The Wealthy Greek's Contract Wife(11)By: Penny Jordan
‘That wasn’t what your body was saying.’
Of course he was bound to have known what she was feeling, a man like him, with that aura he had of sexual power and knowledge. Lizzie’s face burned hot with self-conscious awareness of how he had made her feel. She wasn’t going to allow him to get the better of her, though. She couldn’t afford to.
‘You can think what you like,’ she told him defensively. ‘But I know the truth.’
Of course she did. And the truth was…
She didn’t want to think about what the truth was, or what it had felt like to be held in his arms, to be touched by him, to have her senses set alight and her defences laying down their arms in willing surrender. She didn’t want to think of anything other than putting as much distance as she could between herself and Ilios Manos as fast as she could.
‘WHERE are we going?’ Lizzie asked uncertainly, once she was back on her feet and Ilios was a safe distance away from her.
‘Not to some secluded grotto so I can imprison you like some Greek nymph awaiting the gods’ pleasure, where you will be obliged to answer to my every sensual need, if that is what you are imagining. We are merely returning to Villa Manos, which is where I left my car.’
‘Villa Manos? That is where you live?’ Lizzie queried—after all, it was far safer talking about a villa than it was thinking about the dangerous effect his previous comments had been having on her.
‘No. I have an apartment in Thessaloniki, at the top of the Manos Construction office block. The villa is very old, and the building has fallen into disrepair. It was Tino’s hope that he could insist that it be bulldozed, because it might present a danger to the holidaymakers visiting the complex he planned to build here—but then I am sure that you already know all about that, since you are partners.’
They had almost reached the top of the incline now, and even though she was slightly out of breath Lizzie turned to face him, her normally calm grey eyes sparkling quicksilver-bright with temper as she objected. ‘I have already told you. I have never even met your cousin, never mind been the recipient of his confidences with regard to his business plans.’
‘Business plans which included manipulating me into selling him my half of our grandfather’s land once he had forced me to remove our ancestral home from it.’
Ilios had started to climb the last few feet of the path, so Lizzie did the same, coming to an abrupt halt as she saw what lay below them, bathed in the last dying rays of the day’s light.
At the far end of a long straight drive, lined with tall Cyprus trees and surrounded by Italianate gardens, slightly elevated from the surrounding terrain, set like a pearl against the dark green of the Cyprus and the blue of the Aegean Sea beyond it, perfectly framed by its surroundings was—
‘Villa Emo,’ Lizzie announced breathlessly in a slightly dazed voice as she stared at the building. She turned to Ilios to say in disbelief, ‘It looks exactly like Villa Emo—the house Palladio designed for the Emo family outside Venice.’
To either side of the main house long, low, arcaded wings—which on the original Villa Emo had been farm buildings—extended in perfect symmetry, capped at both ends with classically styled dovecotes, whilst the main building itself was a perfect copy of the Italian original.
‘It’s so beautiful,’ Lizzie whispered, awestruck by the wonderful symmetry of the building and wondering how on earth Palladio’s beautiful villa for the Emo family had somehow transported itself here, to this remote Greek Macedonian promontory.
‘A deadly beauty, some might say, since it was someone else’s desire to possess it conflicting with my grandfather’s determination to keep it that cost my father and Tino’s father their lives.’ His voice was openly harsh with bitterness.
Without waiting to see if Lizzie was following him he started off down the steep path towards the house. Automatically Lizzie followed him, unable to stop herself from asking, once she had caught up with him, ‘What happened—to your father?’ She had lost her own parents, after all, and she knew the dreadful pain of that kind of loss.
‘What happened?’ Ilios stopped so abruptly that Lizzie almost cannoned into him, only stopping herself from doing so by placing her hand on his forearm to steady herself. She snatched it back again for her own safety and peace of mind as she felt the now familiar surge of sensual longing that physical contact with him brought her. How was it possible for this one man to do what no other man had ever done, without actually doing anything to arouse the desire she felt for him? Lizzie didn’t know, and she didn’t really want to know either. She simply wanted it not to happen.