A Secret Until Now - Page 29

‘A mother or an actual person, not a body that looks good in a bikini?’ Before he could respond to the bitter accusation she added wearily, ‘Being a mother is one job where experience is not a prerequisite.’

‘There’s nothing on your website that mentioned you have a daughter. Is that a professional thing?’

‘You’re not the only one who likes their privacy.’ She blinked her sooty lashes over wide emerald eyes as her voice dropped an astonished husky octave. ‘You looked me up?’

‘I was curious.’

So was she, and maybe it was the hint of evasiveness in his manner but she suddenly heard herself asking the question that she’d heard many people voice, but that as yet had no satisfactory answer. Everyone had theories but nobody could really understand why they were being allowed access to the private island.

‘Why are you giving us access to Saronia?’ The moment the words left her lips she regretted them, but it was too late to back off. ‘They say you’ve refused royal requests.’ Why would a man who’d refused honeymooning royals open his doors—or at least a restricted area of his shoreline—to them?

‘Do they?’

She narrowed her eyes. ‘You know they do.’

‘So what is your theory?’

She lifted a hand to shade her eyes. It was a bit late in the day to make out that she hadn’t thought about it, but she tried anyway. ‘I don’t have one, but if I had to guess I’d go with those who think it’s a bored, rich man’s whim, unless you really are thinking of expanding into cosmetics?’ Apparently the rumour had gone viral.

‘Are you asking for insider information?’

‘Hardly. The rumour has already sent the firm’s shares through the ceiling. Even we mere models have been known to read the financial pages,’ she observed, quite pleased to have surprised him. Her smug grin vanished as he hitched a brow and, holding her eyes with his, touched the sole of her foot with his finger. The light, barely there contact made her stomach dissolve and her toes curl of their own volition.

‘Has no one suggested that it is because I wanted to have you at my mercy?’

She fought against the seductive quality of his deep voice, hating that he was mocking her. ‘Now, that really would make me feel special.’

He shrugged and grinned. ‘No mystery. My nephew asked me to further his career.’

‘And you’re a very nice uncle who does favours for your nephew?’

‘It has been known, but I am an adequate uncle. It isn’t hard—Nico is a nice kid, and it pays to keep on the right side of my sister, Adriana.’

‘Do you have much family?’ she asked, thinking to herself, You have one more than you think.

‘My parents died some time ago in a car accident. I have two sisters.... There is Adriana—she’s ten years older than me.’ His mobile lips twisted into a half smile as he surprised her by confiding, ‘I was an afterthought.’

‘This is Nico’s mother?’

He tipped his head in acknowledgment. ‘Her husband, Gus, was an international lawyer based in Geneva, but now he runs the Greek operation. They have just the one son.’

‘You said you had two sisters?’

There was a long pause.

‘Lizzie is your age.’

Lizzie did not strike Angel as a very Greek or Russian name. ‘I thought you said you were the youngest?’

‘Lizzie is my half-sister, the result of an affair—actually a one-night stand.’ The small shocked sound that escaped her throat awoke him to the fact that he had just revealed more private details in the past thirty seconds than he had in the past... Actually ever. ‘The details are not important.’ Just the sort of thing that blew a family apart. ‘As I said, she is my half-sister, the baby of the family.’

‘And you resent her existence?’

The speculation drew a heavy frown and a flash of anger. ‘Nobody in the world could resent Lizzie.’ Except his mother, who could have but had not.

The softening in his expression when he spoke of his half-sister could not have been feigned. It could be envied, though she was dismayed to discover she did not envy this girl who brought the warmth to his eyes. One thing Angel did not want to be was his sister!

‘So your parents’ marriage broke down.’ Angel, who knew how that felt, was sympathetic.

Being taken away from the only home she had ever known and the father she had adored at age eight had been a trauma that had stayed with Angel. In her youthful eyes it had seemed as if she was being punished. What other explanation could there be? Her feelings had alternated between guilt for some unknown sin she must have committed and anger at her father for sending her away.

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