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The Greek Commands His Mistress(9)

By:Lynne Graham

‘No pets. Leave the dog with your family.’

‘I can’t. My stepmother isn’t comfortable with dogs. He’s very small and quiet,’ Lilah assured Bastien, lying through her teeth because Skippy wasn’t remotely quiet once he got to know people.

Bastien frowned. ‘Write down its details. I’ll arrange for a specialist transport firm to handle the travel arrangements,’ he pronounced after a considered pause. ‘But once the animal arrives in France keep it away from me.’

‘France?’ she repeated in consternation.

‘We’re going to France the day after tomorrow.’

Lilah tottered back downstairs, shattered by the way she had succumbed to that single kiss. How could Bastien still have that effect on her? She hadn’t been prepared for that. Perhaps naively she had assumed that her disgust at the unholy agreement he had offered her would protect her. But it hadn’t.

Bastien had bought her acquiescence with a job for her father and the promised long-term prosperity of the reopened factory. Didn’t he see how wrong that deal was? That reducing her body to the level of something to be traded like a product made her hate him? Didn’t that matter to him?

But why should it matter to him? she questioned heavily as she informed Julie that she was leaving early. Bastien only wanted sex. He wasn’t interested in what went on inside her head or how she felt about him. He didn’t care... And neither should she care, she told herself defiantly. Being oversensitive in Bastien’s radius was only going to get her hurt and humiliated. He wouldn’t give her the kind of polite or gracious pretences that would allow her to save face. There would be no frills in the way of romance or compliments. He wasn’t about to dress up their connection by making it about anything more than sex.

Later that same evening, in the wake of a whirlwind of embarrassingly untruthful explanations on the home front and a great deal of packing, Lilah emerged from the cinema with Josh—a tall, attractive man in his twenties, with brown hair and green eyes—and two other couples, Ann and Jack and Dana and George. There was nothing like a good fright or two to dispel tension, Lilah acknowledged wryly as she laughed at something Ann said about the horror movie they had watched.

‘You’re making a wise move on the career front,’ Josh told her. ‘Doing HR at Moore wasn’t stretching you. Working for an international businessman will offer you much more experience.’

A shamefaced flush lit Lilah’s face, because her friends had swallowed her lies about going to work for Bastien hook, line and sinker—just as her family had. ‘I suppose so...’

‘Very bad timing for me, though.’ Without warning Josh reached for both her hands. ‘You’re leaving just when I was about to ask you out on a real date.’

‘What?’ Lilah’s voice was shrill with surprise.

Josh grinned down at her, ignoring Jack’s mocking wolf whistle. ‘I mean, you must have wondered at least once what it would be like if we got together.’

Lilah grimaced, not knowing what to say to him. Because she never had wondered.

Josh edged her back against the wall behind her. ‘Just one kiss,’ he muttered.

Lilah stiffened, wondering why she felt like a stick of rock with ‘Property of Bastien Zikos’ stamped all the way through her. ‘No, Josh,’ she said, her hands braced against his chest.

But because she couldn’t bring herself to actively push him away he kissed her, and she felt much as a shop window mannequin might have felt...absolutely nothing. Because while she liked Josh, and enjoyed his company, she had never fancied him.

‘While you’re away think about the possibility of us,’ Josh urged, stretching an arm round her to guide her towards his parked car.

‘I don’t think so,’ Lilah responded, wondering if there was a kind way of telling a man that you didn’t fancy him in the slightest and knowing that there wasn’t, and that the best response was probably for her just to pretend that absolutely nothing had happened.

‘Awkward...’ Ann mouthed, her eyes rolling with sympathy.

When Lilah walked back into her living room she was surprised by the expression of sincere happiness on her father’s face. But she knew that even before she had reached home that afternoon Bastien had phoned her father, and the older man had already put on a suit by the time the car bringing his daughter home had arrived. When Lilah had gone out to meet her friends her father had still been out, presumably still with Bastien, which had worried Lilah.

‘Everything all right, Dad?’ she questioned anxiously.

‘Better than that,’ the older man assured her with vigour, and informed her that Bastien had hired him to act as manager at Moore Components—a role which he was very happy to take on.

‘I’m beginning to understand how Bastien has become so very rich so fast,’ the older man remarked in wry addition. ‘He’s very astute, and he spotted a break that would benefit Moore when no one else did.’

‘What? What did he spot?’ Lilah prompted with a frown.

‘Bastien recognised that the council has recently rezoned the town’s plans to open the door for further development. He’s selling the current site for a huge amount of money and relocating the factory to the Moat Road, where he’ll qualify for all sorts of lucrative government grants when he reopens for business. It’s an incredibly smart move.’

‘Good grief!’ Lilah gasped, shock and temper bubbling up inside her at the belated awareness that Bastien had cut a very good deal with her in every way. Not only was he getting her, parcelled up like a gift, but he was also evidently on course to make a big profit too! And that realisation absolutely enraged Lilah.


LILAH BOARDED BASTIEN’S private jet with her head held high. No, she wasn’t about to show the shame she felt, and she wasn’t anyone’s victim—least of all Bastien’s. This was her choice, she reminded herself doggedly. Bastien might have laid out those hateful options but she had made the choice, and she was still happy with what her sacrifice had achieved for her family.

Her father was managing the business he loved. For the moment he and Vickie would stay on in Lilah’s little house, because it was affordable and within easy reach of Ben’s school. Lilah thought her father and stepmother probably couldn’t quite credit that life had changed for the better again. Having so recently lost everything, they were afraid of another disaster.

Lilah had had tears in her eyes when she’d parted from her little brother and sister that morning, for she had no idea when she would see them again. Did a mistress get time off from her role? Would she have any rights at all?

Bastien rested his arrogant dark head back to survey Delilah as she walked into the cabin. His mouth took on a sardonic curve when he saw her. She wore a drab, dated black trouser suit and had braided her hair again, concealing her every attraction to the best of her ability. But Bastien was hard to fool. She couldn’t conceal the supple elegance of her delicate build or the healthy youthful glow of her fair skin and bright blue eyes, and when the jacket of her suit flapped back, revealing a sheer white shirt that hugged her small pouting breasts like a second skin, the fit of his trousers became uncomfortably tight.

Tonight, he thought impatiently, would finally rid him of the almost adolescent state of arousal she inflicted on him. A virgin, though... Was that really the truth? Didn’t that deserve a certain amount of considerate staging?

Since when had he been considerate? Bastien asked himself irritably as Delilah attempted to walk past him towards the back of the cabin, where his staff were seated. His hand snapped out to close round her wrist and bring her to a halt.

‘You sit with me,’ he told her flatly.

Her full pink mouth tightened.

‘Take off that ugly jacket. Let down your hair,’ Bastien instructed.

Lilah froze. ‘What will you do if I say no?’

‘Rip off the jacket and yank out the hair tie for you,’ Bastien traded without hesitation.

Warm colour flooded Lilah’s cheeks and feathery lashes lowered over her eyes, because she was insanely conscious of his staff watching from the other end of the cabin. They were clearly wondering what she was doing on board and were now about to have their curiosity satisfied. She shrugged out of the jacket stiffly and reached up to tug at the tie anchoring her braid. Her hand was shaking as she loosened her hair.

Rage and mortification gusted through her as she dropped down into the seat beside Bastien, glossy black curls fanning in tousled disarray across her shoulders and brushing her flushed cheekbones.

‘And just like that you look gorgeous again, koukla mou.’

‘Is it going to be like this with everything? Your way or the highway?’ Lilah pressed in a strangled hiss.

‘What do you think?’

‘That I once thought you were enough of a man not to need to control a woman’s every move!’

His lean, darkly handsome features slashed into a sudden, entirely unexpected grin, his pride untouched by that crack. ‘The trouble is...I enjoy controlling you.’

Lilah snatched in a much-needed gulp of oxygen. He sent her temper zooming from zero to sixty in the space of seconds. She had never considered herself quick-tempered until she met Bastien, but he literally set her teeth on edge almost every time he spoke.