"It's not the way you think. We've been separated for the last seven years. But now it's different. I'll contact with Helen and tell her I want a divorce and I want to marry you."
IT WAS A MONTH since the night with Andreas and in all time he never telephoned her or returned her calls. And tomorrow she was due to sail for Europe.
Anger carried her into his mahogany paneled office, his face went white when he saw her.
"I'll call you later, Helen." he said hastily and hung up.
"What the hell are you doing?" demanded Isabel.
A muscle twitched at the corner of his mouth and he would not meet her eyes. "Helen and I are patching up our marriage," he muttered. "This is the end between us, Isabel."
She couldn't believe it, wouldn't believe it. Her hand went protectively to her belly and she blurted out the truth, "I'm pregnant, Andreas!"
He rose from his seat, but in his eyes there was shock, concern, pity, but also a dogged refusal to budge.
Blinded by tears, Isabel drove her car away. There was a squeal of tyres, a jolting crash. And then a traffic accident happened.
THAT HAD BEEN NEARLY FIVE YEARS AGO. Five years of heartache and struggle. If she hadn't been so weak form the accident and so upset by Andreas' betrayal, she would never agree her mother's decision. But in the end she had given in and Serge had arranged the adoption through a private agency. She wept the day they took her baby daughter away but, after that, she flung herself obsessively into her career. After all, that was her heart's desire, wasn't it?
And now here she came back, after four years' study with the finest musicians in Europe. The newspaper said her homecoming concert was a "triumphant masterpiece", but Isabel felt the triumphant was like ashes in her mouth. "I wish——" she said bitterly. "Oh, what's the use?"
Moodily, she began to flick through the rest of the newspaper. Then an item leapt out at her. "Reclusive publisher Andreas Korda made a rare public appearance on April 8 to celebrate the birthday of his adopted daughter Sarah."
"Serge?" she grabbed the phone and demanded fiercely. "Who adopted my daughter?"
The house was just the way. Isabel's stomach was churning as she rang the doorbell. "I must see my daughter." She thought. The door swung open. "Andreas!"
She was shocked by the change in him. His temples were threaded with silver and there were lines around his eyes.
She stared at him in shock and, as their eyes met, a current of the old awareness passed between them. Andreas gripped her shoulder. "It's time you had an explanation. I didn't betray you, the way you thought. After we made love I went to Helen's apartment and told her I wanted a divorce, but she flew into a rage. We were still quarrelling as I left and she ran after me to scream abuse, but she lost her footing and fell down the stairs. I didn't manage to catch her and she broke her back and was paralyzed. I felt it was my fault and I vowed that I'd stay and take care of her. Which I did until she died. Helen died three months ago." He said.
"Why didn't you tell me?" breathed Isabel.
"I didn't think I'd have the strength to stay with Helen, if you knew how much I still loved you."
"And my baby? Why did you adopt her?"
"Because she was mine, too, and she would be such a precious reminder of you."
His words were curt, but there was no mistaking the depth of his feelings. Isabel felt an unwilling stir of pity.
"Why didn't you contact with me when Helen died?"
"I thought you'd be happier without me. Serge told me the only thing you cared about was your career."
"The only thing Serge cared about is my career! I don't take orders from him. You should have asked me."
Andreas suddenly stepped closer to her and there was a new light in his eyes. For the second time in her life, he cupped her face in his hands. "Isabel," he said hoarsely. "Is it too late for us?"
She looked at him and her heart beat faster, "No, Andreas," she whispered. "It is never too late for love."