The Greek Children’s DoctorBy: Sarah Morgan
‘Ten pounds,’ the auctioneer said. ‘Let’s start the bidding at £10.’
Andreas glanced at the auctioneer incredulously. Did the man have no idea of value?
‘Yes.’ A lanky blond man raised an arm and Andreas watched with interest as the girl’s expression froze. All the warmth and humour drained out of her pretty face and she stared ahead stonily. It was clear to everyone watching that she didn’t want to be purchased by the blond man.
She started moving again, and it was obvious from the way that her eyes slid frantically around the room that she was searching for someone. She seemed tense, almost desperate, and then her gaze rested on Andreas.
Startled eyes, as blue as the Aegean sea, widened and stared into his. Instead of continuing her rhythmic sway down the stage, she stopped dead, her whole body still, frozen by the connection that sizzled between them.
Taken aback by the strength of the attraction, Andreas felt his body tighten in that most primitive of male responses. His arrogant dark head angled back, he held her gaze, forgetting the recent change to his life that had fired his resolution to avoid women.
Suddenly all he wanted was her.
Naked. In his bed.
No self-respecting Greek male would allow a woman like her to pass by unscathed.
It would be a criminal waste.
Totally sure of himself, he strolled forward, indifferent to the lustful female stares he was attracting from all quarters. He was only interested in one woman and the confidence of his stride made the crowd part to let him through.
‘One thousand pounds.’ He delivered his bid coolly, his eyes still holding hers as he dropped the words into the expectant hush. He’d never paid for a woman in his life before, but there was no way he was letting the blond man buy her. Or any other man.
He wanted her for himself.
And Andreas Christakos was used to getting exactly what he wanted.
‘One thousand pounds!’ The auctioneer was almost incoherent with delight. ‘Well, none of you tight individuals are going to top that so I’d say Libby’s going, going, gone to the tall, dark stranger with the fat wallet!’
Ignoring the laughter, Andreas stretched out a lean, strong hand to Libby, his eyes still holding hers.
Looking slightly stunned, she stepped forward, descended the stage with care and took his hand, chin held high.
It was only when he caught her from falling at the bottom of the steps that he realised that she’d had too much to drink.
The blond man who’d bid £10 stepped forward, clearly desperate to speak to her, but she silenced him with an icy glare and Andreas felt her small hand tremble in his.
He frowned slightly. Why was she shaking?
In an instinctive male reaction, his hand tightened on hers possessively.
‘No amount of money would induce me to have a conversation with you, Philip, let alone a date,’ she said with exaggerated dignity. Having clarified the situation to her satisfaction, she turned to Andreas with a smile that would have illuminated Athens on a dark night. ‘Shall we go?’
Andreas wondered what could have upset her so much that she’d be willing to leave the bar with a total stranger. She hadn’t even asked his name and she was clinging to his hand as if it were a lifeline.
A totally inexplicable need to protect her slammed through him and he tightened his grip. ‘Yes, let’s go.’
He held the door open for her and she walked past him, long-legged and graceful, managing remarkably well on those high heels considering the volume of alcohol she appeared to have consumed. Up close she seemed more fragile than she had on the stage and he was suddenly aware of just how delicate she was compared to him. Her arms and wrists were slender, her waist was impossibly tiny and her long, slim legs seemed to go on for ever.
She climbed the stairs carefully, cheerfully greeting various members of the medical staff who passed. But he sensed that the cheerfulness was for everyone else’s benefit and his firm mouth tightened as he contemplated the possible reasons for her distress. Obviously it had something to do with the blond man who thought she was only worth £10.
They reached the top of the stairs and he took her arm as they walked towards the car park.
‘Exactly how much alcohol have you consumed?’
‘None. I don’t drink. Although perhaps I should have done tonight. At least alcohol might have numbed the utter humiliation of being on that stage. I can’t believe I ever thought it would be a good idea. Thank goodness you came when you did. That creep almost bought me,’ she slurred, bending down to remove her shoes. ‘Ouch. Sorry. They’re really uncomfortable.’
Did she think he was a fool?
It was perfectly obvious that she’d been drinking.
Andreas frowned. ‘If you found it humiliating, why did you agree to do it?’ he asked, noticing that without her shoes she had to tilt her head to look at him.
Her shoes dangled from her fingers. ‘I did it because I promised that I would and I never break promises.’
‘You didn’t want to do it?’
‘I would rather have dug a hole and buried myself,’ she said frankly. ‘Standing on that stage and trying to look cheerful was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I almost died with relief when you rescued me. For a horrible moment I thought that my rotten brother had abandoned me to my fate. Which reminds me, I need to write you a cheque.’