Lizzie?
Ilios sat down heavily in the chair next to the telephone, dropping his head into his hands in defeat.
Alone in the silent space which, despite all his attempts to stop it from being so, was filled with intangible memories of Lizzie’s presence within it, Ilios glanced at the telephone. His body stiffened as he saw the piece of paper on which Lizzie had written her flight number and its time of departure. Another hour and she would be gone out of his life. There was a tissue beside the telephone marked with mascara—had she cried? Because of him? The sudden ring of the telephone filled him with a surge of fierce hope. Lizzie. It had to be.