In spite of everything she had planned—keeping a cool head, securing the deal at any price, etc—Lisa’s heart was thundering. What was she doing here? What was she really doing here? She should have asked for Tino’s e-mail address, and communicated with him safely on that level— impersonally.
Smoothing down her suit jacket, she paid the driver. It didn’t help that she felt so hot and sticky. The tailored trouser suit she was wearing was lightweight, but not lightweight enough. She realised the fingers of one hand were biting like claws into the handle of her briefcase as she waved goodbye with the other.
She tried Mike on the mobile to let him know she had arrived safely, but there was no signal. She really was alone. Turning to stare at the impressive iron-studded door marking the entrance to Tino’s home, she sucked in one more breath, and then ran up the steps.
LISA realized she was staring foolishly. She had been prepared for most things, but not this. Words refused to form in response to the young woman’s greeting. She could only fight the rigor in her lips, and bob her head.
The girl couldn’t have been much more than twenty-five, and was tall and very beautiful, with a cloud of inky-black hair that fell well below her naked shoulders. She was tanned—evenly, beautifully, naturally tanned—and she smelled fresh, like sea spray, as if she had just returned from the beach. She was wearing something floaty and diaphanous in muted shades of new-shoot green and lemon, over what might have been a bikini—it didn’t feel right to look too closely—and her tiny feet were bare with bright red toenails. And Tino was standing right behind her.
Lisa sensed, rather than saw him. She didn’t trust herself to look. Her head was still reeling. She wasn’t taking anything in too clearly… She shouldn’t care. Of course she shouldn’t care… She ordered herself angrily to get her head up—to look him in the eye. When she did, she found that he was almost a head taller than his beautiful companion, and that his right hand was resting lightly on the young woman’s waist.
The urge to make some angry, guttural sound at the sight of that hand—the same hand that had held her so firmly, the hand that was now resting on another woman—threatened to overwhelm her. Just when she needed all her wits about her, she was transfixed by that hand, and by Tino’s proprietary air towards a young woman he was showing no inclination to introduce her to.
She took matters into her own hands ‘Hi, my name’s Lisa Bond. I’ve come to see Tino on business—’
‘Arianna knows why you’re here, Lisa.’
Like the woman he called Arianna, Tino was dressed casually, as if they had come up from the beach together. Lisa found herself gripped by jealousy: irrational, unwelcome, inescapable jealousy. All she could think of was the touch of his hands on her body and that for a split second before she had pushed him away she had almost lost control.
Both Arianna and Tino were so relaxed, their outfits so normal for any couple living by the sea. Tino’s bronzed feet were naked, and dusted with sand, his casual shirt barely held in place by a couple of buttons. He must have dressed in a hurry… He could hold one woman so passionately in his arms it was branded on her mind, and then coolly return home to another?
Lisa calmed herself. This was business—no need to make it personal. The only way to get money into the bank fast enough to save Bond Steel was to get that money from a cash-rich company like Zagorakis Inc. Zagorakis had to buy her small engineering works. Her personal feelings were irrelevant. She wasn’t going anywhere until the deal was sewn up.
She viewed the couple again, trying to work out what she was up against. There was the wrong dynamic between them for Arianna to be Tino’s sister… And then she noticed Tino’s bleached linen trousers were rolled up almost to his knees. The sight of his naked legs stirred some very primitive emotions inside her, not least of which was the knowledge that Arianna must know how it would feel to have those powerful legs wrapped around her—
Andreas had warned him she was coming. But this was better than he had expected. Seeing Lisa hovering uncertainly on his doorstep gave him a real rush. It was time she learned she couldn’t win every battle in the boardroom, or the bedroom.