Ella stared at him, sure she must have misheard. ‘How can we go to Greece?’
‘You made me bid for a holiday, remember?’
‘But not to go today.’
He shrugged. ‘There is no time like the present. We both need some time alone together. So far our entire relationship has been conducted with the emergency department as a backdrop.’ He gave a wry smile. ‘I think it’s time to think about romance, not resuscitation, don’t you?’
‘You can’t be serious.’ Stunned, Ella just gaped at him. ‘Rose gave us the weekend off, not the whole week.’
‘I have fixed everything. Stop worrying.’
Ella gave a disbelieving laugh. ‘We’re going to Greece for a week?’
Nikos reached for a towel and wrapped her up. ‘Let’s go. The sooner we arrive, the sooner you will stop repeating yourself.’
Ella lay on a sunlounger, staring at the still water of the infinity pool that appeared to blend seamlessly with the ocean beyond. The hot sun warmed everything it touched, from the bright green lizard basking on the low wall to the hazy peaks of the mountains behind her.
England seemed a million miles away.
‘How are you feeling?’ Nikos’s smooth, dark tones interrupted her thoughts and she quickly picked up the book she’d abandoned.
‘Fine. Apart from the shock of finding myself relaxing in Crete instead of racing around the emergency department. I can’t quite believe I’m actually in your villa. I thought we were staying in the hotel.’
‘I thought we deserved privacy, and it seemed ridiculous to stay in the hotel when my villa is lying empty.’ He sat down next to her. ‘Have you used sun cream?’
She nodded, acutely conscious of his spectacular physique. Every time she looked at him, her stomach curled with excitement and longing and she was mildly shocked by the effect he had on her. Would there ever come a time when he wouldn’t have this effect on her?
‘I love this place,’ she said simply. ‘How long have you owned it?’
‘I bought it fifteen years ago.’
And she just knew. ‘You bought it after your wife died.’
‘Did you live here with her?’
‘No. We lived in Athens.’ Nikos rose to his feet and she saw the tension in his broad shoulders.
‘Sorry. I shouldn’t have asked.’
‘It’s fine. And now I need to make some phone calls before dinner.’ His tone was formal and distant. ‘I’ll see you later. If you need anything, just ask one of the staff.’
Ella watched him go, wishing she’d kept her mouth shut. Just a mention of his wife and he’d closed up.
Enjoying the peace and the warmth, she spent the rest of the afternoon lounging by the pool, doing absolutely nothing.
Nikos finally appeared when she’d showered and dressed for dinner.
‘Are you ready?’ He was wearing a casual shirt with a pair of lightweight tailored trousers and the ends of his hair were still damp.
‘Are we going out?’ Ella slipped her feet into a pair of pretty wedge sandals and picked up her bag. ‘I assumed we were having dinner on the terrace.’
‘Not tonight.’ He held out his hand and led her towards the front entrance of the villa. ‘We’re having dinner with my family.’
‘Oh.’ Suffering from an acute attack of nerves, Ella glanced down at herself. ‘What if I’m not what they want for you?’
He drove along dusty, winding roads, past olive groves and tiny secluded beaches until they reached a small village.
‘Your parents live here?’
‘My father was born here. He moved to Athens when he started the business and now he is semi-retired he divides his time between Athens and the island just over there…’ Nikos inclined his head and Ella saw an island rising out of the sea.
‘They live on an island?’
‘It reduces his security bills,’ Nikos said dryly, parking the car by the side of the road and leading her towards a sleek, expensive-looking motorboat that was moored by a jetty. ‘Do you get seasick?’
‘Ask me in five minutes,’ Ella said faintly, allowing him to help her into the boat and settling herself in the comfortable leather seat.
Nikos pulled up the anchor, started the engine and skilfully guided the boat into deeper water. Then he eased the throttle back and the boat picked up speed.