I love him so much.

Pain squeezed his chest. In the past, getting over his ex-wife had been a routine that he found easy to embrace. All he had to do was work day and night, dividing his hours between building his empire and being both mother and father to Eula. But this time, the same strategy didn’t work. He loved Eula just as fiercely as before, but it didn’t feel enough. He was as passionate as he had been before with his work, too, but it did not feel enough either.

Nothing was enough without her.

But how could he ask her back when he knew he didn’t deserve her at all?

I love you, Vivi.

But they were words he was determined to lock in his heart, as a way to punish himself for the pain he had caused the one woman who had loved him above all.

Never let me see you again.

It was all she had asked, and so he would give it to her, knowing also that she deserved someone far better than him.

It was a promise he meant to keep…or at least he did until the next morning, when he received a call from Maggie.

FRIDAY, Vivian thought when she woke up. But like recent days past, she didn’t automatically open her eyes at the thought, and neither did she think it was the start of a new chapter in her life. Every day was the same now, a monotonous stream of hours that had no ups and downs – nothing to make her smile or cry.

Even now, knowing that she was in the hospital, Maggie having rushed her to E.R. when she collapsed in exhaustion, nothing about her current condition made Vivian feel worried or frightened.

So she had fainted. It had happened, but it was over. It did not change anything. She was still alone, and Luca didn’t want her.

Vivian heard the door open, and she reluctantly opened her eyes, thinking it was either Maggie or one of the nurses. But she was wrong.

Luca came forward, and Vivian caught a glimpse of giggling and staring interns at the hallway before the door swung shut. He looked vividly handsome in a pinstriped suit that emphasized his commanding height and powerful build, and in his hands was a bouquet of flowers.

“Buongiorno, Vi…vian.”

The near imperceptible pause wasn’t lost on Vivian, and she knew that he had changed his mind at the last minute, calling her ‘Vivian’ instead of ‘Vivi.’ She knew why of course. She had asked that of him, told him he couldn’t call her ‘Vivi’ anymore, and at that time she had meant it. Misery did love company, as she had come to realize, and at that time all she had wanted was to hurt him, too.

But now, thinking about it only made her feel mortifyingly childish, and without meeting his gaze, she mumbled, “It’s okay to call me Vivi. It d-doesn’t really matter.” And it didn’t, because now she was sensible enough to know that someone using special names to call you didn’t mean that person loved you.

Luca willed himself to remain impassive even as her words sliced into him. So it didn’t matter whatever he called her then, he thought dully. Did it mean she was completely over him that nothing he could do would hurt her…or bring her joy?

He said stiltedly, “These are for you.”

She accepted the flowers, making sure that their fingers didn’t graze each other as she did. “Thank you. They’re lovely.” It was a struggle to keep her voice steady, a struggle not to cry at the mere sound of his voice and the knowledge that after all these weeks, she was suddenly in the same room with the man who had broken her heart.

With the way Vivian kept avoiding his gaze, Luca knew that she didn’t want to see him again. And that shouldn’t surprise him, he thought heavily. So just say what you have come here to say, Valencia, and then get out of her life, for good this time.

He said abruptly, “Maggie told me you were here.”

Oh. She swallowed, saying, “She was probably worried sick about me. But there’s n-nothing to worry about. I was just tired, and I didn’t have enough rest.”

“Clearly that’s an understatement,” Luca said grimly. “You’re too thin, and too pale.”

Her lips twitched. “Thank you for making me feel beautiful.”

Luca jerked. “Apologies, I didn’t mean to—-”

She shook her head. “I was joking.”

More silence.

Keeping her hands under the covers, her fingers digging into her palms, she asked unevenly, “Why are you here, Luca?”

He didn’t answer, but she could feel his intense dark gaze on her, like his eyes were trying to memorize the way she looked, almost like he didn’t want to forget her—-

Tears stung her eyes, and she asked again, “Tell me why you’re here now.” So you can leave and I can stop hoping for what you can never give me.

Tags: Marian Tee Romance
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