Having no work to occupy her here, she’d spent a day sightseeing, undetected by any paparazzi. Far from being able to enthuse about all the ancient relics at the Acropolis, she’d felt lonely surrounded by couples and groups of people all chattering happily together.
Christian’s home was so remote and her grasp of the Greek language so weak that the chances of making any friendships were almost impossible. At least his apartment in Hong Kong was central, allowing her plenty of freedom to explore and occupy herself.
Being in Athens reminded her too strongly of being back at Villa Mondelli, when her grandfather had always been too busy working to take any notice of her. Rocco had been of the same mould. She’d learned as a child that moping about didn’t change anything. Keeping busy was the solution to curbing isolation. As a child she would bury her head in books, draw pictures and practise her gymnastics. She’d needed something, a project here in Athens, to keep the isolation at bay and it had been while going through the photos she’d taken on their wedding day, trying hard to look at them objectively and not through maudlin eyes, that inspiration had struck.
‘May I look?’
‘It isn’t finished yet—I’m about two-thirds done, but help yourself.’ She pushed her chair back to give him access to her laptop. She didn’t push back far enough, catching that gorgeous oaky scent that made her mouth water.
She closed her eyes in a futile attempt to curb the longing sweeping through her at his proximity.
In three weeks he hadn’t once attempted to seduce her, not even with his eyes, as he had done so many times before they’d made their vows.
One night had been enough for him to bore of her sexually. Okay; two nights. But they’d been months apart.
If only she could get her body to believe it was bored of him too.
Time would curb it, she told herself. Eventually his lack of interest would creep through her like a pollutant and she would be able to stop tossing and turning throughout the night, wishing he would come to her.
After three weeks of no physical attention she accepted that wasn’t going to happen.
It had done nothing to cure her longing.
‘This is incredible,’ Christian said, clicking his way through the pages she’d created. ‘The glossy magazines would pay you a fortune to get hold of your memory stick.’
‘I’m sure they would,’ she agreed drily.
Silently she congratulated herself on another coherent conversation with him.
It would have been easy to slip into self-pity after his rejection.
She would not do that. She would not infect her baby with negativity.
In fairness, he hadn’t lied to her. On the contrary, their marriage was shaping up to be exactly how they’d devised when they’d first agreed to it.
She only wished she’d known how heartsick it would make her.
Pushing her chair farther back, she got to her feet. ‘Are we still going out tonight?’ She refused to make assumptions. He might have only popped home for a fleeting visit between appointments.
Christian worked ridiculous hours. Even in Milan, where they’d stayed so she could work, he’d holed himself up in the spare room of her apartment, which he’d turned into a bedroom-cum-office, working until the early hours and joining her for an evening meal before disappearing again.
‘Yes. We don’t need to leave until eight. There’s plenty of time.’
They were going to a party at the British Embassy, their first official function as man and wife.
She looked at her watch. ‘I suppose two hours is adequate time to get ready for a night out.’
‘You suppose?’ he echoed with a droll tone.
* * *
Christian put his cufflinks on then slipped into his tuxedo jacket and straightened his black bowtie. He would do.
He headed downstairs and poured himself a small shot of bourbon.
It had been a hard few weeks and now he was looking forward to an evening out. Yes, it would be a networking evening, but with Alessandra by his side it would be bearable.