‘There will be food.’ Nikos strolled back towards the bedroom area to retrieve his clothes. ‘I have a chef, a housekeeper and a gardener, and if between them they can’t manage to produce breakfast, they can search elsewhere for employment.’
Ella followed him down the passageway. ‘You have staff?’ She grabbed her jeans and tugged them on. Then she reached for her tiny suitcase and stuffed in the few items she’d got round to unpacking. ‘How can you have staff when the house doesn’t belong to you?’
‘I brought my own staff with me.’ He fastened his trousers and reached for his discarded shirt. ‘They are part of the team who run my home on Crete.’
‘You have a home on Crete?’
‘Crete and Athens.’ Deftly he fastened the buttons of his shirt and she glared at him.
‘How can anyone live in two homes?’
‘Crete is my real home. I still play a part in the family business so when I return to Athens I need somewhere that is mine.’ He reached for his watch. ‘I don’t like hotels and, much as I love my family, I do not wish to stay within the smothering confines of their homes when I am in Greece. I need to be able to escape from their interference.’
‘So where were you living when you were working in London?’
‘In a hotel. It was simpler.’
‘A hotel? I can’t imagine what you must have thought, roughing it in hospital accommodation with me.’
He took her face in his hands and delivered a lingering kiss to her mouth. ‘I thought that it was, without doubt, the best bed I had ever slept in,’ he said huskily. ‘And now stop being insecure. You wanted me to be honest with you, so I am being honest with you. Pack your things. We need to get some breakfast.’
NIKOS drove out of the city and down to the exclusive peninsula that boasted some of the most expensive, exclusive homes in England.
Ella’s heart pounded as they approached that area.
Why here? Dear God, why did it have to be here?
But of course it would be here. He was a billionaire, wasn’t he? And this was where the rich chose to live.
Should she say something?
Should she tell him exactly what this place meant to her?
Ella’s fingers curled tightly around the edge of her seat and she told herself that there were several fantastic houses on this stretch of coast. It didn’t have to be that one.
But it was.
Of course it was.
It was the best house in the area and it had direct access to the beach. Which other property would suit a Greek billionaire?
As Nikos parked the car at the end of the long, curving driveway Ella just stared. Her body felt strange as she contemplated her surroundings.
Fate, she thought bitterly. It was fate that he should bring her here. A test of how far she’d come.
Could she do it?
Could she live in this house that had played such a devastating role in her childhood?
She’d grown up looking at this house, staring at the outside and wondering about the inside. She’d pictured the whole place even though she’d never so much as peeped through a window.
‘What’s wrong?’ Nikos switched off the engine, his expression questioning as he studied her face. ‘You’re very pale.’
‘I’m fine.’ Her mouth was dry, her heart pounding with anxiety. A small part of her wanted to blurt out the truth but confiding in anyone was so alien to her that the words never reached her mouth.
‘I’m a doctor, Ella.’ He lifted his hand and rubbed her cheek gently with the backs of his fingers. ‘I can see that something is wrong. Tell me.’
The affectionate gesture brought a lump to her throat. Knowing that he wasn’t going to let it go unless she gave him an explanation, she told a half-truth. ‘Helen and I sometimes played on this beach as children and we always looked at this house. We used to dream up stories about the people who lived here.’ It was sort of the truth, she thought numbly, her eyes on the huge glass windows that were designed to catch every ray of light.
‘Well, now it’s your home.’ He switched off the engine. ‘And it will remain your home until we are married. Then we’ll decide where we are going to base ourselves.’
Feeling as though life was running away from her, Ella stared at the house. If ever she needed something to remind her that she couldn’t marry him, it was this place.