Baby Out of the Blue(3)

By: Anne Mather

‘Now, is that any way to treat your mother?’ But Mrs Lang seemed to realise it was time to back off. ‘Tonight will be fine, darling,’ she said serenely. ‘Shall we say seven o’clock? Or is that too early for you?’

‘Seven’s OK.’ Jane’s tone was flat. ‘Thanks, Mum. I’ll see you then.’

It was a relief to hang up the receiver and, when the phone rang again before she could move away, she snatched it up with a definite edge to her voice. But it was only a cold call, asking her if she was interested in buying a new kitchen, and she slammed it down with a definite feeling of exploitation.

Of course, she realised belatedly, it could have been Demetri, but she didn’t think that was likely. Demetri was no doubt in London on business and he’d have no time to think about his estranged wife if he had meetings to attend. She would come fairly low on his agenda. As she’d always done, she thought bitterly. Judging by his tone of voice, she had no reason to think he’d changed.

Sighing, she abandoned any idea of unpacking until later and trailed into the bathroom to take a quick shower. She looked exhausted, she thought, tucking strands of honey-blonde hair back behind her ears. Gazing into the mirror, she wondered how much she’d changed in the last five years. There were tiny lines fanning out from the corners of her eyes, but her skin was still smooth in other places. Of course, she’d gained a couple of inches around her hips, which was annoying, but her breasts were firm even if they’d filled out, too.

Oh, well, who cares? she thought, too tired to even dry herself properly after her shower. Twisting her still damp hair into a loose knot on top of her head, she tumbled naked between the sheets. And not even her worries about why Demetri might want to see her could keep her eyes open.

The phone awakened her. At least, she thought it was the phone, but when she groped for the extension beside the bed the ringing still went on. It was the doorbell, she realised. Someone wanted access to one of the apartments and was probably ringing every bell in the building until they got lucky.

Sighing, she flopped back against the pillows and looked at the clock on the bedside cabinet. It was almost noon. She’d slept for less than four hours, but that was something, she supposed. Amazingly, she didn’t feel as tired as she’d done when she flew east. Coping with jet lag was always easier in this direction.

The bell rang again and, throwing back the covers, Jane slipped her arms into the sleeves of a green silk wrapper. Then, padding across the living room to the intercom, she lifted the handset. ‘Yes?’

‘Jane?’ It was Demetri, and her stomach made a sickening dive. ‘Jane, I know it’s you. Hristo, will you open the door?’

Jane didn’t move. She couldn’t. She felt frozen. The faint sense of disorientation she’d felt when she’d first woken up seemed to be paralysing her ability to speak. It was too soon, she thought. She needed time to pull herself together. If she’d ever considered encountering her estranged husband again, she’d assumed it would be on her terms, not his.

‘Jane!’ She heard him swear in his own language. ‘Jane, I know you’re in there. Your mother was kind enough to tell me you’d be home today.’ His voice was becoming more impatient. ‘Come on, open the door. Do you want me to be arrested for soliciting or some such thing?’

Anyone less likely to allow himself to be arrested for soliciting Jane could hardly imagine. Demetri Souvakis was far too sure of himself for that. Besides which, that was just an excuse to get her to press the release button. Her fellow flatmates were evidently out at work—or shopping in the case of Mrs Dalla-day—and she was his only means of access.

‘I’m not even dressed yet, Demetri,’ she blurted at last, aware that her voice had a breathy sound to it. It was all she could think of to say, but it wasn’t enough.

‘Aghapita, seeing you naked is nothing new to me,’ he reminded her drily. ‘Come. I’ve been trying to reach you for the better part of a week. We can’t all spend half the day in bed.’

That got her juices flowing again. ‘I’ve just flown over six thousand miles, Demetri,’ she told him tartly. ‘And if I remember correctly, you don’t do jet lag very well yourself.’