If anyone had asked her yesterday if she nursed any hope of them ever getting back together, Georgie would have been able to give a very definite no way in reply, and mean it.
Yesterday she hadn’t opened that envelope.
Reading the contents of a letter that explained with surgical precision that your husband wanted a divorce was a bad time to realise that in some secret corner of your heart you had clung onto hope. Foolish, irrational hope that one day… She took a deep breath. She knew that she was better off without that sort of hope.
‘Actually, Angolos wants a divorce.’ She had the horrid suspicion that her extremely casual attitude wasn’t fooling Ruth for a minute. ‘That’s why he’s come in person. I suspect there’s someone else.’ Maybe Sonia…? It would certainly please his family if he got back with his first wife.
If not Sonia, there would be someone. A highly sexed and incredibly good-looking man like Angolos was never going to be celibate. She had come to terms with this.
Sure you have.
‘I think it might be serious,’ she heard herself say.
Ruth’s brow furrowed. ‘Now that does surprise me.’
‘Not me; I’ve been expecting it.’ Georgie gave her best carefree smile and wished she’d not revealed her suspicions to the older woman. ‘The only thing that surprises me is it’s taken him this long. Actually I think it’ll be a good thing…making it official will give us proper closure.’
The other woman nodded and murmured agreement, but Georgie could see that she didn’t believe a word. Embarrassed, she turned away. ‘I won’t be long,’ she promised huskily.
About as long as it took to say goodbye.
ANGOLOS watched Georgie walk towards him along the beach with the graceful, long-legged stride he remembered so well. She carried her sandals in one hand slung over her shoulder in exactly the same way she always had. He was not a man inclined to nostalgia, but it was hard not to make a depressing comparison to the past.
Then, when she had caught sight of him her face would light up like a kid on Christmas morning and she would break into a run as though every second apart from him was one too many. Now when she saw him, and he recognised the precise moment, the only place she looked like running was in the opposite direction! You could almost hear her inner struggle as she covered the remaining distance.
Some irrational part of him wanted to make her smile at him that way again. Was it the same irrational part of him that had been tempted, albeit briefly, not to question her pregnancy? Then sense had prevailed and his pride had reasserted itself.
That he had contemplated, even for a moment, living a lie and bringing up another man’s child, accepting his wife’s infidelity, filled him with a profound self-disgust. Ironically of course it hadn’t been another man’s child she carried, but at the time he hadn’t known that.
‘Am I late?’ Composed and utterly controlled, she sketched a smile. Her wary eyes, their incredible colour intensified by the soft shading on her eyelids, met his.
‘No. I am early.’
Angolos didn’t have a clue why her manner annoyed him so much. It wasn’t as if he had expected her to throw her arms around his neck and press her slim young body to his.
His eyes drifted towards the slim young body in question and he grew still. The summer dress exposed the soft, creamy contours of her satin-smooth shoulders and slim arms. The locket dangling from a slim gold chain suspended around her neck drew the attention to the firm swell of her breasts. As his glance moved lower the breeze caught the light fabric, drawing it close over her slim thighs.
Georgie had been so gut-churningly nervous that until his dark eyes swept over her she had forgotten that she had dressed to kill, or at least immobilise with lust—until his heavy-lidded, penetrating eyes lifted and met hers.
She had got the reaction she wanted, only this wasn’t theoretical lust. A classic case, she remonstrated herself, of not considering the consequences. The smoky heat and raw hunger in his eyes—for a man who could be infuriatingly enigmatic, Angolos had eyes that could be quite devastatingly expressive on occasion—sent a current of sizzling heat through her body.
Experience had taught her how to fan the flames of his desire. She tried not to access the memories that reminded her of how pleasurable the results of her provocation could be. She raised a fluttering hand to her throat and tried to get her breathing under control.
‘Can we get on? I’m on my way somewhere.’ She was quite pleased with her clever subterfuge; now he wasn’t going to think she had got dressed up for him.
She saw his jaw clench. ‘I’m so glad you could fit me into your busy schedule.’
‘Well, you didn’t actually give me any choice, did you?’ she reminded him.
‘I don’t suppose I did.’ One dark brow arched. ‘Aren’t you a little cold dressed like that? Would you like my jacket?’
Her eyes widened in alarm. The thought of having the garment still carrying the warmth of his body, retaining the unique scent of him, next to her skin sent an illicit thrill through her body.
‘No, I’m fine,’ she promised hastily.
‘As you wish. Would you like to go somewhere…for a coffee…a drink? Is that odd little teashop still open?’
The question brought back a flood of memories.
Odd, he had said. Well, as venues for conducting a passionate affair went, the quaint, touristy tearooms run by two elderly sisters had to be one of the most unlikely. They had frequently had the place to themselves. Most people had been outside enjoying the sun that summer, which had been just as well because inconspicuous they had not been—or at least he hadn’t!
Not that Georgie had much cared about discretion; as far as she’d been concerned the entire town could talk. She had been too besotted to care about such things, and actually much to her frustration they hadn’t actually had much to be discreet about!
After that first occasion when they had come as near as damn it to making love in the wet sand—and I didn’t even know his name—Angolos had kept her at arm’s length. Even though she hadn’t been experienced she had sensed he’d been keeping himself under tight control. Georgie, who had fantasised about recreating the wild, primitive night-time encounter—minus the frustration—had bitterly regretted telling him that he was her first lover.
Instead of the passionate love-making Georgie had craved, for two weeks they had drunk tea and talked, or at least that was the way it had felt to her. They had taken long drives and talked. They had taken long walks and talked. It had been sheer agony, but she’d been prepared to endure any torture devised by man to be in his company.
The weekend two weeks later, when he’d disappeared without a word, she had thought that was it, and she had been totally devastated. The idea of never seeing him again had made the future stretch ahead of her bleak and barren.
She had drifted around like a ghost, grey-faced and drawn, but instead of recognising a broken heart her family had been irritated by her lethargy.
Then her grandmother had diagnosed anorexia—She has all the classic symptoms… The article she had read had apparently said that sufferers always lied, so Georgie’s denials had been ignored.
Consequently, when Angolos had turned up out of the blue at the house two weeks later, instead of looking interestingly pale she had gained seven pounds!
He had formally requested her father’s permission to marry her. Superficially it might have seemed a delightfully old-fashioned courtesy, but only very superficially.
Oh, he had been polite enough, but he had left no doubt that he had been going to marry her with or without her father’s permission. With would simply be less problematic.
She was bowled over by his masterful behaviour; it hadn’t even crossed Georgie’s mind to question the fact he hadn’t even asked her. My compliance he took for granted and why wouldn’t he…?
She pushed aside the cringe-worthy recollection of her uncritical adoration; she had held nothing back. She hadn’t just worn her heart on her sleeve, she had stripped her soul bare!
‘No, I don’t want tea, I just want this over with as quickly as possible.’ She kept her voice cool and unemotional and was rewarded by the surprise flicker in the back of his deep-set eyes.
‘You can’t spare a few minutes to discuss our son’s future…?’
‘I would spare a lot more than a few minutes to discuss Nicky’s future, but not with you,’ she retorted, bristling with antagonism. ‘Nicky is nothing to do with you, and don’t pretend you’re really interested in him,’ she sneered.
His expression tautened. ‘Be reasonable.’
‘Reasonable!’ she yelled back, no longer able to contain the anger and resentment that she’d been storing up for these long years. ‘Reasonable the way you were when you said you didn’t want to know about the baby?’ she demanded in a low, impassioned voice. ‘Are you on medication, Angolos?’