She was thrown by the fact that he wasn’t alone, and that his companion was a beautiful young woman. Good. That was her first lesson. She was so used to ruling the roost at Bond Steel, she took too much for granted. No one outside his inner circle could say if he had brothers or sisters, or any family at all. Curiosity about Arianna had to be eating her up inside; he planned to keep it that way as long as possible.
Tino’s face told Lisa very little. What was he thinking? Chasing after him had put her on the back foot, but the deal was too crucial to the survival of Bond Steel for her to entrust it to a third party. Yes, of course it would have been better for her to deal with him by mail, at a distance— but that just wasn’t her way. She never shirked a confrontation. It just hadn’t occurred to her that Tino’s life might be very different from her own. She should have known that a man like Constantine Zagorakis would never want for female company.
She managed a smile—that encompassed both the people facing her. ‘It’s very good of you to see me like this.’ Arianna smiled back, but Lisa found herself confronting a brick wall in Tino’s eyes.
Damn! Damn! Damn! She was only being nice for Arianna’s sake. This picture of domestic bliss had really thrown her. She should have known that ‘nice’ didn’t suit her. She had given Tino the advantage over her right away…
She had pictured a butler showing her into a room where there would have been a chance to look around and draw conclusions about the very private Constantine Zagorakis. Those conclusions would have helped her to hone her business strategy. There would have been time to sip a refreshing drink while she lowered the temperature in her heart to freezing just to remind herself that the idea of courting Clifton Steel must have been in his mind all the time he’d been holding her, leading her on to the point where he’d almost kissed her.
A few steadying breaths and she could feel her determination flowing back. She was over her jealousy, and ready to concentrate on rescuing the deal. On bettering him, on triumphing over the bastard!
‘You’re always welcome, Lisa.’
Always welcome? Was he mocking her now?
‘Andreas told us to expect you.’
‘It won’t take long.’ Lisa glanced apologetically at Arianna. She refused to see the young woman as a rival, if only because that would have meant Tino had some sort of hold over her. ‘I’m staying at the Zagorakis guest house,’ she added in case he should think she was looking for board and lodgings. She had the satisfaction of seeing his gaze sharpen.
‘Tino, please—’ Arianna touched his arm ‘—Lisa looks so pale. She must be tired. She’s had a long journey.’
Pale and tired? Pale because she was strung out like a wire, perhaps…
‘Arianna’s right. Won’t you come in, Lisa?’
Was the humour in his voice only apparent to her? Lisa wondered as she went past them both into the house. She would have to handle this carefully. It might be just a game to him, but she had no intention of losing Bond Steel to Tino Zagorakis.
The hallway was magnificent. It couldn’t have been a more perfect setting for two such beautiful people. A plant- filled atrium stretched towards a stained glass cupola set into the roof, and where the dying rays of the sun penetrated it caused jewels of light to tremble on the floor beneath her feet.
Something made her turn and she noticed Arianna slipping away. Doubtless all Tino’s women would be equally well trained. They would have to become used to coming second to his business interests.
Beneath the curve of an impressive staircase she spotted a grand piano—it surprised her if only because it wasn’t there for show. The lid was raised, and there was a selection of music littering the stand, as well as the floor around the piano stool.. Barto´k, Bach, Liszt and Brahms, all challenging, cerebral pieces, with a strong dose of romance in the mix…
‘Are you interested in music, Lisa?’
She could feel Tino’s stare burning into her back. ‘Yes, I am, as it happens.’
‘Does it surprise you to find music here?’
‘Surprise me? No.’ No one knew anything about Constantine Zagorakis, or the way he lived, but she was intrigued by the music, and felt sure it must belong to someone else. Zagorakis didn’t possess the heart for music. ‘Does your friend play the piano?’