Demetriou Demands His Child(4)

By: Kate Hewitt

Iolanthe felt as if she’d tumbled down a rabbit hole, into some bizarre and amazing alternate reality. She’d been imagining such a scenario as this, but she’d never thought it would actually happen, and certainly not with a man who looked like this one. Iolanthe couldn’t decide if he looked more like the hero or villain of one of the romance novels her housekeeper Amara sometimes slipped her. Maybe both.

‘I noticed you from across the room,’ the man said, thrilling her all the more. ‘And I decided that I had to come and meet you.’

‘Really?’ Iolanthe cringed inwardly at the surprise audible in her voice, but the man merely smiled, a dimple appearing in his cheek, making him seem slightly less fearsome.

‘Really,’ he assured her. ‘You looked like you were enjoying yourself here in the corner, watching everyone.’

‘I’ve never been to a ball before,’ Iolanthe admitted, and then cringed again at how young and gauche she must sound. This man, with his darkly compelling good looks, was going to regret so much as crossing a room to meet her. The truth was she had no idea what to say to him, no experience of men or flirting or life at all. And she was awestruck. Who wouldn’t be, though, with a man as powerfully charismatic and attractive as this one? She was tempted to touch him to see if he was real.

‘Perhaps you would tell me your name?’

‘Oh, yes, of course.’ Flushing, Iolanthe stumbled on. ‘It’s Iolanthe. And you are...?’

‘Alekos. Alekos Demetriou.’ His smile curved deeper, his gaze flicking over her in what even she in her inexperience knew was masculine assessment. She wondered whether he liked what he saw and realised that she hoped he did. ‘Would you care to dance?’

‘Oh...’ Shock made her simply stare for a few delighted seconds. He’d actually asked her to dance, and tonight was for magic. She’d wished for magic in her bedroom, had dared to dream about it, and now it was actually real. The whole world seemed to sparkle, promise shimmering in a haze of possibility. Here was her adventure, her excitement. Her romance.

‘I...’ For a second Iolanthe considered her father, his stern instructions for her to behave properly and stay with Lukas. But what was the harm in a dance? That was why she’d come to the ball, was it not? She had the rest of her life to be the dutiful daughter, the obedient wife.

Tonight she wanted to live. The spark of rebellion that had lit her soul hours ago now burst into flame.

‘Well?’ Amusement laced Alekos’s voice and he arched one eyebrow, his hand still outstretched, long, tapered fingers reaching towards her.

‘Yes,’ she said firmly. ‘Yes, I would love to dance.’

* * *

Alekos’s insides jolted as Iolanthe’s palm slid across his, his whole body suffused with a sudden, surprising desire.

He’d started to regret engaging the young ingénue in conversation from almost the moment they’d met—she was clearly very young and even more innocent. And also beautiful—even with the demi-mask pressed to her face, Alekos could appreciate her delicate bone structure and flawless skin, the curves of her cheek and neck graceful and pure. From behind the diamanté-encrusted mask, eyes the colour of moonlight on water regarded him with heartbreaking honesty. Iolanthe, it seemed, had not yet learned to dissemble. And although she was young her body possessed womanly curves, and the sparkling white satin dress hugged each one lovingly.

Her silver-grey eyes widened as Alekos drew her towards him, and he knew she too felt that jolt of desire that had unsettled him. His work had not allowed him time for a social life, and so he’d had his sexual needs met in the most expedient way possible—with a series of one-night stands or brief affairs with experienced women, most of them as jaded as himself, none of whom were looking for more than simple physical need quickly sated. Iolanthe definitely did not fit into that category.

One dance, Alekos told himself. One short dance and then he would smile and walk away from a woman he had no business being interested in.

The band struck up a tune as Alekos guided Iolanthe to the dance floor. She came gracefully, her head held high, her eyes shining like silver stars. And when Alekos turned and brought her body in close and exquisite contact with his, she moulded herself naturally to him, her hips and breasts nudging him as they both swayed.

Sweat prickled on his forehead. Desire roared through his veins, a surging tidal wave of need that shocked him with its intensity. He’d never reacted to a woman so instantly and overwhelmingly and all he could think was, Why her? Why now?

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