Finn's Pregnant BrideBy: Sharon Kendrick
AT FIRST, Catherine didn’t notice the shadowy figure sitting there. She was too busy smiling at the waiter with her practised I-am-having-a-wonderful-holiday smile, instead of letting her face fall into the crestfallen lines which might have given away the fact that her boyfriend had fallen in love with another woman.
The sultry night air warmed her skin like thick Greek honey.
‘Kalispera, Dhespinis Walker,’ said the waiter, his face lighting up when he saw her. ‘Good day?’
‘Mmm!’ she enthused. ‘I took the boat trip out to all the different coves, as you recommended!’
‘My brother—he look after you?’ questioned Nico anxiously.
‘Oh, yes—he looked after me very well.’ In fact, Nico’s brother had tried to take more than a professional interest in ensuring that she enjoyed the magnificent sights, and Catherine had spent most of the boat-trip sitting as far away from the tiller as possible!
‘My usual table, is it?’ she enquired with a smile, because Nico had gone out of his way to give her the best table every evening—the faraway one, which looked out to sea.
But Nico was frowning. ‘Tonight it is difficult, dhespinis. The table is already taken. For tonight the man from Irlandia is here.’
Some odd quality changed the tone of his voice as he spoke. Catherine heard reverence. Respect. And something else which sounded awfully like a grudging kind of envy. She looked at him with a lack of comprehension. The man from where? ‘Irlandia?’ she repeated.
‘Ire-land,’ he translated carefully, after a moment’s thought. ‘He arrive this afternoon and he take your table for dinner.’
It was ridiculous to feel so disappointed, but that was exactly the way she did feel. Funny how quickly you established little routines on holiday. Night after night Catherine had sat at the very end of the narrow wooden deck which made up the floor of the restaurant, so close to the sea that you felt as if you were almost floating over it.
You could look down over the railing and watch the slick black waters below as they licked against the supporting struts. And the moon would spill its shimmering silver light all across the surface—its beauty so intense that for a while Catherine was able to forget all about England, forget Peter and the always busy job which awaited her.
‘Can he do that?’ she pleaded. ‘Tomorrow is my last day.’
Nico shrugged. ‘He can do anything. He is good friend of Kirios Kollitsis.’
Kirios Kollitsis. The island’s very own septuagenarian tycoon—who owned not only the three hotels, but half the shops in the village, too.
Catherine strained her eyes to see a dark figure sitting in her chair. They said that you could judge a woman by her face and a man by his body, and, though she couldn’t see much in this light, it was easy enough to tell from the taut and muscular definition of a powerful frame that this man was considerably younger than Kirios Kollitsis. By about four decades, she judged.
‘I can give you next table,’ said Nico placatingly. ‘Is still lovely view.’
She smiled, telling herself it wasn’t his fault. Silly to cling onto a routine—even a temporary one—just because her world had shattered into one she no longer recognised. Just because Peter had gone and found the ‘love of his life’ almost overnight, leaving Catherine wondering wryly what that said about their relationship of almost three years standing. ‘That would be lovely. Thanks, Nico.’
Finn Delaney had been slowly sipping from a glass of ouzo and gazing out at the sunset, feeling some of the coiled tension begin to seep from his body. He had just pulled off the biggest deal in a life composed of making big deals. It had been fraught and tight and nail-biting, but—as usual—he had achieved what he had set out to do.
But for the first time in his life the success seemed empty. Another million in the bank, true—but even that seemed curiously hollow.
The ink had barely dried on the contract before he had driven on impulse to the airport and taken the first flight out to the beautiful empty Greek island he knew so well. His secretary had raised her eyebrows when he’d told her.