P.S. Be sure to listen to this while reading! :D
A knock sounded on Stavros’ door at four in the morning, waking Ingrid up. The space next to her in bed was empty, but she could hear the shower running from the en-suite bathroom. When the knock continued, Ingrid forced herself to get up. It could be important, something that could make Stavros Manolis happy with her.
Wrapping the covers around her body, she moved towards the door. “Coming.” Opening it, she found herself staring at a little blonde cow with two cups of Starbucks coffee in her hands.
Although Ingrid immediately recognized her as the woman from yesterday, she pretended not to, asking brightly, “Is that for us?”
Willow knew a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ would suffice, but she just couldn’t make herself speak or even think. Stupid. She was so, so stupid. Those were the only words that existed in her mind right now. Just because the room had finally become silent didn’t mean he was already alone. God, she was so stupid.
In front of her, Stavros’ companion for the night was smiling, as if she drew pleasure from the fact that she had rendered Willow temporarily dumbstruck. Like any broken-hearted ex-lover, the first thing she had done last night was to stalk this woman on the Internet. She had found out that the woman’s name was Ingrid Mendel, an heiress to a billion-dollar chemical company and Stavros’ regular arm candy whenever he was in the country.
“Who is it, Ingrid?” Willow heard Stavros ask.
“She hasn’t given her name yet,” Ingrid called back.
Frowning at Ingrid’s vague answer, Stavros wrapped a towel around his hips and headed to the door. Ingrid stepped back and he suddenly found himself face to face with Willow.
It was almost like gatecrashing an orgy, Willow thought. Dressed as she was in a three-piece suit, she felt distinctly out of place and more than just a little numb with shock.
A muscle ticked in Stavros’ jaw at the way Willow was looking at him. Goddamn her to hell. She was close to succeeding in making him feel guilty, but Stavros hardened his resolve, telling himself it was all for show.
“You know her?” Ingrid asked.
Stavros nodded curtly. “My former secretary. She’s working for Willem now.”
“Oh. Headhunted by royalty.” Ingrid’s smile widened. “How impressive.” Snuggling against Stavros, she offered a hand to the other woman. “Ingrid Mendel.”
Willow forced herself to shake hands with the heiress. “Willow Somerset.”
Releasing Willow’s hand, Ingrid looked up at Stavros. “Darling?” From the corner of her eye, she saw the cow flinch when Stavros immediately bent his head towards her.
“What is it?”
Ingrid gestured to the other woman innocently. “I think she’s hoping to share her morning coffee with you.”
Shiiiiiiit. This woman was the greatest Dutch shit in the world. The words were clearly meant to provoke her, but Willow told herself not to react. Willow 2.0, she reminded herself. Her entire plan hinged on being Willow 2.0, and she mustn’t let herself forget that.
The entire night, she had been unable to sleep.
Her mind had been in turmoil, and the entire time, she couldn’t help thinking that if she apologized for her thoughtless taunt about his mother, this punishment would stop. She just had to say sorry first, and he would forgive her and stop fucking other women.
It was a silly, stupid wish, but she had made herself believe it, and bringing him coffee was meant to be her olive branch. Or at least that had been the plan…when she had thought she would catch him alone.
Stavros was gazing at her now, his handsome face impassive as Ingrid’s words caused him to glance at the cups she held. He said dismissively, “I’m sure that’s not true.”
Willow knew what he was doing. He was giving her a graceful exit, a way to save them both from awkwardness in public. She should seize it, she knew. She really should. But instead, she heard herself say, “Actually, it is.”
Stavros found himself stilling at Willow’s words. What the hell was she playing at? His gaze raked over her incredulously. Did she really think he could forget everything with a damn cup of coffee?
The whole night long, he had made love to Ingrid until she had literally passed out. The whole night, he had done his best to fuck himself numb, but all he had been able to accomplish was pretend it was Willow he was fucking, her voice he heard when Ingrid cried out as she came. Even though Stavros had lost count of the number of times he had an orgasm, only his body had become numb with exhaustion. The rest of him – especially his mind and his fucking heart – had been impervious, and both had mocked him for his inability to get Willow Somerset out of his mind.
Willow – the one woman in the world who had been able to make a greater fool out of him than his mother.
When Stavros only looked at her with hard, implacable eyes, she willingly swallowed her pride as she stretched her arm out to extend the coffee towards him. “A peace offering.” She had wanted the words to come out cheerful, but instead they ended up desperate.
Besides Stavros, Ingrid burst into laughter. She laughed so hard that she even fell against Stavros’ side at her mirth as she gasped, “Oh, God, this is so painful to watch.”
Even as the heiress’ words cut her to pieces, Willow deliberately kept her eyes on Stavros. “So, what do you think?”
Instead of answering her, Stavros demanded in Greek, “What is this about?”
Also answering in Greek, she said, “I told you, a peace---”
“Your peace offering can go to hell.” The way Willow whitened at his words made Stavros’ chest tighten, but he told himself it was all for show. This woman was the world’s greatest actress while he could end up the world’s greatest idiot if he allowed himself to fall for her tricks again.
Curling an arm around Ingrid’s waist, he said brusquely, “If you have nothing else to say…”
The implication behind his words had Willow reeling, and she asked thinly, “You’re still not done fucking her?”
A humorless smile twisted Stavros’ lips. “You of all people should know one night barely makes a difference to me if I want someone bad enough.”
And that someone, Willow realized dumbly, wasn’t her. Something hollow started to grow inside of her. “I see.” She watched the heiress shamelessly rub herself against Stavros’ side, and she repeated dazedly, “I see.”
The redundancy of her words revealed Willow’s shock, but it was the look in her eyes that disturbed Stavros the most. Something about those eyes made him feel like he was supposed to grasp something, a wisp of an idea that shouldn’t have been able to elude him but did.
There was something about the way she looked at him, something he couldn’t quite name. Was it there to fool him? Was it there to mock him? He couldn’t fucking say at all, and the fact that even now she possessed the power to confuse him – to make him care enough to be confused, dammit – angered Stavros, making his voice harsh and cold as he demanded, “Are we done now?”
The question rattled her. No. They were not done. That was what Willow wanted to scream at him. If he really loved her, he should have known that in her heart, they had never ended.
But then…that was why they were like this in the first place, wasn’t it?
Stavros had to learn to love and trust her first. But until that happened, they were exactly what Stavros said.
They were done.
Willow slowly stepped back. “Yeah.” She tried her damnedest to keep her smile in place, but she could feel it dancing shakily on her lips as she said, “We’re done.”