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The Unfaithful Wife(6)

By:Lynne Graham

Barefoot she didn’t even reach his shoulder and before he lowered her back down again her cheek brushed against his silk shirt-front as his jacket parted. Her breath caught in her throat, her nostrils flaring at the male scent of him, clean, citrusy...hot. For a timeless moment her senses spun wildly, her lashes dipping as she was flooded by dizzy discomfiture.

‘Look at me...’ His accented voice could sound like sandpaper on silk.

‘Please let me go,’ she mumbled in a rush as she relocated her tongue.

She might as well not have spoken. Long fingers tilted up her chin and lingered there as she was involuntarily ensnared by his blazing black eyes. And she knew as clearly as though he had spoken that the seething tension of the afternoon’s events and his subsequent furious dissatisfaction had all been temporarily tossed on a back burner. Far more basic urges were driving Nik now, a desire to vent all that pent-up tension in a fashion which she suddenly sensed would come as naturally to him as breathing.

Her skin prickled with a depth of awareness she would not have believed possible. The vibrations in the atmosphere were explosive.

‘Nik...’ Her own voice emerged jerkily and she wanted to back off fast but her feet were somehow welded to the carpet.

‘It’s so long since I heard you speak my name...’ His intonation was deep-pitched, disturbingly rough, lush ebony lashes low on a sliver of smouldering jet.

‘No...’ she heard herself whisper.

His thumb smoothed along the voluptuous curve of her lower lip and she trembled, attempted to move, but his other hand was splayed across her taut spine, holding her steady.

He watched her intently as he prised her lips apart with his thumb, intruded into the soft, damp interior, making her shiver violently as his palm cupped her delicate jawbone. It was the most insidiously erotic gesture she had ever experienced, and set up a terrifying chain reaction through her treacherous body.

He was playing with her, tracking her every tiny response with a mixture of satisfaction and amusement. And she understood that, read that in the eyes made famous by the financial press for being ‘as unreadable as a blackout’.

But he wasn’t testing the water...no, indeed. Nik was neither humble nor uncertain. This was a male wholly acquainted with every seductive and sensual technique necessary to heighten his own pleasure and a male, similarly given over to taking that pleasure whenever the mood took him.

‘I want—’ And her tongue felt too large for her mouth.

‘More?’ With devastating abruptness but immense cool, Nik released her and angled a sizzling smile down at her. ‘Next time, drop the towel when I ask, pethi mou,’ he advised softly.

She would have found a blow less degrading than that insolent conclusion. As she heard the bedroom door snap quietly shut in his wake, Leah went limp, her pallor pronounced. She had challenged him, angered him. She was shattered. All these years, nothing, and then...

Why now? She remembered him saying that her father could not force him into her bed as he had forced him into marriage. Her stomach twisted painfully. Max was dead now. And she had been available...in so much as she was female. Seemingly it took little else to attract Nik when he was in the mood for a little light sexual relief.

And the peculiar way he had made her feel... But then that had been sheer shock and nervous paralysis, Leah told herself urgently. She had only been doing the sensible thing in not fighting, not arguing. Nik was Greek and macho to the backbone. Telling him just at that moment either that she wanted a divorce or that she could not bear him to lay a single finger upon her might have been received like a thrown gauntlet and it might well have encouraged him to attempt further intimacies.

No, that had definitely not been the right moment to mention Paul.

Leah climbed back into her clothes, conscious that her hands were clumsy and still not quite steady. But then that was hardly surprising. Her husband had finally chosen to notice that she was alive...well, if not quite alive at least physically capable of providing the kind of entertainment he expected from her sex. She was disgusted, absolutely disgusted by his brazen disregard for decency in even daring to approach her!

Not only did he have no right to touch her, he wasn’t even faithful to whomever he was currently sharing a bed with. And if she had been willing she had not the slightest doubt that Nik would have taken advantage of her willingness. He was made that way. A taker, not a giver.

He had had a hard fight building his father’s holdings up into the vast international power base that was the Andreakis heritage today. Nobody had given Nik any favours...so he gave none back. He went after his enemies like a warlord, slaughtered them and came back primitively victorious. He hid no light under a bushel, left no stone unturned in his fight for supremacy.

And it was all those traits which her father had gloried in and dished up to her in suitable euphemisms to persuade her that though Nik had made no mention of love he would make her a wonderful husband.

Her mouth curved downwards in grim amusement. What husband? She had never had a husband. But five years ago she hadn’t had the benefit of a crystal ball...

Doubtless memory failed her for her recollection of their first meeting was radically different from his. Before that day, Leah had neither seen nor heard of Nik Andreakis. She had just completed one term at finishing school, perfecting her technique with stupid flower arrangements... A course on men would have been far more useful, she reflected now.

Nik had appeared in the doorway of the conservatory, uninvited and unexpected. The maid had put him in the drawing-room to wait for her father and he must have seen her through the window because to get to the conservatory he had had to leave the drawing-room, cross the hall, go through another room and enter the conservatory by the French windows there. So how come he’d accused her of setting him up for a meeting?

She had looked up and seen him in the doorway and, yes, at one glance had fallen head over heels in love with him. Nik had struck her as the most utterly gorgeous creation she had ever seen walk on two feet. He had stood there like a golden Greek god and her knees had wobbled, helpless excitement quivering through her.

‘You are a breath of spring in this winter scene,’ he had drawled almost stiltedly, dark eyes literally riveted to her.

Yes, he had said it—probably read it somewhere and memorised it for effect, but those most un-Nik-like words had indeed emerged from him. Her pruning scissors had dropped from her nerveless fingers. He had picked them up and hovered. Yes, definitely hovered, as though one part of him was urging him to retreat and another urging him to stay.

It had never occurred to Leah that he had deliberately sought her out. She had assumed that he was interested in the plants and a conversation that years on should have filled her with hilarity but somehow failed to do so had taken place. Nik had not revealed either his ignorance or his uninterest. He had asked appropriate questions and contrived to conceal the fact that he had undoubtedly never touched or examined a plant in his life before.

He had even told her that her eyes matched the gentian violets, and that compliment had emerged almost as awkwardly as the first, giving Leah the impression that though he looked staggeringly sophisticated he was almost shy. Shy? Nik?

How much time had gone by in that conservatory? He hadn’t mentioned his appointment with her father, indeed had given all the appearance of having forgotten it until the flustered maid had come in search of Leah to tell her that her father wanted her and had been disconcerted to find Nik with her.

‘I’ll tell him you’re waiting,’ Leah had told him, and she had flown upstairs to her father’s library.

‘Who is he?’ she had asked straight off, after giving the kind of description that had probably sounded like something that leapt off the page of one of the torrid romances that she had then been so fond of.

‘Nik Andreakis...’ Max had surveyed her glowing face with cool, narrowed eyes.

‘He’s been here absolutely ages,’ she had burbled. ‘Don’t you think we should ask him to stay to dinner?’

‘He appears to have been quite a hit.’

‘Is he married?’

And Nik had duly been invited—her fault, entirely her fault. Her father had come down to make his apologies and then left them alone and Nik had spent all the time before dinner asking her about herself. He had had no need to wonder whether she was over the age of consent. She had told him exactly what age she was...and he had visibly winced...

The following day he had taken her out for a drive but Max had been very dubious about it and she’d suspected that Nik had been made embarrassingly aware of the fact that her father was extremely protective of her.

‘I think your father may have you dusted for fingerprints when you go home, so I won’t kiss you,’ he had said drily. ‘I don’t know what I’m doing here with you. You’re far too young for me.’

And she had been hurt, terribly hurt in the week that followed, when he’d neither phoned nor visited. Max had been coolly amused by her misery and had wryly told her not to wear her heart on her sleeve.

‘Andreakis can have just about any woman he wants,’ he had volunteered. ‘But I don’t want him around you unless he’s got marriage in mind.’