Better, his arse. This wasn’t a vacation. It was a bloody exile. Imprisoned on an island like Napoleon. But then, Napoleon escaped from his first island. Robby figured he could do the same. For a Vamp with teleportation abilities, it would be easy. And no one would ever know.


Island of Patmos, three months later…

Olivia Sotiris eased the back door shut. It had to be about one-thirty in the morning, she guessed, but her inner clock was still on Central Standard Time.

Her ferry had arrived in the port of Skala that afternoon, and her grandmother was there, waiting with a young taxi driver who just happened to be single. After driving them the short distance to the Sotiris home in Grikos, the young Greek had stowed her luggage in the guest room, then taken them to a local taverna.

The whole village had gathered there to gawk at Eleni Sotiris’s American granddaughter. And according to Eleni, every eligible bachelor on the island was in attendance.

Olivia endured several hours of gentle scolding in broken English from the older villagers. Her crime: not visiting Yia Yia, her poor grandmother, for six long years. It didn’t matter that she saw her every Christmas in Houston, where her family lived and her grandmother migrated for a few months every winter. Olivia was still guilty of breaking her poor old widowed grandmother’s heart.

At the time, her grandmother was bouncing across the dance floor with a line of young men, happily yelling “Opa!” and breaking plates, so Olivia decided this was one guilt trip she could decline. She drank more wine than usual, hoping it would help her sleep, but here she was, two hours later, wide awake.

And once again she questioned her reason for coming. Her supervisor had insisted she take time off, but part of her argued that running away from a problem never solved it. She should have faced the monster again. She should have told him the game was over. No more sick manipulation. But what if running away just proved he was still pulling the strings?

A chilly breeze swept off the sea and up the rocky bluff to the courtyard of her grandmother’s house. Olivia snuggled her white blanket tighter around her green cotton pajamas. She wouldn’t think about him anymore. He couldn’t find her here.

She breathed in crisp, salty air. It was wonderfully quiet, with just the sound of waves breaking on the beach and the breeze ruffling the tamarisk trees. So peaceful. Except that her feet were freezing on the tile floor.

She padded across the courtyard. It was much the same as she remembered. On her last visit, the summer after graduating from high school, her father had built the arbor that covered a small section on the left. The grapevines had grown, their branches curling like snakes around the wooden frame. In the dark shade of the arbor, she could barely see the familiar wooden table and four chairs.

The rest of the enclosed courtyard had been left open to the sky, and a half-moon shone down, reflecting off the whitewashed walls of Yia Yia’s house and the waist-high walls enclosing the patio. Three large clay pots, each one holding a small lemon tree, lined up along the right wall. Around the base of each tree, green clumps of parsley and mint grew. In the far corner, a pot of red geraniums stood guard by the stone steps that wound to the beach below.

Next to the geraniums, she recognized the telescope her father had given Yia Yia for Christmas last year. An excellent present, she thought as she glanced up at the night sky. So many stars. They were never this bright in the cities back home.

She reached the far wall, leaned her elbows on top and peered down at the beach. The moon glittered on the dark sea and gleamed off the white sand.

“You cannot sleep, child?”

Olivia whirled around. “Yia Yia, I didn’t mean to wake you.”

“I’m a very light sleeper these—” Her grandmother’s eyes narrowed. “Are you barefoot?”

Before Olivia could explain that she’d forgotten to pack house shoes, her grandmother scurried back inside, muttering about scorpions. A minute later she reappeared with some bright red booties.

“These are one size fits all, which means they are too big for me.” She tossed them on the floor next to Olivia. “Your brother, Nicolas, gave those to me for Christmas. What was he thinking? A woman my age in red boots?”

Olivia smiled as she draped her blanket over the courtyard wall, then leaned against it to pull on the boot-shaped house shoes. Her brother probably thought the same thing everyone in the family thought. Eleni Sotiris never acted her age, unless it got her something she wanted. Her hair might be gray, but it was still long and thick. Right now, it hung in a long braid over her shoulder. She was still active, her eyes still sharp, and her brain even sharper.

Eleni cinched the belt tighter on her blue terry-cloth bathrobe. “Tell me what’s troubling you, child.”

“I’m fine. Just jet lag and—” Olivia stopped when she felt a flash of anger emanating from her grandmother. “Sorry. I’m used to telling people I’m fine when I’m…not.”

Eleni sighed. “I understand, but you should know better than to lie to me.”

Olivia nodded, relieved that her grandmother’s anger had quickly dissolved. She knew all about her grandmother’s strange gift, for she was the only grandchild to inherit it. They could both tell when a person was lying. And they could sense people’s emotions.

“I’ve known you all your life, but I’ve never seen you this…frazzled,” Eleni continued. “You were happy and relieved when you arrived, then you were annoyed with me during the party.”

Olivia winced. “Sorry.”

Eleni waved a hand in dismissal. “No matter. That’s what family’s for. But there is something else troubling you. Something…dark. And hidden.”

Olivia groaned inwardly. It was hidden. She’d been repressing it for months. “There is a problem, but I–I don’t want to talk about it.” She took the blanket off the wall and wrapped it around her shoulders.

“It frightens you,” Eleni whispered.

Olivia’s eyes welled with tears. He frightened her.

Her grandmother looped an arm around her and pulled her close. “Don’t be afraid, child. You’re safe now.”

She hugged her grandmother and squeezed her eyes shut, willing the tears to go away. Yia Yia had always been the one she relied upon, the one she told her secrets to. When she was young and struggling to adjust to her empathic abilities, it was only her grandmother who understood.

Eleni patted her on the back. “Who is frightening you? Is it a man?”

Olivia nodded.

“Did the bastard mistreat you? I could send your brothers after him to teach him a lesson.”

Olivia laughed. Her skinny younger brothers would have trouble intimidating a Chihuahua. As usual, her grandmother had chased away the tears.

“You just leave this to me. I’ll find a good man for you.” Eleni stepped back and tilted her head. “Did you like any you met tonight?”

Olivia groaned. “I’m not looking for a husband.”

“Of course you are. What are you, twenty-four? I had three babies by the time I was your age.”

Olivia grimaced. “I have a career. A master’s degree.”

“And I am proud of you. But nothing is more important than family. What did you think of Spiro?”

“Which one was he?”

“The very handsome one. He was dancing on my right.”

Olivia thought back, but couldn’t remember a man who stood out. They had all congealed into a greasy blob of testosterone. “I can’t recall.”

“He’s a good boy. Goes to church every week with his mother. Very nice body. Does push-ups every morning in his underwear. Not too hairy.”

Olivia cocked her head. “And how do you know that?”

Eleni motioned toward the telescope.

With a gasp, Olivia noticed the telescope was not pointed toward the sky. She rushed over and peered through the eyepiece. A whitewashed wall came into view with a large window. “Yia Yia, what have you been doing?”

She shrugged. “I’m old, but I’m not dead. Spiro is a beautiful young man. And he takes good care of his goats. You should go out with him.”

Olivia wrinkled her nose. “What on earth would I do with a goat herder?”

“Make little kids?”

Olivia snorted. “I can’t get married. I can’t even date worth a darn. It always ends up badly. I can tell when the guys are lying, and unfortunately, that’s most of the time.”

“We just need to find you an honest man.”

“I’m afraid those have gone the way of the dinosaur.” Olivia pointed the telescope away from Spiro’s home. “How did you find Grandpa?”

“I didn’t. My parents arranged the marriage.”

Olivia winced. “How old were you?”

“Sixteen. I was from Kos.” Eleni gestured to the south, where the island of Kos was located. “I met your grandfather here on Patmos at our engagement party. I told Hector right away that he must never lie to me because I would know. And I would make his life miserable.”

Olivia blinked. “That didn’t scare him away?” Learning that she was a human lie detector had certainly made her high school boyfriend run for the hills.

“Hector was surprised, but then he said we should both be honest, because if I lied, he could make me miserable, too.” Eleni chuckled. “And then he said I was the bravest, most beautiful woman he’d ever met. And I knew he was telling the truth.”

“Oh.” Olivia’s heart squeezed. “That’s sweet.”

“Six months after the wedding, he told me he loved me, and that was the truth, too.” Eleni’s eyes glittered with unshed tears.

“And he never lied?” Olivia whispered.

“Once. When your father was young, he fell out of a tree and broke his arm. Hector told me not to worry, that he was certain our boy would be all right. But he was lying. He was scared stiff. So was I.”

“That’s not much of a lie. He was trying to comfort you.”

Eleni nodded. “Not all lies are bad. It is the intent to deceive that is bad. Your grandfather was a good man, may God rest his soul.” She crossed herself in the Orthodox fashion, touching her right shoulder first.

Olivia crossed herself, too, an automatic response that had been ingrained in her since childhood.

Eleni blinked away her tears and straightened her thin shoulders. “I’ll make you a cup of chamomile tea. It will help you sleep.” She hurried back into the house.

Olivia rested her elbows on the courtyard wall and gazed at the beach below. A breeze swept a tendril of hair across her face, and she shoved it aside. Most of her long hair was secured on the back of her head with a big claw clip, but as usual, there were always a few unruly strands that managed to escape.

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