‘You work too hard, Lisa. You should make a little time for yourself.’
Lisa’s glance slipped back to the couple standing at the water’s edge.
Misreading her interest, Stella grabbed hold of her arm, and started to lead her across the sands. ‘You must meet my daughter.’
‘Arianna and I have already met—briefly, at the villa when I first arrived.’
‘Then let me introduce you properly,’ Stella insisted, giving Lisa’s arm a little tug.
It wasn’t Tino! It wasn’t Tino… As they drew closer and Lisa saw her mistake she instantly regretted her suspicions, and when Stella began the introductions she discovered that, like Arianna, Giorgio was also an opera singer, an Italian tenor of some renown. He and Arianna were due to start a week’s rehearsals for a major new production at the Covent Garden Opera House in London. Of course, that was why Stella had been staying at the villa, Lisa realised. She had wanted to give the two lovers some space, before world attention intruded on their personal lives.
‘I have something to ask you, Stella.’
Lisa looked up at Arianna’s handsome companion, and then looked at Stella.
‘Not yet, Giorgio,’ Stella warned, her eyes twinkling.
‘No,’ Arianna agreed. ‘We must wait for Tino.’
Wait for Tino? Lisa’s mouth hardened. Why did he have to be part of this? Could no deal be struck, not even a love match, without his seal of approval? Why should Arianna’s happiness depend on him? She couldn’t understand it. Surely Stella’s approval was all that mattered?
‘Arianna is right, Giorgio,’ Stella said, ‘You must be patient. We have to wait for Tino to return.’
With a heartfelt groan, Giorgio looked for some relief from Arianna, but she only shrugged and kissed him impulsively on the cheek. ‘Waiting will make everything that much better,’ she insisted.
Every mention of Tino’s name was like a burr in Lisa’s side. It was growing increasingly hard to hide her feelings. ‘How long do you expect Tino to be away from the island, Stella?’
‘He will be back when he has finished his other business.’
Arianna’s face lit up with understanding. ‘Ah, so Tino has gone to the—’
‘Arianna!’ Stella silenced her daughter with a look. ‘We will talk about this later.’
Why had they all turned to stare at her now? Lisa wondered. Why was she being left out of the loop? Didn’t any of them trust her? She held in her feelings, but it seemed as good a time as any to leave. ‘It’s been lovely meeting you, Giorgio, and seeing you again, Stella, Arianna—’ she glanced apologetically at her shorts and bare feet ‘—but I really have to go now.’
‘I guess that’s not your business uniform?’ Giorgio suggested.
‘Next time you must share our breakfast,’ Arianna offered warmly.
She had been wrong to doubt any of them, Lisa realised, but where Tino was concerned she couldn’t think straight. ‘I’d love to.’ But there wouldn’t be another time, Lisa realised, giving Stella an impulsive hug. Breaking away, she ran across the beach without glancing back.
As the funicular took her slowly up the cliff Lisa noticed the three figures were still standing in the same place waving to her, but then her vision blurred and she couldn’t see them any longer.
As Lisa had suspected, the meeting soon reached a point where Tino’s presence was essential. No one breathed at Zagorakis Inc without his say-so—and time was running out. ‘I think we’ll have to call it a day here, gentlemen.’
‘My apologies everyone. I hope the meeting went OK without me?’
Lisa stared. Tino had just walked into the room as if he had never been away. ‘Yes, what a shame you missed it.’ She reached for her briefcase. Five days… five lousy days, were all they had agreed upon—and he couldn’t even make it past two.
‘That will be all, everyone. We will reconvene tomorrow.’
Lisa tensed as he took control, adding her own rider, ‘Yes, thank you everyone.’
As the men filed out Tino pointed to the chair she had just vacated.
‘The meeting is over, Tino.’