Playing by the Greek's RulesBy: Sarah Morgan
‘When I play, I like it to be with an opponent who is similarly matched.’
‘I’m tougher than I look.’ A dimple appeared at the corner of Lily’s mouth. ‘There really is no need to be nervous. If rumour is correct, you’re a cold, emotionless vacuum—and that means you’re in no danger from someone like little me.’
Nik had a feeling ‘little me’ was the most dangerous thing he’d encountered in a long while. ‘If I’m a “cold, emotionless vacuum”, why would you want to climb into my bed?’
‘Because you are insanely sexy, and all the things that make you so wrong for me would make you perfect for rebound sex.’
He looked into those blue eyes and tried to ignore the surge of sexual hunger that had gripped him from the moment he’d laid eyes on that pale silky hair, tumbling damp round her gleaming wet body.
Never before had doing the right thing felt so wrong.
Nik cursed under his breath and rose to his feet. ‘We’re leaving.’
‘Good decision.’ She slid her hand into his, rose on tiptoe and whispered in his ear. ‘I’ll be gentle with you.’
With her wide smile and laughing eyes it was like being on a date with a beam of sunshine. He felt heat spread through his body, his arousal so brutal he was tempted to haul her behind the nearest lockable door, rip off that dress and acquaint himself with every part of her luscious naked body.
LILY PULLED HER HAT down to shade her eyes from the burn of the hot Greek sun and took a large gulp from her water bottle. ‘Never again.’ She sat down on the parched, sunbaked earth and watched as her friend carefully brushed away dirt and soil from a small, carefully marked section of the trench. ‘If I ever, ever mention the word “love” to you, I want you to bury me somewhere in this archaeological site and never dig me up again.’
‘There is an underground burial chamber. I could dump you in there if you like.’
‘Great idea. Stick a sign in the ground. “Here lies Lily, who wasted years of her life studying the origin, evolution and behaviour of humans and still couldn’t understand men”.’ She gazed across the ruins of the ancient city of Aptera to the sea beyond. They were high on a plateau. Behind them, the jagged beauty of the White Mountains shimmered in the heat and in front lay the sparkling blue of the Sea of Crete. The beauty of it usually lifted her mood, but not today.
Brittany sat up and wiped her brow with her forearm. ‘Stop beating yourself up. The guy is a lying, cheating rat bastard.’ Reaching for her backpack, she glanced across the site to the group of men who were deep in conversation. ‘Fortunately for all of us he’s flying back to London tomorrow to his wife. And all I can say to that is, God help the woman.’
Lily covered her face with her hands. ‘Don’t say the word “wife”. I am a terrible person.’
‘Hey!’ Brittany’s voice was sharp. ‘He told you he was single. He lied. The responsibility is all his. After tomorrow you won’t have to see him again and I won’t have to struggle not to kill him.’
‘What if she finds out and ends their marriage?’
‘Then she might have the chance of a decent life with someone who respects her. Forget him, Lily.’
How could she forget when she couldn’t stop going over and over it in her head?
Had there been signs she’d missed?
Had she asked the wrong questions?
Was she so desperate to find someone special that she’d ignored obvious signs?
‘I was planning our future. We were going to spend August touring the Greek Islands. That was before he pulled out a family photo from his wallet instead of his credit card. Three little kids wrapped around their dad like bindweed. He should have been taking them on holiday, not me! I can’t bear it. How could I have made such an appalling error of judgement? That is a line I never cross. Family is sacrosanct to me. If you asked me to pick between family and money, I’d pick family every time.’ It crossed her mind that right now she had neither. No money. No family. ‘I don’t know which is worse—the fact that he clearly didn’t know me at all, or the fact that when I checked him against my list he was perfect.’
‘You have a list?’
Lily felt herself grow pink. ‘It’s my attempt to be objective. I have a really strong desire for permanent roots. Family.’ She thought about the emotional wasteland of her past and felt a sense of failure. Was the future going to look the same way? ‘When you want something badly it can distort your decision-making process, so I’ve put in some layers of protection for myself. I know the basic qualities I need in a man to be happy. I never date anyone who doesn’t score highly on my three points.’
Brittany looked intrigued. ‘Big wallet, big shoulders and big—’
‘No! And you are appalling.’ Despite her misery, Lily laughed. ‘First, he has to be affectionate. I’m not interested in a man who can’t show his feelings. Second, he has to be honest, but short of getting him to take a lie detector test I don’t know how to check that one. I thought Professor Ashurst was honest. I’m never calling him David again, by the way.’ She allowed herself one glance at the visiting archaeologist who had dazzled her during their short, ill-fated relationship. ‘You’re right. He’s a rat pig.’