Page 38 of The Greek Tycoon's Revenge

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‘I can see why Marcus wanted to bring you here, you lucky girl.’ She sighed in delight at the panoramic view of sea and sky.

Eloise looked across at her friend. ‘Okay, Katy, why the rush out here?’ It was totally out of character for Katy to fly anywhere unless she had to.

Bright brown eyes turned compassionately

to Eloise. ‘There’s no easy way of saying this. Rick Pritchard is due to be released from jail on Monday.’

Eloise quelled an internal shiver at the mention of the name. She should have guessed. She’d read the article in the paper herself yesterday morning. Of course Katy must have seen it and, being Katy, worried over her.

‘Is that all?’ Eloise tried a smile, deeply touched by Katy’s concern. But if the last few months had taught her anything, it was she could no longer hide from the harsh reality of life or depend on other people to protect her. Katy had her own family and life to lead. ‘I know, Katy. I saw the article when you gave me the paper yesterday. It is not important,’ she lied.

‘You’re sure? You’re not frightened he’ll come after you?’ Katy asked seriously.

‘Really, Katy… Do I look frightened?’ Eloise prompted and, casually picking up a small stuffed vine leaf, she waved her hand around. ‘Look where we are and with whom. Marcus is more than a match for any man, or woman!’ She allowed a brief, knowing smile to curve her lips, before she popped the morsel of food in her mouth.

‘Yes, you’re right.’ Katy smiled back, completely taken in by Eloise’s consummate acting. ‘Harry said I was worrying unnecessarily, and Marcus seemed quite cool when I told him about it. But, hey, now I am here, can we at least try out the pool.’

The food stuck in Eloise’s throat and she had to swallow hard to dislodge it horrified by Katy’s comment. ‘You told Marcus?’

‘Yes, on the way over. Why, does it matter?’

Recovering swiftly. ‘No. No, of course not, but do me a favour—don’t mention it to him again.’ The thought of Marcus knowing her dark secret mortified her. ‘He’s Greek, a typical macho male, and as you can imagine any mention of an attack on his lady puts him in a bad mood.’ She made it up as she went along. ‘And I really don’t want to talk about the case.’

But she knew she was only putting off the moment of reckoning. Once Marcus got her on her own he would want the full story. Now she understood why he had appeared cold on his return with Katy.

‘Sure, if you say so. The subject’s closed,’ Katy said understandingly, then grinned. ‘Now lead me to the water.’

They spent the rest of the afternoon at the pool, but there was no sign of Marcus. The whole situation put Eloise under a severe strain. So far, by some miracle she had managed to fool Katy into thinking Marcus was the love of her life and everything was fine. If Katy realised everything was not as it seemed, she would question Eloise until she got the truth.

But what was the truth? Eloise thought as she stood in the bedroom, fastening polished jade earrings to her ears, a perfect match for the patterned green silk sarong-style dress she had opted to wear for dinner. So much had happened, so fast. She was plunged into turmoil by her conflicting emotions.

Yesterday morning she had told herself she hated Marcus, because he’d ordered her to come to Greece, but after reading the newspaper she’d jumped at the chance to get away. She’d spent all day in a state of shock. Then last night and the episode on the beach when she had succumbed to his blatant sexuality yet again, she’d felt no shame, but freedom. This morning Marcus had asked her to marry him, and for a while she’d believed happiness was a possibility. But when he returned with Katy, it was as if the last twenty-four hours had never happened.

Dear heaven, it was no wonder she was an emotional basket case, she told herself bitterly. She was a complete novice when it came to male-female relationships, and Marcus was a vastly experienced, complicated man. He was also a very traditional male, with a high profile position to uphold in the business world. Not the sort of man who would take for his wife a woman who had been violated and the centre of a sordid court case, she concluded sadly.

Straightening her shoulders, she left the room to collect Katy and go down to dinner, her stomach churning with nervous dread, waiting for the axe to fall. Trying to understand what drove Marcus was like riding a rollercoaster, a spectacular high then a deep, depressing trough. Never mind the fact some madman might be chasing her…

They ate dinner out on the terrace with the sea and night sky as a backdrop. Marcus looked his usual magnificent self in a lightweight linen suit, and by the coffee stage he had shed his jacket. He ruled the conversation with all the charm and wit of a true Renaissance man. Katy was completely fooled, but Eloise could sense the underlying tension in the taut set of his wide shoulders.

She hadn’t had a private word with him since his bombshell proposal this morning. He’d waited until she and Katy had appeared for dinner before exiting his study with a murmured apology about changing for dinner. He was avoiding her, obviously disgusted.

Now, the few times their eyes met, his narrowed into hard darkness masking all expression. Obviously he was regretting his reckless proposal, Eloise thought sadly, but then she had not really believed him anyway. Miracles didn’t happen. At least not to her.

Inwardly she heaved a sigh of relief when, after demolishing almost a whole bottle of wine single-handedly, Katy said she was tired and wanted to go to bed.

‘Yes. I’m rather tired myself,’ Eloise agreed, rising from her seat. She glanced across at Marcus. ‘I think I’ll call it a night,’ she said smoothly, playing her part for the benefit of Katy. ‘If you don’t mind.’ Her green eyes widened as she saw the flash of something almost feral in the black eyes that met her own.

‘You do that, sweetheart,’ he said. With perfect manners, he rose as they did, and turning to Katy wished her good night, and then, glancing at Eloise, he added, ‘I am going to have a brandy. I will see you later.’

Following Katy into the house, Eloise heard the sarcasm in his tone, and slanted him a sharp backward glance—but, to her astonishment, she caught an expression of such bitter devastation on his darkly handsome face, her step paused. She wanted to go to him and ask him what was wrong. Then common sense prevailed; she was imagining things. Marcus had never needed anyone in his life, and she caught up with Katy, and showed her to her room.

Shedding her clothes, Eloise showered, and slipped a brief white cotton nightgown over her head. Returning to the bedroom, brush in hand, she sat down on the bed, and began brushing her hair. Marcus confused and tormented her, until she could no longer think straight. She’d tried. She’d tried to retain some control, to defend her poor heart against the overwhelming attraction of the man, but she was beginning to believe it was a hopeless task. She was hopeless. Her lower lip trembled; a solitary tear rolled down her cheek, and she brushed it away with her free hand, then brushed her hair with more ferocity than was strictly necessary. She refused to wallow in self-pity; she was a survivor—she had proved that once before, and she could do so again.

Lost in her own thoughts, Eloise did not know how long she had been sitting on the bed, when she glanced up and saw Marcus standing a few feet away.

He was as cold and still as a marble statue. She could see it in his eyes, feel it in the silence. Eloise swallowed hard vaguely threatened by his silent scrutiny. ‘The bathroom’s free,’ she said inanely.

‘So is your attacker,’ Marcus hissed between clenched teeth. ‘Why didn’t you tell me you’d been attacked?’ he demanded softly.

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