Far, far too much.
She would quickly change, Lydia decided.
But then there was a gentle rap on the door and she was informed that it was time to be seated.
‘I’ll just be a few moments,’ Lydia said, and dismissed the steward. But what she did not understand about private jets was the fact that there were not two hundred passengers to get strapped in.
‘Now.’ The steward smiled. ‘We’re about to come in to land.’
There was no chance to change and so, shy, reluctant, but trying not to show it, Lydia stepped out.
‘Sit down,’ Raul said.
He offered no compliment—really, he gave no reaction.
In fact he took out his phone and sent a text.
Oddly, it helped.
She had a moment to sit with her new self, away from his gaze, and Lydia looked out of the window and willed her breathing to calm.
Venice was always beautiful, and yet today it was even more so.
As they flew over on their final descent she rose out of the Adriatic in full midsummer splendour, and Lydia knew she would remember this moment for ever. The last time she had felt as if she were sitting alone, even though she had been surrounded by school friends.
Now, as the wheels hit the runway, Lydia came down to earth as her spirit soared high.
And as they stood to leave he told her.
‘You look amazing.’
‘Is it too much?’
‘Too much?’ Raul frowned. ‘It’s still summer.’
‘No, I meant...’ She wasn’t talking about the amount of skin on show, but she gave up trying to explain what she meant.
But Raul hadn’t been lost in translation—he had deliberately played vague.
He had heard Maurice’s reprimand yesterday morning and knew colour was not a feature in her life.
And so he had played it down.
He had told her to sit, as if blonde beauties in sexy red dresses wearing red high heels regularly walked out of the bedroom of his plane.
Actually, they did.
But they had never had him reaching for his phone and calling in a favour from Silvio, a friend.
Raul had been toying with the idea all afternoon...wondering if it would be too much.
But then he had seen her. Stunning in red. Shy but brave. And if Lydia had let loose for tonight, then so too would he.
‘Where are we going?’ Lydia asked.
‘Just leave all that to me.’
Last time she’d been in Venice there had been strict itineraries and meeting points, but this time around there was no water taxi to board. Instead their luggage was loaded onto a waiting speedboat, and while Raul spoke with the driver Lydia took a seat and drank in the gorgeous view.
Then she became impatient to know more, because the island they were approaching looked familiar.
‘Tell me where we’re going.’
‘Oh.’ Just for a second her smile faltered. Last time Lydia had been there she had felt so wretched.
‘Sometimes it is good to go back.’
‘You don’t, though,’ Lydia pointed out, because from everything she knew about Raul he did all he could not to revisit the past.
‘No, I don’t.’
She should leave it, Lydia knew, and for the moment she did.
There was barely a breeze as their boat sliced through the lagoon. Venice could never disappoint. Raul had been right. It heightened the emotions, and today Lydia’s happiness was turning to elation.
In a place of which she had only dark memories suddenly everything was bright, and so she looked over to him and offered a suggestion.
‘Maybe you should go back, Raul.’
He did not respond.
They docked in Murano, the Island of Bridges, and Raul took her hand to help Lydia off the boat. The same way as he had last night in Rome, he didn’t let her hand go.
And in a sea of shorts and summer tops and dresses Lydia was overdressed.
For once she cared not.
They walked past all the showrooms and turned down a small cobbled street. Away from the tourists there was space to slow down and just revel in the feel of the sun on her shoulders.
‘I know someone who has a studio here,’ Raul said.
He did not explain that often in the mornings Silvio was at Raul’s favourite café, and they would speak a little at times. And neither did he explain that he had taken Silvio up on a long-standing offer—‘If you ever want to bring a friend...’
Raul had never envisaged that he might.
Oh, he admired Silvio’s work—in fact his work had been one of the features that had drawn Raul to buy his home.
He had never thought he might bring someone, though, and yet she was so thrilled to be here, so lacking in being spoilt...
‘Silvio is a master glassmaker,’ Raul explained. ‘He comes from a long line of them. His work is commissioned years in advance and it’s exquisite. There will be no three-legged ponies to tempt you.’