Baby Out of the BlueBy: Anne Mather
‘So?’ He heard her voice and turned to find Jane had come to perch on the arm of one of the sofas. She was holding a mug filled with black coffee and she lifted enquiring eyes to his face. ‘Do I take it there’s someone else?’
It was such a ludicrous question in the circumstances. Demetri was tempted to say ‘Damn you!’and walk out. He felt so foolish having to admit that that was the reason he’d come here. That he was intending to marry someone else when he was free.
But he didn’t have a choice in the matter. It was what was expected of him as his father’s eldest son. When Leonidas Souvakis retired, he’d handed the control of Souvakis International to him. And such power held responsibilities, not all of them to do with the company itself.
‘My father’s dying,’ he said at last, deciding he didn’t owe her any consideration. But even so, he was unprepared for the way the colour drained out of her face.
‘Leo is dying?’ she echoed faintly. ‘My God, why didn’t you tell me?’ Her soft lips parted in mute denial. ‘I can’t believe it. He was so—so fit; so strong.’
‘Cancer is no respecter of strength or otherwise,’ responded Demetri flatly. ‘He found a lump. He did nothing about it. He said he was too busy.’ He shrugged. ‘When he did go and see the doctor, it was too late to operate.’
‘Oh, God!’ Jane put down her cup and pressed both hands to her cheeks. Her eyes were once again filled with tears. ‘Poor Leo. He’s such a good man, a kind man. He was always kind to me. He made me welcome when your mother never did.’
Demetri said nothing. He knew that what she’d said was true. His mother had never wanted him to marry an English girl. Their values were so different, she’d insisted. And ultimately she’d been proved to be right.
Now Jane attempted to pull herself together. ‘How long have you known?’ she asked, wondering what this had to do with Demetri wanting a divorce. She paused, trying to find a connection. ‘Does he want to see me?’
Demetri was taken aback. Although he had no doubt that Leo Souvakis would have liked to see his daughter-in-law again, his mother would never agree to it. For the past five years she’d persistently begged her son to go and see a priest and try to arrange an annulment of his marriage to Jane. She was sure Father Panaystakis would do everything in his power to get some special dispensation from the church.
But, ironically, Demetri had been in no hurry to sever his relationship. It had been convenient in all sorts of ways. Not least to discourage any gold-digging female from getting the wrong idea. Now remaining unattached was no longer an option and only a divorce would do.
His silence must have given Jane her answer, however, because now she said, ‘Then I don’t understand. What does your father’s illness have to do with you asking for a divorce?’
Demetri’s sigh was heavy. He pushed his balled fists into his trouser pockets and rocked back on his heels before he spoke. ‘Mi pateras—my father,’ he corrected himself, ‘wants a grand-child. Grandchildren. With Yanis a priest and Stefan not interested in women, the responsibility falls to me.’
‘How archaic!’ Jane was sardonic. Then she frowned. ‘But what about—’ she hesitated ‘—the boy?’
‘Ianthe’s son?’ Demetri was matter-of-fact, and Jane’s nails dug into her palms. ‘Marc died. I thought you knew.’
Jane was incensed. ‘And you thought this, why? We haven’t exactly kept in touch, Demetri.’
He shrugged as if acknowledging her words. ‘Poli kala, Marc caught pneumonia when he was only a few days old.’ His voice was tight. ‘The doctors tried to save him, but he was too small, too premature. He didn’t stand a chance.’
Jane caught her breath. ‘Poor Ianthe,’ she said, finding she meant it.
‘Neh, poor Ianthe,’ echoed Demetri, though there was a distinct edge of bitterness to his tone. ‘She didn’t deserve that.’
‘No.’ Jane shook her head, reaching for her coffee again. She took a gulp, grateful for the rush of caffeine. ‘So now I suppose you two are planning on getting married at last.’ She tried to sound casual. ‘Your mother will be pleased.’
Demetri’s thin—yet oh, so sensual—lips curled into a scowl. ‘No,’ he told her harshly. ‘I was never interested in Ianthe, despite what you believed. I intend to marry Ariadne Pavlos. You may remember the Pavlos family. Ariadne and I have been friends since we were children. She has recently returned from an extended visit to the United States.’