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The Greek Commands His Mistress(7)

By:Lynne Graham

Why had she lost her temper?

Remembering why, Lilah paled and then flushed a painful pink. Utterly mesmerised by Bastien, she had already started falling for him. Being rudely confronted with the reality that he was a stud, who only wanted her for sex, had been hurtful and demeaning. That was why she had lost her temper. She had been angry with herself because somehow he had contrived to tempt her with that single erotically charged kiss and had made her question her own values. She had resented his power over her and she had flung her knowledge of his bad reputation in his teeth and called him a man whore.

Lilah was still secretly cringing from that memory as she walked home after work. Attacking Bastien had been wrong. He was what he was, and she was what she was. They were very different people. Insulting him had been ill-mannered, pointless and immature. His dark eyes had glittered like black ice, the rage in his stunning gaze filling her with fright. But he had done nothing, said nothing. He had simply turned on his heel and got back into his opulent limousine to drive away.

A few weeks later an unexpected gift had arrived for her at work. She had unwrapped an almost exact replica of the seahorse pendant Bastien had won at auction. The only difference between it and the original was that the new piece lacked the engraved initial As on the back. Only Bastien could have had it made for her and sent it to her. That he had given the pendant to her in spite of the way she had spoken to him had shocked Lilah, and made her feel as if she didn’t know Bastien Zikos at all. She had asked herself then if she had imagined that dark fury in his eyes.

But now Lilah knew for a fact that she had not imagined Bastien’s rage, and she suspected that what she was being subjected to was ‘payback time’ in his parlance.


IN THE MIDDLE of the night, tossing and turning without sleep, Lilah crept out of bed and went downstairs to make herself a cup of tea.

Vickie was already there, seated at the kitchen table. ‘Great minds, eh?’ she framed round a huge yawn.

‘You couldn’t sleep either?’ Lilah stated the obvious.

‘It’s the constant worrying that keeps me awake,’ her father’s wife opined ruefully while Lilah boiled the kettle. ‘Some of the parents I was talking to at Ben’s school said Bastien Zikos was at Moore Components today... I was surprised you hadn’t mentioned it.’

Lilah stiffened defensively. ‘I didn’t see the point.’

‘I hate asking you this...but I was thinking...maybe if you get the chance you could ask Bastien if he has an opening for your father anywhere?’ Vickie said hopefully.

Lilah reddened. ‘If I get the chance,’ she echoed, feeling incredibly guilty for not telling the truth.

Bastien had been right on that score. No one would thank her for telling a truth that no one wanted to hear. And the truth was that she could wave a magic wand and fix everything for everybody. How could she live with that knowledge and stand by doing nothing? How could she live with seeing her father slumped in a chair, staring into space? It was all very well to be furious with Bastien, to take offence and walk out. but at the end of the day she had to be practical. He had, after all, offered her a miracle.

Everything back the way it was.

Hanging on to her virginity at all costs seemed a little pathetic in such dire circumstances, didn’t it? And, whether she liked it or not, she had always been attracted to Bastien. How could she hold out and justify herself when so many positive outcomes would result from her agreement? Bastien’s interest in her would be short-lived as well: his past history spoke for him. He never stayed long with a woman. She would get her life back again quickly and probably never come back home, she acknowledged unhappily. When Bastien got bored with her she would look for a job in London and make a fresh start.

Lilah dressed for work with more care than usual, braiding her black mane of hair into submission and choosing a black pencil skirt and a silky cream blouse to wear.

The mere thought of finding herself in bed with Bastien brought her out in a cold sweat and turned her tummy over, so she refused to think about it. Sex was a rite of passage, she told herself impatiently. She was no different from any other woman and would soon become accustomed to it. No doubt practise had made Bastien most proficient in that department, and it was probably safe to assume that she wouldn’t find sharing a bed with him too unpleasant. Of course she wasn’t going to enjoy any of it either. Sex shorn of any finer feelings was a physical rather than mental exercise and she would detach herself from the whole experience, she told herself soothingly.

Detachment, after all, would hardly be a challenge when she hated Bastien with every fibre of her being. His options had taught her to hate him. Before yesterday he had simply been the womaniser who had once bruised her tender heart and whom she couldn’t ever have. Now he was the ruthless lowlife forcing her to seal a bargain with her body as if she was a whore.

A little shudder racked her at that view and she breathed in slow and deep, strengthening herself for what lay ahead. She was about to make a devil’s bargain, but she was darned if she would show an ounce of weakness in front of Bastien.

When she walked into the office, Julie gave her a curious appraisal. ‘Mr Zikos has phoned down to ask for you already. I explained that you’re never in before nine because you leave your kid brother at nursery on the way.’

‘Thanks,’ Lilah breathed, hanging up her coat with a nervous hand.

Bastien had said ten o’clock, but he was clearly jumping the gun. Of course he had no patience whatsoever, she reflected ruefully. He tapped his feet and drummed his fingers when forced to be inactive for any length of time. He was edgy, bursting with frenetic energy, always in need of occupation.

She smoothed her skirt down over her hips as she mounted the stairs. Her hands weren’t quite steady and she studied them in dismay. Why was she getting herself into a state? Hadn’t she already decided that sex would be no big deal and not worth making a silly fuss over? It wasn’t as though Bastien was going to spread her across the office desk and have his wicked way with her this very day...was it?

Her face burned, her stomach performing a somersault at that X-rated image. She wanted Bastien to do the deed in pitch-darkness and complete silence. She didn’t want to have to look at him or speak to him. She wished there was some way of having sex remotely, without any need for physical contact, and it was on that crazy thought that she entered what had once been her father’s office.

With a single gesture Bastien dismissed the team hovering attentively round him and set down the tablet he had been studying.

‘You’ve asked for me but it’s not ten yet,’ Lilah pointed out thinly. ‘It’s only ten minutes past nine.’

Bastien straightened, brilliant dark golden eyes lancing into hers in direct challenge. ‘My internal clock says it’s ten,’ he contradicted without hesitation.

‘Your clock’s wrong.’

‘I’m never wrong, Delilah,’ Bastien traded thickly, his long-lashed gaze roaming over her as intently as a physical caress. ‘Lesson one on how to be a mistress: I keep you around to stroke my ego, not dent it.’

Lilah froze where she stood, wide sapphire eyes travelling over him with a hunger she couldn’t control. She scanned the exquisitely tailored designer suit that delineated every muscular line of Bastien’s broad-shouldered, lean-hipped frame as he stood there facing her, with his long, powerful legs braced. Something clenched low in her body when she clashed with his gaze and her legs felt strangely hollow.

Her attention welded to his darkly handsome face, she stopped breathing, reacting with dismay to the treacherous stirrings of her own body. Her breasts swelled, constrained by the confines of her bra, while the sensation at her feminine core made her press her thighs together hard.

‘I’m no good at stroking egos, Bastien,’ she warned him.

Bastien dealt her an unholy grin. ‘I’ve got enough ego to survive a few dents,’ he asserted. ‘Where do you think your true talents will lie?’

‘You’ve taken my answer for granted, haven’t you?’ Lilah exclaimed. ‘I haven’t said yes yet, but you’re convinced I will.’

‘And am I wrong?’ Bastien traded.

Her teeth gritted together. ‘No, you’re not.’

‘So, are you going for option two or option three?’ Bastien enquired lazily, leaning back against his desk in an attitude of relaxation that infuriated her.

Option three, option three, Bastien willed Delilah to tell him. That would be the most profitable option for him. He would sell the current site, relocate the factory to the outskirts of town and in doing so take advantage of several lucrative government grants aimed at persuading companies to open up in areas of high unemployment. For him it would be a win-win situation, because he would gain Lilah, an immediate profit to cover all outlay and a cost-efficient business.

‘You have no shame, have you?’ Lilah hissed, like oil bubbling on too high a heat.

‘Not when it comes to you,’ Bastien agreed. ‘It’s the only way I’m ever going to get you, because you’re stubborn and contrary and you have a very closed little mind.’