Lizzie shuddered inwardly and trembled outwardly. Why had he said that? He must know the effect it was likely to have on her after what she had told him. If this was his way of ensuring that she didn’t give way to her desire for him, then Lizzie didn’t think it was going to work very well.
‘There must be something you can say to Maria that would make her accept that we should sleep in separate rooms—after all, we aren’t even married yet.’
‘No, there is nothing,’ Ilios told her. ‘You must know that in Greece, especially this part of Greece, a man’s maleness is something he must prove to all those who know him in order to win and maintain their respect. That means being the master of his own house. No Greek male would ever publicly admit that his wife’s sexual advances were unwelcome.’
‘I wasn’t suggesting that you that you told her that,’ Lizzie informed him indignantly.
Ilios looked down at the bed. Make-up free, with her hair down round her shoulders and the part of her body that wasn’t swathed in bedcovers shrouded by what looked like an oversized tee shirt, Lizzie looked nothing like a temptress of any kind. So why was his body telling him in no uncertain terms that she was, and that it was very tempted by her?
Absently glancing around the room, Lizzie noticed something she had not taken in before—the bedding on other side of the bed was pristinely neat. Untouched, in fact.
She turned accusingly to Ilios. ‘You didn’t sleep with me, did you?’
When his eyebrows rose she corrected herself hastily.
‘I mean you didn’t sleep in this bed last night.’
‘No. I didn’t.’
‘So where did you sleep, then?’
‘On the sofa. It was late when I finished working, and I didn’t want to disturb you. You see, you were sleeping on my side of the bed. I could have moved you in your sleep—without waking you, of course—but, given what you had told me, I didn’t think it wise to run the risk of you waking up in my arms and thinking…’
‘That I’d reached for you in my sleep?’ Lizzie guessed.
‘Something like that,’ Ilios agreed tersely. What he had been going to say was that he hadn’t wanted her waking up and thinking that he returned her desire and wanted her. Nor was he going to admit that the thought of holding her in his arms had tormented his body with such a savagely fierce sexual ache for her through the long, slow hours of the night that he hadn’t been able to sleep.
‘I’ve been thinking that perhaps we should just be engaged. Not actually get married. And then—well, you could tell Maria that I’m not the kind of woman who shares a bed with her husband before he is her husband,’ Lizzie told Ilios.
‘I need a wife, not a fiancée. You know that. And besides, it’s too late.’
‘Too late?’ Lizzie’s heart had started to thump uncomfortably heavily. ‘What do you mean?’
‘We’ve got an appointment at eleven-thirty this morning with the notary who has arranged all the paperwork for our wedding. He will accompany us to the town hall, so that the formalities can be finalized, and then we can be married.’
‘Today? So soon? But surely that isn’t possible? I mean, doesn’t it take longer than that to arrange things?’
‘Normally speaking, yes, but when I explained to my friends at the town hall how impatient I am to make you my wife, they very kindly speeded things up for us. Manos Construction is currently contracted to do some refurbishment work on certain parts of the city, and the local government is keen to get that work finished ahead of schedule.’
‘You mean you bribed them into making it possible for us to get married so quickly?’ Lizzie accused him.