The discernible bulge in his boxers as he stepped out of his pants told her that she’d certainly been successful in her quest to make him a little crazy. But now she wondered what exactly he’d do about it.
He hopped over the side, landing next to her with a minimal splash. Then he hauled her against him, kissing her hungrily.
“That suit should be illegal,” he said as he worked his mouth down her neck.
“You don’t like it?” she asked innocently. “I could always get rid of it.”
“Oh, I like it,” he murmured. “I’m going to like taking it off of you even better.”
She broke loose and dove beneath the water, swimming away from him as fast as she could. She surfaced after a short distance but didn’t immediately see him. She looked down, too late, to see his glimmering body. He grabbed her legs and yanked her underneath.
His lips closed over hers, and he propelled them both above the water. She wrapped her arms around his neck and smiled up at him. “I suppose I’m going to have to take back what I said about you being no fun.”
“It would seem so.”
“I wouldn’t object to you hauling me out of the pool and taking me upstairs,” she said with pretended innocence.
He kissed her again, hot, breathless. His hands slid around her waist to cup her bottom. He lifted her upward, and she latched her legs around his waist.
“Hold on to me, pedhaki mou,” he murmured. “I’m hauling you out of the pool right now.”
He mounted the steps and carefully climbed out of the pool. As he neared one of the loungers, she noticed that he’d brought two towels with him. Apparently he had planned to come in all the while. She grinned impishly at him. He wasn’t so serious all the time.
He put her down in one of the loungers then reached for a towel. He dried her hair and her body, allowing his hands to linger in some of her most sensitive areas. He touched and caressed until she was squirming in the chair.
“Now who’s teasing?” she said breathlessly.
He straddled the lounger and lowered his body to hers.
“Mmmm, you’re warm.”
“Are you cold?” he asked huskily. “I wonder what I can do to warm you.”
She pulled him closer, wrapping her arms around him. She threaded her fingers into his wet hair and kissed him. A sound of contentment purred from her throat as he returned her kiss with equal ardor.
His erection strained against her belly, hot, like steel. Warmth shot through her body, leaving her flushed and aching. She wanted him. Wanted him so badly.
“Take me upstairs,” she whispered as his lips scorched down her neck and to the swell of her breasts.
The sound of a door closing startled them both. Chrysander let out an oath as he rolled away from Marley and yanked up a towel to cover her. Marley stiffened when she saw Roslyn over Chrysander’s shoulder.
Her surprise turned to anger. The woman had barged in, intruded on their privacy without so much as a call to let them know she was coming out to the island. They hadn’t even heard the helicopter land, but then they’d been occupied with other matters.
“What are you doing here?” Chrysander said icily.
“I’m sorry to interrupt, Mr. Anetakis,” Roslyn said, though her expression said she was anything but. Her gaze skimmed Marley in triumph, but the look was gone when she turned her attention back to Chrysander. “There were several things that needed your attention, and I thought it best to see to them personally rather than rely on the phone or e-mail.”
“They certainly haven’t failed in the past,” Chrysander said stiffly. “If you’ll excuse us, I think perhaps it would be better for you to wait in my office.”
“Yes, of course, Mr. Anetakis. Again, my apologies for the disturbance.”
Marley shivered, this time the chill setting in deep. The woman had impeccable timing.
“I’m sorry,” Chrysander said as he helped her from the lounger. He wrapped the towel around her shivering body and tucked her against his side. “I’ll take you upstairs so you can change into something warmer. This shouldn’t take but a moment, and then I’ll return.”
Marley nodded, but for her, the moment was ruined. Gone was Chrysander’s fun-loving mood. The passion that had sizzled between them just minutes ago was now a cold blanket thrown by his trusty assistant.
He took her upstairs and ushered her into the shower. When she stepped out, he’d already dressed and gone back downstairs. With an unhappy sigh, she gathered the towel around her and sat down on the edge of the bed.
Chrysander entered his office, irritation replacing his earlier good mood. He stared hard at Roslyn, who stood to the side. “I do not appreciate this intrusion,” he said crisply. “There was no call, no warning, no permission asked to come out to the island.”Roslyn paled and her eyes widened.
“This is my private living area, and as such, you do not have free rein as you do in my business settings. Are we understood?”
“Yes, sir,” she said stiffly.
“Now, what was so important that it didn’t warrant a phone call?” he demanded.
“I’ve discovered that another design was stolen,” she said softly.
“What?” Curses spilled from his lips, and it took a moment for him to realize he was speaking in Greek, and Roslyn didn’t understand a word of it. He shook his head and put both hands down on his desk. “What design? Tell me everything.”
Roslyn’s expression hardened. “It’s an older one, a design you discarded. It was the original plan for the Rio de Janeiro hotel. But still, she must have sold it to Marcelli with the others, because his hotel going up in Rome bears a remarkable likeness. I saw the proofs myself just two days ago.”
Rage burned like acid in Chrysander’s veins. “Do my brothers know of this yet?”
Roslyn shook her head. “I thought you would want to tell them.”
He nodded and closed his eyes as he turned to look out the window to the beach. Every time he thought he had come to terms with Marley’s betrayal, the past came back to haunt him. As much as he wanted to forget, to move on, to put the past behind them, it always came back, insidious and unrelenting.
He struggled to remember how Marley could have gotten access to the hotel plans. He certainly hadn’t guarded himself at home. As careful as he was in the office and in all other aspects of his life, he’d been relaxed and free with her, never thinking to protect his interests from her.
How could he build a life with her when he could never trust her? Was he a fool for building a temporary relationship when it would all come tumbling down the minute she remembered? When she’d have to face the sins she’d committed and reap the consequences of her betrayal?
Through it all, he could only remember one thing. The way she’d looked the night he’d confronted her in their apartment. The absolute shock and horror on her face. Could anyone fake such a reaction that well?
For the first time, he took a long, hard look at the woman she’d been during their time together before her abduction and the woman she’d been since. There was no marked difference. The only inconsistency was her betrayal.
“Chrysander.” Roslyn spoke up in a soft voice.
His eyes narrowed at her use of his name. It was not something he ever tolerated from his employees, though he wasn’t sure why it bothered him coming from someone he had worked closely with for some time.
“You won’t allow her to do it again, will you?”
He turned around to face her. “No, it won’t happen again,” he said tightly, anger creeping up his spine. His anger wasn’t totally at Marley. For some reason, it rankled that Roslyn would think to warn him away from Marley.
Roslyn looked uncomfortable. “I just hope she doesn’t ruin things for you with this hotel deal. Not again. It’s too important.”
“I don’t think that’s any of your concern. I will handle Marley.”
She flinched at his tone. “I apologize. This company, this job, is very important to me. I’ve worked hard for you, sir. I worked hard on the Paris deal.”
Chrysander let go of some of his anger and blew out a sigh. She had worked hard, and he could see why she would harbor some anger toward Marley even if he wouldn’t tolerate it. Even if he didn’t feel she was justified in that anger. That thought struck him hard, because it meant on some level he didn’t believe Marley capable of her crime.
“I appreciate your concern, Roslyn. However, it is not your business. If that is all you wanted, then I’ll call for the helicopter to return you to the mainland.”
She looked as though she would protest, but then she nodded.
Thirty minutes later, Chrysander escorted her out to the helipad, and as soon as the helicopter lifted off, he turned and strode back into the house.
His anger and uncertainty evaporated when he entered the bedroom and found Marley sitting on the bed, wrapped only in a towel, her expression sad and distant.
He knelt in front of her and touched her cheek. “What is it, agape mou? Are you all right?”
She smiled, though it didn’t reach her eyes. Her beautiful blue eyes that had sparkled just a short time ago with laughter. He wanted them to sparkle again. He wanted that stolen moment at the pool back. Before Roslyn had arrived and given him news that could very well change everything between him and Marley. Again.
“I’m in an impossible situation,” she confessed.
His brow wrinkled in confusion. He didn’t like the sadness in her tone. The resignation.
“What do you mean?” he asked softly as he trailed a finger down the silken curve of her cheek.
She looked into his eyes. “I don’t like the way she has free rein in our lives. This is our home. We should be able to make love, have fun together, without fear of being caught in a compromising situation by a stranger. But if I voice this, if I say I don’t like her and I don’t want her here, it makes me a catty bitch. There is no way for me to come out the winner and every way for me to be the loser in this.”
She looked down for a moment then stared back up at him, emotion shimmering in her eyes. “I don’t like the way you back away from me every time she appears. She sweeps in on some pretext of business, then she leaves and you become distant. The last weeks have been so utterly wonderful, and now she barges in and I can already feel you pulling away from me. I don’t know that I can bear it.”
Tears pooled in her eyes, and he was struck speechless, for what she said, all of it, was completely true. He hadn’t realized how it would look to her, had thought he’d hidden the conflicting emotions he experienced when reminded of the fact she’d stolen from him, lied to him, betrayed him.
He raised one of her hands to his mouth and pressed it firmly to his lips. “I’m sorry, agape mou. I’m sorry her presence has bothered you and that I’ve ignored it. It won’t happen again. I’ve already informed her that under no condition is she to just arrive here without at least phoning.”
“I could stand her presence. I won’t lie and say I like the woman, but I could tolerate her. What I cannot bear is the way you pull away from me every time she appears. Without any memories to bolster my confidence, I have nothing to point to and say, Marley, you’re being ridiculous. Of course there’s nothing going on between him and his assistant.”
His mouth fell open in surprise. “You think I’m having an affair with her?” He couldn’t control the shudder of distaste that rolled down his spine.
She shook her head emphatically. “Oh, I’ve made a mess of this. I’m only trying to say that for me, this is all new. Our relationship is new. I can’t remember our time together before, so in essence, we’re building new, starting all over. I can’t help the insecurity I feel when I look at her and know she’s trying to undermine our relationship.”
He gathered her in his arms, having no idea what to say to her. He couldn’t very well deny that Roslyn probably did want to keep him from Marley. She knew Marley had stolen from the company, a company that Roslyn was devoted to and had put in a lot of long hours for in preparing the deal that had disappeared along with the plans for the Paris hotel. And now he’d learned that yet another of the Anetakis designs would be going up under the Marcelli name. No matter it was one he’d discarded. Marley couldn’t have known that at the time.
What an impossible situation. Surprising to him was the anger that Roslyn’s words had caused. His first reaction had been to defend Marley and to chastise Roslyn for speaking out against Marley. But how could he when Roslyn was right?
All he knew was that he didn’t want Marley to hurt. As stupid as that sounded given the hurt she’d caused him, he wanted to wipe away the sadness in her eyes. While he couldn’t do anything to erase the past, what he could do was make sure that Roslyn wasn’t a source of contention between them. He would honor Marley’s wishes in this, for they mirrored his own. He didn’t want anything to come between them here on the island. Roslyn wouldn’t return.
C hrysander hung up the phone with a grimace and leaned back in his leather chair. He put his hands behind his head and stared up at the ceiling.
He had to return to New York. Piers had called him with the news just moments ago, and Chrysander greeted the fact with a discomfort that was alien to him. Worse, he’d had to inform Piers and Theron that another of their designs had been stolen. They were understandably furious. With Marley. How would they react when they learned he had every intention of marrying her as soon as possible?He was torn between wanting Marley to go with him and wanting to keep her sheltered here on the island. Away from any chance she might remember. Away from the judgment and animosity of his brothers.