“We had stoneware in the home and you’re right. It didn’t last long.”
“My mom bought those unbreakable dishes, but nothing could prevent us kids losing them. The small square bowls made too good a shovel in a pinch.”
“I can just imagine you as a small child.”
“I was a terror.”
“But shy with strangers,” he guessed.
“Yep. Teachers never believed my mom about me until I’d organized my first boycott of the cafeteria’s no-name catsup. That stuff was nasty. Or had a petition going to reinstate outdoor school when budget cuts threatened that right of passage. It didn’t usually happen until my second year in school anyway.” She sounded altogether proud of herself.
“I see, you lulled the authority figures around you into complacency and then you sprang.”
“That’s about it.”
He laughed. “I have no problem seeing that.”
“Neither did my mother. School administrators were not so insightful.” Her eyes twinkled mischeviously. “Until after the fact.”
“I shudder to think what your children will be like.” Her daughters would be stubborn, her sons protective and both would be intelligent.
She gave him a strange look followed by a negligent shrug that wasn’t. Negligent. At least it didn’t seem so to him, but he didn’t ask her about it because she was already headed to the next display.
She stopped in front of a male kouros statue. “Nice to see Greek men haven’t changed in all these millennia.”
“I think I’m flattered.” The statue had seriously developed abs and thighs that could crack an opponent’s back in a wrestling match, ancient or modern. However, the genitals were nothing to write home about. “I hope you are not comparing certain aspects of my anatomy to his understated representation.”
She gave him a mocking little smile that made him want to do something that would turn that smile into a grin. “I read somewhere that the aspect of a statue’s form was deliberately underrepresented so the focus could be on the aesthetic rather than the sexual.”
“That, or the only men willing to be used as artists’ models had teeny weenies.”
Piper burst out laughing as he’d expected her to, drawing the attention of those around them. While most of it was indulgent, one serious-looking elderly man glared. And a young woman sent daggers Piper’s way, but he didn’t know if that was for her laughter or the fact she was so clearly with him.
The woman had given him an encouraging once-over when he and Piper had first arrived at the National Museum, but he had ignored her.
Once again, he turned his back on her and smiled down at his beautiful companion. “That is not something you have to worry about in my bed, no?”
“You, Zephyr Nikos, are a braggart. And a bad, bad man.” The laughter still laced her voice and he wanted to kiss its flavor from her lips, but he refrained.
Stealing a kiss at the Acropolis, he could get away with. But he’d get more than one glare at such a public display of affection in the National Museum. Greece was not America, or even England for that matter, when it came to love affairs being conducted in public. It was generally a far more conservative country.
That had never bothered him before, but he wanted to kiss his yineka. However, he refused to embarrass her.
He would make up for it and then some when they returned to their room later.
The next morning, Piper tried to gather her thoughts as hot water pelted down over her during her solitary shower. The day before, they’d both admitted to fidelity and agreed to stop using condoms. She’d wanted the illusion of deeper intimacy for what she was coming to accept would have to be their last tryst and had readily agreed.
Only later had she begun to wonder if those were the actions of a man who would never love her? At first, she’d discounted his assertion he hadn’t been with another woman since the second time they’d made love, but as the day wore on she’d asked herself why. And she hadn’t liked the answer. She would not let Art have that much control of her present, regardless of how his betrayal had hurt.
But even believing in Zephyr’s faithfulness, what did that mean? Was he capable of loving her? So many things pointed to a yes answer, even as his self-admissions denied the possibility.
Their time at the museums had been almost magical, full of laughter and subtle marks of affection between them. The little touches had added up and by the time they returned to their hotel to get ready for dinner, Zephyr had overcome her with a storm of desire. They’d missed their reservations and had a local café deliver dinner to their room.