He lifted a small wire and released a torrent of Greek into what she assumed was a microphone. A few moments later, he lowered the gun and took a step backward.
“This way please, Ms. Caplan.”
He even reached a hand in to help her down. A few moments later, he escorted her inside the palatial estate that was situated on a cliff overlooking the ocean. In any other circumstance, she would have spared a moment of envy for such a gorgeous place.
“Isabella, my dear!” Sophia exclaimed as soon as Isabella was inside. She took hold of Isabella and kissed her on either cheek. “What on earth are you doing here? And where is Theron?”
Isabella looked down for a moment and then back up at the older woman. “I need to speak with Alannis. It’s very important.”
Sophia frowned slightly, concern filling her eyes. “Of course. Is everything all right?”
Isabella offered her a shaky smile. “No, but it will be.”
“Wait here. I’ll get Alannis for you,” Sophia said.
Isabella walked to the huge glass window that overlooked the steep drop-off to the ocean. Alannis even lived in a perfect spot. Close to Chrysander and Marley. They could all be one big, happy family after Alannis married Theron.
“Isabella?” Alannis’s soft voice filled the room.
Isabella turned to see the other girl staring at her, clear confusion written in her dark eyes.
“Mama said you wanted to see me.”
Isabella gathered her courage and crossed the room to stand in front of Alannis.
“I came to apologize and to right a wrong.”
Alannis frowned harder. “I don’t understand.”
Isabella took a deep breath. “I set out to break up you and Theron. I knew he wanted to marry you, but I’ve been in love with him forever, and I wanted him. I never stopped to think about what he wanted or that I was hurting two people in the process. You and him.”
“But—” Alannis began.
“He wants to marry you,” Isabella continued on, cutting her off. “You’re who he wants. Go to him, Alannis. The helicopter is waiting to take you to the island. He’ll be glad to see you. I’ve ended things with him. I gave him back his ring. Make sure he gives you a different one. You deserve a fresh start. One not tainted by me. Make him do it right, with all the romance and fuss you deserve.”
Tears filled Isabella’s eyes again. “I’m sorry I hurt you,” she said. “I hope you’ll be happy.”
She turned to walk back out of the house.
“Isabella, wait,” Alannis called. “You don’t understand.”
All Isabella understood is that if she didn’t get out soon, she was going to come completely unraveled. She just prayed the taxi would be waiting as she’d arranged.
“Please show me out,” she choked out to the security guard who’d escorted her inside. “I have a taxi waiting out front.”
As soon as the guard opened the front door, Isabella hurried down the drive toward the wrought iron gate. They opened automatically as she neared, and to her relief, a taxi waited outside on the street.
“The airport,” she said as she climbed in. As she pulled away, she saw Alannis waving to her to stop. Isabella ignored her, turning away.
No one had ever told her doing the right thing would hurt so much.
“How long can it possibly take for the damn pilot to get out here?” Theron demanded as he ran his hand through his hair for the tenth time in an hour.
Frustration beat at him. He was stuck here on the island until Chrysander’s pilot could come out. Now, finally, he was supposedly on his way.
Chrysander put down the phone and turned to Theron. “Isabella’s pilot took her to the Gianopolous estate.”
Theron stared at him in utter confusion. “Why on earth would she have gone to see Alannis? I had no idea she even knew where she lived.”
“She’s trying to make things right,” Marley said softly. “First with you and now with Alannis.”
He dug for his phone to retrieve Alannis’s number. If he could reach Alannis before Isabella left then he could have her detained until he could go after her himself.
Chrysander handed Theron his phone, and Theron hastily punched in the numbers. A few seconds later, Sophia answered the phone.
“Sophia, thank goodness. Has Isabella been by there? What? She left in a taxi?” Sophia filled him in on where Bella was headed then he hung up and turned to Chrysander. “Now where is your damn pilot?”
It had been impossible for Isabella to purchase a ticket leaving the country anytime soon. All the outgoing flights for the next few hours were booked. In the end, she’d gone to the charter service counter, plunked down her credit card, which she hoped was as platinum as the name stated, and hired a private jet to fly her to London.
At least she was on board now, waiting as the jet was fueled and was placed in the queue for takeoff. Exhaustion seeped into her bones. Not sleeping the night before coupled with the emotionally draining day had taken it all out of her.
She leaned her head back against the seat and closed her eyes. She heard shuffling in the distance and assumed it was the pilot, but then warm lips pressed gently to hers, and her eyes flew open.
Theron drew away, cupping her face in his hands as she stared at him in astonishment. He looked…well, he looked bedraggled. His clothing was dusty and rumpled, his hair was in disarray, and his golden eyes burned with feverish intensity.
Before she could say anything, he kissed her again, this time foregoing the gentleness of before. He dragged her to him, kissing her until she was left completely and utterly breathless.
Then he pulled away and uttered a command in Greek directed at the cockpit. To her increasing shock, the plane began to move. With Theron in it.
“Theron, wait,” she protested. “This plane is going to London. You can’t just leave here. What about Alannis? And your family?”
He pulled her out of her seat, maneuvered to the couch, then pulled her down onto his lap.
“Shouldn’t we be in our seatbelts for takeoff?” she asked dumbly, still unable to comprehend that he was here.
??I’ll catch you if there is any unexpected turbulence,” he said silkily. “Now that you can’t run anywhere and I have you all to myself, you’ll have to listen to every word I’m about to say.”
Her eyes rounded, and her mouth fell open. He traced her lips with his finger then pulled her down to replace his finger with his mouth.
“Foolish, impetuous, beautiful, frustrating woman,” he murmured. “If you think you’re going to get rid of me after you’ve hooked me and reeled me in, then you have another think coming, Bella mou.”
Hope stuttered and made a soft pitter-patter in her chest. She stared at him unsure of what to say. So many things raced through her mind that she was absolutely speechless.
Then he rotated, sliding her off his lap and onto the seat next to him. He got to the floor on one knee and took her hand in his.
“I love you, my beautiful Isabella. I adore you. I can’t imagine my life without you. Will you marry me and make me the happiest man alive?”
He slid the ring that she’d given him back on her finger. Then he leaned down and kissed her knuckle.
“This was never another woman’s ring, pethi mou. I never gave Alannis a ring, and the one I intended for her was replaced by this one. I chose it for you. I never asked her to marry me. I was yours from the day you walked into my office. You turned my world upside down, and it’s never been set to rights.”
“You didn’t propose?” she croaked around the swell of tears knotting her throat.
He looked back at her solemnly. “I would have never made love to you belonging to another woman. I intended to propose the night of the party. I had the ring. The moment was arranged. But all I could see was you. All I wanted was you. The morning after we made love, I went to see Alannis. I told her that I was going to marry you.”
Isabella’s face fell. Theron smiled and touched her cheek. “How tenderhearted you are, agape mou. Alannis isn’t in love with me and is in fact, quite anxious for me to find you and put this ring back on your finger.”
“She’s not? You’re not? In love with her, I mean?”
She closed her eyes and shook her head, sure she had to be dreaming.
“I’m in love with you,” he said softly. “Only you.”
“But I heard what you told Chrysander, about you wanting what he and Marley had, a family, a wife. I don’t fit into that anywhere,” she said bitterly.
“What I want is you,” he said simply. “Everything that I ever wanted, what I was so restless for and hoping to find was staring me in the face. I think I knew it that first day you came into my office. I saw that tattoo and it drove me crazy. I wanted to strip every piece of your clothing off so I could see more of it. But I had already started things rolling with Alannis. I fought my attraction to you because I was supposed to be acting as your guardian, not trying to think of ways to get you out of your clothing.”