‘Are you talking about Arianna?’

Lisa shrugged. She didn’t want him mistaking her interest for good old-fashioned female jealousy. ‘Yes, I wondered if the music belonged to Arianna.’


‘Arianna plays the piano occasionally—but more to learn her parts than anything else. She’s an opera singer by profession.’

‘I see.’ Why didn’t that surprise her? Was it because there was something about the dark-eyed beauty that reminded her of her idol, the late diva suprema, Maria Callas? There was the same passion and the same intensity in Arianna’s expression. Was there the same heartbreak courtesy of a Greek billionaire in store for her too?

‘Does Arianna do lot of travelling?’ Do you travel with her? Or do you play away when she’s working?

Tino made a noncommittal sound, and she wasn’t about to repeat the question. And now he was holding open a door she saw led into his study. She had been so busy with her own thoughts, she hadn’t realised they had arrived at their destination.

His study was cool, though surprisingly cosy. The cushions were designed to sink into, and the lighting was subtle. Two sofas were arranged either side of a large stone fireplace, but the fire wasn’t lit as the weather was too warm. The windows were open and she could hear the insistent chirrup of cicadas through the slim, slatted blinds.

‘Make yourself comfortable, Lisa.’

‘Thank you.’ She hadn’t realised how weary she was, but much depended on this visit and she couldn’t afford to lose concentration. She had to secure the deal. She had to save Bond Steel, whatever the personal cost. She couldn’t let Tino take the company as easily as he had stolen her self-control.

He invited her to sit down.

‘I’ll go and get some drinks. White wine all right?’

Wine? To soften her up? She still rued the champagne she had shared with him on Thursday night. ‘Just water for me, please.’


As Tino left the room Lisa knew, however well prepared she was, there were certain things she couldn’t know. How far down the road was his deal with Clifton? Could she still convince Zagorakis that her small engineering works was the best option for him, and that he didn’t need the aggravation of two larger companies like Bond and Clifton?

Doubt washed over her to the point where she wondered if her fighting juices were all used up—and then the door swung open and he walked in. ‘Does Arianna know who you were with on Thursday night?’

‘I doubt she’d be interested.’

As Tino stared at her Lisa wondered what was she doing making any of this personal—the one thing she had vowed not to do. But, however cold-bloodedly she approached the situation, a very female part of her wanted answers. Watching him open a bottle of Chablis, she wished things could have been simpler between them. If they had been she would have asked him who the hell Arianna was, and get it over with.

There was a jug of iced water on the tray as well as a bowl of fresh fruit, and there was also a plate of what looked suspiciously like home-made cookies. Lisa hadn’t eaten a thing since breakfast, and now she realised how hungry she was. But how could she eat cookies when foremost in her mind was an image of Arianna playing earth mother for Tino in the kitchen?

Tino made the torture worse, biting into one of them and then uttering a deep-throated sound of pleasure. The last time she had heard him make a sound like that was when he’d almost kissed her—

‘Won’t you have one?’ He held out the plate.

Apart from wanting to crack it over his head, no way was she going to touch it. Tino was so cool, so together, she wanted the cookies to glue his teeth together, or pull them out, or, better still, stick in his throat and choke him.

‘Do try one.’ He kept on watching her. ‘I can assure you, they’re delicious.’

‘Thank you, no.’ She waved them away with an impatient gesture. ‘Care to tell me why you’re cosying up to Clifton?’

‘Ever the businesswoman, Lisa?’ He shook his head as he put the plate down on the table. ‘You’re such fun to be with.’

‘I can be.’

‘Really? And when would that be?’

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