Ilios shrugged. ‘Queues can be jumped. I’ll show you the guest suite, and then you’ll need something to eat. I’ll order something in—do you like moussaka? If so, we can eat in half an hour.’
Lizzie nodded her head. She was hungry, but she was also tired.
‘This way,’ Ilios instructed her.
‘This way’ led down another windowless corridor of marble and mirrors, this one with inset niches, each one containing a carefully lit piece of stone artwork.
The apartment was a work of art in itself, Lizzie recognized, but her heart ached over a private question. How would the two motherless sons Ilios Manos intended to bring up fit into such an environment? She didn’t think she would actually want to live in such a polished and sterile atmosphere herself, even though as a designer she could appreciate its stunning design.
Ilios had stopped outside a door in the corridor and was indicating to her. ‘I think you will find everything you need inside.’
Nodding again, Lizzie opened the door. By the time she had closed it she knew that Ilios had gone—not because she had seen him go, but because somehow she had sensed it. The air around her and her own body’s reaction told her that he was no longer there. She frowned. Finding Ilios Manos sexually attractive was understandable, and she tried to tell herself to quell her growing panic about how she was going to cope living so closely with him. Obviously such a stupendously male man was bound to have that effect on most women. But she was not most women, and she was desperately afraid of her vulnerability. Discovering that he had made such an impact on her senses that even her skin could register his presence or the lack of it was frighteningly dangerous territory—dangerous and not to be risked territory, in fact.
Instead of thinking about the effect Ilios had on her, Lizzie told herself to try and focus instead on her surroundings. As a designer she could possibly learn something that she could take with her into her life, when her present enforced ordeal was finally over.
The guest suite, for instance, was exactly that—a luxurious, streamlined boutique-hotel-style open space, with a sleeping area at one end that contained a bed, and a living space at the other furnished with sofas, tables and a desk.
Like the living room, the guest suite also had a glass wall that ran its full length, but this one looked inward onto what she imagined must be an enclosed garden, since it was virtually on the roof of the building. Carefully placed soft lighting revealed a perspective view of the ruins of a small elevated Greek temple, which looked down into the garden with steps leading from it into a swimming pool. Along the far length of the pool ran a colonnade, planted with vines, which led to a grotto of the sort favoured by designers of the Italian Renaissance opposite the temple. Parterred greenery in intricate formal patterns separated the pool area from the space outside the glass wall, so that that space formed an almost private outdoor sitting area, with double doors from the living space opening out onto it.
Lizzie didn’t like to think of the millions just the apartment and its garden must have cost. Professionally, she was in awe. This kind of commission was so far outside her level of operation that the only time she would normally get to view one would be in the pages of a magazine. But, as a woman who shared her own living space with two sisters and twin five-year-old boys, she was almost repelled by the cool, sleek hauteur of living space. It made her feel that as a human being her presence within it spoiled its sterile perfection.
Ilios had handed her trolley case before leaving her, and of course it looked ludicrously out of place.
Half an hour, he’d said. That meant she had the choice of showering and tidying herself up, or texting her sisters.