Lizzie nodded her head. She’d have liked to have changed out of her white wool dress and coat into something less high-maintenance, but she was concerned that any move towards the bedroom on her part might be wrongly interpreted by Ilios.
‘Who designed the garden?’ she asked him instead. ‘I haven’t been out in it yet, but—’
‘I designed it. Or at least I copied certain elements of the gardens at Villa Manos and adapted them for here.’
Whilst they were talking they’d walked into the living room.
‘Will I be safe if I offer you a walk round the garden?’ Ilios asked.
Did he really think she would pounce on him? Was he expecting her to make all the running? She couldn’t, Lizzie knew. Not without knowing that he wanted her too.
Lizzie wondered what he was really thinking—and feeling. Had he meant what he’d said in the restaurant, or had he simply been amusing himself at her expense? Even worse, had he actually been thinking about taking her to bed and then decided upon reflection not to bother? Maybe she had misunderstood what he’d said, or taken it too seriously, and now he was stepping back from that conversation because he hadn’t meant it. Lizzie’s face burned at the thought.
‘If you don’t mind my saying so, if you would like to see the garden you may want to think about getting changed first, into something less…’
The sound of Ilios’s voice focussed her attention on what he was saying, and valiantly Lizzie tried to put her mixed-up feelings to one side and focus instead of reality.
‘Something less white?’ she offered brightly. She refused to use the word bridal, with all that it implied.
Ilios nodded his head.
‘Look, I’ve got a couple of e-mails I need to send, so why don’t you go and get changed? Take as long as you wish. There’s no rush.’
If Ilios had actually known how uncomfortable she’d been feeling, both in her outfit and about saying she wanted to change out of it, and had wanted to put her at her ease, he couldn’t have done so more effectively, Lizzie acknowledged several minutes later, as she stood beneath the shower in the bathroom off the master bedroom. Not that she imagined he could have known how she was feeling. In fact he had probably simply wanted her out of the way. The more she thought about it, the more she thought she had been a complete fool for thinking he had been suggesting that he wanted her.
She showered quickly, using her own favourite shower gel from Jo Malone, and noting as she did so that the container was almost empty. Jo Malone treats were something she wasn’t going to be able to indulge in any more. No doubt the whole family would end up using something safe and suitable for the twins. Smiling to herself, Lizzie stepped out of the shower, drying herself speedily and then wrapping a towel sarong-wise round her body. Removing the cap she had put on her head to keep her hair dry, she opened the door to the dressing room and came to an abrupt halt almost in mid-step, her eyes widening as she saw Ilios opening his wardrobe. Like her, he had quite obviously taken a shower—only his towel sat low on his hips and finished midway down his thigh.
Her ‘Oh!’ was a soft, half-choked sound as betraying as the manner in which she clutched her towel protectively to her body. ‘I thought you said you were going to be busy sending e-mails,’ was all she could think of to say.
‘I changed my mind and decided to have a shower instead.’ He wasn’t going to tell her that the ache she had induced within his body had made it impossible for him to do anything other than give in to the need to take a cold shower.
He must have used the guest room—which, of course, was why he was here right now, looking for his clothes.