When Gregory arrived home close to eleven o’clock, he found Nicole by her daughter’s empty crib, sobbing her heart out. She whispered a broken-hearted, “Greg—”
Petra saw her chance. Speaking Greek, her voice sounding deeply saddened, she said, “Ye mou – my son, I wish I could’ve spared you this. Admittedly I never liked your wife; I thought she wasn’t good enough for you, and how right I was. I was worried the moment I saw Marissa, but your wife said she was fine, and went to her computer to write that filth.
“I sat beside my granddaughter’ s bed for hours and then became seriously concerned about her. I had to drag your wife away from her desk, made her realize how ill Marissa was. Forced her to call the doctor. By time he came, it was too late. The ambulance he called only served to take your daughter’s lifeless body away. That wicked, evil slut let your daughter die. I tried my best. Oh, my son—I am so desperately sorry about this.”
His face ashen, Gregory turned to Nicole. “Nini – is that true?” he whispered. Nicole, still clinging to her daughter’s crib, barely glanced up at him.
“Is what true?” she asked, her voice shaking. “Oh, Greg – I tried to call you on your cell-phone, but it was turned off. Philip came quickly. He tried everything—”
“Did you wait too long, as my mother said?”
“No, I called right away, but—”
“You were too busy writing to notice Marissa was dying?” In spite of his grief, Gregory’s voice was accusing, condemning.
“No, no, I wasn’t writing—” Nicole looked up from the crib. “Greg? Please—”
Petra positioned herself between Gregory and Nicole. In Greek, she said, her voice dripping compassionate concern, “My son, how my heart bleeds for what you’re forced to suffer now, because your selfish wife was too busy with her filthy book to care about your child. Surely you can’t trust her to be in your life any longer? Do the right thing and send her away now. A woman who will let her child die—”
Puzzled, Nicole tried to reach past Petra to Gregory, but the old woman was too strong and shoved Nicole roughly aside. She stumbled and fell. “Aha!” Petra screeched triumphantly. “While your daughter was dying, she was overdoing the wine. Calls herself a mother—”
Nicole got up and said, her voice shaking, “Greg, I haven’t had a single drop of wine. Of course not. I fell because your mother shoved me. Why would she—?” Gregory interrupted her coldly.
“My mother told me how my daughter came to die. You were too busy with your book to notice that she was seriously ill, and only called the doctor when my mother insisted. Please, go away. Out of my house. I can’t bear to look at you.”
Aghast, Nicole said, “Greg – that isn’t what happened. I wasn’t writing. You know I’m taking a sabbatical from writing. Your mother told me I was panicking and incompetent—”
“Incompetent. Yes. You let my daughter die. Leave me, Nicole.”
“Leave? No… Greg, I want us to go to Marissa – Philip told me where she is— Please?”
“Your concern comes a little late, Nicole. I know my mother doesn’t like you – but perhaps she had good reason for that. You let my daughter die.”
“Greg, I didn’t—Please, call Philip. He’ll tell you the facts.”
“Since you waited too long to call him, what could he tell me that my mother didn’t already tell me? For the last time, Nicole. Leave now.”
His handsome face ashen and expressionless, his eyes cold as an Arctic night, Gregory got to his feet and stared Nicole down.
Petra grabbed Nicole’s arm and dragged her from the room. “Get out, you poutana, and get out now. Here’s your purse. I’m sure it’s loaded with my son’s money and credit cards. You money-grabbing slut, that’s all women like you want – to marry a man for his money. Well, you won’t be married to my son for much longer, now that his eyes have at last been opened and shown him the lying bitch you are. Get out.” Petra dragged Nicole to the front door, gave her a rough shove and slammed the door behind her.
Desolate, Nicole walked on unsteady feet to the elevator. And I didn’t even get a chance to tell Greg that I’m pregnant with our second child.
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