memories of midnight-Page 21

Athens

You tried to destroy me. You failed. I promise you, it would have been better for you if you had succeeded. But first, I'm going to destroy your sister.

Constantin Demiris's words were still ringing in Lambrou's ears. He had no doubt that Demiris would try to carry out his threat. What in God's name could have gone wrong with Rizzoli? Everything had been so carefully planned. But there was no time to speculate on what had happened. The important thing now was to warn his sister.

Lambrou's secretary walked into the office. "Your ten o'clock appointment is waiting. Shall I send...?"

"No. Cancel all my appointments. I won't be back this morning."

He picked up a telephone, and five minutes later he was on his way to see Melina.

She was waiting for him in the garden of the villa. "Spyros. You sounded so upset on the phone! What's wrong?"

"We have to talk." He led her to a bench in a vine-covered gazebo. He sat there looking at her and thought, What a lovely woman she is. She's always brought happiness to everyone her life has touched. She's done nothing to deserve this.

"Aren't you going to tell me what's wrong?"

Lambrou took a deep breath. "This is going to be very painful, darling."

"You're beginning to alarm me."

"I mean to. Your life is in danger."

"What? In danger from whom?"

He measured his words carefully. "I think Costa is going to try to kill you."

Melina was staring at him, open-mouthed. "You're joking."

"No, I mean it, Melina."

"Darling, Costa is a lot of things, but he's not a murderer. He couldn't..."

"You're wrong. He's killed before."

Her face had gone pale. "What are you saying?"

"Oh, he doesn't do it with his bare hands. He hires people to do it for him, but..."

"I don't believe you."

"Do you remember Catherine Douglas?"

"The woman who was murdered..."

"She wasn't murdered. She's alive."

Melina shook her head. "She - she couldn't be. I mean - they executed the people who killed her."

Lambrou took his sister's hand in his. "Melina, Larry Douglas and Noelle Page didn't kill Catherine. All the time the trial was going on, Demiris had her hidden away."

Melina sat there stunned, speechless, remembering the woman she had caught a glimpse of at the house.

Who is the woman I saw in the hall?

She's a friend of a business associate. She's going to work for me in London.

I caught a glimpse of her. She reminds me of someone. She reminds me of the wife of the pilot who used to work for you. But that's impossible, of course. They murdered her.

Yes, they murdered her.

She found her voice. "I saw her at the house, Spyros. Costa lied to me about her."

"He's insane. I want you to pack up and get out of this place."

She looked at him and said slowly, "No, this is my home."

"Melina, I couldn't bear it if anything happened to you."

There was steel in her voice. "Don't worry. Nothing will happen to me. Costa is no fool. He knows that if he did anything to harm me he would have to pay dearly for it."

"He's your husband, but you don't know him. I'm afraid for you."

"I can handle him, Spyros."

He looked at her and knew that there was no way he could persuade her to change her mind. "If you won't leave, do me a favor. Promise you won't be alone with him."

She patted her brother's cheek. "I promise."

Melina had no intention of keeping that promise.

When Constantin Demiris arrived home that evening, Melina was waiting for him. He nodded to her and walked past her into his bedroom. Melina followed him.

"I think it's time we had a talk," Melina said.

Demiris looked at his watch. "I only have a few minutes. I have an engagement."

"Have you? Are you planning to murder someone else tonight?"

He turned to her. "What are you raving about?"

"Spyros came by to see me this morning."

"I'm going to have to warn your brother to stay away from my house."

"It's my house too," Melina said defiantly. "We had a very interesting chat."

"Really? About what?"

"About you and Catherine Douglas and Noelle Page."

She had his full attention now. "That's ancient history."

"Is it? Spyros says you sent two innocent people to their deaths, Costa."

"Spyros is a fool."

"I saw the girl here, in this house."

"No one will believe you. You won't see her again. I've sent someone to get rid of her."

And Melina suddenly remembered the three men who had come to dinner. You'll be flying to London early in the morning. I'm sure you'll take care of everything that needs to be done.

He moved closer to Melina and said softly, "You know, I'm really getting quite fed up with you and your brother." He took her arm and squeezed it hard. "Spyros tried to ruin me. He should have killed me instead." He squeezed harder. "Both of you are going to wish he had."

"Stop it, you're hurting me."

"My dear wife, you don't know what pain is yet. But you will." He let go of her arm. "I'm getting a divorce. I want a real woman. But I won't be out of your life. Oh, no. I have some wonderful plans for you and your dear brother. Well, we've had our little talk. If you'll excuse me, I'll go in and change. It's not polite to keep a lady waiting."

He turned and walked into his dressing room. Melina stood there, her heart pounding. Spyros was right. He's a madman.

She felt completely helpless, but she wasn't afraid for her own life. What do I have to live for? Melina thought bitterly. Her husband had stripped her of all dignity and brought her down to his level. She thought of all the times he had humiliated her, abused her in public. She knew that she was an object of pity among her friends. No, she was no longer concerned about herself. I'm ready to die, she thought, but I can't let him harm Spyros. And yet what could she do to stop him? Spyros was powerful, but her husband was more powerful. Melina knew with a terrible certainty that if she let him, her husband would carry out his threat. I must stop him somehow. But how? How...?