They hadn’t discussed it. Emma didn’t know what to think about that. In one way, it was weird. She’d been sitting in the shower, bawling her eyes out over her first husband in the arms of her current boyfriend, and they had yet to even mention it between themselves. And at the same time, she was grateful. Can was giving her space to deal and come to terms with her emotions.
But he was acting differently. He was too…mellow. She shouldn’t complain. She had distinctly told him many times to stop being so intense and wanting too much too soon. And she had gotten her wish. There was no pressure coming from him. It was now two days after the shower incident and her talk with Veronica. And he hadn’t asked a single question.
He’d been loving, smiling, and gentle with her but at the same time unobtrusive. She hadn’t seen his hands flying around in forty-eight hours. It was making her feel a little…insecure. Maybe after over a year, two courtships of the same woman, he had decided to stop running after her. Stop chasing her, and just be content with what he got. And that was what she had asked for, wasn’t it?
But she didn’t like it. She wanted her overwhelming, crazy, intense guy back. But for some reason he seemed to need the peace and quiet, so she hadn’t wanted to open up the can of worms and discuss anything. She waited for him to bring it up, but he didn’t.
They were in the car on their way back to Istanbul. Emma had called Mr. Langham the same day as her breakdown or whatever you called it. After she had calmed down and thought about things, she wanted to talk to him. See what he had to say. But he had refused to discuss anything over the phone. The minute she had said, I know you lied. He had asked her to stop talking and wanted to meet her face to face.
Maybe he was paranoid that she was recording him or something. She told him she couldn’t do a face to face meeting because she was in Turkey. So, they would have to talk on the phone. Again, he refused. And she refused to come back to London. After that stalemate, Emma told him he would be hearing from her lawyer instead. That’s when he’d offered to come to Istanbul.
They were meeting at the Pera Palace in two hours.
She had fully intended to break the news of this to Can gently and in a very reassuring way. It hadn’t been necessary. As soon as she had told him, Mr. Langham wanted to see her face to face. He had calmly asked her if she intended to head back to London early. That was it: no outrage, no incrimination, no hand gestures.
When she explained that no. She had refused to fly back early. There was a small smile, but nothing else. He just calmly said it would probably be best if they left the beach house and went back to the city. That would be easier for her.
He could at least act as if he was sad to be leaving the place where they had reconnected and fell in love. That was his job for fuck sake. Acting. She couldn’t figure out what he was doing.
They’d been in the car for almost two hours, and he had yet to even ask what she was going to say to Mr. Langham. For a man that was so eager for her to give up everything, he should at least be interested in asking if she’d made any plans for the meeting, what she was going to say. But no. She was about to give up everything for a man that just sat there with a fucking serene smile on his face like there was no problem in the world. It was starting to piss her off.
Can was starting to feel his temper rise. But he would push it down and swallow it. For the past two days, he had done everything he could to keep his own raging emotions under control.
Emma had enough to deal with.
He hadn’t told her he heard her conversation with Veronica. And they hadn’t discussed her crying in the shower. He had not raised his voice or showed her his agitation when he thought she would be leaving for London. Or his nervousness and insecurities at what the hell she would say at this meeting. But no matter how calm he had been, how much space he had given her. He sensed it wasn’t enough.
She was irritated, probably nervous about today.
So was he, but he hadn’t wanted to push or ask. He didn’t want her to be influenced by how he was feeling and what he wanted anymore. He wanted her to make the choice that was best for her. But she had remained silent. So, he had no fucking clue how this would go today. But he was planning for the worst-case scenario. And that was, that she would tell this Mr. Langham guy, to go fuck himself and keep the café. That meant having her in London. And if that happened. He would go with her.
He had already told Ali to turn down the role he had been planning on taking.
Even if they ended up leaving, he would keep his two homes here. That he had already decided. But they would find a new home in London and make their base there. It wasn’t what he wanted or what he’d planned for, but he would do it. For her? He would move.
It was no less than he was asking of her. And if she wasn’t in a place to do so. He was. He didn’t care, as long as he got to be with her. Life without Emma was no life at all. He could get through anything, change any plans, his career. As long as he had her.
They were pulling up to the hotel. And when the car stopped, she looked at Can, he was looking at her too. There were so many things to say. She could tell he felt the same. But they didn’t have the time now. She should have spoken to him on the car ride here. He opened his mouth first.
‘Call me when you’re done.’
‘I will. But I wrote down the address to the house. Don’t wait around. I can just as easily take a cab.’
She leaned over and gave him a kiss on the cheek and then opened the door to jump down. He grabbed her hand, and she looked back at him.
‘No matter what. Everything will be fine.’
She couldn’t say anything. He looked so sombre, loving, and sincere; she almost got a little choked up. What had she done to deserve such a wonderful man? A second chance at love?’
She just nodded and then jumped out of the car. He was right. Everything would be fine. But she had one thing to take care of before she could start her new life. She had to sort out her previous one.
She was twenty minutes early, but she saw Mr. Langham sitting in the lobby waiting for her when she came in. He stood up and extended his hand to her.
A part of her didn’t want to take it. But she did.
‘Emma. It’s nice to see you again. You’re looking well.’
‘Can’t say the same. But thanks.’
She noticed by the look in his eyes that he understood this would not be a friendly meeting. She was angry and did nothing to conceal it.
‘I have booked one of the conference rooms for us. I thought it would give us some privacy.’
‘I don’t need privacy. I have nothing to hide.’
He extended his hand towards the elevators.
‘Please, Emma. I know I’ve behaved badly. But let’s discuss this privately.’
She followed him silently. And when they reached the room, she walked through the door he was holding for her and took a seat by the large table. He sat down in the chair on the opposite side. She just kept looking at him, waiting for him to take the first step.
‘I have come to realise you now remember our conversation last year. And that I may have been a little confused. My memory of that call is a little hazy being that it was a long time ago.’
He thought she remembered. She hadn’t had a chance to say anything other than calling him a liar on the phone. So, he didn’t know she knew because she had her own witness. And she wouldn’t explain it to him.
‘May have been? A little hazy? Does your witness suffer from the same confusion?’
‘Yes. We have now had a chance to re-examine our memory of that call. And we understand we are at fault. So, of course, I’ve instructed my lawyer to drop the lawsuit.’
‘Generous of you.’
She looked at him, really looked.
‘You’re not even sorry, are you?’
‘Emma, of course, I deeply regret all this confusion.’
‘Bullshit. It’s not confusion. You flat out lied. And you’re not sorry one bit. It’s written all over your face. You took advantage of me when I couldn’t remember what the hell I’d done. Did you even think for a minute what that would be like for me?’
‘I’ve wanted that building for many years.’
‘And that makes your deception ok?’
‘It’s business. It’s not personal.’
’It’s personal to me.’
‘I’ve come to understand that. I am willing to honour the first agreement we made about a two-year lease. With the understanding that I’m going to want to extend after that period is up.’
‘You have some fucking nerve. You’re willing to honour the deal. I can see you remember it very well all of a sudden. What makes you think I’m willing to deal with you at all after this?’
That’s when the old man blew.
‘Come the fuck on. I know I used some underhanded tactics. But that location had been in my planning for many years. Even before it came into the hands of your former husband. I need that fucking building. And I’ve been coming up against a solid brick wall in terms of buying it for over twenty years. Can you really blame me for taking the chance when the opportunity arose to get something I’ve been coveting for decades?’
Seeing him lose his temper made Emma view him in a different light. It made him more human. He had always come off so slick and composed. But he wasn’t. He was just like everyone else. Human. And humans made mistakes. But by God, she was going to make him pay for his.
‘I’m not interested in leasing anymore. I’m selling it. The question is to whom.’
‘I will pay you more than anyone else.’
‘Oh, I know you will. It’s the only reason I’m still sitting in this room with you.’
‘So, what’s it going to take?’
‘Your offer of two hundred and forty thousand pounds was fair. Not that I think you did that out of the goodness of your heart. Your lawyer probably told you that if you went a cent under the current market price, people would start asking questions. And you didn’t want that. Did you?’
She saw him opening his mouth to respond, but she put her hand out.
‘No. No need to answer. It was a rhetorical question. My price for you is double.’
‘You heard me. Two hundred and forty thousand pounds to me for the building. And a one-time payment of one hundred and twenty thousand pounds each to Amelia Clark and Greg Deacon.’
‘Who are they?’
‘They work with me.’
‘This is extortion.’
‘Yes. It is. If you don’t agree, that’s fine. I might sell it to someone else. Or better yet, keep it. My children can inherit it.’
She saw his face get a little pale by the mere thought of her keeping it for future generations.
‘Fine. I’ll pay your price. And in return, you will sign a nondisclosure when it comes to our dealings with each other. You will never in public, breathe a word of any misgivings when it comes to me.’
She could do that. She was going to close this chapter of her life. And if she was lucky, she would never lay eyes on this man again.
Can was sitting outside drinking a whiskey. It was still early, but his frayed nerves did not need another cup of coffee. He needed something calming, stronger. She was taking long. His phone was by his side, on loud. And he still checked it every two minutes to see he hadn’t missed a call.
He was a fucking nervous wreck.
He enjoyed the peace and quiet though. The tranquillity of his backyard, the trickling sound from the pool felt soothing today, not irritating. He’d had so many plans for this house. He supposed you didn’t appreciate what you had until you lost it. And that’s what had happened in Can’s mind. The decision had already been made.
They would not be living here. Building a life here. They would leave.
And he would give all this up for a bustling city. Maybe he got lucky and found something similar to this in London. You never knew. Probably not the pool, though. Why would you need one in a country famous for its bad weather?
And why the fuck had she not called? It had been three hours. There is no way that the meeting would go this long.
But he was turning a new leaf. He would no longer be the needy, overprotective bastard who called to check in every time he didn’t know where she was.
She would call when she was ready. And all he could do was wait. And wait and wait some more.
By the time it had been four hours. Can couldn’t take it anymore. He needed to get out of this fucking house. Or he would explode. Passive and unobtrusive was not part of his make-up. Not when it came to Emma. He had given it his best shot for forty-eight hours. He could do no more. He started towards the front door.
And when he was a few meters away from it, it opened and there she was. Smiling at him.
‘Hey. Are you going anywhere?’
That smile was the last straw for what had been a very trying few days. He exploded.
‘Where have you been? I’ve been sitting here waiting for your call for hours on end. You were supposed to call me when you were done, so I could come and pick you up.’
‘I’m sorry. I took a walk afterwards. To collect my thoughts.’
She took a walk. She took a fucking walk. He went up to her and pulled her close, seizing her mouth in a punishing kiss.
She just grabbed him back to her, murmuring a short.
Emma snuggled closer to Can. They finally made it to bed. There was something to be said for having a tall, muscular man carrying you to bed like you weighed nothing more than a feather. They had both needed the closeness of the last hour. But now it was time to talk. And she couldn’t think of a better time and place than here and now.
‘I’m glad to have my Can back.’
‘What do you mean?’
She turned her head to look at him.
‘You’ve been different in the past few days. I can’t tell you how happy I was to see your flailing hands earlier. I was beginning to think you’d gone for good.’
She felt him move, and all of a sudden, she found herself flat on her back. Can over her, looking at her with serious eyes.
‘I’ve been trying to be calm and cool and collected. To be supportive and not demanding.’
‘I heard you talking with Veronica a couple of days ago and realised what a selfish ass I’ve been. I knew you struggled with us, but I didn’t realize it was quite to that extent.’
‘Oh. I didn’t know you heard anything. You didn’t say.’
‘I didn’t want to bring it up, I figured you would talk to me if you wanted to. I just wanted to be there for you. Help you. But I didn’t know how to do that. So, I decided to just try and reign myself in. Not be so…much.’
‘Can, I love you just the way you are. I know I sometimes get a little overwhelmed. But that doesn’t mean I want or need you to change into something you’re not. I feel in love with you. Not some watered-down version of you.’
‘I realized I was asking you to give up everything. And that wasn’t fair. And I want you to know that I understand if you don’t want to sell the building, ever. Or close the business for that matter. And I’ve come to realize, I don’t care anymore. All I want is to be with you.’
‘Can. I- ’
‘No. Wait, this is important. While you have been thinking about what you should do, in the past few days. I’ve been thinking as well. And I choose you. I’ve told Ali, I’m bowing out of the series. If you want to go to London and actually run your business. I’m coming with you. We’ll buy a house there, and we’ll start our lives together on your turf. I’m going to be taking at least a year off before I even consider any work. So, if you need an extra barista. I’m sure I could learn.’
Emma could feel herself welling up again.
‘Well, thanks for ruining my sacrifice.’
‘Years from now, when we have an argument. I can’t throw in your face that I gave up everything for you. Because you were ready to do the same for me.’
She could see he didn’t understand what she was saying. So, she framed his face with her hands and gently said.
‘I agreed to sell. I’m leaving it all. And I’m moving here. To start a new life with you.’
‘I thought you said you would never even contemplate making a deal with that son of a bitch after what he tried to do to you.’
‘I didn’t think I would at first. But then thinking about it. It felt really fucking stupid of me to give up on the dream of you and me here, for a principle. We reached a very fair deal.’
Can could barely believe it. His head was spinning. He moved off of her and laid down next to her on the bed.
‘I had already moved.’
‘In my mind, I had already made the move to London. I can’t believe that I now get to stay here. With you. I didn’t believe it was possible to have both.’
‘And you chose me.’
He moved his hand up to her cheek, gently caressing it.
‘Always. I will always choose you, Emma.’
He couldn’t help but wonder.
‘Are you sure? About the Café, I mean, selling it? I’m sorry I made such a big deal out of it last time. I should have been more understanding. And I will be this time around. If you’re only doing it for me, then don’t. I think we can safely assume that once you sell it, especially to that man. You’ll never get it back. It will be gone.’
‘I’ll cherish the memories of that place in my heart forever. It was Brad and mine’s dream, and we built it up, and we made it happen. But that dream included both of us. And he is no longer here. I’ve found comfort in the café because I can still feel his presence there, but I don’t need that anymore.’
‘Because you have me now.’
She gave him a small smile.
‘That’s part of it. But it’s also about acceptance, and really letting go. I was scared for a long time that letting go meant you had to forget. And I wasn’t ready or willing to do that. But that’s not what it means. Letting go is being able to look back with joy and no regrets. Accept that this is the way things are meant to be. And that’s ok. I will always love Brad. He was my youth.’
She leaned over to give him a soft kiss.
‘But you are my future. And I want a clean slate for us to build that on.’
‘I’m not going to argue with that.’
‘Life here will be a little different then what you’re used to. As I said, I will take at least a year off. But I can’t do anything about the fact that my face is recognizable. And as my wife, you would probably get a little attention as well. I know how private you are.’
‘Well, considering you have a large perfume campaign launching in England in a month, I suppose you would be a little recognizable there as well.’
‘Probably. But it’s nothing to what I get here. I can escape into a touristy place for a few hours with a hat and sunglasses on. But what I can’t do, at least not now. Is be myself and walk down the street, or go to a restaurant, and not have press and crowds that follow. I think that’s why I’ve been so eager to isolate us. Because I’m scared, you’re not going to be able to overlook that one bad thing.’
‘Don’t kid yourself, buddy. You have more flaws than fame. But I’m willing to take you as you are. And we’ll just figure it out together.’
He couldn’t do anything other than laugh. Honest to a fault. She laid back down and said.
Now it was his turn to lean over and kiss her.
‘Yes. I’ve already informed the press, as you know. You’re not going to make a liar out of me, are you?’
‘No. But like you also said. You didn’t stipulate a date. So there’s plenty of time.’
‘In your dreams. Don’t you know who you’re dealing with?’
Emma just laughed.
‘I thought you were the new calm, collected and non-demanding Can?’
‘Nah, I chucked him out. You’re stuck with me.’
‘And I wouldn’t have it any other way.’