Font Size:  

‘I’m very pleased to hear it.’

‘I just want to make room in my life for other things.’ How strange it felt to be walking up the stairs with Tino discussing her future like this as if they were two strangers whose paths had briefly crossed.

‘Here we are,’ he said, opening the door to her suite. ‘Just show me where the suitcase is, and I’ll take it down for you.’

Lisa stood transfixed on the threshold of the room. Then, walking past him, she turned full circle. ‘What are these?’

‘Flowers,’ Tino said dryly. ‘Remember? You said that flowers would be special. Don’t you like them?’

‘I don’t know what to say.’ Every surface in the room was covered in the most beautiful floral arrangements Lisa had ever seen. She wanted to believe they were for her, but she knew they couldn’t be. And then she remembered. ‘Of course, it’s May Day.’ She turned, and gave Tino a quick smile, remembering that this scene would be reproduced in every household on the island. For a moment she had imagined—Lisa shuddered, realising how close she had come to making the most terrible fool of herself. ‘I’m sorry, Tino. I shouldn’t be keeping you waiting like this. My suitcase is over there behind that chair.’ She saw the shadow flit across his face. In these days of equality, of course, she shouldn’t expect him to carry it for her. She should take it down herself. ‘The flowers are really beautiful,’ she said, when he didn’t move. ‘You have some wonderful traditions on the island.’

‘Yes, we do.’

His voice was expressionless, and then she noticed that his eyes were the only part of him that did show emotion— and the look in them frightened her.

As the moment stretched on Lisa knew that she was only making things worse with her indecisiveness. What on earth was she waiting for, anyway? ‘I expect my taxi will have arrived by now.’ Walking past Tino, she grabbed hold of the suitcase and started for the door. Her foot had barely touched the landing when he yanked her back inside the room again.

‘What do you think you are doing?’ Lisa stared angrily at his hand on her arm. ‘What’s wrong with you, Tino?’

‘What’s wrong with me?’ He slammed the door. ‘This is the matter.’ His furious stare embraced the room.

‘The flowers?’ Lisa said uncertainly, putting down her case.

‘Yes! The flowers! What the hell else could I be referring to?’

‘I’ve already said how nice they are—’

‘Nice?’ He looked away as if he needed time to compose himself, and then, staring towards the heavens, he cursed in Greek.

The fact that she had made a terrible mistake didn’t come to Lisa like a thunderbolt, it was a long-drawn-out torture that dripped ice through her veins until finally it reached her heart: the flowers were for her… Of course they were for her! She had schooled herself always to think the worst of people. Any normal woman would have seen that immediately, the moment Tino had opened the door—the moment she’d stepped over the threshold, the moment she’d seen what he had done for her. ‘Tino.’ Lisa found that her throat had dried to the point where she could hardly make herself heard. ‘I’m so sorry, I didn’t realise… and they’re so beautiful.’

‘I thought this was what you wanted.’ He stopped and passed a hand over his eyes as if he wanted to blot out the moment when he had decided to lay his heart at her feet so she could trample on it.

‘I’m so ashamed… I thought—’

He whirled around to confront her. ‘You should be ashamed. You’re just like all the rest. You tell me that you don’t want jewels—that flowers are what touch you the most… but when I give you flowers you are disappointed and you treat my gift with contempt.’

‘Tino, please—listen to me.’ Taking hold of his arm, Lisa flinched as he pulled away.

‘We’d better not keep your taxi waiting.’ He didn’t look at her. ‘If your pilot misses his slot you won’t be able to leave the island tonight.’