Home>>read The Greek Commands His Mistress free online

The Greek Commands His Mistress(5)

By:Lynne Graham

Lilah’s chin lifted. ‘I did have a boyfriend!’ she bit out resentfully.

‘Not for very long. He dropped you the minute your father’s business went down.’

Angry words brimmed on Lilah’s tongue, but she swallowed them whole because she wasn’t going to sink to the level of arguing with Bastien over someone as unworthy of her defence as Steve, her ex-boyfriend.

Ironically, Bastien’s reading of Steve’s behaviour exactly matched her own. Steve had turned out to be very ambitious. He had started dating Lilah when Moore Components was thriving and had tried to persuade her father to take him on as a junior partner. It mortified her that Bastien should know about the revealing speed and timing of Steve’s defection.

Rigid with self-control, Lilah lifted her head high. ‘I can’t believe that you really mean those options you outlined. They’re immoral.’

‘I’m not a very moral man,’ Bastien told her without hesitation. ‘I don’t apologise for what I want and I always get what I want...and I want you. You should be flattered.’

‘I’m not flattered. I’m shocked and disgusted at your lack of scruple!’ Lilah told him angrily, her blue eyes bright with condemnation. ‘You’re trying to take advantage of this situation and play on my affection for my family.’

‘I will use any advantage I have and do whatever I have to do to win you. Of course whether or not you choose to accept one of my two preferred options is entirely your decision,’ Bastien pointed out, his wide, beautifully shaped mouth firming as he stalked fluidly closer to tower over her. ‘You’re the glittering prize here, Delilah. Doesn’t that thrill you?’

Lilah stiffened even more. ‘No, of course it doesn’t.’

‘It would thrill most women,’ Bastien told her drily, staring down at her with burnished dark golden eyes that sent an intoxicating fizz of awareness and frightening tension shooting through her every limb. ‘Most women like to be wanted above all others.’

‘I very much doubt that you’re capable of wanting one woman above all others,’ Lilah retorted with sharp emphasis. ‘Women seem to be very much interchangeable commodities to you, so I really can’t understand why you should have a fixation about me.’

‘It’s not a fixation,’ Bastien growled, dark eyes hard, strong jawline squared.

‘Oh, for goodness’ sake—call a spade a spade, Bastien!’ Lilah countered in exasperation. ‘At least look at the lengths you’re willing to go to to make me do what you want...does that strike you as normal?’

‘Sexual satisfaction is extremely important to me,’ Bastien parried, studying her with cool gravity. ‘I don’t feel any need to explain that or to apologise for it.’

Lilah felt like someone beating her head up against a brick wall. Bastien didn’t listen to what he didn’t want to hear. He went full steam ahead, like an express train racing down a track. He saw what he wanted and he went for it, regardless of reason and the damage he might do.

‘Delilah... I would treat you well...’ Bastien murmured huskily.

‘What you’ve suggested...it’s out of the question—impossible!’ she exclaimed in a furious outburst of frustration. ‘Not to mention downright sleazy!’

Bastien lifted a lean tanned hand and scored a reproving fingertip along the strained line of her lush lower lip. ‘I am never, ever sleazy...’ He positively purred. ‘You have a lot to learn about me.’

Subjected to even that minor physical contact, she felt her whole skin surface break out in enervated goose bumps and jerked back a hasty step.

‘What I’ve learnt today, just listening to you, is more than enough,’ she stressed in biting rejection. ‘You talk as if you’re playing some amusing game with me, but what you’re proposing is offensive and unthinkable. And nothing you could hope to offer would persuade my father to accept a job that would literally sell me to the highest bidder as part of the deal!’

Bastien scanned her flushed and furious face and the sapphire-blue eyes shooting defiant sparks at him. ‘Only an idiot would suggest that you tell your father the truth and nothing but the truth,’ he derided. ‘All you would need to tell your family is that I have offered you your dream job, which will entail a lot of foreign travel and an enviable lifestyle.’

With a reflexive little shudder at that Machiavellian suggestion, Lilah snapped, ‘My goodness, you have absolutely everything worked out!’

‘But will you take the bait?’ Bastien breathed in a roughened undertone. ‘You have until ten tomorrow morning to make your decision and choose an option.’

‘You haven’t given me even one reasonable or fair option,’ Lilah condemned bitterly.

‘If you don’t give me your answer tomorrow I will sell,’ Bastien warned her with chilling bite.

Her narrow spine went poker-straight with the force of her resentment and her slender hands knotted into fists. It was far from being the first time she had been in Bastien’s company and had longed to knock his teeth down his throat.

In the smouldering silence, Bastien released his breath in a hiss of impatience. ‘It doesn’t have to be like this between us, Delilah. We could discuss this over dinner tonight.’

Lilah flung him a shaken and furious look over her shoulder as her perspiring hand worked frantically at the doorknob. ‘Dinner? You’ve got to be joking! Anyway, I’m already booked,’ she fibbed, refusing to give him the idea that she sat in every night.

‘To see who?’ Bastien demanded, pressing a hand against the door to prevent her from opening it.

‘That’s none of your business.’ Refusing to fight for control of the door, Lilah stood back and folded her arms defensively. ‘Nothing I do is any of your business. You may own Moore Components, but that’s the only thing you own around here.’

Dark eyes glittering brilliant as stars, Bastien flung the door wide for her exit. ‘I wouldn’t be so sure of that, koukla mou.’

Lilah hurried downstairs and straight into the cloakroom, needing a moment before she returned to work and faced Julie and her curiosity. She was shaking and sweating, and she held her trembling hands below the cold tap while snatching in a deep sustaining breath, praying for self-control.

Unfortunately Bastien had struck her on her weakest flank. The very idea that she could rescue her family from their current predicament had turned her heart inside out with hope and desperation. And what about all the other people whose lives would be transformed by the opportunity to regain the jobs they had lost? Jobs in a revitalised business which would be much more secure with Bastien’s backing? All their former workers would be ecstatic at the idea of the factory reopening.

But Bastien Zikos had put an incredibly high price on what that miracle would cost Lilah in personal terms. It was too much to think about, she thought weakly, anger still hurtling through her, tensing her every muscle. How could he do that? How could he stand there in front of her and outline such demeaning options? A one-night stand...or a one-night stand which ran and ran until he got bored? Some choice! What had she ever done to him to deserve such treatment?

Her temples thumped dully—a stress headache was forming. She was stressed, out of her depth and barely able to think straight, she acknowledged heavily. Hadn’t she felt very much like that when she was first exposed to Bastien’s soul-destroying charm?

Of course that charm had not been much in evidence just now, during their office meeting, she conceded bitterly. It had, however, been very much in evidence when Bastien had taken her for coffee at the auction house two years earlier.

After a casual exchange of names and information Bastien had taken out his business card to show her that his company logo was, in fact, a seahorse. The awareness that he also had a strong family connection to the pendant had made Lilah relax more in his company. Noting his sleek gold Rolex watch, and the sharp tailoring of his stylish suit, she had recognised the hallmarks of wealth and suspected that it was highly unlikely that she could hope to outbid him at auction.

She had teased him about the amount of sugar he put in his coffee and a wickedly sensual smile had curved his lips, sending her heartbeat into overdrive. Oh, yes. At first sight she had been hugely, hopelessly attracted to Bastien and had hung on his every word.

‘You still haven’t explained one thing,’ Bastien had mused. ‘If you value it so much, why is the pendant being sold at auction?’

She had explained about the jewellery her father had given her stepmother. ‘Now Vickie’s having a big clean-out, and I didn’t want to risk upsetting her by admitting how I felt.’

‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get,’ Bastien had censured drily. ‘Not that I’m complaining. Your delicate sense of diplomacy has worked in my favour. If the necklace hadn’t gone on sale I wouldn’t have known where it was. I’ve been trying to track it down for years.’

‘I suppose you remember your mother wearing it?’ she remarked.

‘No, but I remember my father giving it to her,’ Bastien had countered rather bleakly, his dramatic dark eyes veiled while his beautiful mouth had tightened unexpectedly. ‘I was about four years old and I honestly believed we were the perfect family.’