This was a timely reminder that theirs was not a real marriage. The romance of their wedding day— what Christian had done to get her brother there, the wondrousness of their love-making—all must have combined to set off some new hormones within her that made her look at Christian in a fuzzy light.

 Dio, she must have been cast under a spell.

 She blinked rapidly to clear the fuzzy light, wishing she could clear the churning in her belly with the same ease.

 ‘Okay, I’ll stay in Athens with you, but remember I’ve a shoot scheduled for next Thursday so we need to be back in Milan for that.’

 He bowed his head. ‘I’m sure that won’t be a problem.’

 ‘Good.’ She didn’t add that should a ‘problem’ occur she would fly to Milan and do her work regardless. ‘I’m going to order some breakfast. Do you want anything?’

 ‘Just a pot of coffee, thank you.’

 Christian watched her pick up the suite phone and place their order then turned his attention back to the screen in front of him.

 His eyes wouldn’t focus.

 After the incredible night they’d shared he’d been expecting much greater resistance from Alessandra about the postponed honeymoon, had braced himself for the worst.

 If he hadn’t seen the flare of despondency in her eyes he would believe her understanding and calmness at the situation was genuine.

 As much as it hurt him to hurt her, he knew it was for the best.

 He had to put their marriage on the footing they had originally agreed.

 There were women who could separate love and sex. He no longer believed Alessandra to be one of them.

 The hope he’d seen in her eyes as they’d exchanged their vows and then the hope he’d heard in her voice after they’d made love...

 What did he, the gutter rat from Athens, know about love?

 All he knew about it was that it broke hearts and destroyed people. It had destroyed his mother and Alessandra’s father.

 He wouldn’t know how to love or show love if he tried. All he knew was how to make money. A woman like Alessandra deserved so much more.

 Physical distance wasn’t enough. He needed to put emotional distance between them too. Now. Before he hurt her.

 If he allowed their sexual relationship to develop, her feelings would likely develop too while his...

 He’d never had a proper relationship before. Never. He had no idea how long it would take for boredom to set in, when the thrill of making love to the one woman would abate and he’d be looking for a new challenge.

 If her feelings grew stronger whilst his decreased, the pain it would cause her would be immense.

 He had to nip it in the bud now. For both their sakes.

                       CHAPTER ELEVEN

 CHRISTIAN’S HOME WAS a pebblestone villa in a private enclave of Athens, set away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Surrounded by acres of green land, the villa itself was found by means of a private driveway; indeed, the one word that sprang to Alessandra’s mind as she got out of the car was private. They could be anywhere. They could be nowhere.

 The villa was beautiful, there was no denying that— picture perfect—but the silence was deafening. Villa Mondelli had been much the same, the majority of her childhood spent in its splendid isolation. She’d adored the infrequent trips to Milan Rocco would take her on when he was home from university—loved the noise, the smells and the bustle of the big city, that feeling of being a small cog in a big wheel where all the tiny component parts jostled together nicely to make the big picture.

 They’d left the hotel after breakfast, waved off by their remaining guests. She’d forced a bright smile, forced jollity.

 On the drive to his home he’d explained in more detail what he was working on. She’d tried hard to be sympathetic and understanding about the importance that the situation be speedily resolved. That did nothing to prevent the underlying resentment.

 She was used to workaholics. She’d been raised by the various nannies her workaholic grandfather had employed for her. Her brother was of an identical mould.