Except, of course, he hadn’t cried.
Maybe if he had he might not have married her.
But he’d been young, and the impulsive flamboyance of marrying someone he barely knew had seemed like both the right way to honour his parents’ love and a chance to give Johnny some kind of normality and stability.
But his marriage had been over before it had started, its only purpose seemingly to confirm what he’d already known. That love required a blind, unquestioning faith he’d lost.
His stomach tensed. Maybe it was no bad thing to remind himself of that—especially after last night. He wasn’t made of stone or ice. Even if they hadn’t been sleeping together, he cared about Frankie, and her story had broken his heart.
Not that there was any real risk to his heart. This was only about sex. Anything else was just a completely understandable impulse to look after someone who needed help.
He stared at the indentation in the pillow, where Frankie’s head had been. Last night, after she’d fallen asleep, he’d looked up her family’s accident on the internet, and the photos he’d found had left him feeling nauseous. There had been wreckage everywhere. A wing had been torn off and the plane looked as if it had been twisted like a wet cloth.
His chest tightened. Those pictures would stay with him for a long time. But not as long as that look on her face when she’d told him about the crash.
She had seemed so small and young and lost.
A dull ache spread out slowly inside him like spilt wine. He knew how that felt. Even now he could still remember it: the months spent watching his mother shrink in on herself, and then the years after her death, when his father had stopped being the huge, exuberant bear-like man of his childhood and became instead a child...a lonely, angry child who locked himself away with his pain.
But he was lucky. He’d had Johnny, and his family had always been there when he’d let them.
Speaking of family...
He shifted up the bed and, opening his bedside cabinet, pulled out an envelope. Inside was an invitation to his cousin Davey’s tenth wedding anniversary party. And a request for him to say a few words.
He wasn’t planning on going. He’d already hinted as much, pleading work, and by rights he wouldn’t have even been in England if there hadn’t been that problem with the plane, so...
He felt a stab of guilt. Davey wouldn’t make a fuss about it, but he knew his cousin would be disappointed. But not surprised. And that made him feel even more guilty. Not that he was going to do anything about it. Much as he loved his family, he didn’t do the big family events. They were just so full of an energy and emotion he couldn’t handle.
Davey would understand. He’d call him and let him know...
The shower had stopped and, tossing the invitation to the top of the cabinet, he rolled on his back as Frankie wandered into the bedroom and instantly he forgot all about his cousin and the party.
Her hair was tied into some kind of bun thing, and she had a towel tied over her breasts so that her shoulders were bare. Staring over at her pale, damp skin, he felt his fingers itch to tug the towel loose.
‘Nice shower?’ he said softly.
She nodded. ‘The best. Honestly, the water here is amazing. It’s so hot and it’s literally never-ending.’
Smiling, he reached for her hand and pulled her towards the bed. ‘We use hydropower.’
‘You mean like waves?’
‘Sort of,’ he said, pulling her onto his lap. ‘There are caves under the island. When the sea floods them, we use three Archimedes screws to capture the energy of the flow, like a kind of reverse positive displacement... What? What is it?’
Frankie was staring at him, her expression soft, almost hazy.
‘Nothing. I just—’
She steadied herself against his shoulders and he felt his body harden as her fingers splayed over his skin.
‘Is there anything you don’t know?’ she asked.
Lots of things, he thought. Like how she could look so beautiful with shadows under her eyes.
Or how she had walked away from that crash alive.
Pushing that thought away, he looked into her eyes. ‘Plenty, but if the subject interests me enough I make it my business to find out everything there is to know.’