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Married to a Mistress(27)

By:Lynne Graham

There was something Maxie remembered that she needed to tell him, but looking up into those stunning golden eyes she could barely recall what her own name was, never mind open a serious conversation. Angelos angled a blinding megawatt smile of approval down at her and it was as if she had been programmed from birth to seek that endorsement. She reached up and found his lips again, a connection she now instinctively craved more than she had ever craved anything in her life before.

His tongue played with hers as he lay half over her. He smoothed a hand down over her slim hips and eased off the scrap of lace that still shielded her from him. With skilled fingers he skimmed through the golden curls at the apex of her slender thighs and sought the hot, moist centre of her. A whimper of formless sound was torn from Maxie then. Suddenly she was burning all over and she couldn’t stay still.

And, as straying shards of sunlight played over the bed, Angelos utilised every ounce of his expertise to fire her to the heights of anguished desire. When she couldn’t bear it any more, he slid over her. He watched her with hungry intimacy as he entered her, the fierce restraint he exercised over his own urgency etched in every taut line of his dark, damp features.

The pleasure came to her then, in wave after drugging wave. In the grip of it, she was utterly lost. ‘Angelos...’ she cried out.

And he stilled, and Maxie gasped in stricken protest, and with an earthy sound of amusement he went on. She didn’t want him ever to stop. The slow, tormenting climb to fevered excitement had raised her to such a pitch, she ached for more with every thrust of his possession. And when finally sensation took her in a wild storm of rocketing pleasure, she uttered a startled moan of delight. As the last tiny quiver of glorious fulfilment evaporated she looked up at him with new eyes.

‘Wow,’ she breathed.

Struggling to catch his breath, Angelos dealt her a very male smile of satisfaction. ‘That was the wedding night we should have had.’

Maxie was still pretty much lost in wonder. Wow, she thought again, luxuriating in the strong arms still wrapped around her, the closeness, the feeling of tenderness eating her up alive and threatening to make her eyes overflow. Oh, yes, wouldn’t tears really impress him? Blinking rapidly, she swallowed hard on the surge of powerful emotion she was struggling to control.

‘I think it’s time I made some sort of announcement about this marriage of ours,’ Angelos drawled lazily.

Maxie’s lashes shot up, eyes stunned at all that went unsaid in that almost careless declaration. Evidently Angelos no longer saw the slightest need to keep their true relationship a secret from the rest of the world.

‘Don’t you think?’ he prompted softly, and then with a slumberous sigh he released her from his weight and rolled off the bed in one powerfully energetic movement. ‘Shower and then breakfast...I don’t think I’ve ever been so hungry in my life!’

Only then did Maxie recall what he had said about ‘crazy stories’ before they’d made love. Her face tensed, her stomach twisting. ‘Angelos...?’

He turned his tousled dark head and he smiled at her again.

Her fingers knotted nervously into a section of sheet. ‘What I mentioned earlier...what I said about my godmother’s will...that wasn’t a story, it was the truth.’

Angelos stilled, his smile evaporating like Scotch mist, black eyes suddenly level and alert.

Maxie explained again about the will. She went into great detail on the subject of her godmother’s lifelong belief in the importance of marriage, the older woman’s angry disapproval when Maxie had moved in with Leland. But Maxie didn’t look at Angelos again after that first ten seconds when she had anxiously registered the grim tautening of his dark features.

‘You see, at the time...after the way you proposed...I mean, I was angry, and I didn’t see why I shouldn’t make use of the fact that you were actually offering me exactly what I required to meet that condition of inheritance...’ Maxie’s voice petered out to a weak, uncertain halt because what had once seemed so clear now seemed so confused inside her own head. And the decision which once had seemed so simple and so clever mysteriously took on another aspect altogether when she attempted to explain it out loud to Angelos.

The silence simmered like a boiling cauldron.

Slowly, hesitantly, Maxie lifted her head and focused on Angelos.

Strong face hard with derision, black eyes scorching slivers of burning gold, he stared back at her. ‘You are one devious, calculating little vixen,’ he breathed with raw anger. ‘When I asked you to marry me, I was honest. Anything less than complete honesty would’ve been beneath me because, unlike you, I have certain principles, certain standards!’

Maxie had turned paper-pale. ‘Angelos, I—’

‘Shut up...I don’t want to hear any more!’ he blazed back at her with sizzling contempt. ‘I’m thinking of the generous financial settlement you were promised should our marriage end. You had neither need nor any other excuse to plot and plan to collect on some trusting old lady’s will as well!’

A great rush of hot tears hit the back of Maxie’s aching eyes. Blinking rapidly, she looked away. He was looking at her as if she had just crawled out from under a stone and sudden intense shame engulfed her.

‘How could you be so disgustingly greedy?’ Angelos launched in fierce condemnation. ‘And how could you try to use me when I never once tried to use you?’

‘It wasn’t like that. You’ve got it all wrong,’ Maxie fumbled in desperation, deeply regretting her own foolish mode of confession on the beach when saving face had been uppermost in her mind. ‘It was a spur-of-the-moment idea...I was hurt and furious and I—’

‘When a man gives you a wedding ring, he is honouring you, not using you!’ Angelos gritted between clenched teeth.

Maxie started to bristle then. ‘Well, I wouldn’t know about that...I only had the supreme honour of wearing that ring for about five minutes—’

‘You gave it back—’

Maxie lifted shimmering blue eyes and tilted her chin. ‘You took it!’ she reminded him wrathfully. ‘And I don’t want it back either...and I don’t want you making any announcement to anybody about our marriage...because I wouldn’t want anybody to know I was stupid enough to marry you!’

‘That cuts both ways,’ Angelos asserted with chilling bite, temper leashed back as he squared his big shoulders. ‘And I’ll be sure to ditch you before the six months is up!’

He strode into the bathroom.

Maxie flung herself back against the pillows, rolled over and pummelled them with sheer rage and frustration. Then she went suddenly still, and a great rolling breaker of sobs threatened because just for a little while she had felt close to Angelos and then, like a fairy-tale illusion, that closeness had vanished again...driven away by her own foolish, reckless tongue.

Yes, sooner or later she would naturally have had to tell Angelos about Nancy Leeward’s will. But on the beach she had blown it, once and for all. After all, who was it who had told him that she had planned to use him? And the whole thing had struck him as so far-fetched that within minutes of being told he had decided it wasn’t true. Indeed he had assumed that she was childishly trying to ‘level the score.’ Maxie shivered, belatedly appalled by the realisation that Angelos could understand her to that degree...

That was exactly what she had been doing. Believing that their relationship was over, she had been set on saving face and so she had told him about the will in the most offensive possible terms. Now that she had convinced him that she was telling him the truth, she was reaping the reward she had invited...anger, contempt, distaste.

And how could she say now, I wanted to marry you anyway and I needed a good excuse to allow myself to do that and still feel that I was control? There was no way that she could tell Angelos that she loved him. There was no way she could see herself ever telling Angelos that she loved him...

When he came out of the bathroom, a towel knotted round his lean brown hips, Maxie studied him miserably. ‘Angelos. I was going to tear up that prenuptial contract—’

‘You should be writing scripts for Disney!’ Angelos countered with cutting disbelief, and strode towards the dressing-room.

‘You said...you said you couldn’t pride yourself on your judgement where I was concerned,’ Maxie persisted tightly, wondering if what she was doing qualified as crawling, terrified that it might be.

‘I’m back on track now, believe me.’ Angelos sent her an icy look of brooding darkness. ‘I’m also off to London for a couple of days. I have some business to take care of.’

Business? What business? They had only arrived yesterday. Maxie wasn’t stupid. She got the message. He just didn’t want to be with her any more.

‘Are you always this unforgiving in personal relationships?’ Maxie breathed a little chokily when he had disappeared from view, but she knew he could still hear her.

‘I love that breathy little catch in your voice but it’s wasted on me. You wouldn’t cry if I roasted you over a bonfire!’

‘You’re right,’ Maxie said steadily, hastily wiping the tears dripping down her cheeks with the corner of the sheet.