PHOEBE WATCHED JIM’S boat as it grew smaller and smaller and felt sicker now than at any point in her journey to Alex’s island. And that was despite the turbulent flight and the even choppier boat ride.
Her stomach was churning and adrenalin pounded through her veins. With her nerves rocketing, Phoebe turned and stared up at the house. Her heart thumped. Alex was in there. Her future happiness was in there. Hopefully.
But what sort of mood would she find him in? Would he be pleased to see her? Or horrified? Would he even be prepared to listen to her when she’d so recklessly pushed him away?
Doubts began to assail her from all sides. Maybe she should have called Maggie and established that Alex was in fact on the island. Maybe she should have waited until he got back to London, as he surely would have had to have done at some point.
Oh God. She hadn’t weighed up the pros and cons of this course of action at all. She’d never acted so rashly. But then she’d never needed to.
Phoebe swallowed back the nerves and told herself that a faint heart had never achieved anything.
The spatter of great fat raindrops galvanised her into action. She hauled her bag onto her shoulder and raced up the steps to the house. She reached the front door just as the heavens opened.
Her heart thundered with anticipation and exertion. She was so close. Just a few more minutes and she’d know her fate one way or another.
She turned the handle and pulled, but nothing happened. She tried again, rattling it back and forth, but it was locked. Panic swept through her. She bashed on the door with her fist and shouted Alex’s name. But there was no answer and no sound of footsteps striding towards the door.
Alex wasn’t there. So where was he? Where was he? Could she have got it wrong? Was he in fact back in London? In the arms of another woman, one who wouldn’t blow hot and cold and push him away. Her heart clenched. No, she wouldn’t believe that. Alex wouldn’t do that. Not if he loved her.
But supposing she’d read too much into that photo? Fancied she’d seen something that didn’t exist simply because that was what she wanted to see? Or what if he had felt something for her but as she’d rejected him had decided that that was that and had moved on?
Wind lashed at the palm trees. The rain turned torrential and plastered her clothes to her body. Phoebe shivered and rubbed her arms. Her knees shook. Her heart twisted. No. She wouldn’t let that happen. If that was the case, she’d just have to do everything in her power to get him to love her again. She was not going to fail.
She cupped her hands to the glass to see if there were any signs he’d been there. But she could see nothing except the blurred outline of the Jeep on the other side of the house.
Phoebe’s heart leapt with encouragement. Alex was here. Somewhere. And it was up to her to find him.
Thunder crackled above her and lightning sliced through the sky. She dropped her bag and raced across the terrace. She tore along the paths, searching desperately, hoping wildly, not caring that rain sluiced over her, drenching her clothes, her skin, her hair. She stumbled to the top of the steps that led down to the sea and frantically scoured the beach. She looked for him until her body ached inside and out. But with every passing minute, hope faded.
Because there was no sign of him.
Wherever he was, Alex didn’t want to be found.
As the realisation dawned Phoebe’s energy drained and her heart broke. Utterly defeated and exhausted, she felt a flood of emotion crash over her. Despair, misery, hopelessness all piled in on top of each other and she knew she’d never felt pain like it. Tears mingled with the rain and she dashed them away with the backs of her hands.
She’d been so sure she’d find him. So sure she’d be able to fix the mess she’d made of things. And the knowledge that she’d failed was agonising.
The dark stormy grey of the huge waves rolling towards the shore reminded her of Alex’s eyes the last time she’d seen him, and as memories cascaded into her head she felt yet more misery well up inside her.
Oh, God, would it ever end?
She felt as weak and vulnerable as a little boat being battered by the waves, completely at the mercy of something far too powerful to comprehend.
And then her heart skipped a beat.
She snapped her gaze to the jetty.
Alex’s yacht was gone.
She’d been in such a state when she’d got off Jim’s boat that she hadn’t noticed, but it wasn’t there.
Hope flared in her chest. And then her heart began to pound. He must be out there. Somewhere in the vastness of the ocean. In the middle of this raging storm.
Fear clutched at her breast and obliterated the relief. What if something happened to him? He was out there because of her. She started to shake as pure terror began to flood through her. She hadn’t even told him she loved him.
Phoebe tore down the steps and charged onto the jetty. She scanned the sea, but the visibility was getting worse and she could see nothing but great mountains of water.