In taking Lizzie to bed in the first place he had broken his own rules, and that was bad enough. However, even though he had known they were not using contraception he had still gone ahead—and it was that fact that most challenged his perceptions of himself. He could have stopped. His mind had given him a warning that had in turn given him the opportunity to stop. But he had ignored that warning. Why? Because at that point he had been too aroused to want to stop? He was thirty-six years old, dammit, not a teenager and he knew it. Now it was that knowledge that was rubbing a raw place inside his head. Like grit in a shoe, demanding attention, a question that wanted an answer.
Why, when he had been aware of what he was doing and the risk he was taking, and when he had had the opportunity to stop, had he not done so? Why had he, in fact, deliberately continued? Knowing what might result? His life was planned out—his way ahead clear. Impregnating Lizzie with his child was not part of that plan, and neither that child nor Lizzie herself had any place in his future.
And now, when surely he ought to be distancing himself from Lizzie, he had actually invited her to spend the day with him.
It would be both heaven and hell to spend the day with Ilios, Lizzie knew. What had happened to her determination to fight what was happening to her? She would recover it, she assured herself. But just for today she was going to allow herself to bask inwardly in the happiness she felt and the delight of being with him. Inwardly. Outwardly, of course, she must treat the day and Ilios himself in exactly the same way she would have done an appointment with any client she might be accompanying, to view a property they wanted her to restyle for them. All right, so Ilios wasn’t going to be asking her to restyle Villa Manos, and for her own sake she must remember why he had married her. As soon as Ilios deemed that their marriage had served its purpose she would be on her way home, and their marriage would be brought to an end.
With that in mind, when she joined him in the living room half an hour after they had finished breakfast, she was wearing her ‘professional uniform’ of jeans and a white tee shirt—although the new jeans were part of her Mrs Manos wardrobe and were designer. They fitted her perfectly, just like the tee shirt. She carried a jacket over her arm.
Like her, Ilios was also casually dressed in jeans. When he turned his back on her to place his coffee mug in the dishwasher Lizzie had an excellent view of the way in which the denim fitted the muscular firmness of his buttocks, and shamefully she could feel her heartbeat increasing as her gaze lingered on him longer than it should have done. Her? Ogling a man’s body? Since when? But Ilios was no ordinary man, was he? He was the man she loved. And the temptation to go up to him and lean against him, hoping that he would turn round and take her in his arms, was almost overwhelming.
It didn’t help that Ilios was now coming to bed after she had fallen asleep and getting up in the morning before she was awake, making it very plain that he did not want a repetition of the intimacy they had shared. Although the one good thing about her discovering that she loved him was that she did not now need to fear being overcome by her lust—knowing that she loved him had changed everything. It meant that she would not and could not risk Ilios recognising how she felt.
Pinning a bright, businesslike smile to her face, she asked Ilios conversationally, ‘Is the interior of Villa Manos modelled on Villa Emo as well as the exterior?’
This was another unfamiliar issue he was having to deal with, Ilios acknowledged. The fact that not once since he had taken her to bed had Lizzie made any reference to what had happened. Not so much as by a look, never mind a word. Because she regretted what had happened? Because her sexual desire for him, once satisfied, had vanished? Either of those alternatives should have been welcomed by him, and yet here he was feeling they were unsatisfactory—that the situation between them was unsatisfactory. It left him feeling that there was unfinished business between them, that he wanted…