Lisa seized the opportunity. ‘About Arianna…’
Lisa noticed how closed Tino’s expression had become. There was definitely more to his relationship with Arianna than he was letting on. She was right to probe.
‘I’ve told you all you need to know about Arianna.’
‘You told me that she was Stella’s daughter, but—’
‘But what? What more do you want to know about her, Lisa?’
Not just Arianna.. you and Arianna. ‘I’m not sure yet.’
‘Yet?’ He stared at her thoughtfully for a moment, and then his eyes brightened with understanding. At the same time one corner of his mouth tugged up in his trademark annoying half-smile. ‘Do you think I’ve brought you here to pounce on you?’
‘I think you’ve got marginally more style than that.’
‘That’s very kind of you—and for your information, I have known Arianna since the day she was born. If you think of her as my sister you will have the true picture.’
‘That’s it?’ It was actually a lot more than she had expected him to tell her, and enough to set her pulse rate racing.
‘That’s all you’re getting. Would you like some?’
‘Some what?’ Lisa froze, still debating the implications of a single and unattached Tino as he leaned towards her.
‘Almonds and raisins.’
‘Oh, yes… thank you.’
He filled their beakers with more wine.
The little she had learned about him had fuelled her curiosity, as well as her determination to keep his revelations on a roll. ‘Tell me about that beautiful piano you have at Villa Aphrodite.’
On the point of handing her the beaker, he drew back. ‘What do you want to know about it?’
‘Do you play?’
He shrugged. ‘What more is there to know?’
She guessed he had already given her more information than he had ever given to anyone outside his inner circle, but that wasn’t going to deter her from discovering more. Taking the beaker of wine from him, she said casually, ‘I don’t mean to probe, but—’
‘If I need a private investigator,’ Tino cut across her, ‘I’ll know who to call.’
‘So you do enjoy playing the piano.’
Throwing back his head, he made a throaty, frustrated sound. ‘Yes. Is that all?’
‘If you’d rather not talk about it…’
‘Oh, no,’ he assured her sarcastically. ‘I love to chat.’
‘I learned to play the piano as an adult.’
Lisa went very still. ‘You must be very good,’ she said carefully, not wanting to push him too hard. ‘Those are difficult, demanding pieces.’
‘I play well enough.’
‘I guess you needed a hobby.’
‘You guess? Are you waiting for me to confirm or deny your guess, Lisa?’
‘No, of course not—I’m sorry.’
‘I always wanted to play the piano, that is all.’
‘And you couldn’t have lessons as a child?’
‘No.’ Impatience was pinging off him now. ‘I couldn’t have piano lessons until I paid for them myself.’
Lisa knew she was by no means the only child who had yearned for things she couldn’t have until the day she took charge of her own destiny, but something about Tino’s stilted confession suggested he had wounds that ran deep. His lack of history intrigued her. Had he erased the past to hide something so terrible that even she could not imagine what it was? The thought that they might share something so intrinsic to their make-up was deeply unwelcome. It gave them a bond—a bond she didn’t want to share with a man who held her company’s fate in his hands; no one knew better than she how ruthless the past could make you.
‘I first met Stella when I was a very small boy. She had an old piano and I loved the sound of it.’
Lifting up her head, Lisa hid her amazement. Tino had started talking about the past again, and without any prompting this time.
‘Arianna was born when I was seven.’
‘So, you grew up in the same neighbourhood?’ Damn, damn, damn! Why couldn’t she just learn to keep her mouth shut?