All the anger emanating from Emily’s pores dissipated. She tilted her head, shaking it slowly. ‘If Yana had loved you enough then you really would have been enough. Yes, I want children, but if I fell head over heels in love with someone who couldn’t have them I would cherish the relationship for what it could give me and not what it couldn’t.’
‘You mean you would do what you have always done and stifle your desires for someone else’s sake,’ he said, unable to keep the bitterness from his voice.
‘I feel sorry for you,’ she surprised him by saying. ‘Love isn’t a tick-box or a competition. I know I need to reclaim my life for myself but I will always be there for the people I love. I’ve let my father’s depression and the way it affects me take over my life, always feeling I wasn’t enough. I need to stop thinking like that and remember the good times with him, because when he’s well our relationship is great.
‘That’s what I meant about cherishing a relationship for what it could give me rather than what it could not. And if I loved you, Pascha Virshilas, I wouldn’t care about your sterility so long as you loved me back, and so long as I knew you would always be there for me.’
‘But that’s you all over, isn’t it, milaya moya? And it’s that life and passion you contain within yourself that lets me know I am right about this. I would not wish for all that life to die out. You deserve to have it all.’
‘But not with you,’ she finished for him softly.
‘No. Not with me. I can’t give you it all. All I can give you is unfulfilled dreams that will eventually eat into your soul and destroy you.’
‘Then I guess there’s nothing else for us to say,’ she said quietly. Reaching up, she pressed a chaste kiss to his cheek. ‘I hope one day you can look in the mirror and see a man who deserves to have it all too.’
EMILY HEARD THE front door open.
She took a sip of her lukewarm coffee and pushed her plate of half-eaten chicken pie to one side. She wasn’t hungry.
She’d hoped with all her heart that her father getting out of bed was the first step towards recovery. But her return had set him back.
She’d returned to the house late last night, so had waited until the morning to give him the good news about the money and relay everything else Pascha had said. There had been no reaction, not even when she’d told him his job was there for him to go back to if he wanted.
He’d spent the day in bed.
She’d spent the day making phone calls and waiting for James to get back from work. It wasn’t as if she had a job to go to. As she’d suspected, Hugo had fired her. The letter had sat on the sideboard waiting for her return. No severance pay. Nothing. She kept waiting for the devastation to hit her but, to her surprise, all she felt was relief.
It felt good to feel something. The only other emotion she felt at that moment wasn’t even an emotion. It was numbness. She felt empty, as if she’d been drained of all the things that made her human.
‘Hi, sis,’ James said, stepping into the kitchen and heading straight to the oven where his dinner was keeping warm. ‘Good trip away?’
‘It was very...productive.’ He didn’t know about her job situation. Not yet. He could wait a little longer.
‘Right. Well, I’ve rebooked my trip to Amsterdam and I’ll be leaving on Friday.’
‘When are you going back home?’
‘After I’ve eaten this.’ He winked at her, taking the seat opposite her at the kitchen table. ‘I’ve missed my flat.’
‘Funnily enough, I’ve missed mine too.’ Emily waited for him to swallow his first mouthful. ‘I’ve been thinking.’
‘Did it hurt?’
For once she didn’t laugh at her brother’s quip. ‘This can’t go on. We can’t fix Dad on our own—no, I can’t fix him on my own. He needs professional help and he needs it now. I’ve phoned the doctor to get the ball rolling about getting proper home care for him.’
James eyed her shrewdly. ‘What’s brought the big change on? I thought you were adamant we didn’t need outside involvement.’
‘I was wrong. And I was wrong to give up my flat. I’ve given my tenants their month’s notice. I’ll be moving back in as soon as they’re out. From now on, you and I are going to share responsibility for Dad.’
She didn’t wait for a reaction, simply got up and reached for a shelf stacked with her mum’s old cookbooks. She pulled one down and lobbed it on the table next to him.