‘Because you were keeping our visitor company.’ Stella stared hard at him before releasing the tray, and then she turned to Lisa. ‘Forgive me, Lisa, I am sure you do not want to hear us bickering.’
‘You know my name?’ Lisa frowned, realising she had forgotten to introduce herself. She glanced at Tino, but he was suddenly too busy unloading the breakfast tray to notice. ‘I’m sorry, Stella, I should have said.’ Lisa made up for her earlier lapse with a smile, ‘I’m Lisa Bond. I’m here to do business with Tino.’
‘Business with Tino?’ Pulling a face, Stella made a fanning motion with her hand that required no translation.
‘I’m sure I can handle him.’ Lisa stared at him so that he could be in no doubt that she would.
‘So, what are your plans today?’ Stella looked between them as she piled their plates high with fresh bread and honey.
‘We have a meeting.’
‘I plan to take Lisa out on the boat.’
They both spoke at once, and Lisa bridled instantly. She had no intention of wasting the first of her five precious negotiating days on Tino’s floating gin palace.
‘And I will bring back some fresh fish for your supper,’ he added to Stella.
‘I shall look forward to it.’ Stella clapped her hands with pleasure.
Lisa looked from one to the other. Tino was not going to ignore her. And he was not going to draw this lovely, innocent woman into some devious plan he had concocted. They had more important things to do than catch fish today. She watched angrily as he tucked into his breakfast with relish. Breaking off a crispy crust from one of the chunks of bread, he dipped it in some honey.
‘No,’ she said flatly.
‘No?’ Tino paused, bread in hand, to stare at her.
‘I’m not coming with you—I have better things to do than idle my time away. I thought we both did.’
‘Lisa?’ Putting a hand to his chest, Tino affected an innocent expression.
‘Don’t you like boats?’ Stella looked concerned.
‘It isn’t that.’ Lisa hesitated. What could she say without causing an atmosphere? ‘I’m just not used to doing business—’
‘The Greek way?’ Stella suggested helpfully.
A glance at Tino was enough to convince Lisa that he couldn’t have been more pleased with the way things were turning out if he had scripted the exchange himself.
‘All Greek men are fishermen at heart, Lisa,’ Stella explained kindly, unaware of the tension stretching between her visitors. ‘It’s better if you just go along with their way of doing business.’
‘I’m sure you’re right, Stella,’ Lisa said politely, not wanting to cause offence.
‘What was that? What did you say?’ Tino could hardly keep the smile off his face.
‘If you’d been listening, you’d know,’ Lisa said tartly, and then froze. Stella’s face was a picture, and no wonder. She could hardly have expected her breakfast guests to start yelling at each other.
For a moment there was an uncomfortable silence, which Tino did nothing to break. Then, slowly turning back to his breakfast, he dipped another piece of bread into the honey.
Lisa felt she had to say something by way of explanation for her behaviour. ‘I’m so sorry, Stella. I don’t know what came over me.’
‘Think nothing of it.’ Stella dismissed the moment with a smile. ‘Tempers flare high when passions are roused.’
Passions! Passions? Lisa glared at Tino. Whatever Stella imagined, she was wrong—absolutely wrong.
‘Tino has always aroused strong passions in people,’ Stella added.
She couldn’t let this go on, Lisa realised, holding up her hands in front of her. ‘There’s absolutely no chance of Tino upsetting my equilibrium, Stella. It’s just that—’
‘It’s just what, Lisa?’ Tino demanded softly, unfolding from his chair.
As Lisa’s mouth opened to shoot back a reply he fed a piece of honey-soaked crust between her lips. ‘Suck on this,’ he suggested in an undertone. ‘You could do with sweetening up.’
Having no option but to chew, and then swallow, Lisa channelled her fury into her eyes, which locked with his fiercely.