Walking home from the Law Courts after tendering her resignation, she glanced idly at a newsstand she was passing. To her astonishment, there was a big photograph of Zale on the front page of the Daily News. There was also a smaller inset photograph of a dark woman. Apprehensive, she bought a copy.
Underneath Zale’s photograph, the paper trumpeted the news that Zale’s grandfather was announcing with great pleasure the betrothal of his beloved grandson to Penelope Ekonomides. The wedding would take place immediately. There was some blurb about them being childhood sweethearts. Livia knew that to be untrue, but there were the two photographs, the announcement of the betrothal and the wedding.
A dry sob escaped her. She had implored Zale not to underestimate his grandfather, and now she was proved right. While she and Zale were talking, his demented grandfather was arranging to force this marriage on Zale and that woman.
Dear God, please help me…
Her cell phone burred, but she did not hear it. When she got home — or what she had thought of as home until now, she reflected — the telephone was ringing. It stopped; Nell must’ve picked up. Soon she heard the click of the connection being broken. Moments later, she heard Nell’s footsteps on the parquet floor, coming nearer, entering the living room, a telephone message slip in her hand. When she saw Livia, she started.
“Ms. Hamilton, I didn’t know you were home this early. I’m so sorry. I told Mr. Giannis you were still at work. He asks you to call him the moment you get in. If you are concerned about his grandfather, please don’t be. He said everything was under control. He would come back tomorrow instead of Wednesday if you wished. There was nothing for you to worry about.”
“I’ll call him in a moment, Nell. Thank you.”
Nell nodded politely, leaving the room.
Livia thought, Call Zale back, listen to him explain why he’s going along temporarily with his grandfather’s insane machinations? No way.
She went to her walk-in, packing her things, leaving the designer clothes and all the sexy lingerie Zale had bought for her.
Trying not to cry, she went to his library and put the Daily News on his desk, taking off her engagement ring and placing it on top of his front-page photograph.
She dug her cell phone out of her purse, punching in the number of her sister Hilary in Ocean Breeze, Florida.
Her brother-in-law. Holding on to the last shreds of control, Livia whispered, “Adrian? Is Hilary there?”
“No, honey, she’s at the supermarket. Anything I can do?”
Livia shrugged despondently. “Adrian, something dreadful has happened and I need to leave New York right this minute. Would you guys be willing to have me stay for a few days? Only until I find a job and a small apartment to live in?”
“Of course you’re welcome to stay with us as long as you want. Livia… You want to find a job here? Is something wrong between you and Zale?”
Unable to hold her tears back any longer, Livia sobbed, “Oh yes, Adrian, so very wrong. His grandfather has forced him to marry some Greek heiress.”
It was a measure of Adrian’s astonishment that he remained totally quiet for some time. At last he found his voice. “Are you sure, Livia? I seem to recall you telling us he detests that woman his grandfather is always trying to force on him. And Zale is a strong man. He doesn’t seem the type to give in cravenly to an old man’s mania.”
Livia tried to control her sobs. “That’s what I thought too, but the text underneath his photo was explicit. So I thought I’d start driving south right now.”
“Are you sure you’re not too upset to drive? Hilary could fly up and drive you back?” Adrian sounded deeply concerned for her.
Livia shook her head, realizing belatedly that Adrian could not see it. She assured him, “I’ll be fine once I get started, Adrian. Please don’t worry. You’ll see me in a few days, then. I promise to stop driving long before I’m too exhausted to see straight.”
“You better,” said Adrian. “I’m quite fond of my sis-in-law, you know. Please, drive carefully. I want you to arrive here in one piece.”
“I will… Bye.” Livia disconnected.
She dragged her wheeled suitcase and an overnight tote to the front door, locking it carefully behind her. She put the key in the envelope she had ready, sliding it underneath the door for Nell to find and place on Zale’s desk.
She went to the elevator. One of the bodyguards got up from the security desk to help her. “Can we drive you anywhere, Ms. Hamilton?”
She shook her head, trying for a casual attitude. “No, thank you – just some things I have to take to my sister’s.”
“Mr. Giannis would want one of us to go with you, Ma’am,” said the bodyguard. His name was Chris, she suddenly remembered.
“Thanks, Chris, but I think he just meant for you to guard the penthouse, and me when I’m in it. Mr. Giannis should be back in a few days.”
The elevator arrived, and Chris stepped back. “As you wish.”
“Thank you, Chris. You have an uneventful time.”
“That’s how we prefer things, Ma’am. Good bye.”
Livia stepped into the elevator. The doors closed. She leaned against the wall, dizzy and almost sick with unhappiness. Well, now she knew how a broken heart felt.
Zale – how could you do this to me… To us?
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