‘I cannot work alongside my ex-lover.’ Suddenly Ella felt exhausted.
Pregnancy or stress?
Below her in the harbour the family on the boat were putting the children to bed and Ella swallowed down the lump in her throat as she noticed the tiny stuffed bear in one of the windows.
They were a family.
Whatever that meant.
Her mind flew back to the moment that she’d discovered that she was pregnant. She’d been too devastated by what she’d discovered about Nikos to feel excited about her own news.
And even knowing that part of it had been a misunderstanding, there was no getting away from the fact that he had lied about the money. And he hadn’t trusted her enough to share the details of his past.
‘You’re tired.’ Nikos straightened, slid a possessive arm around her shoulders and uttered a smooth apology to the rest of the group. ‘We’ve been apart for rather too long. If you’ll excuse us…’
Ella resisted the temptation to brush him off simply because she didn’t want the gossip.
As they walked along the street, the crowd of teenage boys hovering around Nikos’s car parted with silent deference.
‘Great car, man,’ one of them breathed enviously, and Nikos made a masculine comment about cylinders or something equally unfathomable, and Ella took advantage of the brief distraction to make her escape.
‘I’ll leave you to it. My super-charged, no-cylinder pushbike is chained to the railings back there. I’ll give you a head start so that I don’t dent that massive ego of yours by overtaking you.’ She turned to walk away but he closed his fingers around her wrist, anchoring her to his side.
‘You are not cycling home in the dark.’
‘Don’t goad me, Ella,’ he growled. ‘I will give you a lift. And then I’ll arrange to have your bike collected and delivered to the hospital.’
‘How?’ Ella kicked against his tendency to take control in every situation. ‘Don’t tell me—you have a team of staff just waiting to do your bidding.’
‘Just get in the car.’
She wanted to argue, but the truth was she was so exhausted that she wasn’t sure she would be able to pedal as far as the boat.
With the luck she’d had so far today, she’d end up in the canal.
This time, she thought, he can take charge. Just this time.
‘This isn’t a car, it’s a spaceship.’ And it was gorgeous, she thought weakly. Sleek, elegant lines. Expensive. Sophisticated. Out of her league.
‘Ella,’ he said tightly, ‘just get in.’
Too tired to argue, Ella sank into the luxurious leather seat and he settled his lean, athletic frame in the seat next to her, pressed a button and the engine started with a throaty growl.
‘I don’t know why you’re so angry with me,’ she muttered. ‘You were the one who walked out on me.’
‘We’ve talked about this enough for one night.’
‘Is this a billionaire car? It’s only got two seats—you were ripped off.’ Her tone flippant, Ella suppressed a yawn and let her head rest back against the seat. ‘So where are you staying? Do you realise that when we were together you never let me see your home? I expect you were living in some fancy house, weren’t you? Why didn’t you want me to know?’
‘Because money changes everything.’
‘I wouldn’t know.’ Ella closed her eyes. ‘I’ve never had any. Where are you living now? Don’t tell me. You own a luxury penthouse with a sea view?’
‘No, agape mou.’ Controlling the car with smooth precision, Nikos executed a perfect U-turn and headed away from the harbour. ‘I’m staying with the mother of my child. So where are we living at the moment?’
A CANAL boat?
She was living alone on a canal boat?
A torch in his teeth and a sleeping woman in his arms, Nikos cursed mentally, wondering how people who were not blessed with long legs managed to stretch the distance between the bank and the deck.
The hazards were too numerous to be counted.
The towpath that led from the boat to the road was unlit and overgrown, and the thought of who might be lurking in the shadows watching a woman on her own on a boat brought him out in goose-bumps.
Why had she chosen to live in a place like this?