One eyebrow arched in knowing mockery. ‘A model.’
‘She was then.’
‘And you had fun with her.’
He grimaced at her dig, which he found extremely distasteful in the circumstances. ‘Ancient history, Felicity. I was simply surprised to see her here in Dubai.’
‘Well, she’s loaded down with a child now,’ she said with snide satisfaction. ‘No fun at all.’
‘I can’t imagine it is much fun, being a single mother,’ he said, barely containing a wave of anger at Felicity’s opinion.
‘Oh, I don’t know. Quite a few movie stars have chosen that route and they seem to revel in it.’
Ari wanted this conversation finished. He heaved a sigh, then mockingly drawled, ‘What do I know? I’m a man.’
Felicity laughed, leaned over and stroked his thigh. ‘And a gorgeous one, darling. Which is why I don’t like you straying, even for a minute.’
The urge to stray to Christina Savalas had been instant.
He’d had his surfeit of self-centred women like Felicity Fullbright and the flash of memory—a sweet, charming time—had compelled him out of his seat. But it wasn’t the same Christina he’d known. How could it be, given the passage of years? A different person, she’d said. He would need to get to know her again if she was the mother of his child.
He would track her down in the very near future. Obviously she was on a tourist trip with her mother and would be on the move for a few weeks. Best to wait until she was back on home ground. In the meantime, he had to sever any further involvement with Felicity, attend his cousin’s wedding, then free himself up to pursue the big question.
Was Theo Savalas his son?
If the answer was a definitive yes, changes to his life had to be made.
And Christina Savalas would have to come to some accommodation with him, whether she liked it or not.
A father had rights to his child, and Ari had no qualms about enforcing them.
Family was family.
TINA felt continually tense for the rest of their short stay in Dubai, knowing Ari Zavros was in the same city. Although she didn’t think he would pursue the paternity issue, and a second accidental encounter with him was unlikely, she only felt safe on the red tour bus in between its stops at the various points of interest; the gold souks, the spice markets, the shopping centres. It was a huge relief to board their flight to Athens on the third day, not having had any further contact with him.
They were met at the airport by Uncle Dimitri, her father’s older brother. After a brief stop to check in at their hotel, he took them on to his restaurant which was sited just below the Acropolis and where all their Greek relatives had gathered to welcome them home. It wasn’t home to Tina or Theo, both of whom had been born in Australia, but it was interesting to meet her mother’s and father’s families and it was a very festive get-together.
Her mother revelled in the company and Theo was a hit—such a beautiful grandchild—but Tina couldn’t help feeling like an outsider. The women tended to talk about her in the third person, as though she wasn’t there at all.
‘We must find a husband for your daughter, Helen.’
‘Why did she cut her hair? Men like long hair.’
‘She is obviously a good mother. That is important.’
‘And if she is used to helping in a restaurant …’
Not helping, managing, Tina silently corrected, observing how Uncle Dimitri was managing his. He was constantly on watch, signalling waiters to wherever service was required. All the patrons were treated to a plate of sliced watermelon at the end of their meals—on the house—a nice touch for long hot evenings. People left happy, which meant return visits and good word-of-mouth. It was something she could copy at home.
Most of the tables were out on the sidewalk, under trees or umbrellas. Herbs were grown in pots, their aromas adding to the pleasant ambience. The food was relatively simple, the salads very good. She particularly liked the olive oil, honey and balsamic vinegar dressing—a combination she would use in future. It was easy to relax and have a taste of Athens.
There’d been a message from Cassandra at the hotel, saying she and her fiancé would join them at the restaurant, and Tina kept looking for their arrival, eager to meet up with her sister again. Cass had brought George home to Sydney with her six months ago, but had been working a heavy international schedule ever since. They had just flown in from London and were spending one night in Athens before moving on to the island of Patmos where George’s family lived.
‘Here they come!’ her mother cried, seeing them first.
And froze in horror.
There was her beautiful sister, her face aglow with happy excitement, looking every inch the supermodel she had become.
Hugging her to his side was George Carasso, grinning with pride in his bride-to-be.
Next to him strolled Ari Zavros.
Her mother turned to her. ‘Tina, isn’t that the man we saw …’
She heard the words but couldn’t answer. Bad enough to find herself confronted by him again. It was much, much worse with him knowing about Theo!
People were on their feet, greeting, welcoming, hugging and kissing. Ari was introduced as George’s cousin who was to be his best man at the wedding. His best man! And she was Cass’s only bridesmaid! The nightmare she had made for herself was getting more torturous by the second and there was no end to it any time soon. It was going to be impossible to enjoy her sister’s wedding. She would have to suffer through being Ari’s partner at the ceremony and the reception.
If she hadn’t opened her mouth in Dubai and let her secret out, she might have managed to skate over their past involvement. There was little hope of that now. No hope at all, given the look Ari Zavros had just turned her way, a dangerously simmering challenge in the riveting amber eyes.
‘And this is your sister?’ he prompted Cass, who immediately obliged with the formal introduction.
‘Yes. Tina! Oh, it’s so good to see you again!’ she bubbled, dodging around the table to give her a hug. ‘George and I are staying in Ari’s apartment tonight and when we told him we were meeting up with you, he insisted on coming with us so you won’t be strangers to each other at the wedding.’
He hadn’t let the cat out of the bag.
Tina fiercely hoped it suited him not to.
Cass swooped on Theo, lifting him up in her arms and turning to show him off to Ari. ‘And this is my nephew, Theo, who is going to be our page boy.’