Only even before he shook his head, she knew that it wouldn’t. That he already knew, and it didn’t matter.
And knowing that he knew, and that it hadn’t changed anything, gave her the strength to pull back and not leap unthinkingly with her eyes wide open.
It was over.
She couldn’t do what she suspected Harriet had done—just hope that this difficult, conflicted man would change over time, for her. Maybe she might have done before the accident, but not now. Not knowing what she did about the agony of loss.
It was just so hard to let it go—to let him go.
‘I don’t want your love. And I don’t want to hurt you. I want to be honest with you.’ He glanced away from her. ‘This...what we had...was amazing. You’re amazing.’
Had. There had been no moment of decision but already he was talking in the past tense, as if the choice had been made.
She stared at him in silence. ‘Just not amazing enough,’ she said slowly. She felt as if someone had punched her in the stomach, and her fingers curved protectively against the ache.
‘No, that’s not true.’ His eyes narrowed on her face. ‘This isn’t about you.’
She stared at him, her heart breaking. ‘You’re right. It is about us. And I think you’re not giving us a chance.’
Say something, she willed him. Ask me not to go to LA.
But a distance had opened between them now that seemed impossible to bridge and he said nothing.
Disbelief thudded inside her head.
After everything that had happened, surely it couldn’t end like this?
As the silence lengthened, grew weighty, she could bear it no more. ‘I don’t think there’s any point in me staying, so I’m going to go upstairs and pack. Can you call me a cab?’
‘I’ll take you to the station.’ His voice was hard and flat.
Turning, she walked back across the kitchen, stopping in the doorway. ‘You know, you saved me, Arlo—not just on the causeway, but here.’ She touched her head. ‘And here.’ She touched her heart. ‘You made me trust myself and I’ll always be grateful.’
Her heart was aching, as if it had been torn in two, but she was going to leave nothing unsaid.
‘I know that if anyone can save the world it’s you. But I just hope that one day you meet someone who can rescue you.’ She took a breath, pushing back against the pain of imagining that scenario. ‘Someone who can make you trust in love again...make you trust yourself. Someone who will make you see that love is a risk worth taking and that a life without risks that aren’t to do with cold and ice and danger is no life at all.’
There was nothing more to say. The weight of misery pressing against her heart was unbearable and, turning, she walked swiftly out of the room.
THE TRAIN BURST out of the tunnel with a rush of warm air and a high-pitched squeal of brakes that filled the platform at Covent Garden underground station.
Frankie joined the crowd of commuters and shoppers jostling one another into the carriage. There was nowhere to sit so she grabbed hold of a hanging strap, leaning her head wearily into the crook of her elbow. She felt exhausted, although there was no real reason why she should. She’d hardly left the flat since getting back to London.
In fact, today was the first day she’d actually bothered to change out of her pyjamas, and it was a shock seeing herself reflected in the grimy window. A lot of the time over the last three days she had felt as if she was slowly being erased.
As the train started to judder forward she mechanically tightened her grip, shrinking into her coat. Her shoulders tensed. Even the thought that she might accidentally be thrown against someone made her feel queasy.
It wasn’t personal.
Except it was.
She just couldn’t bear the idea of touching someone who wasn’t Arlo.
Or maybe it was the knowledge that she would never touch Arlo again that was making her feel so unsteady.
The train rumbled into the next station and she watched numbly as people got on and off, remembering those final few minutes they’d shared.