‘You understand nothing.’ His voice held a harsh, brutal note. ‘Nothing.’
She lifted her chin. Looked at him. Faced her mistake. ‘I know that you lied to me. Maybe you’re miserable together—I don’t know—but that’s no excuse. Whatever the state of your marriage, I can’t be with a man I don’t trust. That’s the end of it for me.’
‘Trust?’ His laugh had a cynical edge to it. ‘You dare talk to me about trust when you would have hidden your pregnancy from me?’
Feeling the fury in him, Ella felt a burst of frustration because the conversation was focused on him. His feelings. His ego.
He was thinking only of himself.
Had he once asked how she felt? Had he asked what had happened to her after he’d left? Did he care? No. He just cared that she hadn’t told him she was pregnant.
Somehow he was twisting this whole thing to make it seem like her fault. She’d been expecting some sort of apology. Instead he was attacking her as if she’d committed a crime. ‘The baby isn’t the issue here, Nikos.’
‘Why? Isn’t it mine?’ His tone was harsh and Ella gave a soft gasp of shock and lifted her hand.
The sound of the slap echoed around the room, the pain in her heart as great as the sting in her palm. ‘How dare you? How dare you say that to me?’
‘Theos mou…’ Nikos lifted a hand to his cheek, incredulous dark eyes sweeping her face. ‘It was a reasonable question.’
‘It was not a reasonable question! It was a totally offensive question!’ She almost choked on the words. ‘Especially coming from you. You lay in my bed night after night and made love to me and all the time you were married. What’s your excuse? Your rampant sex drive? You have no idea how much I wish this wasn’t your baby, Nikos! I would give anything for this not to be your baby.’ Her hand still stung from the blow and part of her was embarrassed at her loss of control. It was to his credit that he hadn’t returned the blow, she thought grudgingly, hating herself for not being able to maintain a front of cool indifference. ‘No, I didn’t tell you about the baby. I didn’t want to do that to your wife!’ Ella lifted her chin, pride giving her wobbly limbs the strength they needed, and her eyes clashed with his. ‘And I didn’t want to do that to my baby.’
‘Our baby,’ he corrected her in a driven tone, so angry that he was literally pulsing with it. She saw the flicker in his hard jaw and the flex of muscle in his wide, powerful shoulders. ‘It’s our baby.’
‘A moment ago you were debating whether it was yours.’ Sarcasm tasted bitter in her mouth. ‘There is no “our”, Nikos. Go back to your wife. Fix your marriage. We’re finished.’ Suddenly she felt drained and exhausted, the spirit sapped from her by the explosive force of the confrontation.
‘Finished?’ His tone was thickened, his dark eyes glittering with anger, a red streak on his cheek where she’d slapped him. ‘We haven’t even started. But you’re right—we can’t do this here. The way I feel at the moment, I’m not safe to be alone with you. I’ll let you know when I’m ready to finish the conversation.’
Watching him stride away from her, Ella felt as though her heart was going to stop beating. Even though she knew it was foolish, a tiny part of her had desperately hoped he might just drag her into his arms and tell her that it was all a terrible mistake—that he loved her. That his wife didn’t exist.
That she’d got it all wrong.
But that sort of thing didn’t happen in real life, did it?
Humans were flawed, she reminded herself, restocking the resuscitation room on automatic. Endings weren’t happy. Fairy-tales were for innocent children.
And true love was a myth.
Her emotions in pieces, Ella stumbled through the next few hours of her shift. Upset and distracted, her hands were shaking and she was unusually clumsy.
‘That will have to be thrown away.’ Nikos frowned impatiently as Ella dropped another instrument on the floor. ‘What is the matter with you?’
You’re the matter with me, Ella wanted to shriek, but instead she quietly disposed of the instrument, washed her hands and opened a fresh suture pack.
Her cheeks burned hot with humiliation.
The emergency department was the one area of her life where she considered herself confident, and now she was even messing that up.