The Greek Commands His Mistress(5)

By: Lynne Graham

‘May I see the pendant before it goes back in the cabinet?’ she had asked curtly, putting out her hand.

‘There’s not much point in you looking at it. I’m planning to buy it,’ Bastien had imparted drily.

Lilah’s teeth had snapped together as though he had slapped her. ‘So am I,’ she had admitted grudgingly.

With reluctance Bastien had settled the pendant into her hand. Her eyes had prickled as she looked at it, because her mother had loved the fanciful piece and had often worn it in summer. The pendant reawakened a few of the happier memories of Lilah’s childhood.

‘Join me for coffee,’ Bastien had urged, flipping the pendant back out of her hand to return it to the hovering assistant.

Lilah had dealt him a bemused look of surprise. ‘It would hardly be a-appropriate,’ she’d stammered. ‘Not when we’re both going to bid on the same lot.’

‘Maybe I’m sentimental. Maybe I would like to hear about where the necklace has been all these years.’

Bastien had dangled that unlikely assurance in front of her like a prize carrot and she had caved in to coffee, feeling that to do otherwise would be rude and unreasonable.

And so her brief acquaintance with Bastien Zikos had begun, Lilah recalled unhappily. Hurriedly she blanked out the memories of that short week she never, ever allowed herself to think about, far too well aware of how mortifyingly long it was taking for her to forget meeting Bastien Zikos. Yet she had never had any regrets about turning him down—not then and not since, even when the most cursory internet search of Bastien’s name always revealed the never-ending parade of different beauties that it took to keep Bastien happy. Quantity rather than quality was what Bastien went for in women, she had often thought, while telling herself that she had made the only decision she could...even if he still hated her for it.

As Lilah walked through the factory gates, saddened by the lack of vehicles and bustle that had used to characterise the once busy site, her mobile phone rang. Digging it out, she answered it. It was Josh, whom she had gone to university with, and he was suggesting she join him and a few friends for a night out. Every six weeks or so they met up as a group, went for a meal and out to see a film. One or two of the group were couples, the others simply friends. Josh, for example, was recovering from a broken engagement, and Lilah’s last boyfriend had dumped her as soon as her father’s business had hit the skids.

‘Tomorrow night?’ Lilah queried, thinking about it and liking the idea, because evenings in her crowded little house were currently far from relaxing and the idea of getting out was attractive. ‘What time?’

Her friends would take her mind off things, she reflected gratefully, and stop her constantly fretting about a situation she had no control over. Unfortunately for Lilah an instinctive need to fix broken things and rescue people and animals ran deep and strong in her veins.

* * *

From the main office on the top floor, Bastien watched Delilah Moore cross the Moore Components car park with laser-sharp attention. She was still the most beautiful creature he had ever seen, he acknowledged, angry that that should still strike him as being the case. There had been a lot of women in his bed since he had met Robert Moore’s daughter, but none of them had held his interest for very long.

Bastien still saw Delilah in the same light as he had first seen her, with her silky black curling cloud of hair falling almost to her waist and her sapphire-blue eyes electrifyingly noticeable against her creamy, perfect skin. Even wearing worn jeans and scuffed biker boots she’d had that casual effortlessly elegant look which some women had no matter what they wore.

Then, as now, he had told himself impatiently that she wasn’t his type. With a single exception he had always gone for tall curvy blondes. Delilah was tiny, and very slender—the complete opposite of voluptuous. He just couldn’t explain what made her so appealing to him, and that annoyed Bastien because anything he couldn’t control or understand annoyed him.

This time around, he would get close enough to see all her flaws, he promised himself grimly.

* * *

‘The new boss is in the building!’ carolled Lilah’s colleague Julie as soon as she walked into the small office the two women shared.

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