She had felt safe in his arms… in a man’s arms. She had felt cherished for the first time in her life. She had felt Tino’s arms around her, sometimes seeking nothing more than an affectionate hug, which had meant more to her than she could safely express without breaking down and spoiling the day with ugly comparisons.
She had never known affection; she had never known how wonderful a touch, a gesture, or just a simple look from someone who really cared for you could be. And then Tino had made love to her… really made love to her. So he really did love her a little bit, even if expressing his emotions didn’t come easily to him.
And what a lover. Lisa eased her body on the bed, feeling all the unaccustomed signs of lengthy lovemaking… But they’d had fun too. She had never in her wildest dreams imagined that sex could be such fun. And they had laughed together, as much as they had desired each other, and felt a ravening hunger for each other. They had laughed together… She laughed now, dashing away tears of sheer emotion. She had never thought of herself as an emotional person before; she’d spent all of her life hiding her emotions, pretending they didn’t exist. But one night with Tino had reduced her to an emotional mess. What she felt for him was so wonderful, so unexpected, such a revelation, she didn’t have a clue how she was going to handle all the feelings competing for space inside her.
Leaping out of bed, she hunted for his bathroom. Doors, doors: closets, dressing-rooms—one with nothing but casual shirts and jeans, another with suits at one end, and those see-through-fronted drawers at the other, holding goodness knew what. She was laughing again by the time she found the bathroom. As she might have expected, it was fabulous. Clad in black marble, the shower alone was big enough for a rugby team! She wouldn’t waste time on a bath, though that was easily big enough for two… She had seen baths like it in magazines, but even in her own rather splendid bathroom at the villa there was nothing approaching this scale of opulence. Once she was showered, and dressed casually in cream cotton trousers and a sky- blue short-sleeved shirt, she knew exactly what she wanted to do…
What this room needs is a woman’s touch, Lisa reflected as she turned full circle still fixing her hair in a casual ponytail. Flowers… flowers like the ones Tino had sent to her room, only even better than those… She would go downstairs and seek the gardener’s help.
The kitchen was busy when she found the same young girl who had brought the flowers up to her room. Fortunately, Maria spotted her, and came across at once to see if she could be of help.
‘These flowers are for Kirie Zagorakis,’ Lisa explained, ‘Could you help me with them, Maria? Do you have a vase?’
‘Malista—of course, Thespinis Bond.’ Maria glanced back to where her colleagues were hurrying about.
Lisa thought the young girl looked a little anxious. ‘It seems very busy in here. Are you sure I won’t get you into trouble?’
‘No, I am happy to help you,’ Maria assured her. ‘Come over here, Thespinis Bond. You can arrange them at the sink we use for such things.’
The flowers were magnificent. Lisa had chosen them to complement the reds, orange, green and pinks of the Hockney painting. Gazing round Tino’s room, she decided to set them on a low Swedish-style table opposite the picture.
Standing back to admire her handiwork, she sighed. ‘Perfect.’ Now all she had to do was to find Tino and spring the surprise on him. Why shouldn’t men have romantic gestures made to them? She could already picture them, arms linked as she dragged him along, teasing him… He would pretend to hold back… He would be puzzled, but laughing—they would both laugh. She couldn’t wait to see his face when she brought him back to his room…
Tino frowned as he cut the line. Lisa wasn’t in her room. No one in the house seemed to know where she had gone. He should have woken her… but she had looked so peaceful. She would be down on the beach, he guessed, and if so it would be hours before she returned…
He rang the housekeeper, and asked her to send someone down to the beach to find Thespinis Bond for him. The kitchen was in uproar, he could hear all the hectic preparations in the background. It pleased him to know that his household was equal to any task he set them. He ran a tight ship, a successful ship; everything on Stellamaris ran like clockwork…