So it should’ve kept getting better from there, but instead he found himself back in hot water. Just when he finally had her in his arms and he finally experienced her delicious softness against his, just when he could finally savor her body against his, Schuyler also had to choose that moment to start dropping one bombshell after another at him.
“…I don’t want to fall in love with you.”
Coming from nowhere, the words completely took him by surprise, and Ioniko’s hands automatically loosened its hold on her waist. “I see.” He saw the flash of pain in her eyes, and his own gaze immediately became veiled. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. He should’ve expected this to come up sooner or later between them.
“I’m betting you wouldn’t want it either.”
The quiver in her voice decided it for him, and he said evenly, “You would be right.” Crushing her hopes like this was better than making her wait for nothing.
“Ouch, but expected…”
His lips tightened as he realized that this was how she liked to cope: making jokes to hide her pain, even though anyone would have an easy time seeing through them.
“So that being said and with you knowing what you know now…if I ask you to forget you even know me, would you?”
“No.” Fuck no. A selfless man would have said otherwise, but it was too late for that. At this point, she might as well ask him to cut off one of his limbs.
“I thought so, which is why…I’d like to try going out with you—”
The words stunned him, and his lips curved. “I’d like that, too—”
“And with other guys as well.”
All feelings of pleasure instantly vanished. “Parakalo?”
“If it helps, you can date other women, too—”
“I only want you.” Was she fucking serious?
“I just think it’s better this way—”
“I am not in the habit of sharing my woman with anyone else.” Ioniko’s anger had him speaking between clenched teeth. “And I do not appreciate being manipulated—”
“You know it’s not like that.”
And yet she was not backing down, he realized in disbelief. “You truly will not change your mind?”
“Then there is nothing left to say.”
He turned away angrily and stalked off even as a part of him waited the whole goddamn time for her to call him back. But she didn’t, and he slammed the door shut behind him. Fuck. FUCK. FUCK.
Ioniko called his sister as soon as he got back to his suite and told her tersely that he had to leave for Athens.
“All of a sudden?”
“No.” It was true. Somewhat. He could’ve rescheduled his meetings easily, but now there was no reason to.
“Does Schuyler know?”
“She doesn’t need to.” He had intended to take her with him, but obviously nothing like that was going to happen, and the thought made him want to smash something into pieces, his rage remaining dangerously close to the surface even when he had already boarded his jet.
If she was so fucking determined to have other men in her life, then she was welcome to start her own fucking harem. He wanted no fucking part of it, and he no longer had any desire to have anything to do with her.
To hell with her.
And he almost had himself convinced that he had gotten Schuyler out of his system…until he got Katya’s message and found out that his own sister had fucking betrayed him by opening a Tinder account on Schuyler’s behalf.
WHAT. THE. FUCK.
A second text came in, with Katya cheerfully informing him that Schuyler’s photo had already scored more than a dozen swipe-right matches through the app.
Meeting another man.
Or more than one man even.
Men who had every chance to steal her away from a moody son of a bitch like him.
Just imagining it sobered him up, and he wasted no time in calling his sister and ordering her to get rid of Schuyler’s account on the dating app. But rather than obeying him – which she rarely did, even when she was young – Katya instead passed the phone to Schuyler, who then enraged him further by choosing to hang up on him.
While she was not exactly holding a gun to his head, the writing on the wall wasn’t exactly difficult to read either, and for one long moment, Ioniko seriously considered ending things then and there. He wasn’t used to being backed into a corner, and if it had been any other woman…
If it had been anyone else but Schuyler, goddammit…
“Come join me in Athens,” he heard himself say, “and we’ll talk.”
And she said…yes.
It took only a short amount of time for Ioniko’s staff to make travel arrangements on Schuyler’s behalf and ensure that the red carpet was rolled out the moment she stepped out of her apartment. After that, it was merely a matter of waiting, and at one point, his instincts correctly prompted him to give her a call. He had sensed that she might be feeling overwhelmed by how fast things were moving, and when she answered his call, the tremor in her voice proved him correct.