The good-humoured reply left her nothing to say. Besides, she was sure everything on board would run perfectly for Theo’s pleasure. Ari would not fail in his mission to have his son thinking the nice man was absolutely wonderful. He’d been wonderful to her for three whole months without one slip for any doubt about him to enter her head.

The white motor launch was in pristine condition. A blue and white striped canopy shaded the rear deck which had bench seats softened by blue and white striped cushions. Tina was invited to sit down and relax while Jason got the boat under way again and Ari took Theo to fetch drinks and give him a tour of the galley.

She sat and tried to concentrate on enjoying the marvellous view, let the day flow past without drawing attention to herself. Tonight’s family dinner would test her nerves to the limit, but at least her mother would be there, helping to keep normal conversation rolling along. And despite the stress this meeting with Ari’s parents would inevitably cause, Tina told herself she did need to see the Zavros home environment, check that it would be a good place for Theo to be if visits to Santorini had to be arranged.

She smiled as she heard Theo say, ‘I’m not allowed to have Coca-Cola. Mama says it’s not good for me. I can have water or milk or fruit-juice.’

Welcome to the world of parenting, Ari. It isn’t all fun and games. Making healthy choices for your child is an important part of it. Would he bother to take that kind of care or would he hire a nanny to do the real business of parenting?

Tina mentally ticked that off as an item to be discussed before agreeing to visits.

‘Okay, what would you like?’ he asked, not questioning her drinks ruling.

‘Orange juice.’

‘And what does your Mama like?’ ‘Water. She drinks lots of water.’

‘No wine?’

Not since you put intoxicating bubbles in my brain.

‘No. It’s water or coffee or tea for Mama,’ Theo said decisively.

‘Well, after our hot walk, I guess iced water would be the best choice.’

‘Yes,’ Theo agreed.

He carried out jugs of orange juice and iced water, setting them on the fixed table which served the bench seats. Theo brought a stack of plastic glasses, carefully separating them out as Ari returned to the galley, emerging again with a platter containing a selection of cheeses and crackers, nuts, olives and grapes.

‘There we are! Help yourselves,’ he invited, though he did pour out the drinks for them—water for him, too.

‘I love olives,’ Theo declared, quickly biting into one.

‘Ah! A true Greek,’ Ari said proudly.

Tina instantly bridled. ‘Theo is an Australian.’

‘But Yia Yia is Greek, Mama,’ Theo piped up.

‘Definitely some Greek blood there,’ Ari declared, a glittering blast from his golden eyes defying Tina’s claim.

‘True,’ she agreed, deciding the point that needed to be made could be driven home when Theo was not present. Australia was their home country. Theo was an Australian citizen. And the family court in Australia would come down on Tina’s side. At least she had that in her favour.

Ari chatted away to their son who positively basked in his father’s attention. He explained about the volcano as they sailed towards what was left of it, telling the story of what had happened in the far distant past, how the volcano had erupted and destroyed everything. Theo lapped it up, fascinated by the huge disaster, and eager to walk up to the crater when they disembarked there.

Then it was on to the islet of Palea Kameni for a swim in the hot springs—another new exciting experience for Theo. Tina didn’t really want to change into her bikini, being far too physically conscious of Ari looking at her to feel comfortable in it, but she liked the idea of letting Theo go alone with him even less. He was her son and she was afraid of giving Ari free rein with him without her supervision.

Unfortunately Ari in a brief black swimming costume reduced her comfort zone to nil. His almost naked perfectly proportioned male body brought memories of their previous intimacy flooding back. She’d loved being with him in bed; loved touching him, feeling him, looking at him, loved the intense pleasure he’d given her in so many ways. It had been the best time of her life. It hurt, even now, that it had only been a charming episode for him. It hurt even more that she couldn’t control the treacherous desire to have him again.

She could if she married him. She probably could anyhow. He’d lusted after her before without marriage in mind. But having sex with him again wouldn’t feel the same. She wouldn’t be able to give herself to him whole-heartedly, knowing she wasn’t the love of his life. There would be too many shadows in any bed they shared.

It was easier to push the memories aside when they were back on the boat and properly dressed again. Ari in clothes was not quite so mesmerising. He and Theo took over the wheel, playing at being captain together, steering the boat towards the village of Oia on the far point of Santorini while Jason was busy in the galley.

They had a delicious lunch of freshly cooked fish and salad. After all the activity and with his stomach full, Theo curled up on the bench seat, his head on Tina’s lap and went to sleep. Jason was instructed to keep the boat cruising around until the boy woke. If there was still time to visit Oia, he could then take them into the small port.

‘We don’t want him too tired to enjoy his birthday party tonight,’ Ari remarked to Tina.

‘No. I think we should head home when he wakes. We’ve done all you promised him, Ari. He should have some quiet time, building the Lego train station before more excitement tonight,’ Tina said, needing some quiet time for herself, as well. It was stressful being constantly in the company of the man who was intent on breaking into her life again.

‘Okay.’ He gave her an admiring look. ‘You’ve done a good job with him, Christina. He’s a delightful child.’

She gritted her teeth, determined not to be seduced by his compliments, deliberately moving her gaze to the black cliffs ahead of them. ‘I think it’s important to instill good principles in a child as early as possible,’ she said, a sudden wave of resentment towards him making her add, ‘I don’t want him to grow up like you.’

His silence tore at her nerves but she refused to look at him.

Eventually he asked, ‘What particular fault of mine are you referring to?’

‘Thinking women are your toys to be picked up and played with as you please,’ she answered, wishing he could be honest about himself and honest to her. ‘I want Theo to give consideration to how he touches others’ lives. I hope when he connects with people he will always leave them feeling good.’

Source: www.StudyNovels.com