‘I had every right. They were on my land. Illegally on my land.’
Lizzie struggled to clamp down on her awareness of him.
‘The land belongs to my partner, Tino Manos, not you.’
‘My cousin has ceded his right to the land to me.’
‘But you can’t just knock down a block of apartments like that. Apart from anything else, two of them belonged to me.’
‘Yes,’ he agreed, ‘they did.’
There was something about the way he was looking at her that made Lizzie feel extremely uneasy—as though she had unwittingly stepped into some kind of trap.
‘Tell me, Miss Wareham, what kind of greed makes a person ignore the normal rules of law to grab at something even when they know it must be fraudulent?’ His voice was deeply cynical, his whole manner towards her menacing and iced with bitter contempt.
‘I…I don’t know what you’re talking about.’ Lizzie protested truthfully.
‘Of course you do. You were in partnership with my cousin. You have said so yourself. You must have known about the building regulations that were broken, about the suppliers and workmen left unpaid in order to build the apartments at a minimum cost to your partnership, and for the maximum ultimate profit.’
‘No, I didn’t,’ Lizzie insisted. But she could see that he didn’t believe her.
‘Have you any idea of the damage your greed has caused? The hardship it has inflicted on those you cheated? Or do you simply not care? Well, I intend to make sure that you do care, Miss Wareham. I will make sure that you pay back everything you owe.’
Ilios was angrier than he could ever remember being. His cousin had systematically tried to cheat him and manipulate him at every turn, and now Tino was even daring to challenge his legitimacy to what was rightfully his. Ilios could feel his fury boiling up inside him. His cousin might not be here to pay for what he had done, but his partner in crime, this Englishwoman who actually dared to lie to him, was here, and she would bear the brunt of his fury and his retribution, Ilios decided savagely.
‘Everything I owe?’ Lizzie objected, her heart sinking. ‘What do you mean? I don’t owe anybody anything.’
Her determination to continue lying to him hardened Ilios’s resolve to inflict retribution on her. She was everything he most disliked and despised in her sex. Dishonest, and attempting to cloak her dishonesty with an air of pseudo-innocence that manifested itself in the way she was dressed—simply, in jeans worn with a tee shirt and a plain jacket—and in her face with its admittedly beautiful bone structure, free of make-up.
Just as that damn elusive scent she was wearing had made him want to draw her closer, to pursue it and capture it, so the pink lipstick that deliberately drew his attention to the fullness of her mouth made him want to capture her lips to see if they were as soft as they looked. Where another less skilled woman might have tried to use artifice to mask her deceit, Elizabeth Wareham used art—the art of appearing modest, honest, vulnerable. Well, it wouldn’t work on him. Anyone who did business with his cousin had to be as dishonest and scheming as manipulative as Tino was himself. Like attracted like, after all. She could try using her sexuality to disarm him as much as she liked. He wasn’t going to be taken in.
When Ilios Manos didn’t respond, Lizzie stiffened her spine and her resolve and repeated, as firmly as she could, ‘I don’t owe anyone in Greece any money, and I don’t understand why you think I do.’
‘I don’t think you do, Miss Wareham. I know you do—because the person you owe money to is me.’
Lizzie gulped in air and tried not to panic. ‘But that’s not possible.’