It had been almost a second-by-second replay of the first time he’d put her on a train. He had lifted her bag up onto the luggage rack and told her to have a good trip, and then turned and walked away.
Gazing at the window, she let her reflection blur. The difference was that Arlo hadn’t come back for her. She had sat in the empty carriage, waiting, hoping, praying... But two minutes later the train had pulled out of the station.
In many ways it had been unremarkable—just a train leaving a station. To her, though, it had been as if day had turned into night.
Her eyes burned. She hadn’t cried then. She still hadn’t cried. The tears were there, but for some reason they wouldn’t fall.
It was raining as she walked out of the tube station. It had been raining ever since she’d left Northumberland—a steady grey drizzle that made people hurry home.
Her throat tightened. It made no sense to think of the Hall as home, and yet it felt to her more like home than the flat.
Turning into the street where she lived, she plodded through the puddles uncaringly.
But, of course, home was where the heart was—and her heart was with Arlo...would always be with Arlo.
nbsp; Only he didn’t want her heart.
He couldn’t have made that any plainer, but it had taken her until this morning to finally accept that as one of the unchangeable, absolute truths that Arlo so loved.
Her heart contracted. How long was this going to last? Her every thought beginning and ending with Arlo?
Glancing up, she felt her breath catch. A tall man was standing by her front door, face lowered, shoulders hunched against the rain.
Her feet stuttered and then she was stumbling forward, breaking into a run, a trace of hope working its way through her blood, flaring into the light.
He turned, and disappointment punched her in the diaphragm. It wasn’t him.
‘Thank goodness. I was worried you’d already left.’
It was her neighbour Graham. Beside him was a huge cardboard box.
‘They tried to deliver this earlier, but you were out.’
She forced a smile. ‘That’s so kind of you, Gray, thank you.’
‘No worries. Do you need me to take it inside?’
‘No, it’s fine. Honestly.’
He looked relieved. ‘I’ll see you when you get back, then. Have a good time.’
Upstairs in the flat, she dried her hair with a towel and frowned at the box. It was probably just some designer, sending her stuff to promote.
But when she tore off the parcel tape and stared down at the suitcase a lump built in her throat. She replayed the moment on the causeway when the wheel on her old suitcase had broken, snapping the thought off before she got to the part where Arlo had scooped her into his arms.
Because, of course, Arlo had sent the parcel. He had a pile of exactly the same suitcases in his bedroom.
There was an envelope with her name written on the front, and heart pounding, she opened it. Inside was a plain correspondence card, and written in Arlo’s familiar slanting handwriting was a message.
The pain made breathing impossible. She curled over, clutching the card, and finally did what she had been unable to do for the last three days.