‘Ah, but you haven’t heard my proposal, Cora.’ He said her name in a deliberately slow, caressing tone that, despite her wariness, did disturbing things. She was sure something vital melted inside.

Her heart pattered faster. ‘Go on then. Tell me. Then you can go.’

But he seemed in no hurry, savouring the last of his coffee before setting down the tiny cup.

‘Are you always this forthright?’ he asked finally.


‘Excellent.’ He sat forward, making her even more aware of the shimmering magnetism of that big, powerful body. ‘I like a woman who isn’t afraid to ask for exactly what she wants. It can be very arousing in the right circumstances.’

In bed, he meant.

Cora swallowed as she read the carnal heat in his eyes and felt that same heat lick through her. But instead of rising to the bait she shook her head. ‘You have one minute to tell me why you’re here. Otherwise I’m leaving.’

‘I thought that would be obvious. I want you, Cora. You know that. But since you refused to come to me I thought it time to provide a little…persuasion.’

The skin between her shoulder blades prickled. ‘What sort of persuasion?’

Strato and her father had been talking. Her dad wouldn’t have mentioned his precarious financial situation. Yet her hackles rose.

‘What have you done to my father?’ If he’d inveigled him in some way…

Strato lifted his hands palms out as if in surrender. ‘No need to be so fierce. I’ve done nothing.’

Yet. The unspoken word hovered between them.

‘Go on.’ Her voice was thick with foreboding.

‘I know you want me, Cora.’ His words stole her voice. It was true, but the thought of him knowing it… ‘Yet for some reason you deny yourself.’ He paused. ‘So I have a bargain for you. Something you want for something I want.’

Cora waited, her shoulders hitched high.

‘Spend the next month with me on my yacht and I’ll see to it that your father’s hotel is filled to capacity till the end of the season. I plan to cruise the Ionian Sea then back to the Aegean and I can’t think of a companion I’d rather have with me.’

She felt her mouth drop open in shock. She’d expected some sort of outlandish invitation but nothing like this.

‘You’re trying to force me into sex?’

‘Force?’ He genuinely looked shocked. ‘Of course not.’

‘But you’re trying to bribe me into your bed.’

He shook his head emphatically. ‘I’m creating an opportunity for us to get better acquainted. The rest is in your hands. You’d have your own stateroom and my word that I won’t enter it except at your invitation. It will be your choice when we finally have sex.’

When, not if.

His arrogance outraged her.

A pity it also thrilled her.

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