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Married to a Mistress(8)

By:Lynne Graham

The big car purred away from the kerb.

‘I decided to make you angry because I want you to leave me alone,’ Maxie told him truthfully.

‘Then why didn’t you stay away from me? Why did you get into this car?’ Angelos countered with lethal precision.

In answer, Maxie made an instinctive and instantaneous shift across the seat towards the passenger door. But, before she could try to jump back out of the car, a powerful hand whipped out to close over hers and hold her fast. The limousine quickened speed.

Black eyes clashed with hers. ‘Are you suicidal?’ Angelos bit out crushingly.

Maxie shakily pulled free of his grasp.

The heavy silence clawed at her nerves. Such a simple question, such a lethally simple, clever question, yet it had flummoxed her. If she had truly wanted to avoid him, why had she let something as trivial as wet clothes push her back into his company?

Angelos extended a lean brown hand again, with the aspect of an adult taking reluctant pity on a sulky child. ‘Come here,’ he urged.

Without looking at him again, Maxie curled into the far corner of the back seat instead. His larger-than-life image was already engraved inside her head. She didn’t know what was happening to her, why she was reacting so violently to him. Her own increasing turmoil and the suspicion that she was adrift in dangerously unfamiliar territory frankly frightened her. Angelos Petronides was bad news in every way for a woman like her. Avoiding him like the plague was the only common sense response. And she should’ve been freezing him out, not screaming at him.

With a languorous sigh, Angelos shrugged fluidly out of his suit jacket. Without warning he caught her hand and pulled her to him. Taken by surprise, Maxie went crazy, struggling wildly to untangle herself from those powerful fingers. ‘Let go! What are you trying to—?’

‘Stop it!’ Angelos thundered down at her, and he released her again in an exaggerated movement, spreading both arms wide as if to demonstrate that he carried no offensive weapon. ‘I don’t like hysterical women.’

‘I’m not...I’m not like that.’ Maxie quivered in shock and stark embarrassment as he draped his grey jacket round her slim, taut shoulders. The silk lining was still warm from his body heat. The faint scent of him clung to the garment and her nostrils flared. Clean, husky male, laced with the merest tang of some citrus-based lotion. She lowered her damp head and breathed that aroma in deep. The very physicality of that spontaneous act shook her.

‘You’re as high-strung as some of my racehorses,’ Angelos contradicted. ‘Every time I come close you leap about a foot in the air—’

‘I didn’t yesterday,’ she muttered with sudden lancing bitterness.

‘You didn’t get the chance...I crept up on you.’ With a tormentingly sexy sound of indolent amusement, Angelos reached out his hands and closed them over the sleeves of the jacket she now wore, tugging on them like fabric chains of captivity to bring her to him.

‘No!’ Maxie gasped, wide-eyed, her hands flying up, only to find that the only place she could plant her palms was against his broad, muscular chest.

‘If you like, you can bail out after the first kiss—no questions asked, no strings attached,’ Angelos promised thickly.

Even touching him through his shirt felt so incredibly intimate that guilty quivers ran through her tautening length. He was so hot. Her fingers spread and then shifted over the tactile silk barner, learning of the rough whorls of hair below the fabric and enthralled. She was used to being around male models with shiny shaven chests. She shivered deliciously, appallingly tempted to rip open the shirt and explore.

Heavily lidded black eyes lambent with sensual indulgence intercepted hers. ‘You look like a guilty child with her hand caught in the biscuit tin,’ he confided with a lazy smile.

At the power of that smile, the breath tripped in Maxie’s throat, her pupils dilating. His proximity mesmerised her. She could see tiny gold lights in his eyes, appreciate the incredible silky length and luxuriance of those black lashes and the faint blue shadow on his strong jawline. The potency of her own fascination filled her with alarm. ‘You’re all wrong for me,’ she said in breathless panic, like a woman trying to run through a swamp and inexplicably finding herself standing still and sinking fast.

‘Prove it,’ Angelos invited in that velvet-soft drawl that fingered down her spine like a caress. A confident hand pushed into her drying hair and curved to the nape of her neck. ‘Prove that anything that feels this good could possibly be wrong for either of us.’

He was so stunningly gorgeous, she couldn’t think straight. Her heartbeat seemed to be racing in her tight throat. The insidious rise of her own excitement was like a drowning, overwhelming wave that drove all before it. He dropped his eyes to the pouting distended buds clearly delineated by the clinging bodice of her dress and her face burned red.

Slowly Angelos tilted her back, his arms banding round her spine to support her, and, bending his dark, arrogant head, he pressed the mouth she craved on hers to the thrusting sensitivity of an aching nipple instead. Her whole body jumped, throat arching, head falling back, teeth clenching on an incoherent whimper of shock.

Angelos lifted her up again, black eyes blazing with primal male satisfaction. ‘It hurts to want this much. I don’t think you were familiar with the feeling...but now you are.’

Trembling, Maxie stared at him, sapphire eyes dark with shaken arousal. Cold fear snaked through her. He was playing with her just as he might have played with a toy. Using his carnal expertise he was taunting her, winding her up, demonstrating his sexual mastery.

‘Don’t touch me!’ Her hand whipped up and caught him across one hard cheekbone, and then she froze in dismay at what she had done.

With striking speed Angelos closed his fingers round that offending hand, and slowly he smiled again. ‘Frustration should make you angry.’

Beneath her strained and bemused gaze, he bent his glossy dark head and pressed his lips hotly to the centre of her stinging palm. It was electrifying. It was as if every tiny bit of her body was suddenly programmed to overreact. And then, while she was still struggling to comprehend the incredible strength of his power over her, he caught her to him with indolent assurance and simply, finally, kissed her.

Only there was nothing simple about that long-awaited kiss. It blew Maxie away with excitement. It was like no kiss she had ever received. That hard, sensual mouth connected with hers and instantly she needed to be closer to him than his own skin. Pulses pounding at an insane rate, she clutched at him with frantic hands, reacting to the violent need climbing inside her, craving more with every passing second.

And then it was over. Angelos studied her with burnished eyes of appreciation, all virile male strength and supremacy as he absorbed the passion-glazed blankness of her hectically flushed and beautiful face.

‘Come on,’ he urged her thickly.

She hadn’t even realised the limousine had stopped. Now he was closing his jacket round her again with immense care, practically lifting her back out into the rain and the sharp fresh air which she drank in great thirsty gulps. She felt wildly disorientated. For timeless minutes the world beyond the limousine just hadn’t existed for her. In confusion, she curved herself into the support of the powerful arm welded to her narrow back and bowed her head.

Without warning, Angelos tensed and vented a crushing oath, suddenly thrusting her behind him. Maxie looked up just in time to see a photographer running away from them. Simultaneously two powerfully built men sprinted from the car behind the limo and grabbed him before he could make it across to the other side of the street.

Angelos untensed again, straightening big shoulders. ‘My security men will expose his film. That photo of us will never see the light of day.’

In a daze, Maxie watched that promise carried out. As a demonstration of ruthlessness it took her breath away. She had often wished that she could avoid the intrusive cameras of the paparazzi, but she had never seen in action the kind of brute power which Angelos exercised to protect his privacy.

And it was his privacy that he had been concerned about, she sensed. Certainly not hers. Why was it that she suspected that Angelos would go to great lengths to avoid being captured in newsprint by her side? Why was it that she now had the strongest feeling that Angelos was determined not to be seen in public with her?

Shivering with reaction at that lowering suspicion, she emerged from her tangled thoughts to find herself standing in a stark stainless steel lift. ‘Where are we?’ she muttered then, with a frown of bewilderment.

The doors sped soundlessly back on a vast expanse of marble flooring.

‘My apartment... where else?’

Maxie flinched in dismay, her brain cranking back into sudden activity. If that paparazzo had escaped, he would’ve had a highly embarrassing and profitable picture of her entering Angelos Petronides’s apartment wrapped intimately in his jacket. No prizes for guessing what people would’ve assumed. She just could not believe how stupid she had been.

‘I thought you were taking me back to Liz’s,’ she admitted rather unsteadily.

Angelos angled up a mocking brow. ‘I never said I was...and, after our encounter in the car, I confess that I prefer to make love in my own bed.’