“Remy, please…please don’t be like this.”
“Goodbye,” he said in a soft, tender voice. “I won’t ever forget you. And I will call…in a few weeks, when you’re safely home and the bastards are chasing new prey. Hopefully I’ll be able to tell you that all this has blown over.”
“But on the dance floor at Jimmy’z, we said…I—I thought that you and I—”
“Dammit, I drove you into that wall! I was driving an old car! The seat belt didn’t work. I nearly killed you! Now these jackals are writing awful stories about you! Who the hell knows what the police will accuse me of next? What does it take to show you it has to be over?”
When her telephone began to ring, he began backing away. “You’d better answer that. It’s probably your mother or one of your friends wanting to grill you, chastise you for having anything to do with a man like me.”
“Remy, no! Don’t leave me like this!”
“I have to do what’s right, for a change. We always knew this had to end. I’m sorry I let things go so far.”
She stared at his face and felt nothing. He was leaving her forever, and she felt nothing. How was that possible? Shock?
He took a deep breath and stared at her for a long moment. Then he turned and walked back down the drive to his car. He got in, slammed the door and drove away, as always without looking back.
The phone had stopped ringing by the time she went inside, but within five minutes it began again.
Thinking it was her mother and she might as well get the interrogation over with, she picked it up.
“Baby! It’s Fletcher! Hey, you sound like you’re just next door.”
Fletcher, who never called, wanted to know how she was and what she was up to. Last of all, he said he was sorry about the girls and for how he’d acted, that he’d been awful, and that he wanted her back.
“I got a real job—selling insurance—to prove to you that I’m ready to grow up, baby.”
“Don’t do anything rash on my account, Fletcher.”
“Is this cold attitude because of that count? There’s no way a rich guy like him would be interested in you for anything except that painting or the vineyard.”
“You don’t know anything about him.”
Much to his surprise, she hung up on him.
Her headache, if possible, was worse, and her eyes burned. Feeling lost, she walked through the house, her footsteps echoing hollowly. She stared at the stacks of boxes and at her aunt’s things that still needed to be packed. She felt overwhelmed as she wondered how many more hours it would take before she had everything packed.
The job seemed endless, and someday she would have to figure out what to do about the Matisse, too.
Instead of unpacking her suitcases or lying down, she fixed herself a cup of tea, went outside and stared at the blue chaise longues by the pool until a slight movement from the trees warned her that someone was probably spying on her and taking pictures.
Running back inside, she slammed and locked the door. Then she shut all the windows and drew the curtains.
Alone in the house, the long, lonely day stretched ahead of her. Would her head ever stop pounding?
She was almost grateful that she had no mind, no heart, no senses. Still, she knew that when they came back she’d be in hell.
What would she do without Remy?
Why was it so wrong to love him?
On the second day after Remy had dropped her off, when she’d heard nothing from him, she was beside herself with grief and worry. She wished Remy would call and tell her how the investigation was going. Was he in even more trouble? She grew frantic from missing him.Thus far, her only source was the media. All the newspapers ran editorials demanding that the police take a firm stand with him. The talking heads on television wanted the same thing. To buy newspapers, she had to drive into the village or send Etienne, and this meant dealing with the reporters camped at her gates. They followed her, yelling at her and demanding interviews.
Why couldn’t she forget how much she’d enjoyed Remy in bed and out of it? Constantly she told herself Remy was right not to want to see her. What future could they possibly have? She might as well suffer the pains of withdrawal now.
To stay busy she’d contacted his estate agent and told him she was ready to sell the vineyard. He brought the documents over, and they discussed them. In between packing more boxes, she even signed a few.
She was tired by the time the sun began to go down, lingering forever on the horizon. Never had a day seemed longer or more unbearable. She was thinking maybe a shower would make her feel better when the phone rang.