“I’ve no interest in talking about Art Bellingham anymore.”
“Trust me, this whole conversation is leaving me cold.”
His eyes narrowed, but he smiled. One of his “armor smiles” again and she wanted to be sick. “So, tell me what you want to do tomorrow.”
She needed to do a better job of hiding her emotions. Starting now. “I’m a museum freak. I’d really like to see the National Archaeological Museum, the Acropolis Museum and maybe the Benaki Museum.”
“That’s quite a list considering you did not plan to sightsee on this trip.”
“I spent the time you were in the shower pouring over the guidebook in our hotel suite.”
“Ah. So, tomorrow is to be a gluttony of museums.”
“If you’d rather do something else, I can find my own way to the museums.”
His brow quirked at this suggestion. “There is nothing I would rather do than spend the time with you. I grew up in this city. I have seen it all.”
She couldn’t see him visiting the Acropolis when he was living on the streets, but she didn’t say anything. It was taking all her wherewithal to tamp down emotions she had not fully acknowledged before today, feelings that would be unwelcome to their intended recipient and would cause her nothing but aching heartbreak.
“As long as we are planning our schedule, what would you like to do the day after tomorrow?”
“I thought we were flying out to the island.”
“I’ve got a helicopter booked for late afternoon. I wanted to maximize your off time.”
“You spoil me.” And he did. He might not love her, but he was her friend and he cared enough to want her to be rested and happy. “This isn’t supposed to be a vacation.”
“Yes, in fact, these days are intended as exactly that. Surprise to you though they were.”
“But the day after tomorrow was supposed to be work.” She wasn’t sure which would be worse, spending more time sightseeing or being stuck in close proximity with him on a private island paradise.
“So, I changed the schedule a little.”
“Whatever you want.”
He frowned. “I want you to enjoy yourself.”
“I am in Greece, what is not to enjoy?”
“Then you will approve of a visit to Sounion and the temple ruins for Trident there?” he asked.
“Sure, that would be fine.”
“Would you prefer to do something else?”
“No, not at all.” It really didn’t matter. She needed to come to terms with her own inner revelations and his as well. The setting for doing that hardly mattered.
“Then, Trident’s Temple it is.”
She nodded. “Thank you.”
“Think nothing of it. I knew it had to bother you to be visiting Greece and only see a small barely developed island the whole time you were here. You’ve got far too curious and adventurous a nature to be content with that.”
“You know me well.” On the surface anyway.
He’d be shocked out of his Gucci leather loafers to discover she was in love with him. And not in a good way.
That night, their lovemaking was slow and intense. Zephyr unwrapped her like a fragile gift of immeasurable value, and she tried to take it at face value, unable to deal with the pain of dwelling on emotions she could not change. On either of their parts.
They did not join until he had reacquainted himself with every inch of her skin. But his behavior was so at odds with his implication at dinner—that she was not a special woman in his life—that as wonderful as it was, a curious sense of dissonance flavored their intimacy for Piper.
Afterward, silent tears of confused emotions tracked down her cheeks in the dark. She fell asleep wishing she’d remained blind to her feelings, and if not hers at least his.
Piper woke the next morning experiencing yet another set of contradictory feelings. As always, when she woke in Zephyr’s arms, she felt safe, cared for, cherished even. Only this morning, that sense of rightness fought with her new knowledge. The absolute certainty that Zephyr did not love her, the possibility that he never would and the probability that he would eventually walk away. At least from their sexual intimacy.
She hadn’t meant to fall in love, but she’d done it anyway. And looking back, she didn’t see how she could have stopped herself. Zephyr was all that she could desire in both a friend and a lover.
They shared many of the same interests. That’s how their friendship had started. She’d discovered he shared her love of European football. They watched the matches, rooting for opposite teams and yelling at the field officials in equal measure. Later, she’d learned he also found museums and art galleries as fascinating as she did, as well as being passionately interested in world politics just as she was.