They hadn’t used any contraception. It might not be true that having sex standing up prevented pregnancy, but perhaps if she got up instead of lying there…She was a responsible adult, after all, and there was no place in her life for an unplanned pregnancy.
So why, instead of doing something, or even saying something, was she instead luxuriating in lying close to Ilios, her hand on his chest, registering the beat of his heart gradually returning to normal? Her fingers played with the soft damp hair on his chest, and she enjoyed the male possessiveness of the leg he had thrown across her own, as though wanting to keep her as close to him as she wanted him to be close to her.
Ilios was leaning over her, his hand on her neck, his fingers stroking her skin.
‘Good?’ he asked.
‘Heaven,’ Lizzie responded truthfully. ‘Absolutely heaven.’
Ilios gathered her close, ignoring the inner voice that was warning him he had just done something that broke all his rules, and something he was going to regret.
‘I’VE got to go out to the villa today, to meet with one of the contractors, and I wondered if you’d like to come with me?’
The sudden frown that followed Ilios’s invitation made Lizzie wonder if he had spoken without thinking and was now regretting having done so. But, faced with the prospect of another day on her own, sightseeing in the city, when she could instead see the house that had such a fascinating history, she was not going to ask Ilios if he would like to withdraw his invitation.
‘I’d love to,’ she told him truthfully. After all, it wasn’t just Villa Manos she would get to see properly. She would also be with Ilios. Her heart leapt even as her thoughts filled her with guilt.
It had been disquieting to wake in Ilios’s arms in the early hours of the morning after they had made love—several days ago now. She’d known that she had crossed a barrier she had never intended to cross. Lying with her head on Ilios’s chest, listening to the sound of his breathing, Lizzie had been forced to admit to herself what she had recognised earlier in the evening. Somehow emotion had become entangled in what she had truthfully believed to be merely physical desire. And that emotion was love. An emotion Ilios had already told her he did not want in his life.
But that was all right, she assured herself determinedly now. After all, she was not going to tell him about her love for him. She wasn’t going to offer it to him. She wasn’t going to do anything different because of it. When the time came she would still pack up her belongings, fold her love in tissue paper in her memory, and take it with her. It was hers, and if she wished to cherish it and protect it, and every now and again remove it from the place where she had hidden it to relive those memories she had made, then that was her business—wasn’t it? She was mature enough not to allow it to intrude into what was in reality a business relationship, a business commitment. Ilios had paid her—not to sleep with him of course, but to marry him. In doing so she was providing him a means of outmanoeuvring his cousin, and preventing him from causing him difficulties and delays with regard to their grandfather’s will.
What on earth had made him ask Lizzie for her company? Ilios didn’t know—or rather he was determined not to know, because of what knowing the answer to his own question might mean.
The night he had taken her to bed had changed everything between them. And it had also changed him. Ilios knew that there were those who came into contact with him who considered him hard and demanding, but the demands he made on others, the expectations he had of them, were nothing compared with those he made on and had for himself.