The Scandalous Warehams. Penny Jordan
could end up being tied up for years in a complex legal battle.’
A battle which once engaged upon he would not be able to withdraw from unless and until he had won, Ilios acknowledged.
His lawyer had suggested he take some time to review the matter, perhaps hoping Ilios knew that he would give in and give Tino the one million euros he wanted—a small enough sum of money to a man who was, after all, a billionaire. But that wasn’t the point. The point was that Tino thought that he could get the better of him by simply putting his hand out for money he hadn’t earned. There was no way that Ilios was going to allow that.
He had been attempting to vent some of the fury he was feeling by felling branches from an old and diseased olive tree when he had seen a taxi come down the road to the headland, stopping to let its passenger get out before turning round and going back the way it had come.
Now, still wearing the old hard hat bearing the Manos Construction logo he had put on for protection, his arms bare in a white tee shirt, his jeans tucked into work boots, he walked out from the tree line and watched as Lizzie looked out to sea, his arms folded across his chest.
Lizzie turned back towards the flattened ground where the apartments had been, shock holding her immobile as she saw the man standing on it, watching her.
‘You’re trespassing. This is private land.’
He spoke English! But the words he had spoken were hostile and angry, challenging Lizzie to insist with equal hostility, ‘Private land which in part belongs to me.’
It wasn’t strictly true, of course, but as a partner in the apartment block she must surely own a percentage of the land on which it had been built? Lizzie didn’t know the finer points of Greek property law, but there was something about the attitude toward her of the man confronting her and challenging her that made her feel she had to assert herself and her rights. However, it was plain that she had done the wrong thing. The man unfolded his arms, revealing the outline of a hard-muscled torso beneath the dirt-smeared tee shirt tucked into low-slung jeans that rode his hips, and strode towards her.
‘Manos land can never belong to anyone other than a Manos.’
He was savagely angry. The hardness of the gaze from golden eagle eyes fringed with thick dark lashes speared her like a piece of helpless prey.
Lizzie stepped back from him in panic, and lost her footing as she stumbled on a rough tussock of grass.
As she started to fall the man reached for her, hard fingers biting into her jacket-clad arms as she was hauled upright and kept there by his hold on her. The golden gaze raked her with a predatory male boldness that infuriated her. He was looking at her as though … as though he was indeed a mythical Greek god, with the right and the power to take and use vulnerable female mortal flesh for his own pleasure as and when he wished. Sex with a man like this would be dangerous for the woman who was drawn to risk herself in his hostile embrace. Would he take without giving, or would he subjugate a woman foolish enough to think she could make him want her by overpowering her with his sensuality and leaving her a prisoner to it whilst he remained unmoved? That mouth, with its full bottom lip, suggested that he possessed a cruel sensuality that matched his manner towards her.
Lizzie shivered, shocked by the inappropriateness and the unfamiliar sensuality of her own thoughts. She tried to concentrate on something practical.
Somehow as he’d moved he’d also found time to push back the protective hard hat he was wearing, so that now she could see the thick darkness of his hair. She was five foot six. He was much taller—well over six foot—and of course far more powerful that her. Lizzie could see that the effort of holding her had hardly raised the biceps in his powerful arms, but that didn’t stop her from trying break free of him.
He stopped her with contemptuous ease, pulling her closer to him. He smelled of earth, and hard work, and of being a man. From somewhere deep down, in the place where she kept her most special memories, she had a sudden mental image of being held in her father’s arms in the garden at her parents’ lovely house in Cheshire, laughing in delight as she looked down from that height to where her mother was kneeling beside her two younger sisters. Those had been such wonderful years—years when she had felt safe and secure and loved.
But this man was not her father. With this man there would be no safety, no security, and certainly no love.
Love? She was so close to the dirt-streaked tee shirt that she could see the dark shadow of his body hair through it. She could almost feel the force of his hostility towards her. And she felt equally hostile to him. That was why her heart was banging into her chest wall and why her senses were recoiling from the intense awareness of him that his proximity was forcing on her.
What kind of awareness? Awareness of him as a man? Awareness of his maleness? Awareness of his sexuality? Awareness that within her something long denied, something starved of the right to express itself, was pushing against the barriers she had erected against it. Because of this man?
No, of course not. That was impossible. Her heart was thudding even more frantically, pumping adrenalin-fuelled denial through her veins. Why was she reacting to him like this? She had no interest in his sexuality. She must not have any interest in his sexuality. She must not want to stay here in his arms.
The panic caused by her own feelings had Lizzie demanding fiercely, ‘Let go of me.’
Ilios wasn’t used to women demanding to be set free when he was holding them—quite the opposite. Normally women—especially women like he knew this one to be: selfish, shallow, self-seeking women who cared nothing for others—were all too keen to inveigle themselves into situations of intimacy with him. Which was, of course, why he felt so reluctant to release her.
When she pulled back against him the movement of her body released the scent she was wearing, delicate and light. Deep down inside him something visceral and unfamiliar jerked into hot molten life. Desire? For a woman like this? Impossible. He released her abruptly, stepping back from her.
‘Who are you?’ Lizzie asked unsteadily, struggling for balance both physically and emotionally.
‘Ilios Manos,’ Ilios told her curtly.
This man was Ilios Manos? The man who had sent her that letter? Lizzie’s heart thumped into her ribs, its sledgehammer blow fired by shock.
‘Ilios Manos, the owner of this land on which you have no right to be, Miss Wareham,’ Ilios told her grimly.
‘How do you know who I am?’ The question had been spoken before Lizzie could stop herself.
‘Your name is on your suitcase strap,’ Ilios pointed out curtly, gesturing towards the brightly coloured strap wrapped around the handle of the small trolley case she had abandoned in the shock of discovering that the apartment block had gone.
‘What’s happened to the apartments?’
‘I gave orders for them to be knocked down.’
‘What? Why? You had no right.’ Her shocked disbelief deepened her anger, and also in some illogical way her awareness of him—as though she had developed some unwanted new sense designed exclusively to register everything about him and make her intensely receptive to that information. From the way the narrowing of his eyes fanned out fine lines around his eyes to the shape of his mouth as he spoke and her extreme awareness of the powerful maleness of his body.
‘I had every right. They were on my land. Illegally on my land.’
Lizzie struggled to clamp down on her awareness of him.
‘The land belongs to my partner, Tino Manos, not you.’
‘My cousin has ceded his right to the land to me.’
‘But you can’t just knock down a block of apartments like that. Apart from anything else, two of them belonged to me.’
‘Yes,’ he agreed, ‘they did.’
There was something about the way he was looking at her