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The Unfaithful Wife(34)

By:Lynne Graham

‘You thought you just had to say the word,’ Leah filled in, her own skin pink but a certain amount of amusement tactfully concealed. He was an arrogant bastard but at least he was honest about his failings.

‘I thought you loved me...that that was why you had stayed.’

‘Faithful Penelope?’

‘It was a very conceited assumption to make.’

But not an assumption made without encouragement, she realised.

‘Hearing you on the phone to Woods was devastating, but perhaps no more than I had asked for,’ he allowed tautly. ‘But you wanted to leave me and I was forced to take extraordinary measures to keep you. I did not seriously believe that there was any real danger of that certificate still being a threat—’

‘You didn’t?’ Leah prompted in astonishment, rising to her feet.

‘I just used it as a means of holding on to you and forcing you to give our marriage a chance. And I had no right to do that. Pride and resentment had stopped me from taking that same chance while Max was alive. But I could not face losing you.’

‘Nobody else to buy you socks,’ she said flippantly as she moved restively about the confines of the cluttered room.

‘Until recently I had enough socks to do me a lifetime.’

Then a long, pulsing silence. Nik cleared his throat. ‘When I said that I envied Ponia her strength in refusing to give Dion Kiriakos up—’

‘Dion is a Kiriakos?’

‘Eleni’s kid brother. Didn’t you realise that?’

Leah shook her head, belatedly understanding why the Kiriakos clan had been there in force that evening.

Nik cleared his throat again, sounding almost hesitant. ‘Ponia didn’t allow pride to come between her and her heart. I did.’

Sapphire eyes flew to his taut features and all of a sudden she knew what he was trying to say, what he was having such a very hard struggle to say, and what he probably would have avoided saying altogether if he could have got away with ‘Will you sleep with me tonight?’

‘You can write it down if it’s easier,’ she said unsteadily, happiness shrilling through her in an unstoppable wave. For once she was ahead of him.

‘When I came back from Paris and you weren’t there, it was like coming back to a desert,’ he breathed with a ragged edge to his voice. ‘I had gambled and I had lost. You were out of there like you were escaping a prison camp! I need you to come home.’

‘You’re selling it,’ she reminded him with a spark of cruelty she had not known she possessed until that moment.

‘It doesn’t matter that you don’t love me.’ He looked at her in blatant desperation, both hands clasped tight with the height of his tension.

‘The jury’s still out on that one.’

‘I love you very much,’ he muttered between clenched teeth.

‘And I love you too but I wasn’t coming back until you said it.’

‘At times like this maybe I should pine for the quiet, tractable woman you used to be!’ He hauled her into his arms as he said it so she didn’t take him seriously. It was heaven to be back there in his arms and for a long time there was silence and they just stood there locked together feverishly like the magnets Ponia had once accused them of being.

‘I have missed you every hour of every day,’ Nik swore, taking her mouth in a passionate assault that sent her every sense winging skywards, intense relief shuddering through his lean, hard body as he held her close. ‘I thought I had lost you.’

A very long time later, when they had both surfaced from the physical expression of a mutually unhealthy obsession, Leah whispered softly, ‘How did you feel when I dumped your socks?’

‘If you hadn’t been angry with me you wouldn’t have taken the time to do it. That gave me hope,’ he confided with a slumbrous smile.

‘You were lucky I didn’t slash your suits to bits!’

‘That would have given me even more hope, but I do think I ought to mention that I have no desire to learn how to cook,’ he murmured mockingly.

Leah ran a possessive hand over his hair-roughened chest. ‘You have one or two other talents.’

Dark eyes scanned her suggestive smile. ‘You think so?’

‘Nik, I know so. Why waste time in the kitchen when you’re so good in the boardroom?’ she asked deadpan.

‘You little witch,’ he groaned, and kissed her again.

‘I want to see that house you’ve bought,’ she told him.

‘I bought it for you.’

‘Did you?’

He kissed her a third time and succeeded in distracting her.

It was late in the day before she got to tour that house where their new life together would begin, shorn of the past, shorn of everything but the simple fact that they loved each other.