Instead of waiting for him, she dived into the adjoining bathroom and deliberately kept the door ajar, an open invitation for him to join her.
After a good few minutes of soaping herself under the powerful walk-in shower and washing her hair, boredom kicked in.
She dried herself quickly, rubbed the towel over her hair and moisturised her face.
She made to leave the bathroom, pausing at the last moment to put her robe back on, not yet confident enough to walk around stark naked in broad daylight.
The door of the bathroom he’d been using was open. Masculine scents mingled with the steam of the shower, filling the empty bedroom.
Maybe he was ordering breakfast for them.
She wandered through to the main living area of the suite and found him at the dining table—fully dressed and working on his laptop.
He looked up and flashed a quick smile. ‘Good morning.’
She nodded slowly, caught off-guard to find him working. For surely he must be working? He hadn’t even donned casual clothes but wore a white shirt and blue pinstriped trousers.
‘Are you planning on wearing that to Marrakech?’ she asked. They were due to fly there later that afternoon for a four-day honeymoon.
An uncomfortable look spread over his face, quickly gone, but there long enough for her chest to sink down to her feet.
‘I’m afraid we will have to take our honeymoon another time,’ he said calmly, looking back at his laptop. ‘An emergency has come up.’
He threw her a smile that was clearly intended to bestow patience when all it did was make her want to throw something at him.
‘You know my job is all about finance. When financial problems hit companies, prompt action is needed.’
‘I appreciate that. What I don’t get is why it has to be you—why can’t someone else step in and act as saviour?’
‘There is no one else.’
Her eyes narrowed in suspicion. ‘What about our honeymoon and the way it’s supposed to convince the world we’re in love?’ Why did her heart clench to say that?
‘I joined the board of an Athens shipping company last month in an advisory capacity. One of my staff has been going through the accounts and has discovered a large hole in the company’s finances. Unless we plug that hole in the next two days, fifty thousand people will not receive their pay cheques. That’s fifty thousand people who will struggle to pay their bills, their mortgages, feed their children. We will go to Marrakech at a later date.’
How could she argue with that? She couldn’t, not unless she wanted to sound like the most selfish person in the world.
She eyed him coolly, trying to decide if the whiff of duplicity she detected was real or the workings of a tired, disappointed mind. Four days in Marrakech with nothing to do but laze under the sun and make love had sounded like heaven.
She didn’t dispute the crisis he’d described was real. What she did dispute was his assertion that he was the only person in the world able to resolve it.
Throwing a tight smile, determined not to show her disappointment, she said, ‘Seeing as you’re going to be busy, I’ll return to Milan. There’s a lot of stuff there I need to be getting on with.’
‘No, you will stay here in Athens with me.’
‘Are you giving me an order?’
He sighed. ‘If you return to Milan on your own, the day after our wedding, suspicions will be aroused. People will understand the postponement of a honeymoon because of a financial crisis. This is Greece; the whole country’s in crisis. They will not understand a new wife who is not at her husband’s side during it. We need to live together full-time as man and wife for a few months to keep the doubters at bay. We already agreed this.’
Alessandra’s teeth were clenched so tightly against the metaphorical kicking they’d just received that she had to fight to prise them apart.
Suspicions would be aroused?
That was one way to bring her back down to earth.
While she fought the despondency crashing through her like a wave, she fought even harder to keep her composure.