The Wealthy Greek's Contract Wife(6)

By: Penny Jordan

‘Tell me, Miss Wareham, what kind of greed makes a person ignore the normal rules of law to grab at something even when they know it must be fraudulent?’ His voice was deeply cynical, his whole manner towards her menacing and iced with bitter contempt.

‘I…I don’t know what you’re talking about.’ Lizzie protested truthfully.

‘Of course you do. You were in partnership with my cousin. You have said so yourself. You must have known about the building regulations that were broken, about the suppliers and workmen left unpaid in order to build the apartments at a minimum cost to your partnership, and for the maximum ultimate profit.’

‘No, I didn’t,’ Lizzie insisted. But she could see that he didn’t believe her.

‘Have you any idea of the damage your greed has caused? The hardship it has inflicted on those you cheated? Or do you simply not care? Well, I intend to make sure that you do care, Miss Wareham. I will make sure that you pay back everything you owe.’

Ilios was angrier than he could ever remember being. His cousin had systematically tried to cheat him and manipulate him at every turn, and now Tino was even daring to challenge his legitimacy to what was rightfully his. Ilios could feel his fury boiling up inside him. His cousin might not be here to pay for what he had done, but his partner in crime, this Englishwoman who actually dared to lie to him, was here, and she would bear the brunt of his fury and his retribution, Ilios decided savagely.

‘Everything I owe?’ Lizzie objected, her heart sinking. ‘What do you mean? I don’t owe anybody anything.’

Her determination to continue lying to him hardened Ilios’s resolve to inflict retribution on her. She was everything he most disliked and despised in her sex. Dishonest, and attempting to cloak her dishonesty with an air of pseudo-innocence that manifested itself in the way she was dressed—simply, in jeans worn with a tee shirt and a plain jacket—and in her face with its admittedly beautiful bone structure, free of make-up.

Just as that damn elusive scent she was wearing had made him want to draw her closer, to pursue it and capture it, so the pink lipstick that deliberately drew his attention to the fullness of her mouth made him want to capture her lips to see if they were as soft as they looked. Where another less skilled woman might have tried to use artifice to mask her deceit, Elizabeth Wareham used art—the art of appearing modest, honest, vulnerable. Well, it wouldn’t work on him. Anyone who did business with his cousin had to be as dishonest and scheming as manipulative as Tino was himself. Like attracted like, after all. She could try using her sexuality to disarm him as much as she liked. He wasn’t going to be taken in.

When Ilios Manos didn’t respond, Lizzie stiffened her spine and her resolve and repeated, as firmly as she could, ‘I don’t owe anyone in Greece any money, and I don’t understand why you think I do.’

‘I don’t think you do, Miss Wareham. I know you do—because the person you owe money to is me.’

Lizzie gulped in air and tried not to panic. ‘But that’s not possible.’

Ilios was in no mood to let her continue lying to him. ‘You owe me money, Miss Wareham, because of your involvement with the apartments built by my cousin on my land. Plus there is also the matter of the outstanding payments for goods and services provided by local suppliers to you.’

‘That isn’t my fault. The Rainhills were supposed to pay them,’ Lizzie defended herself.

‘The contract supplied to me by my cousin states unequivocally that you are to pay them.’

‘No—that can’t be possible,’ Lizzie repeated

‘I assure you that it is.’

‘I have my copy of the contract here with me, and it states quite plainly that the owners of the apartments are to pay the suppliers direct,’ Lizzie insisted.

‘Contracts can be altered.’

‘And in this case they obviously have been—but not by me.’ Lizzie’s face was burning with disbelief and despair.

‘And you can prove this?’ Ilios Manos was demanding, the expression on his face making it plain that he did not believe her.

‘I have a contract that states that my clients are responsible for paying the suppliers.’

‘That is not what I asked you. The contract I have states unequivocally that you are responsible for paying them. And then there is the not so small matter of your share of the cost of taking down the apartments and returning the land to its original state.’

‘Taking down the apartments?’ Lizzie echoed. ‘But that was nothing to do with me. You were the one who ordered their destruction—you told me that yourself…’