He already knew what she was going to say before her lips even started to move, already knew that no matter what he did she wouldn’t change her mind now.
But even so—-
He said savagely, “Don’t say it.”
But it was as if she hadn’t heard him, the words still tumbling past his wife’s trembling lips.
“Maybe Maria deserves another chance with you and Eula?”
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
The billionaire knew his wife inside and out. He knew her better than she knew herself because he loved her, and he knew that Vivian probably had the most misguided reasons for saying something so damn stupid.
But even so, it didn’t keep her words from slashing at him.
She owned his heart after all, and so it was hers to break and tear into pieces, even without knowing so.
Vivian was looking at him as if she was waiting for him to speak, but Luca only stared at her stoically.
When the silence continued to stretch painfully between them, Vivian heard herself say, “I g-guess this is it?” But in her mind, she was begging and screaming. Stop me! Stop me! Stop me just once and—-
“I’ve always told you, cara.” Her husband’s voice was even. “I will never keep you from doing what you want.”
Her heart broke.
He wasn’t going to stop her.
“You don’t love me, do you?” she choked out. She knew she was being stupid and contradictory. She had practically ordered him to consider getting back together with his ex, and now she was acting like he had betrayed her from the start.
But even so she couldn’t help it.
She loved him, and it devastated her, knowing that no matter how hard she tried, she could never be someone fit to be his wife.
“D-did you stay with me all this time just because of Eula?” Her voice started to shake. “Did you?”
When all he did was gaze impassively at her, Vivian could feel herself being drained of strength. How foolish, how so very foolish – but it was just like that old song. Love had been keeping her alive all this time, and yet now—-
How had it come down to this?
She had thought they were happy.
She had thought they were in love.
“If you really loved me,” she whispered painfully, “you would—-”
Luca asked quietly, “I would what?” He knew what she wanted to say, but he also knew he couldn’t – shouldn’t – say the words for her. She had to realize on her own that a happy-ever-after ending was something they had to fight for every damn day of their lives.
She had to believe he would always love her – the same way she had made Luca believe she would always love him.
When his wife still didn’t say anything, the billionaire repeated grimly, “I would what, cara?” He looked into her eyes, willing her to claim what was hers and would always be her. “If I loved you, what do you think am I supposed to say or do?”
Her lips slowly started to part, and his chest tightened. For one moment, the billionaire allowed himself to hope that this was it. That she finally understood.
But then his wife suddenly turned away, and he watched her slim shoulders start to shake.
He wanted to reach for her across the bed, knowing that just one touch was all it would take, one word from him, and she would realize that there hadn’t ever been a need to worry.
But he couldn’t.
Even when her soundless sobs tore at him, he just couldn’t, and he cursed fate savagely in his mind.
Love was such a goddamn bitch.
He loved Vivian more than his life, but it was also because he loved her—-
He also knew he had no other choice but to stand by and watch her hurt.
And she had to hurt, she had to hurt so badly until she was forced to decide whether their love was worth fighting for, against all odds.
Luca strolled into the kitchen looking every inch the powerful, gorgeous billionaire he was, dressed in a handmade suit and oozing with sex appeal and sophistication. It had been a week since Luca and Eula’s return from Italy, and yet—-
“Good morning, cara.” Curling one strong arm around her waist, her husband pulled her close for a long, passionate kiss that had Eula giggling from the table.
When he released her, Vivian was red-faced and flustered, but more embarrassing than that was the way her nipples had started to poke alarmingly against the thin fabric of her floral dress.
“G-good morning.” Awkwardness colored her voice, and she pulled away as soon as she could without drawing attention from Eula, who had risen on her seat on her knees. It was too mortifying that she still wanted Luca so much even though she knew his show of affection was only for Eula’s sake.
As she took a seat across Eula, she found herself feeling a bit envious at the way the little girl was able to be openly affectionate, quickly rising on her knees on her seat to throw her arms around her father’s neck.