‘You’re quite a woman,’ he murmured later when they were lying twined around each other.
Lisa could only manage to mumble groggily and snuggle a little closer. She felt so safe, so content it was like returning home after an arduous journey…
‘Do you know how special you are?’ Tino whispered as he stroked Lisa’s hair. Her breathing was so even he knew she was asleep. And it was as well she couldn’t hear him saying words that would have misled them both—dangerous words…
Instinct warned him to pull back while there was still time. There was only one possible ending to this—and it was the same ending he had envisaged the day he’d walked into the Bond Steel boardroom. And she would hate him when he took the company from her…
Moonlight was streaming into the bedroom as Tino started up in bed wide awake. He had fallen asleep so deeply he could hardly believe the old nightmare had returned. Springing out of bed, he paced the floor. Halting by the window, he gazed out, seeing nothing.
How could a man admit to having nightmares? How could a man live with such images in his mind? Why wasn’t his will strong enough to get rid of them?
Hearing Lisa stir, he quietly opened the doors leading onto the balcony and stepped outside. Planting his hands on the stone balustrade, he stared out towards the horizon. Stella was the closest thing he had to a friend, and even Stella Panayotakis didn’t know all the things that had happened to him in the orphanage. It was better she never knew… And yet the past had made him the man he was today—it drove his every move. It had given him a private island, unimaginable wealth, and even worldwide respect— the only thing it could never give him was the capacity to love.
He glanced back inside the room where he could see Lisa’s hair spread out across the pillow like a cloud. Her face, deep in sleep, was pale and trusting like a child’s in the moonlight… His appetite to compete with her, to subdue her in every way, had deserted him utterly. If he had been capable of love, he would have loved Lisa Bond. But learning to love, like learning to feel, was a luxury he could never buy. And more importantly he had embarked upon a journey that no one else could share… a lifelong journey that demanded everything of him, a journey that drove him from deal to deal in the endless quest for money to fund his dream, to sustain his project…
It shamed him that he had set out to triumph over her. Taking Bond Steel from Lisa was one victory he didn’t need… but there was something he could do to salve his conscience. He would buy her small engineering works. He would give her the break she so desperately needed… He would give a little, just this once. She deserved that much— as that was all he could give. He would send the necessary information right away.
He would have liked to do more for her, but anything on a personal level was out of his reach. Straightening up, Tino stretched out his powerful limbs and turned his face up to the stars. He was a man people envied, a man who could buy anything he desired, but he was a man with nothing, because he had nothing to give. He had nothing to offer Lisa other than money and sex—and she deserved someone better than that. Someone better than him.
Lisa woke to another beautiful day. But then every day was more beautiful than the last on Stellamaris. Stretching languorously in Tino’s bed, she felt the empty space at her side and looked around for him. The room was empty. He would be swimming, she remembered, sighing deeply with contentment.
Propping herself up on the soft bank of pillows, she viewed the spacious room with interest. A mischievous smile curved her lips. She hadn’t taken it all in the previous night, because Tino had demanded all her attention.
It was much as she might have expected: a man’s space—marble floors, state-of-the-art sound centre, plain walls, neutral colours, and a couple of extraordinary pieces of modern art on the walls. Hockney, Lisa realised as she identified the vibrant images created by the British artist from Bradford.
Tino’s room. Smiling to herself, Lisa snuggled back on the pillows. She had never felt like this before… She had been waiting for Tino Zagorakis all her life. Even when she closed the biggest deal, or when she remembered the day her father had handed over the reins of Bond Steel to her—nothing, nothing came close to the way she was feeling now, after spending the night in Tino’s arms.