Tuesday, May 2, 2017

#FreeDailyThriller - Lust, Money & Murder - Book 10, "Black Widow" - Part 32

Chapter 41

Spyro Leandrou’s private Gulfstream jet took off from London City Airport at two-thirty that afternoon.
Elaine had not flown aboard a private aircraft since she’d been snatched away from the Charles de Gaulle Airport by Giorgio Cattoretti’s Russian partners and delivered to him in Milan.
This jet was every bit as plush as the Cat’s. The main cabin might have been described as an elegantly-furnished living room in the sky. Hand-stitched leather sofas and chairs in cream, a wool carpet in burgundy, elegant crystal glassware. But there was no sexy blonde flight attendant aboard this jet, however—a dumpy and somewhat stoic Greek woman, who Elaine found out was one of Leandrou’s many cousins, tended to their needs.
The aircraft was outfitted with a luxurious office in the aft section, where Leandrou stayed during most of the flight. Elaine could see him working at his computer and talking on the phone. He seemed to be speaking Greek much of the time, and she could not hear anything he said in English due to the noise made by the aircraft.
Even though Elaine was well accustomed to international life, it still made her feel awkward and insecure when everyone around her was speaking a language she couldn’t understand. She wished she could have studied Greek at some point, but who had the time?
Costa was also aboard, and he made Elaine edgy. He sat in a seat up near the cockpit, adjacent to the galley, and occasionally rose to talk to the flight attendant or pilots. But when he was sitting down, he often gazed at Elaine with a cold and, she thought, slightly suspicious expression. He not only had the face of a bulldog, he acted like one, too. From his demeanor and body language, it was obvious that he was ferociously protective of his boss.
When the flight attendant offered something to drink, Elaine chose only coffee, wary of asking for alcohol, even though after what she’d endured the past twenty-four hours, she could have used it.
The cabin was equipped with a home theatre system, so Elaine half-watched a movie while she silently congratulated herself for getting this far. At the same time, she felt anxious about meeting Spyro’s young son, which would happen in just a few hours.
Costa was a blatant male gawker and eyed Elaine’s legs and upper body with the appraising air of a man sizing up a choice cut of meat for consumption. But part of it was just him being Greek—Elaine had gotten the same treatment from most of the local men when she’d been in Athens.
Elaine did her best to ignore it.
When the pilot finally announced that the plane was descending towards Santorini, Leandrou stepped back down into the main cabin and casually seated himself across from her.
After he had fastened his seatbelt, he smiled at her. “Do you know why I chose you over the other two candidates for my governess position?”
Elaine shrugged and took a guess. “My military schooling?”
“No,” he said, shaking his head.
She was aware that Costa was watching this exchange. He had moved to a closer seat and had been reading an auto magazine, but was now looking up at her, listening.
Spyro said, “It’s because you seem very familiar to me.”
Elaine’s stomach clenched. With a relaxed smile, she said, “I get that a lot—I have one of those faces that people say looks familiar.”
“It’s not your face I’m talking about.”
She tensed even more, shifting a little in the seat. “What do you mean?”
“From the moment I started interviewing you, I felt like I already knew you. You know what I mean, when you meet someone who went to the same high school as you, or lived on the same street where you grew up, but you never actually knew that person, you just have this distinct feeling that you have a common background? Almost like the person is family or something.”
“Yes I know what you mean.”
He shrugged again. “It’s odd—I can’t explain it.”
I can, Elaine thought sickly. The fact that he had gone to high school with her father, and had been married to her mother for more than a decade more than explained it.
Groping for a response, Elaine said, “I felt comfortable around you pretty quickly as well. I’m just glad you’re giving me a chance.”
Leandrou nodded and glanced out the window. “Yes. I hope I’m making the right choice.”
Costa eyed her another moment, his expression unreadable.
He finally looked back at his magazine.

Chapter 42

It was sunset when the jet touched down on the runway at the Santorini Airport.
Elaine had been able to see the island from a distance as they approached. From the west, it looked like a massive tree stump that had been thrust up out of the water by Mother Nature, with a flat top and rugged cliffs along the coastline that sloped in a J shape down to the sea.
As they moved closer to the land mass and flew over it, however, she could see that her initial impression of the island’s geography was an illusion. It was not round but crescent-shaped. And although the “top” of the tree stump was flat, the green plain slanted gently downwards to the eastern side until the land smoothly melded into the sea.
The jet made a gentle landing and Elaine, Spyro and Costa descended the stairs of the aircraft. They were met by a lone immigration and customs officer who barely glanced at their documents. The man was obviously a close friend of Spyro’s and exchanged a few casual words in Greek. The officer stamped Elaine’s “Patricia Carter” passport and handed it back to her, smiling. In a thick accent, he said, “Welcome to Greece, Ms. Carter.”
Within a few short minutes, the three of them were riding in a chauffeured limo that wound through a scrub-covered hillside. Elaine thought the terrain looked a bit like Croatia’s, at least the area around Dubrovnik, where Giorgio Cattoretti now made his home.
When the sleek black vehicle pulled through the gate and she saw the beautiful white-washed “cave villa,” she oohed and ahhed appropriately, though it was a challenge. During the last few minutes Elaine had grown quite anxious. She didn’t like this wild card of having to win over Alexander—she had not prepared for it and really had no idea what the boy was like. It had never occurred to Elaine that Spyro would let the eight year-old boy have so much say in the hiring decision, and so she had not grilled Kathy much about him. She really had no idea what Alexander was like or how she might charm him.
She was even more worried about her “first” meeting with Spyro’s wife, Kathy. She could already see that Spyro Leandrou was a perceptive man, and she hoped her mother was a competent enough actor to make it appear that they did not know each other, let alone were actually mother and daughter, and that a close visual inspection would not reveal too much similarity.

* * *
The limo pulled up to the villa’s main entrance and the driver, Vasilis, rushed around and opened the back door.
“Thank you,” Elaine said, stepping out into the chilly night air. There was a gentle breeze, and she could smell the brine of the Aegean Sea in it.
At that moment, the front door of the villa opened.
A woman in a black servant’s uniform stepped outside.
Kalispera!” she called gaily, and rushed over to take Elaine’s large suitcase, babbling in Greek.
“Patricia,” Spyro said, “this is Fenia, my housekeeper.” Elaine noticed that he said “my” rather than “our,” as in his and his wife’s, which said a lot.
“Nice to meet you,” Elaine said. Even though it made Elaine uncomfortable, she decided she shouldn’t offer to shake hands since the woman was a servant.
The group filed across the tiled walkway towards the front door of the sprawling white, Cubist-style villa. Spyro explained to Elaine that Fenia and Costa were husband and wife, and lived in a guest house on the other side of the garden.
They entered an elegant, airy foyer.
Fenia immediately dragged Elaine’s big suitcase up the stairs, Costa making no attempt to help her. He glanced around the house, as if checking to make sure it was safe, and then stepped outside, pulling a pack of cigarettes from his pocket.
Elaine immediately spotted her mother walking down the hallway to greet them. She held a paperback book in her hand, her finger stuck inside so she wouldn’t lose her place.
She was not smiling.
“Patricia,” Spyro said, “this is my wife, Kathy.” He gave her a perfunctory kiss on the cheek, but Kathy hardly noticed, frowning at Elaine.
Kathy glanced at Spyro, looking confused. “Last night I thought you said you—”
“I changed my mind,” he snapped.
She looked Elaine up and down, noting her pretty face, long legs and attractive figure, and nodded. “Yeah. I can see why.”
Spyro ignored the snide remark. Elaine assumed he must have called his wife last night and told her he was thinking of hiring a male for the job, a governor, rather than a governess. Brilliant acting on her mother’s part, Elaine mused. But if this was the way Kathy acted with every governess, Elaine now understood another reason why none of the women had lasted long.
“Alex!” Spyro called, glancing into the living room, and then up and down the hall. He looked at Kathy. “Where is he?”
“In his bedroom, playing a computer game.”
Spyro walked over to the bottom of the stairs.
“Alex!” he bellowed again, his deep voice echoing through the spacious house. “Come down here right now! Your new governess is here to meet you.”
A door opened somewhere on the second floor.
“I don’t want a new governess!” a young voice yelled back petulantly.
Spyro turned apologetically to Elaine. “Changing governesses is always hard on him,” he said, and gave Kathy a dirty look, as if it was her fault.
“I hope you’ll be very happy here,” Kathy said to Elaine, as if she meant the exact opposite. She turned away, walking coolly down the hallway, the book still in her hand.
“Alex,” Spyro called again. This time his voice was not as loud, but there was a clear threat in it.
There were slow footsteps above. A pair of fuzzy slippers and two skinny legs appeared at the top of the stairs, and then a whole boy. He was wearing trousers and a black long-sleeved shirt with a mountain biker on it, flying through the air.
When he reached the bottom of the steps, he stopped short, staring at Elaine.
She gave him her best smile, dashed with just a touch of flirtatiousness. “Hello, Alexander.”
His eyes widened a little as they took her in, his gaze moving from her face to her torso, waist, legs, and boots, then back up at her face.
He glanced over at his father with a stunned look that seemed to say, “Did you really bring me this beautiful doll to play with?” But then he glanced back at her face with a doubtful expression that seemed to ask, Is she real?
“Say hello to Patricia, son,” Spyro said. “Where are your manners?”
Alex opened his mouth but nothing came out. He looked small and insecure. “Hello,” he finally muttered, and then stepped closer, but also moved closer to his father, as if for protection.
A few awkward seconds passed, and Elaine stepped forward to close the space and shook his hand, which felt cold and clammy. “Nice to meet you, Alex. Why don’t you show me around your beautiful home, and the garden?”
The boy’s face turned beet red, and he looked uncertainly at his father.
“Go on, son, don’t be bashful. Be gallant! Show the lovely lady around!”
Alex led her down the hallway. “That’s the living room,” he said, and then he started to become more animated. “We have a gigantic TV screen, look! And we have lots of games you can play...”

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