The Greek Commands His Mistress(3)

By: Lynne Graham

Her father and Vickie had married four years earlier and Lilah now had two half-siblings she adored: three-year-old Ben and little Clara.

Currently Lilah’s family were sharing her own rented home. With only two small bedrooms, a cramped living room and an even tinier kitchen, it was a very tight squeeze. But until the council came up with alternative accommodation for her father and his family, or her father found a paying job, they didn’t have much choice.

The impressive five-bedroom home that her father and his wife had once owned was gone now, along with the business. Everything had had to be sold to settle the loans her father had taken out in a desperate effort to keep Moore Components afloat.

‘I’m still hoping that Bastien Zikos will throw your dad a lifeline,’ Vickie confided in a sudden burst of optimism. ‘I mean, nobody knows that business better than Robert, and surely there’s a space somewhere in the office or the factory where your father could still make himself useful?’

Lilah resisted the urge to remark that Bastien was more likely to tie a concrete block to her father’s leg and sink him. After all, the Greek billionaire had offered to buy Moore Components two years earlier and his offer had been refused. Her father should’ve sold up and got out then, she thought regretfully. But the business had been doing well and, although tempted by the offer, the older man had ultimately decided that he couldn’t face stepping down.

It was no consolation to Lilah that Bastien himself had forecast disaster once he’d realised that the firm’s prosperity depended on the retention of one very important contract. Within weeks of losing that contract Moore Components had been struggling to survive.

‘I’d better get to work,’ Lilah remarked in a brittle voice, bending down to pet the miniature dachshund pushing affectionately against her legs in the hope of getting some attention.

Since her family had moved in Skippy had been a little neglected, she conceded guiltily. When had she last taken him for anything other than the shortest of walks?

Thoroughly unsettled, however, by her stepmother’s sanguine reference to Bastien Zikos as a possible saviour, Lilah abandoned Skippy to pull on her raincoat, knotting the belt at her narrow waist.

She was a small, slender woman, with long black hair and bright blue eyes. She was also one of the very few workers still actively employed at Moore Components now it had gone bust. The Official Receivers had come in, taken over and laid off most of the staff. Only the services of the human resources team had been retained, to deal with all the admin involved in closing down the business. Engaged to work just two more days there, Lilah knew that she too would soon be unemployed.

Vickie was already zipping Ben into his jacket, because Lilah left the little boy at nursery school on her way into work.

It was a brisk spring day, with a breeze, and constantly forced to claw her hair out of her eyes, Lilah regretted not having taken the time to put her hair up long before she dropped her little brother off at the school. Unfortunately she had been suffering sleepless nights and scrambling out of bed every morning heavy-eyed, running late.

Ever since she had learned that Bastien Zikos had bought her father’s failed business she had been struggling to hide her apprehension. In that less-than-welcoming attitude to the new owner, however, Lilah stood very much alone. The Receivers had been ecstatic to find a buyer, while her father and various resident worthies had expressed the hope that the new owner would re-employ some of the people who had lost their jobs when Moore Components closed.

Only Lilah, who had once received a disturbing glimpse of the cold diamond-cutting strength of Bastien’s ruthlessness, was full of pessimism and thought the prospect of Bastien arriving to break good news to the local community unlikely.

In fact, if ever a man could have been said to have scared Lilah, it was Bastien Zikos. Everything about the tall, amazingly handsome Greek had unnerved her. The way he looked, the way he talked, the domineering way he behaved. His whole attitude had been anathema to her and she had backed off fast—only to discover, to her dismay, that that kind of treatment only put Bastien into pursuit mode.

Although Lilah was only twenty-three she had distrusted self-assured, slick and handsome men all her life, fully convinced that most of them were lying, cheating players. After all, even her own father had once been like that—a serial adulterer whose affairs had caused her late mother great unhappiness.

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