‘I have plenty of clothes at home. I can ask my sisters to send me some.’
‘Why not? Right now you are dressed as though you were a suburban matron whose sole concern is looking after her family. Jeans and a blazer, loafers…A woman who does not seek to attract the attention of a man, and who perhaps would even prefer to repel male attention.’ He made a dismissive gesture which stung Lizzie’s female pride.
‘Not all women are so insecure that they want to advertise their sensuality to the world at large. Some of us prefer to keep that aspect of ourselves private. In fact we take a pride in it,’ she told him fiercely.
‘Meaning what, exactly?’ Ilios demanded. ‘Wearing dull clothes and so-called sexy underwear beneath them?’
Lizzie could feel her colour rising and bent her head over her wine glass, hoping that the soft fall of her hair would cloak her blush, as she absentmindedly ran her fingertip round the edge of the glass. The fact was that as her sisters often teased her because she was a silk, satin and lace undies fan, the more feminine the better.
Ilios observed her behaviour, knowing immediately the cause of her flushed face and her reluctance to meet his gaze. What was a matter of far more concern and disbelief to him was the effect knowing that beneath her sensible clothes Lizzie Wareham deliberately chose to wear sensual underwear was having on him physically. It might be over a year since he had last had a lover, but that was no excuse for the images that were filling his mind now, and the reaction they were causing within his own body.
Ilios couldn’t remember previously being so glad that he was seated at a table, and was thus able to conceal from a woman’s view his body’s reaction to her. To have such a painfully hard erection was territory that belonged to young men not yet able to fully master their sexuality—not men in their mid-thirties, and certainly not him. The mind could play tricks on a person, he reminded himself, and his reaction was probably not to Lizzie Wareham but to images he himself had created. He did not desire her. He was, to put it bluntly, simply aroused. He could have put any attractive female body into those images and felt the same effect. Desiring Lizzie Wareham was not part of his plan, and therefore must not be allowed to happen.
‘I have work to do, so I suggest that you take the opportunity to go to bed have an early night,’ he informed Lizzie.
He didn’t want her out of the way because her presence was disturbing him on an intensely personal and sensual level that he didn’t like. Not for one minute.
Lizzie’s head lifted, her face burning even more hotly as her body immediately responded to the word bed—and not in a way that had anything to do with going to sleep. Somehow her senses refused to accept that anything as mundane as sleeping could take place in a bed that was in any way connected to Ilios Manos. Which was, of course, totally ridiculous. She was reacting like some hormone-flooded pubescent teenager, quivering with embarrassingly super-strength lust.
‘Yes, I am tired,’ she managed to respond. She was doing the mental equivalent of running past something dangerous without risking looking at it, determinedly avoiding re-using the word ‘bed’, Lizzie derided herself. But what else could she do, with her body signalling with increasing intensity the excited pleasure with which it viewed the prospect of going to bed with Ilios Manos? Not that that was going to happen. He had told her so already. Theirs was purely a business arrangement, that was all, and that was the way it was going to stay. Somehow she would find the strength to make sure that it did.
‘I HAVE a meeting in half an hour.’ Ilios stood up to finish the cup of coffee he was drinking whilst Lizzie remained seated, seeing him glance at his watch before continuing.