The Wealthy Greek's Contract Wife(18)

By: Penny Jordan

Lizzie could have kicked herself. Of course he hadn’t been thinking about her personal safety. Why should he?

Ilios had noticed her recoil from him—obviously instinctive and unplanned. But he was certainly not affected by it. Far from it. The last thing he wanted was a sexual relationship between them to add complications to the situation. Ilios looked out into the darkness beyond the car. He should perhaps make that clear to her. Not because of his own pride, of course. No. It was simply the sensible thing to do.

Restarting the car, he informed Lizzie dispassionately, ‘I should have made it clear earlier that our marriage will merely be a business arrangement. If you were thinking of adding to your bonus payment by offering a sexual inducement, then let me warn you not to do so.’

As Lizzie exhaled in angry humiliation, Ilios continued bluntly, ‘I do not want either your body or your desire. Should you be tempted to offer me either one of them, or both, then you must resist that temptation.’

There—that should have made the position clear to her, Ilios decided. It would certainly remove any future risk of his body reacting to her unwanted proximity.

He had obviously realised the effect he was having on her, Lizzie thought miserably.

Annoyingly, now that her seat was reclined and she could have slept comfortably, she felt too self-conscious to do so. So she found the buttons Ilios had used and brought her seat upright again, informing him in as businesslike a voice as she could, ‘My sisters will be expecting to hear from me. I think it will be best if I simply tell them I shall be working for you as an interior designer, rather than trying to explain about our…the marriage.’

‘I agree. However, where my friends and acquaintances are concerned the marriage will obviously become a public reality, and for that reason I think we should agree a suitable history of our relationship. I suggest we say simply that we met when I was on business in England and that our relationship has progressed from there. I kept it and you under wraps, so to speak, until I decided that I wanted to marry you.’

‘Until we decided that we wanted to marry one another,’ Lizzie corrected him firmly, refusing to give way and break eye contact with him when he flashed her a look of arrogant disbelief that said quite plainly that in his book he made the decisions.

‘We shall soon be back in the city,’ he continued, breaking the challenging silence. ‘Which hotel are you in?’

‘I had intended to stay in one of the apartments,’ Lizzie was forced to admit.

‘You mean you haven’t booked anywhere?’ His tone was critical and irritated, making Lizzie feel foolish and unprofessional. She had so much else on her mind to worry about that she’d completely overlooked the fact that she now didn’t have anywhere to stay.

‘Like I said, I was expecting to stay in one of the apartments,’ she defended herself, telling him, ‘Just drop me off somewhere central and I’ll find somewhere.’

The last thing she wanted was for him to take her to some five-star hotel she couldn’t afford.

Ilios fought back his irritation whilst mentally calculating the risk of how likely it was that someone he knew would see Lizzie and remember her later if he booked her into a hotel. He decided the odds were too high for him to take. It wasn’t that he particularly cared about the fact that his wife-to-be wasn’t wearing designer clothes, full makeup and expensive jewellery, but local society liked to gossip, and he didn’t want anyone asking awkward questions.

They were travelling down a wide thoroughfare, passing a spectacularly well-designed tall glass and marble building, but before she could comment on it Ilios had turned into a side street and driven down a dark ramp, activating a door in the black marble of a side wall that opened to allow him to drive inside.

‘Where are we?’ Lizzie asked uncertainly.

‘The Manos Construction building,’ Manos told her. Under the circumstances I think it will be best if you stay in my apartment. There are certain formalities that will need to be dealt with—and quickly, if my cousin’s suspicions are not to be alerted. Since you don’t already have a hotel booking, it makes sense for you to stay with me.’

Stay with him? Lizzie’s mouth had gone dry with tension and anxiety.

‘Nothing to say?’

‘What am I supposed to say? Thank you?’ Lizzie’s voice was filled with despair, and her emotions overwhelmed her as she demanded, ‘Have you any idea what it’s like to be in my position? Not to know whether or not you can pay your bills, or even where your next meal is going to come from? Not having anyone to turn to who can help?’