Sleeping with a Stranger

By: Anne Mather


HELEN was standing at the rail when the ferry docked in Santoros. Milos could see her clearly, despite the roiling tension in his gut. And he had to admit, she was still one of the most beautiful women he’d ever seen.

Or slept with, he appended, trying to make light of the fact that he was meeting her again. Although it was over fourteen years since he’d had anything to do with her, there was no denying his jumping nerves or the seething emotions just the sight of her inspired.

Theos, what was wrong with him? She’d been a wife, a mother, and a widow since that mindless interlude in London. He should be long over her—and he was, he assured himself fiercely.

Was it his imagination, or did Helen look a little harassed after her journey? Two plane flights and a ferry ride at the end of it could do that to you, he guessed. But he had no firsthand experience. He’d been spoilt by private planes and helicopters and fast, turbo-driven yachts.

Still, she was here now and Sam—her father—would be delighted. He’d talked of little else since she’d accepted his invitation. Milos had been sure Sam would want to meet her himself, but he’d asked Milos to do it. He’d assumed their previous association would give Milos a lever he didn’t have.

If he only knew!

But Sam was naturally anxious about the visit. It was almost sixteen years since he’d last seen his daughter. And then under less than favourable circumstances. According to him, his first wife had ensured that their daughter only heard one side of the story. A story that entailed a disillusioned Sam getting involved with and subsequently marrying a darkly attractive Greek woman he’d met on a business trip to Athens.

When Milos had met Helen some twenty months later she’d been no less hostile towards her father then than when she’d first discovered he’d been unfaithful to her mother. She’d blamed him. She’d been young and idealistic and impossibly naïve.

But so vulnerable, Milos reflected with unwilling honesty. And he’d taken advantage of that vulnerability. Not for her father’s sake, but for his own ends. Endaxi, it hadn’t been all his fault, he defended himself impatiently. She’d been more than willing to satisfy his demands.

The guilt had come later, of course. When he’d gone back to Greece. He’d told no one what had happened during his trip. Not his own family; not Maya, Sam’s second wife; and most particularly not Sam, who had trusted him. But the worst feeling of all was that somehow he’d betrayed himself.

He scowled now, watching as the ferry’s captain eased his vessel up to the quay. The trouble was, his own marriage—the marriage his father had arranged against his will—had been breaking up at that time and he’d been looking for a diversion. Helen had certainly provided that, he thought bitterly. And then she’d run out on him proving what an immature creature she was.

Naturally, he’d never expected to be in the position he was in now. Helen’s alienation from her father and Maya had foolishly persuaded him that there would be no reconciliation in this lifetime. How wrong he’d been. He’d been stunned when Sam had announced that Helen and her daughter were coming to the island for a holiday. But, Helen’s own husband had been killed almost a year ago, Sam had explained, and the letter he’d written expressing his condolences had apparently gone a long way to mending the rift between them.

A more cynical man might wonder if Sam’s amazing change of fortune had had anything to do with his daughter’s change of heart. Despite the fact that his background as a wine importer in England had had little to do with the actual cultivation of the grapes, meeting Maya and subsequently taking over her family’s failing vineyard had made him a wealthy man. During the past ten years, Ambeli Kouros, as the vineyard was known, had gone from strength to strength and Sam Campbell had become a much respected man on the island.

A girl appeared as the ferry was docking, pushing her way through the crowd of passengers to join Helen at the rail. Not her daughter, he assured himself, despite their apparent familiarity. In a black tee shirt with some logo sprawled across the front and baggy black jeans that pooled around her ankles, she was the type of visitor Milos thought the island could well do without. Black lipstick, hair sprayed a lurid shade of green, a semi-circle of piercings etching her ears, she was as different from Helen as it was possible to be.

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