‘I can’t wait to see Ophelia again,’ she admitted.
‘But the two of you are always talking on the phone,’ Leandro pointed out with a shake of his dark head.
‘You’ll be going back to work the day after tomorrow,’ Molly said ruefully, knowing that that was normal life but dreading it all the same, for she had adored having him around all the time.
Dark golden eyes level, Leandro brushed the back of her hand in a perceptive gesture. ‘I won’t work the hours I used to. I won’t be travelling for a while either and I’ll phone you at least twice a day.’
‘The sun is gleaming over your halo,’ Molly teased.
‘It’s very important to me that you be happy.’
As she was convinced that he would have taken his first marriage equally seriously, she could not help wondering what had gone so badly wrong. That evening they dined out at a little restaurant they had visited before. On the drive home, she said softly, ‘Tell me about Aloise…’
‘She was all things to all people. Her family idolised her. Her colleagues admired her. I regarded her as a very close friend. Our families began pushing us together when we were in our mid-twenties. I’d enjoyed my freedom up until that point and I assumed she had as well. We could have said no, but our marriage seemed to make sense. I thought we wanted the same things out of life and you know I’m not the romantic type,’ Leandro told her confidently in spite of the fact that he had lit pink candles round the hot tub and scattered rose petals on the water for her.
‘So you saw your marriage as a practical arrangement?’
‘I thought Aloise had the same view. She wasn’t any more in love than I was, but she was very feminine and, naturally, I found her attractive After the wedding, our friendship just seemed to die. I didn’t know what was wrong and she insisted that there was nothing wrong,’ he breathed in a driven undertone.
They walked into the villa. Molly put on lights. ‘What happened the day of the accident?’
Leandro dealt her a cloaked look. ‘What I tell you must remain private for the sake of her family. She didn’t want them to find out.’ The silence hummed and his hand clenched taut as he made an awkward movement with it. ‘I demanded to know why she was treating me like an enemy. So, she finally told me the truth and I lost my temper with her…’
‘How?’ she whispered, her attention welded to his haunted expression in the lamplight.
‘I accused her of deceiving me and ruining both our lives because she wanted us to go on living a lie and…Dios mio, I wanted out!’
Molly was frowning. ‘I don’t understand. What was the truth?’
Leandro vented a harsh, unamused laugh. ‘That she was gay. The moment she admitted it, I couldn’t comprehend how I hadn’t realised it for myself. She felt trapped in our life. Our marriage was a disaster, but she was willing to sacrifice both of us to keep her secret. At the moment she most needed my understanding and friendship, I turned on her and that’s why she ran out, got in her car and ended up crashing it and killing herself.’
Molly was very much shocked and she reached out to grip his hands with hers. ‘You must have been shattered and very bitter to find out after so many troubled years together. Of course you felt she had deceived you. It wasn’t your fault she crashed, or your fault that your marriage didn’t work. How could it have done? She was upset, Leandro. She must have been very unhappy. You both were. Let it go at that. Don’t blame yourself for an accident.’
Leandro loosed his hands and bent down to lift her off her feet. ‘You’re always so considerate of how I feel and I honestly didn’t know I had so many feelings until I met you, mi corazón. Uppermost was the pure erotic pleasure of a woman who wanted me just for myself,’ he confessed huskily. ‘Was it any wonder that I couldn’t keep my hands off you?’
Molly blinked, still coming to terms with what he had shared with her about Aloise. He carried her upstairs and settled her on the big divan. ‘I’m not any stronger. You’re incredibly addictive,’ she told him. ‘I was a clean-living girl until you came along!’
Leandro gave her a rakish grin that tilted her heart on its axis. ‘It meant a lot to me that I was your first lover. I think I fell in love with you the very first night we met, but I had no idea what had happened to me. Although I wasn’t in love with her, Aloise hurt me,’ he admitted gruffly. ‘I tried so hard with her and got nowhere. I wanted to keep a distance with you, not get too involved, too close…’