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‘You can let them know any number of ways,’ Tino pointed out. ‘Or you could just send Mike home with the good news. I’m sure he’d like that.’

‘I’m sure he would. But why should I stay here with you?’

‘Because you want to.’

She held his gaze, wondering if it was safe for her heart to beat so fast. ‘You’re very sure of yourself.’

‘Forty-eight hours of sexual excess? Sounds tempting to me.’

As her gaze strayed to Tino’s mouth Lisa knew he was right.

‘It’s perfect for us, Lisa—no strings, no consequences… I can’t offer you the long term, and I know that’s the last thing you’re looking for.’

In that moment something died inside her, but something far more elemental took its place. ‘I’m not sure if I should stay.’

‘Yes, you are,’ he said confidently. ‘And just think of it—we’ll be all alone when the others leave the island.’

‘Except for your staff.’

‘Who are well schooled in discretion. We will be able to extend our area of study into all the extremes of erotic adventure.’ He smiled against her mouth. ‘We’re the same, you and I, Lisa; don’t fight it. Looking at you is like looking in the mirror. I don’t always like what I see, but at least I always know what you’re thinking.’

She wanted sex with him so desperately it was like a kind of madness, but even more than that she longed to be close to him… even though she knew Tino was never going to let that happen.

‘So? Give me your answer, Lisa. Do you accept my proposition?’

Gazing up at him, she saw that his warm, wonderful eyes had turned black with erotic promise.

‘I accept.’


THRUSTING his face into his hands, Tino made a rough, animal sound as he paced his room. What was he turning into? What the hell was Lisa turning him into? Right now, he was no better than a rutting beast scenting a female ripe for sex.

And now he was blaming Lisa for his own weakness! As he stood in the centre of his study his face contorted with anger and disgust. What kind of a man did that make him? Was it Lisa’s fault that he only had to look at her, or think about her, and he turned into that most primal of men—a man who could think of nothing but possession, and sex?

He couldn’t think about business, or Stellamaris, or about any of his other responsibilities, because she filled his every waking moment, as well as his dreams at night. He could see no further than keeping her with him every precious second he could until they both returned to their cold, emotion- free lives. While she was in Stellamaris he could fill his eyes with every nuance and quirk in her expression, fill his nostrils with her scent, and his hands with her silky flesh… He couldn’t let her go, not yet. That accounted for his preposterous scheme—an erotic adventure for the next forty-eight hours? He couldn’t believe he had suggested it. And he only had because he wasn’t capable of committing to anything more, and that shamed him.

They’d shared explosive sex, which accounted for an erotic adventure being the first thing that sprang into his mind, but they’d shared some tender moments too. As he remembered those now his mouth flattened with despair. He would have done better to take her on a tour of the island. He of all people knew how dangerous it was to play with anyone’s feelings—and he had no excuse; he knew she was as scarred as he was. And what? Did he want to hurt her more? The best thing he could have done for Lisa was to stay away from her for good.

In just one day more their business dealings would be concluded. Of course the deal was done. For the first time in his business career he hadn’t listened to his advisors, to his own intuition, or to the bald facts as they appeared in columns of figures on the documents that lay untouched on his desk. He could see no further than the fact that Lisa’s company desperately needed a cash injection from him, and that he wouldn’t let her fail.

She could have had anything she wanted from him, but he knew she would only take what she needed to secure the future of her people. He had been wrong to say they were alike when he was still holding himself aloof, still keeping his true feelings hidden.

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