Page 11 of Expectant Bride

With a gentle hand on his shoulder, she shook him awake. His incredibly long lashes lifted off his flushed cheekbones, and with a soft sigh, he lifted his tousled head to check his watch. With a stifled expletive, he then plunged forcefully upright and headed for the sleeping compartment.

'Mr Alexiakis...?'

He stilled, but he didn't turn round.

'I didn't know you were attending a funeral,' Ellie said awkwardly. 'I wish somebody had mentioned it.'

He swung back, frowning at her in genuine surprise. 'Don't you read newspapers?'

'I don't get time to read them.'

'It's my father's funeral,' he responded curtly, and strode away.

Ellie slowly breathed in deep, but it didn't make her feel any better. His father! What could be worse? Of course he hadn't wanted to be lumbered with a total stranger over the next couple of days. So why on earth had he insisted that she had to accompany him?

Those extremely confidential business plans he was so fired up about, this pretending to be interested in one com¬pany while really being interested in another, she recalled in exasperation. She wished she understood how that informa¬tion could be as hugely important as he seemed to think it was. A spy, she thought afresh, shaking her head in won¬derment. Cops and robbers. Thriller territory. Way beyond anything she could even imagine.

But then Dio Alexiakis lived in a gilded world of immense wealth and privilege. He wheeled and dealed in incredibly high-powered circles. Even the night before his own father's funeral he had still been talking business. Had it been a very sudden death? Whatever, on reflection, Ellie was surprised that he hadn't already been in Greece. Even before she had entered the equation and complicated matters, hadn't he been cutting things a bit fine?

It was after seven in the morning and a bright and beautiful day when Dio Alexiakis and Ellie finally walked into Athens airport.

Wearing the suit combined with the long dramatic gloves, the extravagant-brimmed hat and the designer sunglasses which Dio had given her, Ellie felt as if she was taking part in a fancy dress parade. They were waved on by grave-faced officials. But as they passed through the barriers a wave of shouting men with cameras surged forward, held at bay only by a squad of equally determined security guards.

Ellie just froze in the glare of flashing cameras. Dio closed a powerful arm round her and carried her on through the crush as if it wasn't there, impervious to the questions being thrown in several different languages.

'Who's the woman?' she heard a man roar loudly in En¬glish.

Ellie was unnerved by the aggressive behaviour of the pa¬parazzi. Dio was coming home to his father's funeral. What had happened to privacy? The giving of a little respectful space? For goodness' sake, was Dio hounded like this every¬where he went? Ellie hadn't the slightest idea.

But during breaks in evening shifts she had frequently heard her co-workers discussing Dio's private life in the most lurid of terms. He lived in the fast lane. He featured in glossy magazines and made endless gossip column headlines. Hav¬ing enjoyed affairs with a string of gorgeous, high-profile women, he was a real sex god to the cleaning staff. But Ellie had always felt rather superior during those sessions. She hadn't had the slightest interest hi the exploits of a male she neither knew nor ever expected to meet. So she hadn't lis¬tened any further.

They changed terminals and ended up in a small, plainly furnished waiting room. Ellie was still trembling. 'Is it al¬ways like that for you?'

Dio shrugged a broad shoulder. Dark, deep-set awesomely beautiful eyes briefly touched her. 'Yes...but I'm afraid I overlooked the more extreme interest your presence would excite.'

'I hope to heaven I'm not going to be recognisable in any of those photos,' Ellie confided tautly.

Dio said nothing.

'What are we waiting for now?'

'A flight out to the island where the burial will take place.'

Another flight. She suppressed a groan. The journey seemed endless. 'The island?' she queried.

'Chindos. You really do know nothing about me,' Dio re¬marked with a slight frown. 'I'm not used to that.'

'But I bet it's good for you...puts a dent in your belief that you are the sun around which the entire world must turn,' Ellie muttered, and then froze in dismay. She grimaced. 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I was just thinking out loud!'

"That disastrous lack of tact must get you into trouble.' Dio surveyed her with a shadowy suspicion of a smile mo¬mentarily softening the hard line of his expressive mouth.

Ellie swallowed hard, grateful he hadn't exploded. 'It's been known.'

'Why are you always in search of a fight?' Dio scanned her with penetrating eyes that tightened her very skin over her bones and made her shift uneasily on her seat. 'You look so wonderfully feminine and delicate—'