Ella gave a nervous giggle, relieved that he hadn’t been talking about marriage. She wasn’t ready to tackle that subject again yet. ‘You mean you actually pick up the phone and someone delivers a load of clothes to your hotel suite? That happens in real life? You say, “She’s about the size of a baby elephant,” and they say, “We will bring you our finest selection suitable for baby elephants, sir.”’

‘You are not the size of a baby elephant.’ Nikos leaned forward and poured himself another cup of coffee. ‘And we can arrange for them to come here, if that is what you would prefer. But I thought you might enjoy choosing.’

‘Choosing what?’ Ella gave a helpless shrug. ‘What do I need, Nikos? I don’t go anywhere. And I don’t have the money to blow on clothes. I need to find somewhere new to live and it’s going to cost more than the canal boat and—’

‘Good decision. We’ll go out.’ Supremely confident, he stood up and gently pulled her to her feet.

‘I can’t spend your money.’

‘Then I’ll help you,’ he said calmly, a smile in his eyes. ‘With practice and a little encouragement, I’m sure you can manage it.’

‘I don’t need clothes. I don’t go anywhere.’

He hesitated and then took her face in his hands. ‘You are going to be my wife. And I’m not sure that you will enjoy everything that that entails. Yes, sometimes we can spend our evenings on the terrace, sharing a bottle of wine when the baby is asleep, but sometimes we have to attend social functions.’

‘What social functions?’

‘Elegant social functions.’

‘You mean like red-carpet stuff?’

‘Yes. Sometimes. I am a doctor, but I’m also the patron of several charities that are important to me. On top of that I have a duty to my family to play a part in the business.’

‘I’m not sure I’ll be any good at that sort of thing. Even with an unlimited budget I don’t think I can look elegant, Nikos. I’m a nurse.’ Thinking of the pictures she’d seen in glossy magazines, she felt a sudden lurch of insecurity. ‘I’m used to running round a hospital in scrubs, interacting with people who are usually under the age of ten.’

‘Then tonight will be a pleasant change for you,’ he said smoothly. ‘You are coming with me to a very glittery, high-profile charity ball.’

Ella felt a mixture of excitement and trepidation. ‘What if I let you down?’

‘You won’t let me down. You’ll enjoy it. It is a perfect opportunity to dress up. A very glamorous event.’

Ella quailed. She was definitely going to embarrass him. ‘I don’t know how to be glamorous. Nikos, I work with children. My idea of smartening up is to put on a clean scrub suit.’

He stroked her hair away from her face. ‘You will be beautiful, agape mou. Stop worrying.’

‘What is the charity?’

Nikos described the work that the charity did in supporting families with sick children. ‘The aim is to build another centre, where the children can go on holiday.’

‘So the aim is to make money. I don’t understand how they make money from a ball. Are the tickets expensive?’

‘Very. But most of the fundraising goes on during the evening. The organisers will auction prizes and generally find ways to persuade the guests to part with their money.’

‘What if people can’t afford much?’

‘Then they’re not invited,’ Nikos drawled, pulling her against him. ‘You will be spending my money, agape mou, not your own.’

‘Who did you take last year?’

‘My sister,’ he said dryly, ‘and we argued all evening. It is not an experience I intend to repeat.’

‘I’ve never been to a ball,’ Ella confessed. ‘They always do a ballot for the hospital ball and I’ve never won. Not that I could afford the ticket even if I did win. And I wouldn’t know what to do when I got there.’

Nikos gave her a curious look. ‘The general idea is to have a nice time,’ he said in a mild tone. ‘It’s considered entertainment. Along with the whole shoes, hair, dress thing that women seem to love so much. Enough talking.’

He took her to one of the top department stores and turned her over to the care of a sleek, groomed woman whose sole purpose in life seemed to be to drain Nikos’s bank account in a single shopping spree.

Source: www.StudyNovels.com