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Married to a Mistress(28)

By:Lynne Graham

Angelos reappeared, sheathed in a stupendous silver-grey suit. Lean, dark face impassive, he looked as remote as the Himalayas and even colder.

Maxie made one final desperate attempt to penetrate that armour of judgemental ice. ‘I really don’t and never did want your money, Angelos,’ she whispered with all the sincerity she could muster.

Angelos sent her a hard, gleaming scrutiny, his expressive mouth curling. ‘You may not be my conception of a wife but you will make the perfect mistress. In that role you can be every bit as mercenary as you like. You spend my money; I enjoy your perfect body. Randy Greek billionaires understand that sort of realistic exchange best of all. And at least this way we both know where we stand.’

Maxie gazed back at him in total shock. Every scrap of colour drained from her cheeks. But in that moment the battle lines were drawn...if Angelos wanted a mistress rather than a wife, a mistress, Maxie decided fierily, was what he was jolly well going to get!

‘Angelos doesn’t know where you are? You mean he’s not aware that you’re back in London yet?’ Liz breathed in astonishment when the fact penetrated.

Maxie took a deep breath. ‘I came straight here from the airport. I’m planning to surprise him,’ she said, with more truth than the older woman could ever have guessed.

‘Oh...yes, of course.’ Liz relaxed again and smiled. ‘What a shame business concerns had to interrupt your honeymoon! It must’ve been something terribly important. When was it you said Angelos left the island?’

‘Just a few days ago...’ Maxie did not confide that she had left on the ferry exactly twenty-four hours later—the very morning, in fact, when her credit cards had been delivered. Credit cards tellingly made out in her maiden name. The die had been cast there and then. Angelos’s goose had been cooked to a cinder.

And, faced with that obvious invitation to spend, spend, spend, as any sensible mistress would at the slightest excuse, Maxie had instantly risen to the challenge. She had flown to Rome and then to Paris. She had had a whale of a time. She had repaired the deficiencies of her wardrobe with the most beautiful designer garments she could find. And if she had seen a pair of shoes or a handbag she liked, she had bought them in every possible colour...

Indeed, she could now have papered entire walls with credit card slips. If Angelos had been following that impressive paper trail of gross extravagance and shameless avarice across Rome and Paris, he would probably still think she was abroad, but he wouldn’t know where because she had deliberately used cash to pay for flights and hotel bills.

‘Are you happy?’ Liz pressed anxiously.

‘Incredibly...’ Well, about as happy as she could be when it had been six days, fourteen hours and thirty-seven minutes since she had last laid eyes on Angelos, Maxie reflected ruefully. But to vegetate alone, abandoned and neglected on Chymos, would’ve been even worse.

‘Do you think Angelos might come to love you?’

Maxie thought about that. She had set her sights on him loving her but she wasn’t sure it was a very realistic goal. Had Angelos ever been in love? It was very possible that she might settle for just being needed. Right now, all she could accurately forecast was that Angelos would be in a seething rage because she had left the island without telling him and hadn’t made the slightest effort to get in touch.

But then that was what a mistress would do when the man in her life departed without mention of when he would return. A mistress was necessarily a self-sufficient creature. And if Angelos hadn’t yet got around to putting in place the arrangements by which he intended to see her and spend time with her, then that was his oversight, not hers. No mistress would tell her billionaire lover when she would be available...that was his department.

Maxie had tea with Liz and then she called a cab. With the mountain of luggage she had acquired, it was quite a squeeze. She directed the driver to the basement car park of the building Angelos had informed her was to be exclusively hers. She was a little apprehensive about how she was to gain entry. After all, Angelos didn’t even know she was back in London yet, and possibly the place would be locked up and deserted.

But on that point she discovered that she had misjudged him. There was a security man in the lift.

‘Miss Kendall...?’

‘That’s me. Would you see to my luggage, please?’ Maxie stepped into the lift to be wafted upwards and wondered why the man was gaping at her.

When the doors slid back, she thought she had stopped on the wrong floor. The stark modern decor had been swept away as if it had never been. In growing amazement, Maxie explored the spacious apartment. The whole place had been transformed with antique furniture, wonderful rugs and a traditional and warm colour scheme. King Kong on stilts couldn’t have seen over the barriers ringing the roof garden and, just in case she still wasn’t about to bring herself to step out into the fresh air, a good third of the space now rejoiced in being a conservatory.

The apartment was gorgeous. No expense had been spared, nothing that might add to her comfort had been overlooked, but, far from being impressed by Angelos’s consideration of her likes and dislikes, and even her terror of heights, Maxie was almost reduced to grovelling tears of despair. Angelos had had all this done just so that they could live apart. Looked at from that angle, the lengths he had gone to in his efforts to make her content with her solitary lot seemed like a deadly insult and the most crushing of rejections.

Maxie unpacked. That took up what remained of the evening and her wardrobe soon overflowed into the guest-room next door. She took out the two-page list of Angelos’s flaws that had become her talisman. Whenever she got angry with him, whenever she missed him, she took it out and reminded herself that while she might not be perfect, he was not perfect either. It was a surprisingly comforting exercise which somehow made her feel closer to him.

How long would it take him to work out where she was? She lay in her sunken bath under bubbles, miserable as sin. She wanted to phone him but she wouldn’t let herself The perfect mistress did not phone her lover. That would be indiscreet. She put on a diaphanous azure-blue silk nightdress slit to the thigh and curled up on the huge brass bed in the master suite.

The arrival of the lift was too quiet and too far away for her to hear. But she heard the hard footsteps ringing down the corridor. Maxie tensed, anticipation filling her. The bedroom door thrust wide, framing Angelos.

In a black dinner jacket that fitted his broad shoulders like a glove, and narrow black trousers that accentuated the long, long length of his legs, he was breathtakingly handsome. Her heart went thud...and then thud again. His bow tie was missing; the top couple of studs on his white dress shirt were undone to reveal a sliver of vibrant brown skin.

Poised in the doorway, big hands clenched into fists and breathing rapidly as if he had come from somewhere in a heck of a hurry, he ran outraged golden eyes over her relaxed pose on the brass bed as she reclined back against the heaped-up luxurious pillows as if she hadn’t a single care in the world.

‘You’re here on my first night back...what a lovely surprise!’ Maxie carolled.


MOMENTARILY disconcerted by that chirpy greeting, Angelos stilled. His lush black lashes came down and swept up again as if he wasn’t quite sure what he was seeing, never mind what he was hearing.

Having learned some very good lessons from him, Maxie took the opportunity to sit forward, shake back her wonderful mane of golden hair and stretch so that not one inch of the remarkably sexy nightdress hugging her lithe curves could possibly escape his notice.

‘What do you think?’ she asked gaily. ‘I bought it in—’

His entire attention was locked on her, darker colour highlighting his taut high cheekbones and the wrathful glitter of incredulity in his brilliant eyes. ‘Where the hell have you been for the past week?’ he launched at her with thunderous aggression as he strode forward. ‘Do you realise that I flew back to Chymos before I realised you’d left the island?’

‘Oh, no,’ Maxie groaned. ‘I would’ve felt awful if I’d known that!’

‘Why the blazes didn’t you phone me to tell me what you were thinking of doing?’ Angelos demanded with raw incredulity. ‘You can shop any time you like but you don’t need to do it in time that you could be with me!’

‘Why didn’t you phone me to tell me that you were coming back?’ Maxie’s eyes were as bright as sapphires. ‘You see, I couldn’t phone you. None of the villa staff spoke a word of English and I don’t have your phone number—’

Angelos froze. ‘What do you mean you don’t have my number?’

‘Well. you’re not in the directory and I’m sure your office staff are very careful not to hand out privileged information like that to just anybody—’

“Theos...you’re not just anybody!’ Angelos blazed, in such a rage he could hardly get the words out. ‘I expect to know where you are every minute of the day! And the best I could do was follow your credit card withdrawals as they leapfrogged across Europe!’

What Maxie was hearing now was bliss. She had been missed. ‘I think it really would be sensible for you to give me a contact number,’ she said gently. ‘I’m sorry, but I honestly never realised how possessive you could be—’