The Marakaios Marriage(4)

By: Kate Hewitt

‘You can and you will,’ Antonios replied flatly, ‘if you want a divorce.’

She shook her head, her hair flying, desperation digging its claws into her soul. ‘Then I won’t ask for a divorce.’

‘Then you are my wife still, and you belong with me.’ His voice had roughened and he turned away from her in one sharp movement. ‘You cannot have it both ways, Lindsay.’

‘How will my seeing your mother help her?’ Lindsay protested. ‘It would only hurt her more for me to tell her to her face that we’ve separated—’

‘But I have no intention of having you tell her that.’ Antonios turned around, his eyes seeming to burn right through her as he glared at her. ‘It is likely my mother only has a few months to live, perhaps less. I do not intend to distress her with the news of our failed marriage. For a few days, Lindsay, perhaps a week, you can pretend that we are still happily married.’

‘What—?’ She stared at him, appalled, as he gave her a grimace of a smile.

‘Surely that is not impossible? You have already proven once what a good actress you are, when you pretended to fall in love with me.’

* * *

Antonios stared at his wife’s lovely pale face and squashed the tiny flicker of pity he felt for her. She looked so trapped, so horrified at the prospect of resuming their marriage and returning to Greece.

Not, of course, that they would truly resume their marriage. It would be a sham only, for the sake of his mother. Antonios had no intention of inviting Lindsay into his bed again. Not after she’d left him in such a cold-hearted and cowardly way. No, he’d take her back to Greece for a few days for his mother’s sake, and then he’d never see her again...which was what she obviously wanted. And he wanted it, too.

‘A few days?’ she repeated numbly. ‘And that will be enough...’

‘It’s my mother’s name day next week,’ Antonios told her.

‘Name day...’

‘In Greece we celebrate name days rather than birthdays. My family wishes to celebrate it especially, considering.’ Grief constricted his throat and burned in his chest. He could not imagine Villa Marakaios without his mother. Losing his father had been hard enough. His father had built the vineyard from nothing; he’d been the brains behind the operation, for better and definitely for worse, but his mother had always been its heart. And when the heart was gone...

But perhaps his own heart had already gone, crushed to nothing when his wife had left him. He’d thought Lindsay had loved him. He’d believed they were happy together.

What a joke. What a lie. But Antonios knew he should be used to people not being what they seemed. Not saying what they meant. He’d had hard lessons in that already.

‘We are having a celebration,’ he continued, just managing to keep his voice even. ‘Family and friends, all our neighbours. You will be there. Afterwards you can return here if you wish. I will explain to my mother that you needed to finish your research.’ He knew Lindsay had been pursuing her doctorate in Pure Mathematics, and when she’d left him she’d told him she needed to tie a few things up back in New York. He’d said goodbye in good faith, thinking she’d only be gone a few days. She’d already told him that her research could be done anywhere; she’d said there was nothing for her back in New York. But apparently that, like everything else, had been a lie.

Lindsay’s face had gone even paler and she lifted one hand to her throat, swallowing convulsively. ‘A party? Antonios, please. I can’t.’

Fury beat through his blood. ‘What did I ever do to you,’ he demanded in a low, savage voice, ‘to make you treat me this way? Treat my family this way? We welcomed you into our home, into our lives.’ His insides twisted as emotion gripped him—emotion he couldn’t bear Lindsay to see. He’d told her he didn’t care about her any more, and he’d meant it. He had to mean it. ‘My mother,’ he said after a moment, when he’d regained his composure and his voice was as flat and toneless as he needed it to be, ‘loved you. She treated you like her own daughter. Is this how you intend to repay her?’