She remembered the first dress she’d made. She’d been seven. Naturally, her mother had done the majority of the work, but once the work was done she had let Emily raid her button box. Emily had spent hours sewing all the pretty, sparkly ones all over the dress, being very careful not to stab her seven-year-old fingers too often.
She’d loved wearing that dress, had got every ounce of wear from it, leaving a trail of fallen-off buttons wherever she went. More than anything, she’d loved the closeness she’d felt with her mum at that time, a special time only for them.
After her heated exchange with Pascha in his hut, Emily had buried herself in the clean-up, working until long after the sun had gone down, doing everything she was physically capable of. It had been therapeutic. It had left her no time to think.
Today was different.
Today, when she’d shown up at the main lodge at the crack of dawn, Valeria had given her a hug and told her there was nothing else for her to do. All that was left was hard manual work.
Emily had spent the day alone with her thoughts.
She’d thought about a lot of things, especially about what Pascha had said about James; the truth it contained. And, as she’d thought, she’d wandered back to the waterfall and sat on the ledge, gazing at all the bright colours glistening under the sun.
She might loathe the colour pink but she’d always adored bright, happy colours.
When had she stopped designing bright clothes? When had she stopped wearing them? It was working with Hugo, his love for the gothic and theatrical. His control over his designers was absolute. She’d moulded herself into what she believed he wanted her to be and, worse, had let it spill into her private life. Yes, she adored dressing up, loved wearing make-up, but when had she last worn clothes she felt were for her and not some image she was trying to live up to?
Armed with a determination to fix it, she’d hurried back to her hut, grabbed the roll of Persian Orange cotton, drawn a quick sketch as a guide and got to work.
So what if the finished product was a shambles?
So what if it didn’t fit properly?
This was for her.
When had she lost the essence of herself?
Had she ever found it in the first place...?
A tap on the door caught her attention and she tilted her head to find Pascha standing there. With all the activity involved in fixing and straightening everything affected by the storm, they’d spent hardly any time together since leaving the shelter.
He’d come to her hut, though, late in the night, so late she’d almost given up hope.
Not that she’d been hoping. She’d been too angry and hurt by his words about James to want him to come to her.
She’d been lying in her bed wide awake when he’d tapped on the same glass door he was currently standing at. That one tap had been enough.
However much she’d wanted to deny it, she’d carried with her a deep, inner yearning, an intense almost cramp-like feeling of helpless excitement.
He’d stood at her door, hands in his pockets. He’d looked shattered.
He’d said two words. ‘I’m sorry.’
She’d been in his arms before he’d crossed the threshold.
There had been no more conversation. All their talking had been done through their bodies.
He’d left early.
Now, he stepped into the hut bringing with him a cloud of citrusy manliness.
She closed her eyes, hating the way her heart raced just to see him.
The night was bewitching. Everything felt so different in the daylight, her emotions so much more exposed.
‘Everything okay?’ she asked, forcing graciousness as she resumed her sewing.
‘I thought you’d want to know—James has called. Your father got out of bed today.’
She turned her head to look at him so quickly she wouldn’t have been surprised if she’d given herself whiplash. ‘You’re joking?’
His eyes were steady. ‘No joke.’
While Emily tried to digest this unexpected news, Pascha took the seat opposite her.
She could feel his stare resting on her but suddenly felt too fearful to return it, too scared of what he would read in her eyes. Scared of what she would read in his eyes.
Her father had got out of bed. A small step, yes, but one with huge implications. In theory this meant the worst of it was over. She should be celebrating.
So why did she still feel so flat?
‘Why didn’t you tell me your father tried to kill himself?’
The needle went right into her thumb. ‘Ow!’ Immediately she stuck her thumb into her mouth.
‘Have you hurt yourself?’ he asked, his eyes crinkled with concern.
She shook her head before pulling her thumb out of her mouth and examining it. A spot of bright red blood pooled out so she put it back in her mouth and sucked on it.