Demetriou Demands His Child(8)

By: Kate Hewitt

‘Iolanthe...’ She looked up at him, her mouth swollen, her eyes dazed. Without her mask in place she was even lovelier, her skin like ivory blushed with pink, her eyes luminous. Alekos swore again. ‘I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for that to happen.’

Iolanthe touched her fingers to her lips. ‘What did you mean to happen?’ she asked with a soft laugh, and relief pulsed through him at the realisation that he had not scared or horrified her.

‘I wasn’t thinking,’ he admitted as he stooped to retrieve her mask. ‘I intended to walk away from you after our dance, but...’ He stopped, reluctant to admit how much this slip of a woman affected him. How much he wanted her.

‘I’m glad you didn’t,’ Iolanthe said. She glanced up at him, her eyes bright, her smile shy. ‘That was my first kiss.’

He’d suspected as much, and yet her confirmation made him feel even worse. He’d been halfway to deflowering an innocent virgin, hardly his style at all. This needed to end. Now.

He handed her the scrap of mask; she took it without putting it back to her face. She was looking at him with such open expectation he could hardly bear to meet her gaze. ‘I should take you back into the ballroom—’

‘Don’t, please.’ She laid a hand on his chest, and even that gentle touch had Alekos’s blood surging again. ‘I don’t want to go back there.’

‘Someone else will ask you to dance—’

‘I don’t want someone else.’ Her eyes darkened. ‘Besides, I’ll just feel inadequate compared to all those glamorous socialites.’

‘You should never feel inadequate,’ Alekos answered. ‘You were the most beautiful woman in the room.’

‘Then stay out here on the terrace with the most beautiful woman,’ Iolanthe challenged. Her hand pressed lightly on his chest. ‘Please.’

* * *

Iolanthe didn’t know what had come over her, to make her proposition a man so boldly. Perhaps it was desperation—she couldn’t stand the thought of him taking her back to the ball, and having Lukas swoop down once more as her keeper. Or perhaps it was Alekos’s kiss that had given her courage—perhaps it had changed her. That moment had felt more like fire than magic, singeing her senses, making her come alive in a way she hadn’t even known she could. She wanted him to kiss her again, but she wasn’t that bold. Yet.


She tensed, her heart seeming to plummet inside her, as she heard Lukas’s familiar, nasal voice. No. Go away, Lukas.

‘Are you...?’ Lukas stepped through the windows, stopping when he saw her with Alekos. Iolanthe dropped her hand from Alekos’s chest, surprise flaring within her when he stayed it, trapping it with his own, his long, lean fingers wrapping around hers.

‘Yes?’ he enquired pleasantly, half turning to face Lukas.

Lukas frowned and nodded at Iolanthe. ‘Your father wants me to stay with you.’

Of course he did. Her father had made it clear he’d like to see her with Lukas, but surely she had some choice in the matter. Some say in her life.

‘Iolanthe...?’ Lukas prompted. Iolanthe glanced up at Alekos; he did not look encouraging. His mouth was set in a hard line, a muscle flickering in his jaw. He dropped her hand.

‘You should go,’ he said flatly and she tried not to let the hurt show on her face. Had he bored of her so easily?

‘Iolanthe,’ Lukas said again, his voice insistent now, and, even though it was the last thing she wanted to do, Iolanthe stepped away from Alekos. For a second she thought she saw regret flicker in his eyes, and her own resolve wavered. If he said anything to convince her to stay, she would, and damn the consequences.

Then Alekos’s expression hardened once more and he looked away as Iolanthe fitted her mask to her face and Lukas led her from the terrace.

‘Your father wants us to dance again,’ Lukas stated, and Iolanthe glanced at him with weary frustration. She did not want to dance with this man. She certainly didn’t want to marry him. But perhaps if she endured a few dances, she’d find a way to escape again. To find Alekos and experience that magic that had made her feel as if life held far more possibility than she’d dared dream.

‘All right,’ she said, trying not to cringe away from Lukas’s slightly damp hand. Alekos’s hand had been warm and dry and strong, and he’d moved her around the dance floor with almost arrogant assurance. Lukas’s careful, mechanical steps made Iolanthe want to stamp on his foot, or, better yet, flounce away from the dance floor.

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