From One Night to Wife(8)

By: Rachael Thomas

 This wasn’t going at all to plan. She hadn’t expected him to welcome her with open arms—not after his parting words—but the discovery of his deceit and his determination to overrule her was totally unexpected.

 ‘You let me think you were an island fisherman. One who shouldn’t have anything more to tell.’

 She’d known coming back to Santorini wouldn’t give her all she really wanted, but never in all her wildest dreams had she imagined this scenario.

 She looked at Nikos again, searching for the man she’d fallen in love with. The man who’d set light to the undiscovered woman inside her, capturing her heart and body.

 ‘Why?’ she asked simply.

 ‘It was for the best at the time.’ Each word was firm and decisive, his face a mask of composure.

 ‘I will remove each and every one to get what I want. My child. My heir.’

 His words of warning echoed in her head like a haunting melody. It seemed that no matter how much she’d tried to be different from her parents, wanting only to have a happy family, she was heading down the same path.

 Her parents had been forced to stay together by an unplanned pregnancy, a mistake. She had grown up carrying the guilt of being that mistake, knowing she had forced her parents to stay together. She was the reason they’d fought, the reason they hated each other now. She didn’t want her child to suffer the same guilt because of the mistake she and Nikos had made.

 ‘I am an island fisherman.’

 He stepped towards her, his voice softer now, but instinct told her not to let her guard drop, that trouble was brewing.

 ‘But I am also a businessman. My office is in Piraeus and I live in Athens.’

 ‘So what were you doing on the island? Using the guise of a fisherman to lure women and bolster your ego?’ She couldn’t stop the words from rushing at him.

 He glared at her. ‘Fishing was my grandfather’s trade, his business. I help out with the fleet that he started. And knowing your background I wasn’t going to disclose anything personal to you.’

 ‘My background?’ She was completely at a loss as to what he meant.

 ‘You are a journalist, are you not?’

 She tried hard to process what he was telling her, but couldn’t understand why he’d kept the truth from her. Was it really because she had studied journalism? Did he really fear that? Or was it simply that he hadn’t wanted her to know who he was?

 ‘Why did you feel the need to hide it from me, Nikos?’ She couldn’t imagine the life Nikos really led. It was too far removed from the man she’d met, the man she’d fallen in love with. He was shattering every dream she’d had of him. ‘Why were you even here, masquerading as a fisherman?’

 ‘My life changed when I left the island, and my fortunes with it.’ He looked at her, his eyes glacial and hard, his expression unyielding. ‘Every year since, I’ve spent two weeks helping the small fleet of fisherman here on the island. It’s a way of staying connected to my grandparents. And you didn’t ask questions—which made a change.’

 ‘A change from what?’ He wasn’t making sense—or was it her jumbled emotions? She was tired. Thinking coherently wasn’t easy, but she forced her mind to concentrate.

 ‘From women wanting all they can get from me—financially and emotionally. It appears you are not different after all.’

 ‘You lied—you hid the truth—because you were afraid I’d want more?’ The words rushed from her before she could hold them back and his eyes narrowed in response, his mouth setting into an irritated line of hardness.

 The stark question he’d fired at her earlier came back, its full meaning now painfully clear.

 ‘How much?’

 That was what he’d said when she’d told him she only wanted one thing from him. It hadn’t made any sense. Now it hit her. He thought she wanted money from him—or worse still, that she’d deliberately got pregnant to give the baby to Sally.

 Sickness rose up and her head spun. What kind of man was he?

 ‘Why didn’t you tell me when we were together?’ She hurled the question at him, her knees becoming ever weaker with shock as nausea threatened to take over.

 ‘What we shared...’ He took her hands in his and she hated the way her pulse leapt at his touch, counteracting all the pain and turmoil of moments before. ‘It was something special. But it was never destined to be more than a holiday romance, a passing affair.’

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