Did she feel as though she didn’t belong?
Was this about the money?
Pondering that question, Nikos strolled after her.
Light poured through the soaring windows, emphasising the space and luxury. Nikos admitted to himself that he’d expected a more enthusiastic response from her.
Avoiding the master bedroom suite, he showered and shaved and then walked back onto the terrace to find Ella already there. She was standing by the railings that skirted the terrace, staring down at the beach that stretched into the distance.
In a single glance, Nikos admired her long, fabulous legs and the curve of her hips. She’d changed into a pair of linen shorts that stopped at mid-thigh, and her simple strap top was made decent by the sleek fall of her blonde hair.
But he had a feeling she’d dressed without thinking.
She didn’t seem aware of his presence and Nikos moved closer, his eyes drawn to the white peaks of her knuckles. She was gripping the railings as if trying to stop herself falling into a deep chasm.
Nikos felt a flash of concern, followed by frustration.
She was blocking him out.
On the other hand, he’d ended their relationship, hadn’t he?
His mouth twisted into a smile of self-mockery. What did he expect? Earning trust wasn’t that simple. It was going to take a while for her to trust him.
Acknowledging the similarities between them, he approached her and gently eased her hand off the railings and into his. Her fingers were cold and stiff. ‘Did you find everything you needed?’ He rubbed gently, warming and relaxing her hands with his.
‘Yes, thank you. It’s very comfortable.’
She looked as though she’d suffered a shock or a major trauma and he wished he could read her mind.
Normally women just spilled out problems without prompting but Ella’s mind seemed to be like a password-protected computer program. There was no access to unauthorised users.
Frustrated that she was shutting him out, Nikos gripped her arms firmly and turned her to face him. ‘Tell me what’s wrong.’
Her eyes lifted to his. Sea-green eyes, swimming with secrets. ‘The last two days have been pretty stressful,’ she croaked. ‘I wasn’t expecting to see you again, and suddenly here you are, waving a ring at me, and nothing is the way I thought it was.’
It sounded logical, and yet Nikos knew it wasn’t the whole truth.
They stared at each other for a moment and then he released her, reminding himself of the value of patience.
‘We should eat. We’re due at the hospital soon.’
His staff had laid a table for breakfast and he poured her a glass of freshly squeezed juice, analysing the situation with cold objectivity. Sensing that to demand that she confide in him would achieve nothing except withdrawal on her part, he kept the conversation light.
‘What do you eat for breakfast? My staff can cook eggs in any form you like. Bacon? Sausages? Just tell me.’
‘Juice will be fine. I’m not that hungry.’ Ella pulled out one of the chairs and sat with her back to the house. ‘I—I think perhaps I’ll just have something later.’
Was she worried about the baby? The wedding? Their relationship?
Nikos drizzled golden honey onto thick creamy yoghurt and placed the bowl in front of her. ‘Eat,’ he said gently. ‘You can’t work a whole shift on an empty stomach.’
Her fingers reached for a spoon. Toyed with it. In the end she managed three mouthfuls, but Nikos let it pass, making a mental note to make sure she ate in her tea-break.
The last two days had been a dramatic white-knuckle ride of emotions. He’d give her a couple of days, and then, if things hadn’t settled down, he’d deal with it.
Her head throbbed, her heart ached and Ella felt as though she was going to fall apart.
The past week had been a nightmare.
It was that house, she thought miserably as she tried to bring some order to the chaos of the waiting room. That stupid, horrid house.
Every night she lay there wide awake, her mind in constant turmoil.
It was as if she’d been transported back to her childhood and it was clear to her now that she couldn’t stay there any longer.
She couldn’t spend another night in that place.
Exhausted and vowing to ring a letting agency in her break, Ella tidied a pile of magazines, threw toys back into the box and collected pages of discarded colouring.