Page 7 of The Greek Tycoon's Revenge

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‘You are never going to eat all that,’ she prompted, grinning at the sheepish expression on his handsome face. ‘It looks like a psychedelic leaning tower of Pisa.’

‘Now you know my secret vice.’ Marcus dipped the spoon into the glass, and lifted it out loaded with ice cream. ‘I have a weakness for sweet things.’ His dark eyes captured her amused green and, lifting the spoon to his mouth, he swallowed, then licked his lips with his tongue.

Suddenly the humour was gone, and heat curled in the pit of Eloise’s stomach as she saw the muscle in the strong column of his throat move as he ate. There was something so very sensual about watching his obvious enjoyment, the tip of his tongue licking his firm lips.

‘Want some?’ Her green eyes widened and she saw the spoon he held out to her mouth. ‘Go on, you will love it,’ Marcus encouraged softly. ‘It’s good.’

There was nothing good about the gleam in the eyes that held hers, but an explicit sexual promise. Involuntarily she moved slightly forward like a puppet on a string, and parted her lips. The ice cream tasted cool on her tongue, but her body heat shot up another notch.

Swallowing she jerked back and suddenly the air was filled with an electric tension. ‘Very nice,’ she mumbled.

‘I told you so. Now have some more champagne.’ He filled her glass yet again.

Eloise took another sip of the wine. Was she the only one who felt the simmering tension in the air? she wondered. And, desperate to get the conversation away from anything sexual, she asked. ‘By the way, how is your Uncle Theo?’

Marcus stiffened. ‘He died over twelve months ago in a car accident, leaving a wife and child.’ He placed his glass back on the table.

Well, she had certainly succeeded in breaking the tension, Eloise thought ruefully, Marcus’s face was like stone. ‘Oh, I am sorry,’ she mouthed her condolences.

‘Why should you be? He was nothing to you; it was your sister, Chloe, who was his friend,’ he said bluntly.

Scarlet colour burnt her cheeks, and whether it was the wine or nerves that made her do it she did not know. ‘About Chloe…she wasn’t my sister, she was my mother,’ Eloise admitted, equally as blunt.

‘Your mother? You do surprise me. Chloe didn’t look old enough,’ Marcus conceded, shooting her a veiled glance. It was a parody of innocence

, he knew that. He had caught her by surprise last night and she had admitted her surname was different from her sister’s. Obviously, rerunning yesterday’s conversation in her mind, she had realised she had made a mistake, and her blushing revelation was damage limitation on her part. But, watching her, he wasn’t so sure; her embarrassment looked genuine.

Relieved he had apparently taken her confession so well, a reflective smile curved Eloise’s full lips. ‘You’re right. Chloe was only seventeen when she gave birth to me. That’s why, when we hired the villa for a month, she insisted I pretend to be her sister.’

‘But wasn’t that hard for you? You were very young to have to lie all the time.’ Marcus sympathised with an edge of irony in his tone and, reaching across the table, he took her hand in his in a comforting gesture.

‘No, not really,’ Eloise found herself admitting. ‘I didn’t know my mother very well. She divorced my father three months after marrying him, he disappeared and she married again quite quickly. My grandparents brought me up, while Chloe pursued a very successful career around the globe.’

His hand tightened on hers. ‘So it was from your mother you got the desire to do well in business.’

‘Yes, I suppose you could say that.’ She hadn’t thought of it that way, but he might be right. ‘In fact, Chloe was very proud of my going to college, and if it hadn’t been for her, Katy, Harry and I could never have made such a good start as we did.’

‘How’s that?’

‘Well, with the money Chloe left me, we were able to set up business.’

So that was her story! Very plausible. Chloe’s death lent weight to her words. God, but she was good, Marcus thought cynically. If he had not seen her name on the contract, he would have believed her himself.

‘That must have helped to ease the pain of your mother’s passing,’ he said in a voice tinged with sarcasm.

‘Yes and no.’ She smiled a little sadly, and continued. ‘But Harry said it was important, if you want to appeal to the top end of the market, to be in the right place, and he found the property in Mayfair and I made the downpayment on the Georgian house where we live and work.’ She never realised what she was revealing as Marcus encouraged her to talk. She told him their dream of expanding the business throughout Europe, possibly the world.

‘With your enthusiasm, I’m sure you will be very successful.’ Marcus let go of her hand and, picking up the champagne bottle, refilled their glasses. Black lashes dropping down over his brilliant eyes, he added, ‘A toast to your success and may you get everything you deserve.’

Eloise picked her glass up, and watched his strong brown fingers curl around the stem of his glass. He had wonderful hands, large but lean and powerful, and for a moment she had a vivid mental image of lying on a beach, and those same fingers tracing over her naked breasts. Her face suffused with heat as Marcus’s voice broke into her erotic thoughts.

‘And to a friendship rekindled.’ Marcus touched his glass to hers, his gaze unwaveringly direct on her scarlet face.

‘To success and friendship.’ She smiled tentatively up at him, her green eyes wide and guileless. But it was a toast and a threat if she had but known it.

Marcus raised his glass and drained it. He could almost be fooled by her naïve innocence, her pleasure in the meal and the champagne. Damn it! She confused him like no other female. Once he made a decision he usually stuck by it, and yet he had changed his mind last night about Eloise and he was in danger of doing it again. Either the woman deserved an Oscar for her acting, or she really was unaware of her mother’s trade. But then he recalled the elegant house she owned and, watching her sitting opposite him, she appeared to be modesty personified in a tailored suit that covered her and yet skilfully revealed between the edges of the jacket a glimpse of satin and an amber jewel lying enticingly in the shadow of a cleavage. She blushed like a teenager, while happily discussing expanding her business worldwide, and all these paradoxes made him want to shake her and demand that the real Eloise stand up.

A smile of wry self-mockery curved his firm mouth. Who was he kidding? First he would strip her naked and bury himself in her luscious body over and over again. The memory of her in his arms, the lush promise of her body that he had denied himself, had been a thorn in his side for far too long, and abruptly shoving back his chair he stood up.

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