“Thank you for sharing this place with me.” She brushed her fingers over the gorgeous necklace he’d bought her earlier that day. “Thank you for everything.”
The stones were warm from her body, but her heart was even warmer. He had insisted a kiss would make the purchase fully worthwhile. Since her kisses were free, she’d thought nothing of giving him one. Right there, in front of the proprietor, who had grinned and said something in Greek that made Zephyr chuckle.
Piper wasn’t just feeling spoiled, she was feeling cherished and that was dangerous, she knew.
“It is my pleasure.”
“You say that a lot.” She smiled up at him.
“And it is true. You are an easy companion, Piper.”
“I’m glad you think so. I don’t hate your company, either.”
“That is a relief. I would not like to think you’d been giving me pity sex all this time.”
She couldn’t help laughing at that bit of ridiculousness. “Right. Pity sex. I don’t see it.” Or feel it. No woman would pity this man. Desire him? Yes. Crave his kisses? Definitely. Hunger for his touch? Without doubt.
But pity? Nope. No way.
“I’m relieved to hear it.”
She felt heat climb her cheeks and she shook her head. “Stop teasing me and eat your appetizer.”
Surprisingly, her tycoon listened and did exactly that.
They were halfway through the appetizer when she asked something she’d been curious about for a while. “Are you going to be Neo’s best man in the wedding?”
“Are you looking forward to it?” she teased, sure he would grimace and give a negative.
But he smiled instead and said quite decisively, “Yes.”
“You are?” She had not expected that.
“Of course. I worried that Neo had forgotten his dreams of home and family under the pressure of building our empire. When we first left Greece, that was all he’d talk about, how he was going to make something of himself and then make a proper family. He stopped talking about it maybe two years after we settled in Seattle.”
“But you didn’t want him to forget it entirely?” Wow, that was not an ambition she could picture Zephyr encouraging.
“No. He deserves a family, a home that is more than a place to live.”
“Those are some pretty traditional sentiments for a selfadmitted playboy.”
“What can I say? I am a traditional guy.”
That made her laugh. “I don’t think so.”
“What? Just because I am not married does not mean I never desire to enter the state.” He didn’t look like he was kidding.
But she couldn’t get past the feeling he had to be pulling her leg. Zephyr was the original no-commitment guy. He’d made that clear from the very beginning of their sexual relationship. So much so, that she had assumed the first time had been a one-off.
He’d shocked her by coming back for more when they worked together on the next project, and continuing to see her in Seattle after that. But he’d been smart to give her the time to accept the change in their relationship, so she was ready to accept the new “friends with benefits” nature of it.
“You look flummoxed.”
“I feel a little flummoxed,” she admitted.
“I do not know why. It is the American dream, not just the Greek one, is it not? One day, I will find the right woman.” He gave a self-deprecating smile that gave her butterflies. “Hell, I may even fall in love as Neo has done.”
Those words felt like an arrow to her heart, because they implied he had not found that woman, therefore that woman could not be her. After finally coming to terms with her own feelings, that was a double blow to her heart. Her hand went to her necklace again, this time gaining no sense of comfort from the feel of the precious metal and stones. You had to love someone to cherish them.
So, what did that make this gift and all the other gifts he’d given her?
Unfortunately, after hearing his story earlier she feared she knew. This was Zephyr’s relationship currency. Gifts and money. Not love. Not for the mother who had hurt him and not for Piper, either.
“You don’t seem like the home-and-hearth type, Zephyr,” she couldn’t resist saying. “You live in the ultimate bachelor pad and you’ve dated far and wide. And deep and long besides.”
Besides which he saw his relationships with his mother and siblings as monetary transactions.
“As was Neo before he met Cass. Me? I am as desirous of making my mark on the world in that way as any other man.”
“You’re serious?” The words were just a formality, though. There could be no doubt from his tone or his expression.