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The Greek Commands His Mistress(6)

By:Lynne Graham

‘Nothing wrong with that,’ she had quipped with a big smile, trying to picture him as a little kid, thinking that he had probably been very cute, with a shock of black hair and brown eyes deep enough to drown in.

‘Irrespective of what happens at the auction tomorrow, promise that you will have dinner with me tomorrow evening,’ he’d urged, and had invited her to his hotel.

‘I’m still planning to bid,’ she warned him.

‘I can afford to outbid most people. Dinner?’ he’d pressed again.

And she had crumbled, like sand smoothed over and reshaped by a powerful wave.

Bastien hadn’t made the connection between her and Moore Components, and it had been a big surprise for both of them when her auction disappointment had been followed by an unexpected meeting with Bastien in her father’s office the next day. Dinner at Bastien’s hotel had been replaced by dinner at her father’s home, to which she had been invited as well.

When a phone call had claimed Robert Moore’s attention he had asked his daughter to see Bastien out to his car.

‘If you’re expecting me to congratulate you on your win, you’re destined for disappointment,’ Lilah had warned Bastien on their way down the stairs. ‘You paid a ludicrous amount for that pendant.’

Bastien laughed out loud. ‘Says the woman who bidded me up to that ludicrous amount!’

Lilah reddened. ‘Well, I had to at least try to get it. Why are you seeing my father?’ she had asked abruptly as they came to a halt in the car park.

‘I’m interested in acquiring his business and he wants some time to think my offer over. You work here. You could be my acquisition too,’ Bastien had said huskily, sexily in her ear, making the tiny hairs at her nape stand up while an arrow of heat shot straight down into her pelvis.

Unsettled by the strength of her reaction to him, Lilah had stiffened. ‘I don’t think so. I don’t think Dad will sell up either—not when he’s riding the crest of a wave.’

‘That’s the best time to sell.’

Bastien had dealt her a dark, lingering appraisal that had made her toes curl even as her gaze widened at the sight of the limousine that had rolled up to collect him. She’d been impressed but troubled by the obviously large difference in their financial status and had resolved to look him up on the internet as soon as she got the time.

‘I wish your father hadn’t invited us to his family dinner.’ Bastien had sighed. ‘I was looking forward to having you all to myself at my hotel.’

Unease had filtered through Lilah. He was coming on very strong, and while initially she’d been delighted by that, she was unnerved by the suspicion that he might be expecting her to spend the night with him. An impulsive move like that would have been way outside Lilah’s comfort zone.

But at the same time still being a virgin at the age of twenty-one had not been part of Lilah’s life plan either. She just hadn’t met anyone at university who had attracted her enough to take that plunge. Lilah didn’t give her trust easily to men, and by the end of first year, after standing by and watching friends commit too fast to casual relationships that had ended in tears and recriminations, she had decided that she would definitely hold off on sex until she met a man who cared enough about her to be prepared to wait until she was as ready for intimacy as he was.

‘Bastien’s really into you in a big way,’ Vickie had whispered in amusement after dinner at her father’s comfortable home that evening. ‘He watches your every move. And although I prefer men to be more grey round the edges, he is gorgeous.’

Before Lilah had been able to call a taxi, Bastien had offered to run her home. Within seconds of them getting into the limo Bastien had reached for her with a determined hand and kissed her with a hungry, sensual ferocity that had set her treacherous body on fire. She had pulled back, trying to cool the moment down, but Bastien had ignored her.

‘Spend the night with me,’ he’d pressed, his thumb stroking her wrist where her pulse was racing insanely fast.

‘I hardly know you,’ she had pointed out hastily.

‘You can get to know me in bed,’ Bastien had quipped.

‘That’s not how I operate, Bastien,’ Lilah had murmured, reddening with discomfiture. ‘I would need to know you really well before I slept with you.’

‘Diavelos... I’m only here for another forty-eight hours!’ Bastien had ground out incredulously, studying her as though she was as strange and incongruous a sight as a snowball in the desert.

‘I’m sorry. I can’t change the way I am,’ Lilah had told him quietly as the limousine drew up outside the terraced house where she lived.

‘You’re my polar opposite. I don’t get to know women really well. To be brutally honest, sex is the only intimacy I want or need,’ Bastien had breathed in a driven undertone.

‘We’re like oil and water,’ Lilah had mumbled, hurriedly vacating his car and heading indoors, to heave a sigh of relief as soon as the door was closed behind her.

In the aftermath of that uneasy parting tears had burned her eyes and she’d been immediately filled with self-loathing. She was guilty of having woven silly romantic dreams about Bastien. Hadn’t she just got what she deserved for being so naïve? He was only interested in a night of casual sex—nothing more. It wasn’t a compliment...it was a slap in the face—and a wake-up call to regain control of her wits.

Although Lilah had initially been attracted by Bastien’s stunning good looks, she had been infinitely more fascinated by his strong personality, and the seemingly offbeat way his brain worked. That same night she’d sat up late, looking Bastien up on the internet, and the sheer number of women she’d seen pictured with him had shaken her almost as much as his reputation for being a womaniser. Bastien Zikos slept around and he was faithless.

At first Lilah had been appalled by what she had discovered, but there had also been an oddly soothing element to those revelations. After all, what she had found out only emphasised that she could never have any kind of liaison with Bastien: he didn’t do relationships...and she didn’t do one-night stands.

Sinking back to the present, Lilah was dismayed to register that her eyes were swimming with tears. She blinked them back and freshened up, writing off her far too emotional frame of mind to the shocks Bastien had dealt her. She hated the way that Bastien always got to her—cutting through her common sense and reserve like a machete to make his forceful point.

‘You were a long time upstairs with the boss,’ Julie commented as Lilah dropped back behind her desk.

‘Mr Zikos wanted to discuss his plans for the business,’ she said awkwardly.

‘Oh...wow!’ Julie gushed, fixing wide, speculative eyes on Lilah’s flushed and taut face. ‘You mean he’s planning to keep Moore Components open? He’s not just going to sell up?’

Lilah cursed her loose tongue. ‘No, his selling up is a possibility too,’ she backtracked hastily, fearful of setting off a round of rumours that would raise false hopes. ‘I don’t think he’s actually made a final decision yet.’

With a regretful sigh, Julie returned to work. But Lilah found that she could not concentrate for longer than thirty seconds. Aftershocks from her meeting with Bastien were still quaking through her.

He might as well have taken the moon down from the sky and offered it to her, she reflected in a daze. Her family were suffering—just like everybody else caught up in the crash of Moore Components. The little half-brother and half-sister so dear to Lilah’s heart no longer had a garden to play in, and their more elaborate toys had been disposed of because there was no room for such things in Lilah’s little house. Her father was suffering from depression and taking medication. The day the factory had closed the bottom had dropped out of his world. Without work, without his business, Robert Moore simply didn’t know what to do with himself.

Lilah blinked back stinging tears. In spite of the troubled years, when her parents had been unhappily married, Lilah still loved her father very much. She had only been eleven years old when her mother had died very suddenly from an aneurysm. Her father had been very much there for her while she was grieving, but he was also a very hard worker, who had soon returned to work, slaving eighteen hours a day to build up his business.

Now, shorn of his once generous income and humbled, he felt less of a man—and at his age, with a failed business under his belt, who was likely to employ him? Although Lilah had told herself that she shouldn’t be thinking about it, she could not resist picturing her father returning to work with a new spring in his step.

She blanked out the thought.

Was she really prepared to become a mistress?

Bastien’s sex slave?

An extraordinary little chirrup of excitement twisted through Lilah and she was seriously embarrassed for herself. She was pretty sure Bastien wouldn’t be expecting a virgin. But what did that matter? It was not as though she was seriously considering his sordid options, was it?

Still mentally far removed from work, she sank back two years again into her memories and recalled the flowers Bastien had sent her the morning after that family dinner and her rejection of what little he’d had to offer her. He had shown up on her doorstep the following evening as well, displaying a persistence that had taxed her patience. When he had tried to persuade her to join him that night for dinner she had lost her temper with him.