In desperation Lizzie took what she hoped would be a cooling gulp of her champagne. She certainly needed something to dampen down the sensual heat that had taken hold of her. Ilios was still looking at her—looking at her as though he knew every word she was thinking and every thing she was feeling. No, she did not like that look and all it suggested at all. Lizzie drew in a shaky breath of air as her conscience prodded her. Well, all right, she did like it—but she didn’t like the fact that she liked it.
The truth was, Lizzie realised ten minutes later, as Ilios held opened the car door for her, that much as she ached for the experience of having sex with Ilios, and eager as she was to explore and appreciate every bit of him, she was still female enough to want him to make the first move and show her that he wanted her as much as if not more than she wanted him. She needed to know his desire for her. She needed to feel that he wanted her so much that he could not deny that wanting. Only then would she truly be able to indulge her own desire for him. And of course that was not going to happen—was it?
But what if it did? Ilios could be right, and the best way for her to get over the longing that was tormenting her was for her to go to bed with him. Hot excitement kicked through her body. She was a woman, she reminded herself—she was twenty-seven years old, after all—not a teenager. She knew perfectly well what the situation was and she couldn’t claim any different. Did she really want to go back home without experiencing what Ilios offered her just because she had panicked and wanted to be wooed? Wouldn’t she, years from now, look back in regret, or even worse in yearning, for what she had not had? It was perfectly safe, after all, and so was she. It wasn’t as though she was in love with Ilios and thought that somehow having sex with him—making love with him—was going to change him and cause him to fall head over heels in love with her.
No, this was purely about sexual desire. It was about answering, exploring, satisfying the need that had been aching, growing inside her from their first meeting. No one but the two of them need ever know that she had briefly stepped out of the role she had cast for herself after the death of her parents—a role that meant that she must always be the responsible eldest sister, monitoring her own behaviour in order that she could set their family standards and guide her younger siblings. Here, with Ilios, it was safe for her to experience being what in her real life she could never be—sensually eager, responsive to her own desires and those of her partner, without having to think about anything or anyone else.
What possible harm could there be in it? If it happened it would be a one-off, that was all—an exciting, tantalising sensual adventure. If Ilios should repeat his offer, was she going to be brave enough to do what she knew she wanted to do? Or was she going to be a coward who would spend the rest of her life regretting her hesitation?
THEY’D travelled back to the Manos Corporation building in silence, and in that same silence they had got out of the car and travelled in the lift to where they were now—outside the door to the apartment, with Ilios unlocking it.
‘What’s this?’ Lizzie asked curiously, almost forgetting the reason for her earlier inability to speak as she bent down to pick up the small blue bead lying on the floor just inside the door.
‘Maria’s obviously been in, and equally obviously she must know the wedding was today,’ Ilios answered, taking the bead from her and putting it back down on the floor. ‘It’s meant to ward off the evil eye—a Greek tradition that involves those who have something to protect doing so by means of the gift of one of these. Maria obviously approves of our marriage, and by leaving this is protecting it and us from bad luck.’