At the Greek Tycoon's Bidding(10)

By: Cathy Williams


Heather didn’t appear to have the correct instincts warning her to drop the subject. In fact, she was looking at him with the keen enthusiasm of a puppy dog waiting for a treat.

Just as well she was of no interest to him sexually. Theo was convinced that if you fed women with too much personal information, it engendered illusions of permanence. They thought that they had somehow crawled under your skin and were therefore in the right position to stage a complete takeover.

Since this woman was not in the category of a fisherman trawling a net in the hope of netting the fish, he didn’t immediately succumb to the automatic instinct to shut down. Instead, he returned her gaze and shrugged.

‘My father died when I was a boy and my mother does not live over here. She lives in Greece.’

‘Which, of course, is where you’re from…’

Theo permitted himself a faint smile. ‘Why of course…?’

‘Oh, all those stereotypes of Greek men being tall, dark and handsome.’ Heather grinned at the bemused expression on his face. She was just teasing, but she wondered how many times in his life he had ever been teased. ‘Does your mother come and visit you often?’

‘You ask a lot of questions.’

Their food arrived and was placed in front of them; their glasses were refilled with wine which Heather felt quite free to drink considering she was now out of a job.

‘People have interesting stories. How else do you find out who they are if you don’t ask questions?’ Her appetite, which should have been sated after the sandwiches, stirred into life. Naturally she wasn’t going to guzzle the lot, but it wasn’t often that she found herself sitting in a restaurant of this calibre. Somehow it would have seemed rude to be dismissive of the food.

‘So does she?’ Heather persisted.

‘What are you talking about?’

‘Your mother. Does she come over and visit?’

Theo shook his head in pure exasperation. ‘Occasionally,’ he finally conceded. ‘She visits my country house, and when she does I commute to London. She hates the city. In fact, she has never been here. There—satisfied?’

Heather nodded. For the moment, she wanted to say, before remembering that there would be no more moments, that in fact she was only here because he felt duty-bound to send her on her way with a bit more concern than he would probably otherwise have shown because he had effectively cost her her cleaning job. Which suddenly brought her back down to earth and the reality of losing an income, small though it was, which was necessary to her. She closed her knife and fork on the half-eaten plate of food and cupped her chin in one hand.

‘You’re finished?’ Theo asked in amazement.

Heather felt a little jab of hurt coil deep inside her. Through the shield of her naturally sunny disposition she suddenly had a bleak vision of an alternative reality. The reality that was coldly pointing out that while she had nurtured pleasant fantasies about this tall, aggressively handsome man, while she had always made sure to clean his floor when she knew that he was going to be around, he had never once glanced in her direction—would not have recognised her if she had landed opposite him on a desert island. And while she luxuriated in the thrill of being in his company now, unexpected as it was, the thrill was not mutual. To him she was nothing but an overweight woman whose company he was probably itching to get away from.

‘Did you think that I would carry on eating till I exploded?’ Heather said, far more sharply than she had intended. She softened her uncharacteristically sarcastic reply with a rueful smile. ‘Sorry, I was just thinking about what I shall do now that I no longer have a job to go to in the evenings.’

‘I can’t believe that you really have to hold down two jobs to survive. Surely you can cut back on one or two luxuries…make ends meet that way…?’

Heather laughed. Rich, warm laughter that had a few heads turning in her direction.

‘You don’t live in the real world, Mr Miquel…’

‘Theo…’

‘Well, you don’t. I don’t have any luxuries to cut back on. Friends come over for meals and we watch television and maybe drink a couple of bottles of wine on a Saturday night, and in summer we go on picnics in the park. I don’t do theatres or restaurants or even cinemas very often. Actually, I don’t have an awful lot of free time anyway, which is probably a good thing when it comes to balancing my finances…’ The look of horror on his face was growing by the second, but Heather was unfazed by that. Of course he wouldn’t understand the world she lived in. Why should he? She probably only had a vague inkling of his. ‘I prefer to save up for my course rather than blow money on clothes and entertainment.’