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Authors: Elizabeth Hunter

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BOOK: The Beads of Nemesis
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“How can I serve you, Morag? Do you wish me to carry you away from all your troubles?”

“What troubles?” Peggy asked him, not at all pleased that he should have spoken only to Morag thus, ignoring Kimon and herself.

“What troubles? You and Kimon are the biggest troubles. Her other ones she prefers to keep to herself! Well, Morag, where do you want to go?”

“We want to go to Athens, but we missed the bus and the next one doesn’t come for another twenty minutes.” “Then of course I shall take you! You see how I feel about you that your, lightest desire is my immediate command. You shall sit beside me and we shall forget all about the children in the back and have a nice time. Is that what you’d like?”

“Not much,” she answered frankly. “I wouldn’t ask you to take us at all if it weren’t so hot!”

“You are unkind!” Takis complained.

“Very!” she agreed.

The young Greek exploded into laughter. “Unkind, but funny! Climb in, children. One is not allowed to stop here and a policeman may come at any moment. Have you enough room, Morag? You can come closer. I do not mind!” Morag sat as far away from him as possible, trying not to notice the handle that was sticking into her ribs, or his straying hand that somehow found her knee every time he changed gear.

“We’re going to the Museum,” Peggy told him. “I’d rather have gone swimming, but we’re going to meet Morag for an ice-cream outside afterwards.”

“Oh? And where do you spend your afternoon, Morag?” Takis asked.

“I’ve got some shopping to do,” she said reluctantly.

He flashed her a smile. “What do you buy? A new dress? I shall come with you and help you choose! I have a very good eye for buying dresses.”

“I’d rather you didn’t.”

“No woman should go shopping by herself,” he declared. “They need someone to tell them that look beautiful in one dress, or more desirable in another. You will see, I am very good at escorting women and I always know exactly the right thing to say! Besides, I can translate all your wishes to the assistants and make sure you get what you want.”

Morag sighed. She decided complete honesty was the only way to deal with him and she scurried round her mind for the right words in which to tell him that she didn’t want his company. “Takis, please leave me alone. P-Pericles wouldn’t like it, and I don’t like it either!”

His eyebrows rose in complete disbelief. “P-Pericles,” he mimicked

her. “Do you mind about him?”

“Of course I do!”

“He doesn’t seem to return the compliment! If you were my bride, you would not be waiting for a bus under the hot sun! He deserves that you should look elsewhere for a little fun. Why doesn’t he buy you a car?”

Morag hesitated. Then, “I don’t drive,” she confessed, “Pericles could teach you!”

Morag felt more uncomfortable and hot than ever. “I can drive, only I

don’t, so it’s my own choice to wait around for buses. “Pericles could

drive you himself!”

“Why should he? He has better things to do with his time!”

“But I haven’t? From now on I am your chauffeur. You have only to ask and I shall be there to drive you!”

“No, Takis. If I wanted anyone to drive me, I’d ask Pericles! It was only

this afternoon when we missed the bus and Kimon saw you that we

needed a lift. Usually we can manage very well by ourselves!”

“No thanks to Pericles!”

Morag glared at him. “I won’t have you sneering at him!” she retorted. “He’s very kind to me, and I love him very much!”

Takis lost some of his bounce and began to apologise. “I hadn’t realised that you felt like that about him,” he protested. “I thought it was a suitable arrangement for you both. Though I still feel he could look after you better!” His smile came back, and he patted her knee. “You defend him just like a Greek wife!” he teased her. “Are you as meek as a Greek wife should be to Pericles?”

Morag looked determinedly out of the window. She saw with relief that they were almost in Athens. “I try to be,” she said.

Takis chuckled. “It would be interesting to find out if he defends you with the same fervour. He was never in the least bit strict with Susan.” He drove in silence all the rest of the way into the centre of Athens, only asking her where she wanted to be put down. “There’s a place to park just by the temple of Olympian Zeus. Will that be too far for you to walk?”

Morag had no idea, but she was in no mood to argue with him. “Of course not,” she said with a confidence she was far from feeling.

“But it is!” Kimon insisted, breaking abruptly into the argument he had been having with his sister ever since they had set foot into the car. “Can’t you take us right to the museum, Takis? Or to Omonia Square?” “If you like,” the Greek agreed easily. He pointed out the Royal Guard

outside the Parliamentary buildings, dressed in the short white kilts, white stockings, and long shoes with their pouffs on the toes.

“Along here are the shops,” Peggy told Morag. “Grandma buys her clothes here. They’re very good shops, but there aren’t any department stores like in London - at least, I don’t think there are. You won’t get lost, will you?” “No, of course I won’t get lost!” Morag protested. “I’ll come and see you into the museum first.”

Takis stopped the car and leaned across her to open the door. “You’re not still cross with me, are you, Morag?” he asked her, smiling straight into her eyes. “Tell me you are not! Please let me come back to the cafe outside the museum in an hour’s time and buy you all an ice-cream? Then I shall know that you’ve forgiven me!”

Morag hesitated and knew, even while she did so, that it was a mistake. “I think it would be better if you didn’t,” she began, but he had already noted her lack of decision.

“You couldn’t be so cruel as to deny me!” he pleaded. “The children will like to have me there!” He rubbed his hand through Kimon’s hair. “Don’t I buy you the best ice-creams ?” he asked him.

“I suppose so,” Kimon confirmed. He ducked away from his cousin. “But Daddy doesn’t like us to eat too much between meals,” he added somewhat primly.

“Then I shall come and sit at the next-door table and hope you take pity on me!” Takis declared. He watched them climb out of the car, his eyes dancing with amusement “See you then!” he laughed and, with a wave of his hand, he was gone.

Morag frowned after him, but there was nothing to be done and so with a slight shrug of her shoulders she put him to the back of her mind and walked with the children through the formal gardens that led to the National Museum.

“Are you sure you’ll be all right?” she fussed as she bought their tickets and gave them each some money to buy postcards or anything else they wanted.

“Of course we shall be!” Peggy insisted.

Kimon nodded. “We know what we want to see, you see,” he pointed out. “I want to look at any coins I can find and Peggy wants to make a drawing of the little Jockey now that they’ve found the horse and mounted him on it. He does look rather super - much younger than we are!”

Morag, who had seen the statue when she had visited the museum before she had met any of the Holmes, was surprised. “I didn’t know you liked to draw,” she said to Peggy.

“Well, Grandma didn’t like me to talk about it,” the small girl explained, “but since she’s started painting again, she doesn’t mind my wasting my time drawing things half so much. She looked at some I’d done the other day and told me quite a lot of useful things to help me get the perspective right. She wasn’t cross at all!”

“Wasn’t she?” Morag smiled with real pleasure. “She must think you’re good if she took the trouble to look at your work. She hasn’t much time for the second-rate.”

“No,” Peggy agreed with all the assurance of one who knew that there was no danger of her every being considered that. “But I’m not as good as she is. She’s done a beautiful painting of you!”

“Of me?”

“Yes,” said Kimon. “She showed it to us while you were getting married in England. It looks quite like you, only I haven’t seen you looking dreamy like she has. She said you looked like that when you thought about Daddy.”

Morag was completely disconcerted. She longed to question them longer, but their impatience to be gone was so obvious that she hadn’t the heart to keep them. “I’ll be back in one hour exactly,” she told them. “Yes, all right. Don’t fuss, Morag!”

Conscious that she was doing exactly that, Morag went out of the building again, reminding herself that, unlike herself, they both spoke excellent Greek and could always ask someone if they couldn’t find their way back to the main doors. It would be far more difficult for her to manage her shopping than it would be for them to spend an hour on their own in the museum.

She walked down one of the main streets that went between Omonia and Syntagma Squares, shamelessly window-shopping. She thought she was justified in buying herself a new dress. She had not discussed money with Pericles, and she had no idea whether he eventually intended to make her some kind of an allowance, or whether she would have to ask him whenever she was in need. But this money was her own. She had brought it with her to finance her trip through Greece and she had only spent very little of it. It cost her nothing to live at Dora’s villa beyond her few personal needs. Then the idea had come to her that she would buy herself a new dress. It had to be no ordinary dress, but something very special, something that would flatter her into a kind of beauty. She had not forgotten how Pericles had looked at her that evening that she had worn her green dress and she wanted badly for him to look at her like that again. Not even Delia’s best efforts to divert his attention to herself had quite succeeded that evening. If, Morag thought, she could find herself a truly splendid dress, perhaps he would look at her again in the same way, he might even want to kiss her again, kiss her as he had not kissed her ever since their wedding.

The first shop she entered had nothing that caught her eye, but in the second shop was a dress made of cloth of gold and cut in a style that she knew immediately would suit her. She pointed silently at it when the assistant came to serve her and for a second they both gazed at the dress in silence.

“It’s beautiful!” Morag breathed.

The assistant nodded sympathetically. “It is also expensive,” she murmured in very creditable English. “Do you want to try it?”

Morag nodded. She didn’t care how expensive it was, she had to have it. If that didn’t have the desired effect on Pericles, she would write herself off as a total failure and that didn’t even bear thinking about.

“How much is it?” she asked timidly as the assistant gathered up the full skirt and threw it over her head. She held her breath and watched the gold cloth ripple down to her ankles. It shimmered, trembling just as she had trembled when Pericles had touched her. She didn’t care how much it cost, she had to have it!

Even so the price came as a jolt to her. “Are you sure?” she exclaimed, unable to take her eyes off her gleaming reflection in the glass.

“Yes, kyria, I am very sure.”

Morag sighed. If she paid such a sum on a single dress, she would have nothing left of her own. It would serve her right, for it would be sheer extravagance to spend her all on a single dress, and a dress that she was not likely to wear often at that.

“I’ll take it!”

She felt quite dazed with her own bravado. She had to keep looking at the dress to reassure herself all over again as she countersigned the traveller’s cheques she had brought with her. The assistant glanced at

her wedding-ring with a little smile.

“I hope he knows! Or is it to surprise him?”

“It’s a surprise,” Morag admitted. “It’s my own money, so he can’t be

very angry -” She broke off as a decidedly male hand covered one of hers

and Takis squinted at the bill beside the empty plastic cover to her

traveller’s cheques.

“Phew!” he whistled. The Greek girl picked the gold dress off the rail

and held it up for him to see. “Your wife has chosen well. She looked

magnificent -”

“She always looks lovely!” Takis cut her off.

Only Morag seemed to have noticed the Greek girl’s mistake. “He isn’t-”

Takis silenced her with a quick kiss on the side of her mouth. “My wife thinks I’m marvellous! You see, I never question how much she spends on clothes!”

“A nice husband to have!” the Greek girl said admiringly. “Shall I wrap the dress, kyria, or do you want us to send it?”

“I’ll-I’ll take it with me,” Morag stammered, her mouth dry.

Takis flashed his bright smile. “I’ll carry it for her, so put a decent handle on it. I don’t like it when the string cuts into my fingers.”

The girl gave him a look of pure adulation and hurried away to fold and wrap the dress.

“I wish you hadn’t come, Takis,” said Morag. “I did ask you not to.” “And who would have carried your packages then?”

“And another thing,” Morag went on, warming to her theme, “how dare you give the impression that you’re my husband?”

He put a finger across her lips to silence her. “Better that than that she should jump to a different conclusion, my sweet innocent. You wouldn’t like it if she thought I was not your husband, would you?”

She glared at him. “I’ll carry my own package!” she snapped, almost snatching it out of the assistant’s hands. “I can keep my eye on it then!” Takis shrugged and winked at the Greek girl. “Tell me when you are tired and then I will carry it,” he smiled.

Morag could hardly refuse his company back to the museum. It would have been silly to have walked ahead because she knew he would only follow on behind making her feel a fool.

As if he had read her thoughts, Takis put a hand on her shoulder and

smiled his little boy smile. “You won’t make me sit at a separate table for my ice-cream, will you, Morag? I’m doing my best to please you!”

She gasped with suppressed fury. “Your best! Perhaps you should try your worst for a change!”

He grinned. “If you like. My worst would be to forget this foolish marriage of yours and kiss you a little myself. You’re a pretty little thing, Morag pedhi, especially when you try to look cool and calm,

BOOK: The Beads of Nemesis
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