“Very smart.” Long, masculine fingers nudged the door partially shut, leaving them alone in the hallway. “It would be mistake to put the twins in the middle of this.”
“This?” Tamsin wanted to flee from him. She wanted to run down the hall to the elevator and escape. She wanted to forget what an awful man her first love had become. Aarōn and Isaák tied her down, though. Leaving the boys to this man wasn’t an option and right now, she didn’t have the weapons to drive Raphael away. Not yet.
“This disagreement between us on what is best for them.”
She forced herself to look at him. Faint white lines of strain bracketed his mouth and his deep-set eyes were hooded, as if he had a hard time keeping them open. Long dark eyelashes brushed down and then up, bringing her attention to the smudges of weariness on his skin.
Her too-soft heart turned over.
“We’re all tired.” She offered an olive branch. Fighting him was inevitable, yet at this moment she didn’t want the inevitable. At this moment, she wanted him to lie down and rest. “Let’s table this until tomorrow.”
“The doctor’s going to be here soon.” His mouth turned grim as he stared at his watch.
She already knew what the test was going to tell her, but she needed time. Time to evaluate her options, her weapons. “No. I’m not going to allow the boys to be tested just because you say so.”
His head jerked up, his expression going fierce. “We can do this the easy way. Or the hard way. Either way, I will win.”
She hadn’t ever once let herself slip into trawling for information about Raphael Vounó. Never once had she allowed herself to Google him on the web or search for him on Facebook—it would have been too painful. She’d assumed he’d used the gift she’d sacrificed for and was somewhere in Greece being a pediatric doctor, fulfilling his life-long dream. There’d been many moments when she’d derived some comfort from the thought of him fulfilling his destiny.
Did you go to medical school?
No, of course not.
So this particular dream, like every one of her others, was dead. The reality was she knew nothing about him or the weapons he might hold to get his way. Yet look at where they were staying. Look at the sleek limo that had driven them here. Look at the silver Rolex watch on his wrist. More than anything, though, the deadly intent in his words told her what Raphael Vounó had become.
A man who wouldn’t be a good influence on her brothers. A man who threatened all the hard work she’d done through the years to raise her boys in the right way. She just needed a few hours to take stock and strategize how she was going to save them from this man.
“I’m asking for a day.” She pulled out the skills she’d used for years to try and keep her stepfather in control. “A lot has happened in the last twenty-four hours. Is it too much to ask for a bit of time?”
“Don’t wheedle or attempt to manipulate me. It won’t work.” His eyes went flat. “Not now. I’m immune.”
The words hurt, much as he’d intended. She’d never wheedled or manipulated anyone, she wanted to yell. She’d loved. She’d cared. She’d sacrificed. Still, none of the protests slipped from her lips because she knew they would make no difference.
“The test is a simple swab of their mouth,” he said. “We’re not talking major surgery.”
“This isn’t about the boys.” His gaze bore into hers. “This is about stalling.”
“You are. And I won’t have it.”
His arrogance fired her tired temper, snapping apart her attempt to find some common ground. “Forget it. I’m not going to try and reason with you anymore.”
“Good.” He took two paces down the hall before returning, closer this time, more threatening. “There’s no whining, no weeping, no wheedling that’s going to deter me from this.”
“I can demand a legal summons.”
“You can.” Leaning closer, invading her personal space, his heat swept around her like a swath of danger. “And you’ll get it.”
“That’s what I want.” She stepped back, trying to get away from him and his heat.
“But you’ll lose far more than you gain, kardiá mou.” Threat no longer merely edged his words, they were filled with it. “I will make sure of it.”