Baby Out of the BlueBy: Anne Mather
Anne Mather & Melanie Milburne & Annie West
JANE let herself into her apartment and headed straight for the fridge. It might be empty of anything to eat, but she knew she’d left a half-pack of colas on the shelf. Pulling out one of the chilled cans, she flipped the tab and drank. Then, savouring its coolness on her tongue, she kicked off her shoes and walked back into the living area.
It was good to be home, she thought, looking round the large space that served as both living and dining room. She was glad now she’d had the builder knock down the wall that had once separated the two rooms. Together with a small service kitchen, her bedroom and the adjoining bathroom, it had been her home for the past five years.
She’d dropped her suitcase in the small entry hall and as she went to retrieve it, she saw the message light blinking on her answering machine. Her mother, she thought resignedly. Mrs Lang would be anxious to hear that her daughter had arrived home safely. Even though she was familiar with the internet and would no doubt have checked flight arrivals at Heathrow, she still needed the confirmation of Jane’s voice to assure her that all was well.
Sighing, Jane pressed the key to retrieve her messages and waited patiently for Mrs Lang’s recorded voice to speak. Her friends knew she was away, and all business calls would be routed to the gallery. So she was unprepared when a disturbingly familiar male voice spoke her name.
‘Jane? Jane, are you there? If you are, pick up, will you? Ineh poli simandiko.’ It’s important.
Jane sank down weakly onto the small ottoman she kept beside the phone. Despite her determination never to let Demetri Souvakis into her life again, she couldn’t deny that his rich dark voice with its distinctive accent still had the power to turn her weak at the knees.
But then, it wasn’t his voice that had made him a millionaire several times over before his twenty-fifth birthday. That had come from his heritage and his complete ruthlessness in business, she reminded herself, a ruthlessness that had somehow spilled over into his private life.
Jane expelled an unsteady breath now and was still trying to calm her racing pulse when a second message started. ‘It’s me, Jane,’ he said. ‘Your husband. Theos, I know you’re there. Don’t make me have to come looking for you. Can’t we at least deal with one another like civilised adults?’
That helped. The arrogance in his voice, the way he just assumed she’d be available whenever he chose to contact her. And how could he call himself her husband when for the past five years he hadn’t cared if she was dead or alive?
Her nails dug into her palms in her efforts to control the anger that swept through her, but that didn’t stop the painful memories from tearing her hard-won objectivity to shreds. How dared he contact her now as if he had some right to do so? As far as she was concerned, she’d cut him out of her life.
She sighed. She remembered when she’d first encountered his father at the gallery where she’d worked in London. Leo Souvakis had been so charming, so polite. He’d explained that he was looking for a piece of sculpture to take back to Greece, a bronze, if possible, to match the other pieces he’d collected over the years.
Jane had only been working at the gallery for a short time, but already she’d begun to show an aptitude for recognising talent when she saw it. And the delicate sculpture of the goddess Diana by a virtually unknown artist seemed an appropriate choice to make.
Leo Souvakis had been delighted, both by the piece and by Jane, and they’d been discussing the relative merits of oriental pottery and porcelain when Demetri Souvakis had appeared…
Jane shook her head. She so much didn’t want to think about this now. She’d just come back from a very successful trip to Australia and Thailand and what she really wanted to do was go to bed. She’d been travelling for the better part of fourteen hours, the unexpected layover in Dubai not part of her agenda.
She was just about to get up, determined not to be intimidated, when a third message began. ‘Jane? Are you there, darling? I thought you told me you’d be home by eight o’clock. It’s half-past now and I’m getting worried. Ring me as soon as you get in. I’ll be waiting.’
Putting all thought of her other calls to the back of her mind, Jane reached for the receiver. Pressing the pre-set key, she waited only a couple of rings before her mother picked up. ‘Hi, Mum,’ she said, trying to inject a note of confidence into her voice. ‘Sorry you’ve been worried. The plane made an unscheduled stop in Dubai.’
‘Oh, I see.’ Mrs Lang sounded relieved. ‘I thought it might be something like that. So, are you OK? Did you have a good trip? You’ll have to tell me all about it over lunch.’