Odir was standing two feet in front of her, but the reflection in the glass distorted the distance between them, showing them as almost side by side. He made no move to turn on the lights in the apartment and shadows swept around them as the clouds sped their way across the light of the moon, casting her husband’s face into half-light and shade as he turned to face her.
They might not have shared a bed, and they might not have spoken in half a year, but Eloise knew her husband. Knew that she should not push him. But she couldn’t back down now. It had taken everything she had to come here tonight. To face him one last time.
‘I want a divorce.’
‘What? No small-talk?’
‘You want small-talk? Fine. Hello, Husband, how was your day?’ she replied, mock sweetness dripping from her voice.
‘Pretty bad, actually. How was yours?’
‘Equally so, having been summoned halfway across Europe for God knows what reason.’
‘I’ve seen quite a number of sides to you, Eloise. Sweet and innocent, cold and indifferent. But I think this—righteous indignation—suits you the best.’
Yet he’d never seen the truth of her, she realised. Perhaps he hadn’t wanted or needed to once he’d had his ring on her finger. She sighed heavily. This was getting them nowhere.
‘Odir. Please. I want a divorce.’
‘As you keep saying,’ he replied. ‘But I’m afraid that doesn’t fit with my plans.’
‘And I’m afraid your plans no longer matter to me. I have built a life for myself in Switzerland. A life that doesn’t involve you. I’ve...changed, Odir. I am not the same woman you married.’
His eyes narrowed at that. Justifiably so. Six months ago she wouldn’t even have thought to fight back. But she was now.
‘Mmm...’ he murmured. ‘Perhaps you have changed.’
* * *
Odir took in the defiance that filled her slim frame. She had lost weight in the last six months, and he wasn’t sure that he liked it. He let arrogance fuel his gaze as it dropped to her feet and leisurely made its way back up, over her hips to her breasts, to her face. A gaze that heated her cheeks and stoked a fire within him.
He ate up the subtle changes in her—the way that anger brightened her eyes and flushed her cheeks—and for a second he thought he might possibly be forgiven for mistaking it as arousal. He cursed the way his body reacted, but knew it served as a reminder to be on his guard.
‘If you had liked what you saw when we were married, Odir, we might not be in this situation now.’
The barb hit home. It struck at the weakness he’d had for his wife—the one thing he’d promised himself he would not indulge in. Hadn’t his father’s obsessional love for his wife nearly destroyed his country? Hadn’t the impossible attraction between Odir and Eloise nearly made him do the same?
‘Don’t you dare turn this around on me.’ His low, dark tone buzzed in the air between them. ‘I may not have graced your bed, but someone else—’
She issued the command with such force her hand came up between them. And, bastard that he was, he relished her anger. Relished the fact that her feelings matched his own.
‘You never did like hearing the truth, did you, Eloise? Always running...always hiding.’
As the words fell from his lips he briefly wondered if they should instead be aimed at himself.
‘And you were never interested in the truth, Odir. Only in what suited you and Farrehed.’
‘What version of the truth would that be, Eloise? I’m curious. Because I’d like to know what I would find on the divorce papers. Would you place the blame at my feet, or would you own the fact that it was you who betrayed me? Tell me, Eloise, would you be ready to see, splashed all over the pages of the international press, the fact that you committed adultery with my brother?’
* * *
Eloise wanted to scream. Her hands were clenched into fists and she knew that her nails would leave crescent-moon-shaped indentations in her palms, but still she couldn’t release them. Because if she did they would be hurled against her husband, and she didn’t know if she would be able to stop.
Never had he asked her for the truth of that night. Not once.