The door was closed and from her purse Lydia took out the business card he had given her.
It had been three months since Lydia had heard his voice.
The business card had had many outings, but always she’d bailed before completing his number.
Today Lydia held her breath as she was finally put through.
He didn’t answer.
It was just a recording—telling her to leave a message. ‘Lasciate un messagio...’
An anti-climax, really, and yet the sound of his voice had her folded over in the chair.
Not because of what she had to say to him, but because of what she wanted to.
That even while she was so terribly angry with him, it was the hurt of not seeing him, not hearing him, not touching him that refused to heal.
She didn’t know what to do.
How did you tell a man who would have a baby removed from a restaurant for crying that you were pregnant with his child?
Raul would think she was calling for money.
How could he not, given she had looked him in the eye and told him she was a gold-digger?
And a snob.
Oh, she had to play the part now. But she couldn’t and so rang off.
Straighten up, she told herself, and reminded herself of the terrible things he had done.
Raul had used her so badly.
He had sunk to such depraved lows and she must always remember that.
Panic was starting to build, but Lydia took a deep breath and told herself to be practical and deal with things.
So she straightened up in the chair and repeated the call.
‘Lasciate un messagio...’
‘Raul, this is Lydia.’
She refused to cheapen herself by giving him dates and further details. If Raul was such a playboy that he didn’t remember her, then she wasn’t going to make things easier for him.
She had said it too fast and too soon, Lydia knew that, but better that than to break down.
‘I’ve had a few weeks to get used to the idea, and I’m actually...’ She let out her first calm breath—maybe because she’d told him now...maybe because she was speaking the truth. ‘I’m fine with it. We’ll be fine. The baby and I, I mean.’
And she knew that had sounded too brusque.
‘What I’m trying to say is that I’m not calling for support, neither on an emotional nor financial front. We both know you don’t do the former, and I’ve had the statue valued and it covers the latter...’
Yes, no doubt she could squeeze him for half of his billions, but it was not the route she wanted to take. The thought of lawyers and acrimony, of whether or not he believed her, were the last things she wanted.
‘If you need to discuss things, then give me a call back.’
Lydia ended the call and sat staring at her phone for a very long time.
His reaction she could not fathom, and, for the first time since arriving back in England, Lydia felt grateful for the distance between them.
He knew now.
SHE WAS IN a holding pattern now of her own making.
Awaiting his response.
Once home, Lydia had replaced the statue by her bed.
She had decided that it was not for sale.
Some things were more important.
She did not want to be like her mother, holding on to a castle she could not afford to keep, but she was not going to rush into selling it.
Lydia checked her phone for the hundredth time, but of course it hadn’t rung.
So she checked her email to see if anyone had responded to her many job applications.
She’d had one interview at a museum, but there were four other applicants—no doubt all with qualifications.
And she had an interview next week to work at one of their rival wedding venues.
The pregnancy would start to show soon.
Who would want to take her on then?
Lydia opened a window and leant out and looked over the land her mother’s family had owned for ever.
The hills to the left and the fields to the right had been sold off some time ago, but if she looked ahead it was still theirs—for now.
And she understood her mother a little better, for she knew it hurt so much to let go.
Lydia heard the low buzz of a helicopter and looked to the sky.
It was a familiar sound in these parts—the well-heeled left for London in the morning and returned in the evening, but usually later than now.
Occasionally there was an air ambulance or a tourist.
Except this helicopter hovered over the castle and the buzzing sound grew louder.
She could see the grass in the meadow moving in the swirl the rotors created.
It was Raul who was descending, Lydia knew.
Not for her.
He’d had weeks and months to find her.
No, she had dropped the baby bombshell and he had responded immediately.
He was here about their child.
Her breath quickened as he climbed out. He was wearing a dark suit and tie and shades. He looked completely together as he strode across the land with purpose and she watched him.