“I’ve lost everything, son.” His Greek father, usually so distant and gruff, had sounded lost, bewildered. “I just got a certified letter. It says all my life savings—everything I invested with Mr. Spencer—it’s all gone.”
Darius had been busy working in his first rented office, a windowless Manhattan basement. He’d only gotten three hours of sleep the night before. It was the first time the two men had talked in months, since Letty had dumped him and caused Eugenios to be fired and tossed from Fairholme. Just hearing his voice that day had reminded Darius of everything he was trying so hard to forget. A lifetime of resentment had exploded.
“I guess that pays you back for all your loyalty to Spencer, huh, Dad? All those years when you put him first, even over your own family.”
Darius had been so young, so self-righteous. It made him feel sick now to remember it.
“That was my job.” His father’s voice had trembled. “I wanted to make sure I never lost a job again. Never felt again like I did that awful day we found you on the doorstep...”
The awful day they found him? Darius’s hurt and anger blocked out the rest of his father’s words as Eugenios continued feebly, “I had no money. No job. I couldn’t let my family starve. You don’t know what that does to a man, to have nothing...”
It was the most his father had ever spoken to him. And Darius’s cold reply had haunted him ever since.
“So you had nothing then, huh, Dad? Well, guess what? You have nothing now. You ignored me my whole childhood for nothing. You have nothing. You are nothing.”
He’d hung up the phone.
An hour later, his father had quietly died of a heart attack in his Queens apartment, sinking to his kitchen floor, where he was found later by a neighbor.
Darius’s hands tightened to fists against the window.
His father had never been demonstrative. In Darius’s childhood, there had been no hugs and very little praise. Even the attention of criticism was rare.
But Darius and his grandmother hadn’t starved. Eugenios had provided for them. He’d taught his work ethic by example. He’d worked hard, trying to give his son a better life.
And after all his years of stoically supporting them, after he’d lost his job and money, Darius had scorned him.
Remembering it now, he felt agonizing shame.
He hadn’t wanted to remember the last words he’d spoken to his proud Greek father. So instead he’d sought vengeance on Howard Spencer, carefully blaming him alone.
Darius had thought if he never loved anyone, he’d never feel pain; and if he was rich, he’d be happy.
Look at me now, he thought bitterly, surveying the elegant penthouse. Surrounded by money. And never more alone.
He missed Letty.
Craved her desperately.
He loved her.
Darius looked up in shock.
He’d never stopped loving her.
All these years, he’d tried to pretend he didn’t. Tried to control her, to possess her, to pretend he didn’t care. He’d hidden his love away like a coward, afraid of the pain and shame of possible loss, while Letty let her love shine for all the world to see.
He’d thought Letty weak? He took a shuddering breath. She was the strongest person he knew. She’d offered him loyalty, kindness, self-sacrifice. She’d offered him every bit of her heart and soul. And in return, he’d offered her money.
Darius clawed back his hair. She was right. He’d tried to buy her. But money didn’t make the man.
Darius loved her. He was completely, wildly in love with Letty. He wanted to be her husband. To live with her. To raise their baby. To be happy. To be home.
His eyes narrowed.
But how? How could he show her he had more to offer? How could he convince her to forgive him?