He smiled grimly, remembering all the clothes he had ordered for her. He hadn’t troubled to choose them himself. Of course he hadn’t. When had he ever taken time to do that—even for himself? Money bought more than fabulous clothes, and fast cars, it bought the undivided attention of top people in whatever field he chose to spread his wealth.
Delegating trivia like shopping had always worked fine for him before. He didn’t care as long as there was always a clean shirt waiting, but now it wasn’t enough. He wanted to choose something special for Lisa, and he wanted to do that without anyone else’s interference. He wanted her to have something precious, something unique, something to remember him by.
Making a harsh noise that sounded nothing like a laugh, Tino stared at himself in the mirror, his mouth twisting with self-disgust.
‘Come in, Maria.’ Lisa recognised the knock on her bedroom door. She was almost ready for dinner, and it was always a pleasure to see the young girl.
‘Why, Maria, you look beautiful.’
‘We can never wait for anything here in Stellamaris, so the celebrations for May Day have already started in our village,’ Maria explained, spreading her hands lovingly down her intricately embroidered skirt. ‘We are all in national costume.’
‘Well, I think you look absolutely stunning. What a wonderful heritage.’
‘You look very lovely too, Thespinis Bond,’ Maria said, her black eyes widening as Lisa stood up.
‘Thank you, Maria. I only hope Kirie Zagorakis will think so. He bought this dress for me.’ Lisa blushed, realising that she had confessed rather more than she ought to, but the jade-green chiffon, though more modest than some of the other gowns in her wardrobe, was perhaps the most beautiful dress she had ever owned, and tonight, in spite of their pact, she wanted Tino to look at her with something other than lust in his eyes.
‘What’s that, Maria?’ Apprehension struck Lisa as she stared at the velvet box in Maria’s hands.
‘Kirie Zagorakis asked me to bring this to you, Thespinis Bond. He asks you to put them on for him this evening.’
Lisa frowned as she stared at the small velvet case Maria was holding out to her. Maria frowned too, sensing her unease.
‘Just leave it over there.’ Lisa pointed to her dressing table. She couldn’t bring herself to open the small case in front of anyone, not even Maria.
As Maria did as she asked Lisa stepped forward impulsively, and took the young girl’s hands between her own. ‘You’ve been very kind to me, Maria.’
‘Kind to you?’ Maria looked at her with surprise, tilting up her chin to stare into Lisa’s eyes, ‘Is no one else kind to you, Thespinis Bond?’
‘Of course, they are, Maria.’ Lisa looked away briefly. ‘But you’ve made me feel so welcome here.’
Turning at the door, Maria smiled at her. ‘I hope you have a lovely evening, Thespinis Bond.’
Lisa circled the jewellery box as if it were an asp. It was just a small box in navy-blue velvet, she told herself sensibly… A small, beautifully made box that looked as if it had come from one of the most exclusive jewellers in Athens. But how could that be possible? Had it been delivered by jet, or by helicopter? Or did Tino keep a stock of such things, just in case—perhaps increasing the value of the gift depending upon the services he had received? The blood drained from her face at the thought of the pleasure they had shared. Was this her payment for it?
Lisa looked at the jewel case again. She wanted to believe it was a spontaneous gift with no strings attached; something she could return without causing offence. She had last seen Tino five hours ago. Plenty of time for a wilful billionaire to call for his jet to go shopping…
But that wasn’t Tino’s way, Lisa remembered. He ordered in: designer clothes, accessories, jewels, like other men ordered pizza. The amethyst earrings had been a perfect example. Was he upping the ante now, perhaps tempting her with priceless baubles to see if he could push her into becoming the billionaire’s bought woman? Exhaling tensely, she picked up the box, and checked her pale reflection one last time in the mirror.
The return of the gift, as well as the confrontation she expected to erupt between them—none of that was possible, Lisa realised as soon as she walked onto the patio. Tonight was clearly a night of celebration for Arianna and Giorgio.