The Marakaios Marriage(7)

By: Kate Hewitt

‘Let me help you,’ Antonios said and, to her surprise, he almost sounded gentle. He took the key from her hand and fitted it into the lock, turning it easily before pushing the door open.

Lindsay muttered her thanks and stepped inside, breathed in the musty, dusty scent of her father’s house. It was strange to have Antonios here, to see this glimpse of her old life, the only life she’d known until he had burst into it.

She flipped on the light and watched him blink as he took in the narrow hallway, made even narrower by the bookshelves set against every wall, each one crammed to overflowing with books. More books were piled on the floor in teetering stacks; the dining room table was covered in textbooks and piles of papers. Lindsay was so used to it that she didn’t even notice the clutter any more, but she was conscious of it now, with Antonios here. She was uncomfortably aware of just how small and messy it all was. Yet it was also home, the place where she’d felt safe, where she and her father had been happy, or as happy as they knew how to be. She wouldn’t apologize for it.

She cleared her throat and turned towards the stairs. ‘I’ll just pack.’

‘Do you need any help?’

She turned back to Antonios, surprised by his solicitude. Or was he being patronizing? She couldn’t tell anything about him any more; his expression was veiled, his voice toneless, his movements controlled.

‘No,’ she answered, ‘I’m fine.’

He arched one dark eyebrow. ‘Are you really fine, Lindsay? Because just now your hands were shaking too much for you even to open your front door.’

She stiffened, colour rushing into her face. ‘Maybe that’s because you’re so angry, Antonios. It’s a little unsettling to be around someone like that.’

His mouth tightened. ‘You think I shouldn’t be angry?’

She closed her eyes briefly as weariness swept over her. ‘I don’t want to get into this discussion. We’ve both agreed it serves no purpose. I was just—’

‘Stating a fact,’ Antonios finished sardonically. ‘Of course. I’m sorry I can’t make this experience easier for you.’

Lindsay just shook her head, too tired and tense to argue. ‘Please, let’s not bicker and snipe at each other. I’m coming to Greece as you wanted. Can’t that be enough?’

His eyes blazed and he took a step towards her, colour slashing his cheekbones. ‘No, Lindsay, that is not remotely enough. But since it is all I have asked of you, and all I believe you are capable of, I will have to be satisfied.’

He stared at her for a long, taut moment; Lindsay could hear her breathing turn ragged as her heart beat harder. She felt trapped by his gaze, pinned as much by his contempt as her own pointless anger. And underneath the fury that simmered in Antonios’s gaze and hid in her own heart was the memory of when things had been different between them. When he’d taken her in his arms and made her body sing. When she’d thought she loved him.

Then he flicked his gaze away and, sagging with relief, she turned and went upstairs.

She dragged a suitcase out of the hall closet, forced herself to breathe more slowly. She could do this. She had to do this, not because she wanted a divorce so badly but because she owed it to Daphne. Her own mother had turned her back on her completely when she’d been no more than a child, and Daphne’s small kindnesses to her had been like water in a barren desert. But not enough water. Just a few drops dribbled on her parched lips, when she’d needed the oasis of her husband’s support and understanding, attention and care.

‘Lindsay?’ She heard the creak of the staircase as Antonios came upstairs, his broad shoulders nearly touching both walls as he loomed in the hallway, tall and dark, familiar and strange at the same time. ‘We need to leave shortly.’

‘I’ll try to hurry.’ She started throwing clothes into her suitcase, dimly aware that she had nothing appropriate for the kind of social occasions Antonios would expect her to attend. Formal dinners, a huge party for the largest local landowner and businessman, Antonios’s calendar had been full of social engagements. From the moment she’d arrived in Greece he’d expected her to be his hostess, to arrange seating for dinner parties, to chat effortlessly to everyone, to be charming and sparkling and always at his side, except when he’d left her for weeks on end to go on business trips. Lindsay didn’t know which had been worse: trying to manage alone or feeling ignored.