At the Greek Tycoon's Bidding(8)

By: Cathy Williams

Heather had moved on from protesting about the need to be dropped home to protesting about his invitation to dinner, which was unnecessary considering she had just eaten sandwiches courtesy of the Savoy.

She found herself ushered into the back seat of the car and slid across to make space for him.

‘It’s very good of you, Mr Miquel…’

‘Considering you fainted on my doorstep, so to speak, I think you can call me by my first name—Theo.’

‘Well, all right. But I still don’t need taking anywhere. You don’t have to feel responsible for me, although I’m very grateful for your help…’

Theo turned to look at her, his massive body lounging indolently against the car door.

‘I can’t remember the last time I was so comprehensively turned down for dinner by a woman.’

Heather squirmed, and wondered how she could temper her protests in case he thought that she was being offensive and ungrateful after all he had done for her. And she had to admit that the thought of having dinner with him was disconcerting but also exciting.

‘I’m not exactly dressed for dinner,’ she said, staring down at her workmanlike shoes and the thick black coat which did its job very efficiently but which also made her look a little like a ship in full sail.

‘No, you’re not,’ Theo agreed, ‘but I’m sure Henri won’t mind.’

‘Henri?’ So he agreed she looked a complete mess. Well, her success rate with the opposite sex had never been that sparkling. At least not when it came to the sexual side of things. She had grown up in the shadow of her beautiful sister and from an early age had resigned herself to the inevitability of always taking second place. Boys had been her best mates, but they had been enthralled by Claire. That was simply life, and she had never let it get her down.

Right now it was getting her down.

‘The proprietor at a little French bistro I go to quite often,’ Theo was explaining. ‘We go back a long way.’

‘Oh, yes? How’s that?’ She wondered whether she might be able to sneak into the bathroom at the ‘little French bistro’ and do something with her hair, somehow glue it into submission.

‘I helped him out a long time ago—financed him for the restaurant he wanted to open.’

‘I knew you had a soft side!’ Heather exclaimed impulsively, smiling at him.

Good Lord, Theo thought, the woman needed protecting from her own good nature!

‘It was a sensible business arrangement,’ Theo corrected, not much liking the image of him as having a soft side. If he had, he’d certainly never seen evidence of it, nor had any of those kings of finance who deferred to him the minute he opened his mouth. ‘To dispel the myth, I made money out of the deal.’

‘But I’m sure you would have invested in him even if you hadn’t thought that you were going to. I guess that’s what friendship’s all about, isn’t it?’

‘I really have not given it much thought,’ Theo said deflatingly. ‘We are here.’ He nodded as the car slowed down, and Heather glanced around to see that the little bistro was more of a chic restaurant—the sort of place that gathered trendy people who all sat around with glasses of white wine looking at everybody else.

She groaned aloud and shot him a frantic look.

‘I can’t go in there.’

‘Why not?’ Theo asked with a trace of irritation. He was beginning to wonder what demonic urge had impelled him into taking this dippy woman out. Yes, sure he was concerned by her ominous remarks about her future job—but, really, what business was it of his? Adults chose to do what they wanted to do with their lives. He decided right there and then that this would be his one truly good deed for the year.

‘Look at me!’ Heather squeaked, her face flushed with panic.

Theo looked. ‘No one will pay you the slightest bit of attention.’ That was the best he could do at consoling her without resort to outright lying.

‘Everyone is going to look!’ Heather contradicted in a high voice. ‘I mean, just look at the people in there.’ The wide goldfish-bowl-style restaurant offered an obliging view of a crowd of people smartly dressed and relaxing in an atmosphere of self-congratulation. They seemed to be making the statement that they were all beautiful, and thank goodness for that.

The car had now stopped and Theo’s chauffeur had smoothly moved round to the passenger door, which he was opening for her.

Next to Theo, Heather felt even more of an embarrassment. She raised imploring eyes to him and he shook his head impatiently.

‘You’re too self-conscious about your appearance.’