Authors: Ekaterine Nikas
Warn me about what?"
footsteps had stopped, and I heard the door open.
I turned to see who it was.
Michael's mother glided in, followed by her brother.
Miss Stewart, you
awake," she said, casting a significant look
back at her companion.
told my brother it was so, but he would not believe me.
You see, Spiro.
Did I not tell you I heard voices
coming from this room?"
brother flashed me a quick appraising look, then gazed past me.
"And to whom, dear sister, would
Miss Stewart have been talking?
The room is empty.
no one else here."
I looked back toward the French windows.
Spiro Skouras was right.
Geoffrey Redfield was nowhere to be seen.
Redfield seemed as startled by Geoffrey's absence as I.
"But it was his voice I
heard!" she insisted, as she scanned the room for some physical proof of
her brother-in-law's presence.
"I tell you, he was here!"
was about to speak up and tell her she was right, when Spiro replied in Greek,
"Why would he risk breaking in here to speak to a stranger?"
sister turned and regarded me through narrowed eyes.
"I doubt she is a stranger to
He probably came to instruct her what
lies to tell us."
You heard the boy describe how they
It was pure chance.
Geoffrey could not have been behind
made a dismissive sound.
don't believe --"
doesn’t matter what you believe," Spiro interrupted.
"Remember, we are not
Switching back to
English, he added pointedly, "We have not yet introduced ourselves to our
shot him a resentful look and said stiffly, “Of course.”
She paused and turned to address
“Miss Stewart, I am Demetra
This is my brother,
to meet you," I murmured.
gave a small, noncommittal shrug.
We have done
what is polite.
Now may I ask her
what Geoffrey was doing in my house?"
was no longer in a communicative mood.
Redfield, the brother of my dead husband.
I heard him in this room.
Do you deny he was here?"
her brother exclaimed sharply.
"We owe the young lady our gratitude, not an interrogation.
Please excuse my sister, Miss Stewart.
Michael's close escape has upset
small mouth tightened and she murmured in Greek, "I am not a fool,
Don’t treat me like
To me he said,
"I trust you are feeling better?"
I replied, “though my cheek hurts like the devil."
looked perplexed for a moment, then said, "Ah, you are in pain.
The doctor left some pills.
Demetra, you will bring them?
They are in the study."
them yourself," she snapped in Greek.
cast a wary look from her to me before heading out the door.
His sister waited for him to leave,
then declared, “My brother can think what he likes, but I know Geoffrey was
here with you."
what to say, I said nothing.
continued, “I suppose it was you who helped Michael sneak off to town today?
No, don’t bother answering.
I’m in no mood for more lies.
What I cannot understand, however, is
how you managed to slip the boy the note.”
stared at her in bewilderment.
everyone in Michael’s family crazy?
“Note?” I said.
dark eyes smoldered.
Greece we have laws, Miss Stewart.
Laws against stealing other people’s children.”
suddenly felt cold, but before I could ask her just what it was she was
accusing me of, her brother reentered the room.
He set down the tray he was carrying, and gazed from his
sister to me with a frown.
you have been telling Miss Stewart how grateful we are to her, Demetra.”
his sister echoed in Greek.
saving the boy, of course!"
he snapped in the same language.
He added carefully in English, "After all, we are deeply in her
If it had not been for her
quick action, Michael might have been seriously hurt, even killed."
flashed him a strange look. "Yes, how can we ever properly express our
gratitude to her for that?"
cheek was throbbing and I was tired of being spoken of in the third
"You might begin by
giving me one of those pills," I said.
brought me the small bottle and a glass of water.
After I'd taken two of the painkillers, he said to his
sister, "Demetra, Dr. Aristides left some tablets for you as well -- to
help you sleep.
I think perhaps
you should go take one now and lie down in your room."
tone of voice made it less a suggestion than an order, but to my surprise she
did not protest.
jerked her chin in my direction and said softly in Greek, "What will you
do about her?"
he replied in the same language, "except apologize for your less than
made a derisive sound, but before she could say anything more, he took her arm
and led her to the door.
had gone, he crossed to the bed and looked down at me with an earnest
"Miss Stewart --
Christine,” he began, switching once more to English, “please excuse my
Her husband died suddenly
two months ago, and I believe she has not yet recovered from the shock.
Michael's disappearance this morning
and then his return in such a state has only added to the strain, I fear."
Mr. Skouras --"
Call me Spiro."
His dark brown eyes were warm and
I’m afraid I
Even if your sister is
grieving and not herself, I don't see why that should make her so suspicious of
While you were gone, she
practically accused me of kidnapping Michael."
expression grew troubled.
"Christine, I am sorry.
She has had these irrational spells since her husband died.
I apologize for her hostility.
She mistrusts you because she believes
you are involved with her brother-in-law."
"But Redfield is
trying to take custody of the boy from her, and she believes him responsible
for Michael's disappearance today.
Your arrival so unexpectedly with the boy has caused her to suspect that
you, too, might be involved."
that was it.
I’d landed smack-dab
in the middle of a nasty custody battle.
"I see," I said heavily.
do not let my sister's suspicions trouble you.
I will soon make her see that your involvement in all this
is purely accidental."
reached out and placed his hand on mine.
"Now, you are tired.
will leave you to rest."
tired," I agreed.
“Could you find out what happened to my clothes?
I’d like to get dressed and head back
to my hotel."
hotel?” he exclaimed.
“But you are
most welcome to remain here!”
want to impose --"
We are in your debt.
Besides, the doctor recommended that you have rest."
got a perfectly good hotel room to do that in," I assured him.
hotel is no place to rest!
you can sleep, eat, swim -- we have a beautiful beach and it is completely
sounds lovely, but really -- I don't think your sister would appreciate me as a
Now, about my clothes
. . ."
assure you, Christine, after I have spoken with Demetra, she will be most happy
to have you here.
And it will
please the boy as well.
developed quite an attachment to you."
like him, too.
But I still want to
go back to my hotel."
gave a reluctant shrug. "Very well.
In that case, I will escort you there."
Hotel Kerkyra was small and quaint and tucked away on a short, winding street
in Corfu's old town.
As I climbed
the three flights of stairs to my room, I was grateful for the strong arm
spotting my back, and glad that Spiro had insisted on seeing me up to my room.
there, however, I wanted to be alone.
The pills the doctor had prescribed were making me groggy,
but hadn't yet blunted the pain, and the tight dress I wore only added to my
Demetra Redfield had
loaned the dress to me, because Maria had taken my clothes away to be washed,
but I had no illusions she was being kind.
I suspected she would have given me the clothes off her back
to get me out of her house.
are certain you are well enough to be alone?" Spiro asked, as I sank into
an armchair by the bed and closed my eyes.
be fine after I get some sleep."
well, then,” he said.
leave you to rest."
forced my eyes open and smiled -- despite the tight, painful tug it cost my
"Thanks for the
not judge my sister too harshly.
Since her husband died, she has not been herself, and this battle over
the boy has made things worse."
out of curiosity, why is she so worried about Geoffrey challenging her for
She's Michael's mother,
How can a mere uncle
compete with that?"
gazed at me in surprise.
"Demetra is not Michael's mother, Christine.
She is his -- how do you call it? --
Michael's real mother was William Redfield's first
They divorced when the boy