‘And I wonder why that was, Daddy?’ Lisa muttered, slapping cleansing cream onto her face.
Slipping out of the dress, she left it on the floor. Pulling on her own suit trousers and her own sensible shoes, she weakened as far as a plain ivory silk shirt was concerned when it came to plundering the collection of new clothes in her wardrobe. And that was only because she knew the evening would be warm even if they were seated outside, and she couldn’t bear to be stifling in a jacket—and her own white blouse had already been taken from the room to be laundered.
She collected her hair in a loose pony-tail at the nape of her neck. Nothing too frivolous; nothing that could be construed as an attempt to win anyone’s attention. Face tonic to freshen up, and then some tinted moisturiser, and a slick of lip-gloss. She confined herself to a smidgen of mascara, and a spritz of perfume later she was ready—just at the moment Mike knocked on the door.
He looked fantastic, as always. Lisa felt dowdy by comparison— and clearly looked it too, from Mike’s disappointed expression.
‘Oh, no… No, no, no,’ he exclaimed, shaking his head. ‘The minute we get back home, I’m taking you in hand.’
‘I look that bad?’
‘You look like a sleek, beautiful leopard masquerading as a mouse.’
‘As good as that?’
‘Shall we?’ Mike said, offering her his arm.
Tino glanced at her, and then looked away as she walked arm in arm with Mike onto the patio. The other men were already sipping drinks, and hadn’t noticed her at all. Waiters were moving amongst the small gathering with canapés, and more drinks, and absolutely everyone was in
dinner suits, including Tino.
‘You know what?’ Mike whispered in her ear.
‘You look as out of place now as you did when you walked into the boardroom earlier today. Why don’t we about-turn, and I’ll sort you out?’
‘Are you serious?’ He clearly was, Lisa realised, when Mike wheeled her away.
As she opened the door of the first wardrobe Mike threw up his hands in a paroxysm of delight.
‘Designer heaven!’ He flicked expertly along the rail. ‘We’ll take this, and this… Oh, and this.’ Holding the gossamer-fine beaded and sequinned shawl up close against his Ozwald Boateng jacket, he sighed theatrically.
Closing her eyes briefly, Lisa shook her head and smiled. She wasn’t going to get out of the room again until Mike had his way—she might as well give in.
‘Mike, you’re my fairy godmother,’ Lisa exclaimed a little while later, staring transfixed at her reflection in the full-length mirror.
‘Fairy godsister, please… Well, what do you think?’
‘What do you think is more to the point,’ Lisa said, turning around to smile at him.
‘Well, that brute of a Greek isn’t going to ignore you now, that’s for sure,’ he said with satisfaction, offering Lisa his arm.
Mike made her pause just inside the door where the light was a little brighter than on the patio. There wasn’t quite an audible gasp, but there might as well have been. Every man had turned to stare.
Mike had dressed her hair high so that she looked taller than usual, and a few softening tendrils had been allowed to escape around her carefully made-up face. Mike had designed her make-up too, to complete the ‘look’, as he called it, with all the care he might have applied to one of his famously fabulous room settings. Her eyes were smoky, her lashes black… Her lips were full and glossy red, and there was just a hint of rouge to define her cheekbones—the end result? She looked like something out of Vogue or Tatler— anyway, quite unlike herself, Lisa decided.
She had never gone for full-on glamour in her life before, but, of course, Mike did nothing by halves. The strappy sandals he’d insisted she wear had stratospheric heels, and the dress he had chosen was cut, appropriately enough, with a nod to ancient Grecian styling. Cunningly draped, it fitted where it touched, and was extremely elegant, yet sexy— with a slit up the side to a point where Lisa felt quite a draft, especially as Mike had specifically ruled out the wearing of underwear.
Seeing Tino swallow, she rejoiced.