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Married to a Mistress(26)

By:Lynne Graham

As Maxie rounded a big outcrop of rock, she saw two little boys trying to help a fisherman spread a net on the beach below. As she watched, unseen, their earnest but clumsy efforts brought a warm, generous smile to her lovely face.

‘You have never once shown me that ravishing smile.’ Maxie was startled into a gasp by the intervention of that soft, rich, dark drawl, and her golden head spun.

Angelos stood several feet away. Clad in elegant chinos and a white polo shirt, he stole the very breath from Maxie’s lungs. Her heart crashed violently against her breastbone. He looked drop-dead gorgeous. But her wide eyes instantly veiled. She knew how clever he was. She was terrified he would somehow divine her feelings for him.

‘But then possibly I have done nothing to inspire such a reward,’ Angelos completed tautly.

He stared at her, black eyes glittering and fiercely intent. In the brilliant sunlight, with her hair shimmering like a veil of gold and the simple white dress a perfect foil for her lithe figure, she was dazzling. Moving forward slowly, as if he was attuned to her pronounced tension, he closed a lean hand over one of hers and began to walk her back along the foreshore.

‘From today, from this moment, everything will be different between us,’ Angelos swore with emphasis.

‘Will it be?’ Briefly, involuntarily, Maxie stole a glance at him, nervous as a cat on hot bricks.

‘You should have told me the truth about Leland the very first day—’

‘You wouldn’t have believed me...’

His long brown fingers tightened bard on hers. He looked out to sea, strong profile rigid. He released his breath in a sudden driven hiss. ‘You’re right. I wouldn’t have. Nothing short of the physical proof you gave me last night would’ve convinced me that you weren’t the woman I thought you were.’

‘At least you’re honest,’ Maxie muttered tautly.

Apparently enthralled by the view of the single caique anchored out in the bay, Angelos continued to stare out over the bright blue water. ‘Considering that there were so many things that didn’t add up about you, I can’t say that I can pride myself on my unprejudiced outlook...or my judgement. You asked me to stay away from you and I wouldn’t. You even left London...’

He was talking as if someone had a knife bared at his throat. Voice low, abrupt, rough, every word clenched with tension and reluctance

‘I have never treated a woman as badly as I have treated you...and in the manner of our marriage I really did surpass myself, pethi mou.’

He sounded like a stranger to Maxie. Angelos having a guilt trip. She trailed her fingers free of his, cruel pain slashing at her. It was over. She didn’t need to hear these things when she had already lived them, and most of all she did not want him feeling sorry for her. In fact that humiliation stung like acid on her skin.

‘Look, I have something to tell you,’ Maxie cut in stiffly.

‘Let me speak...do you think this is easy for me?’ Angelos slung at her in a gritty undertone of accusation. ‘Baring my feelings like this?’

‘You don’t have any feelings for me,’ Maxie retorted flatly, her heart sinking inside her, her stomach lurching.

‘You seem very sure of that—’

‘Get real, Angelos. There are rocks on this beach with more tender emotions than you’ve got!’ Having made that cynical assurance, Maxie walked on doggedly ‘And why should you feel bad for trying to use me when I was planning to use you too? It’s not like I’m madly in love with you or anything like that!’ She paused to stress that point and vented a shrill laugh for good measure. ‘I only married you because it suited me to marry you. I needed a husband for six months...’

Against the soft, rushing backdrop of the tide, the silence behind her spread and spread until it seemed to echo in her straining ears.

‘What the hell are you talking about?’ Angelos finally shattered the seething tension with that harsh demand.

Maxie spun round, facial muscles tight with self-control. ‘My godmother’s will. She was a wealthy woman but I can’t inherit my share of her estate without a marriage licence. All I wanted was access to my own money, not yours.’

Angelos stood there as if he had been cast in granite, black eyes fixed to her with stunning intensity. ‘This is a joke...right?’

Maxie shook her golden head in urgent negative. She was so tense she couldn’t get breath enough to speak. Angelos was rigid with incredulity and in the stark, drenching sunlight reflecting off the water he seemed extraordinarily pale.

‘You do realise that if what you have just told me is true, I am going to want to kill you?’ Angelos confided, snatching in a jagged breath of restraint.

‘I don’t see why,’ Maxie returned with determined casualness. ‘This marriage wasn’t any more real to you than it was to me. It was the only way you could get me into bed.’ His hard dark features clenched as if she had struck him but she forced herself onward to the finish. ‘And you didn’t expect us to last five minutes beyond the onset of your own boredom. So that’s why I decided I might as well be frank.’

Turning on her heel, trembling from the effect of that confrontation, Maxie walked blindly off the path and up through the gardens of the house. He wasn’t going to be feeling all sorry and superior now, was he? The biter bit, she thought without any satisfaction as she crossed the hall. Now they would split up and she would never see him again...and she would spend the rest of her life being poor and wanting a man she couldn’t have and shouldn’t even want.


She turned, not having realised in her preoccupation that Angelos was so close behind her. The world tilted as he swept her off her startled feet up into his powerful arms. A look of aggressive resolution in his blazing golden eyes, Angelos murmured grittily, ‘It should’ve occurred to you that I might not be bored yet, pethi mou!’


The kiss that silenced her lasted all the way down to the bedroom. It was like plunging a finger into an electric socket. Excitement and shock waved through her. He brought her down on the bed. Surfacing, Maxie stammered in complete bewilderment, ‘B-but you don’t want me any more...you imagined me—’

Engaged in ripping off his clothes over her, Angelos glowered down at her. ‘I didn’t imagine that clever little brain or that stinging tongue of yours, did I?’

‘What are you doing?’ she gasped.

‘What I should have done when I woke up this morning to find you exploring me like a shy little kid...I didn’t want to embarrass you.’ Angelos focused on her, his sheer incredulity at that decision etched in every line of his savagely attractive features. ‘How could I possibly have dreamt that you could be embarrassed? Beneath that angelic, perfect face you’re as tough as Teflon!’

Maxie was flattered to be called that tough. She didn’t mind being told she was clever, or that she had a sharp tongue either. This was respect she was getting. It might not be couched in terms most women would’ve recognised but she knew Angelos well enough to see that she had risen considerably in his estimation since the previous night. Indeed, it crossed her mind that Angelos responded beautifully to a challenge, and that acknowledgement shone a blinding white light of clarity through her thoughts. She sat there transfixed.

‘Why are you so quiet?’ Angelos enquired suspiciously. ‘I don’t trust you quiet.’

Maxie cast him an unwittingly languorous smile over one shoulder. ‘I presume we’re not heading for a divorce right at this moment...?’

‘Theos, woman...we only got married yesterday!’

The heat of his hungry gaze sent wild colour flying into her cheeks. He still wanted her. He still seemed to want her every bit as much as he had ever wanted her, she registered in renewed shock. And then he brought his mouth to hers again and her own hunger betrayed her. Her hands flew up to smooth through his hair, curve over his hard jawline. The need to touch, to hold was so powerful it made her eyes sting and filled her with instinctive fear.

‘I won’t hurt you this time...I promise,’ Angelos groaned against her reddened mouth while he eased her out of her dress virtually without her noticing. He cupped her cheekbones to stare down into her sensually bemused eyes, his own gaze a tigerish, slumberous gold. ‘To be the first with you...that was an unexpected gift. And telling me crazy stories in an effort to level some imaginary score is pointless. You ache for me too...do you think I don’t see that in you with every look, every touch?’

Crazy stories? The will, her godmother’s will. Obviously, after a moment of reflection, he hadn’t believed her after all. But Maxie couldn’t keep that awareness in mind. She did part her lips, meaning to contradict him, but he kissed her again and she clutched at him in the blindness of a passion she could not deny.

‘Why should you still fight me?’ Angelos purred as he freed her breasts from the restraint of her bra and paused to run wondering dark eyes over her. He brushed appreciative fingers over the engorged tip of one pale breast and then lingered there in a caress that stole the very breath from her quiveringly responsive body. ‘Why should you even want to fight me?’