From One Night to Wife(6)

By: Rachael Thomas

 He had been everything she’d ever dreamed of and more, sweeping her away so fast she’d given up her teenage dreams of waiting to find her true love before discovering the pleasure of intimacy with a man. She didn’t regret one moment of that decision. She’d loved Nikos—until he’d looked at her with his condemning eyes on that last night.

 He didn’t respond and instinctively she reached out to him, touching his arm. As he turned and looked at her she saw his face wore an expression of pain, and she had the unexpected urge to throw herself into his arms, to be held tight and told everything was going to be okay. Because deep down it was what she wanted—what she needed. To be loved by only this man. But the man she loved didn’t exist.

 Instead she stood as tall and proud as possible, finding strength she hadn’t realised she had left. ‘We can’t, Nikos. Not together.’

 * * *

 ‘What are you saying, Serena?’ Nikos all but stumbled over his words as the implications of what she’d said almost silenced him. The reality of the situation had hit him hard, taking away the ability to speak.

 Memories of the day his mother had left and questions from his past rushed forward. He tried hard to prevent them from colliding with the present, but he couldn’t shake them off. His father had cursed her, saying he should never have married an English girl, and Nikos had stood alone, ignored and forgotten by each of them. Then his mother had left, her cruel parting words ringing in his ears.

 If his father had still been alive he could have found out more about the mother he barely remembered. As a teenager he’d been angry when he’d learnt that her career had been more important than her marriage and her young son. So when she’d made contact on his sixteenth birthday, saying she’d never meant to hurt him, he’d blocked her from his life. He didn’t want to open that door again.

 He clenched his hands into tight fists. Fury carried through the years raged inside him, but he pushed it back. He had to keep calm.

 That letter from his mother had made him vow never to marry. He had no intention of making the same mistake as his parents. But that vow also denied him the possibility of being a father.

 Something shifted inside him. Serena was carrying his child. He took in a deep, steadying breath. He was going to be a father. Fate had altered his life decision and no matter what Serena did or said he would be a father to his child in every way. His past would not write his child’s future. His child would not experience the heartache he’d known and he’d do everything in his power to achieve that.

 ‘Neither of us can give this child what it needs.’

 Her voice was soft, with a definite and unyielding firmness. He looked down at her, hardly able to believe what he was hearing. He couldn’t comprehend the cool and composed words that had slipped easily from her mouth. She was writing off her child as easily as his mother had done.

 An icy-cold chill slipped down his spine and the image of the woman before him combined with that of the fair-haired woman in the tatty photograph he’d kept hidden away since he’d been given it by his grandmother. It was his mother—but as far as he was concerned it was just the woman who’d given birth to him. He’d locked it away, out of sight and out of mind, hating her too much to acknowledge her as his mother.

 Serena blinked rapidly and he thought he saw a glimmer of moisture, the smallest hint of tears. He narrowed his eyes, assessing the situation. His breath, deep and hard, almost burned his chest as his heart was pumped full of anger, his mouth filled with the bitter taste of betrayal as he remembered what had sounded like a throwaway comment at the time.

 Had she planned this from the very start? She’d seduced him so wickedly with her kisses that last night on the beach that he’d lost all control. Had that been her intention all along?

 He furrowed his brow, resisting the need to put distance between them. She’d been a virgin the first time they’d made love, which had shocked him so much that he’d fallen under her spell, wanting to spend more and more time with her, yet unable to allow himself to want her emotionally. Had he been naive to be seduced by her?

 ‘I never planned to be a father, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be there for my child.’

 He clenched his fists against the fear of what those words meant. Could he really be a good father when his own had ignored him so much that his grandparents had been compelled to taken him in?

 ‘I will.’

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