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The Unfaithful Wife(9)

By:Lynne Graham

‘And shall I tell you why? A Greek would divorce an unfaithful wife. So you went as far as you dared and no further. The only reckless thing you ever did in your life was marry me. Cristo.’ Nik expelled his breathe in a hiss. ‘What a fool I was to think for one second that you might risk losing your status as my wife!’

‘But that’s exactly what I want to lose!’ Leah shot back at him in untrammelled rage and frustration. ‘I don’t want you... I want my freedom!’

‘Like hell you do,’ Nik responded crushingly. ‘You’d sink like a stone in the real world. You couldn’t cut it out there. You’d be as helpless as a newborn baby without your credit cards!’

‘How dare you?’ Leah spat, white as snow.

A winged ebony brow elevated. ‘I was just telling it like it is. You are exactly what Max created: a beautiful, fragile ornament, the perfect wife for a very rich man, born to be waited on hand and foot...’

‘You swine,’ she gasped, pain tearing through her in a blinding wave.

‘That’s not to say that you’re not very good in your own rarefied milieu,’ he drawled in wry addition. ‘You’re a marvellous hostess. And you’re a real lady. But if you really want your freedom—’

‘I do!’ Leah practically sobbed at him.

‘Ask yourself why you’re still buying my socks.’ Unleashing a sardonic smile on her, Nik turned and strode out of the room.

What did his bloody socks have to do with anything? That was just a trivial task she had taken on early in their marriage and kept on doing without even thinking about it! Leah dived out of bed, snatching up the towelling robe and digging her arms frantically into it. She had to make him listen. She had to make him understand.

He was in the master bedroom. Leah halted on the threshold, discomfited to find him halfway out of his shirt.

‘What now?’ he grated with driven impatience.

‘I want you to listen to me.’ Twitching the neck of the robe higher with restive fingertips, she made herself meet his unreadable gaze. ‘I love Paul. I want a divorce.’

Nik strolled across the depth of the carpet towards her. ‘You’re my wife,’ he delivered in a soft tone of revelation. ‘And why are you my wife? Because you so badly wanted to be my wife.’

A hectic flush ran up her slender throat and her teeth clenched. ‘Did you hear what I said? I love him!’

‘You’re buying his socks too?’ Nik enquired without pause, savage amusement in his narrowed scrutiny.

Without her even thinking about it, her hand flashed up and she slapped him hard, so hard that she couldn’t feel her fingers for several taut seconds afterwards. Then she was shocked by what she had done, the unfamiliar violence which had simply surged up out of nowhere and spilt over. Fearfully, she flinched back from him as he reached out for her, all amusement banished from his hard, dark eyes.


‘Even when I think a bloody good slap might do you good I can restrain myself. You’re too small, too breakable. If I’d been the wife-beating type, don’t you think you would have known it by now?’

Nik tugged her resistant body closer with easy strength, another kind of threat entirely explicit in the slow-burn effect of his dark gaze wandering over her, lingering on the steadily widening V of pale skin revealed by the far too large robe as it slid down off one narrow-boned shoulder.

‘And I have to confess that my idea of entertainment is rather more intimate than violence and infinitely more satisfying.’

‘Don’t you dare touch me!’ Leah screeched so loudly that her voice cracked and her throat hurt.

‘A long, hot night in my bed is exactly what you need.’ A lean hand settled on her bare shoulder.

‘Don’t be disgusting!’ Leah’s facial muscles locked with revulsion.

‘And don’t dismiss out of hand what you have never experienced.’ Nik laughed softly as he lowered his darkly handsome head and dragged her relentlessly up against him, one hand curving to the swell of her hips.

‘Stop it—’

‘I feel so threatened,’ he mocked indolently, brushing a silvery strand of hair back from one delicate cheekbone in an almost tender gesture that struck her as so out of character that she found herself briefly losing track of her struggle for freedom.


His mouth came down on hers with mesmerising expertise and prised her soft lips apart. She stopped breathing. He gathered her closer, sealing her to every abrasively male angle of his taut body. Her back arched without her volition, increasing that contact. His tongue drove into the moist, tender interior she had yielded and explored. A river of fire flowed through her and she quivered, leaning against him, winding her arms sinuously round his neck. Darkness beckoned behind her lowered eyelids, the heat in the pit of her stomach twisting like a hot wire through her trembling length.

Nik freed her swollen mouth and studied her with complete impassivity. ‘What was his name?’ he derided.

‘His...oh, God!’ On unsteady legs, Leah went into retreat, her fingers flying up in stark distress and turmoil to her reddened lips.

‘”Frailty, thy name is woman!”’ Nik quoted with savage amusement. ‘But you’ve got your priorities wrong. I’m the husband.’

Leah struggled to think of something—anything to say in self-defence. Nothing occurred to her. As she hovered, prey to a number of conflicting violent emotions, Nik shed his shirt, displaying powerful muscles that rippled like flexing cords beneath his golden skin. She didn’t want to stare but she stared all the same.

Nik moved past her, opened the door and thrust her unceremoniously out into the corridor, murmuring, ‘We’ll talk over breakfast.’

The door thudded shut in her confused face. Was she going out of her mind? Had the past twenty-four tension-filled hours been a nightmare? She got back into bed, curled up in the foetal position and hugged herself. Nik was a stranger. She didn’t know him like this...and just for a little while she hadn’t known herself either.

He had been so bitter, so enraged at the bank. He had devastated her. But since then his every switch of mood had caught her by surprise. It was as if there were a script running somewhere and she was the only one who hadn’t read it yet.

He had seethed with rage when he’d realised that she had been seeing another man. He had scared her half out of her wits. But as long as the affair had been arrested outside the bedroom door he was able to shrug it off with the truly astonishing belief that she had only been trying to make him sit up and take notice of her. And all of a sudden he was being sarcastic rather than furious, assuring her that she couldn’t survive except as his wife and revealing with every following word and action the most staggering revelation of all...

Nik didn’t seem to want a divorce. And Leah found that totally and absolutely unbelievable in the circumstances. Why would he want to hang on to a wife he had been blackmailed into marrying? Why would he want to hang on to an empty charade?

It didn’t make sense; it didn’t make any sense at all. Her every expectation had been torn from her and she felt like somebody trying to walk a tightrope in the dark. Nik was volatile, unpredictable...OK. But this was something else again and she couldn’t sleep for wondering what was motivating him and why all of a sudden he was making sexual advances to a wife he had blithely ignored for five years.

Even worse was trying to figure out why she hadn’t fought him off, why she had just stood there and allowed him to kiss her...and felt so hot and wanton that she could have died with shame afterwards. Nik was very experienced. Maybe any male, possessed of that brand of carnal expertise, could tempt a woman as inexperienced as she was. Maybe it was all a matter of pressing the right physical buttons. Even so, he had still dragged a response from her far more powerful than Paul had ever managed.

Don’t, she screamed inside her head, guilty and thoroughly ashamed of herself. How could there be any comparison? Sex was the least important thing in a relationship, to her way of thinking. She loved Paul; she did love Paul. Nik had shaken that belief not at all.

But she was badly shaken by the unwelcome discovery that she could still be vulnerable after all this time to Nik’s undeniable sexual charisma. She had thought she had grown out of that. She had thought she was safe, cured, indifferent. And he had taught her otherwise...and laughed. Dear God, laughed. She relived the moment, racked by the torment of her shattered pride.

A case was sitting just inside the door when she woke up, feeling like a corpse. Nik had had fresh clothing flown in. Oh, so thoughtful of him. Leah donned the dark blue Versace suit, spent longer than usual striving to repair the ravages of a virtually sleepless night and only emerged from the bedroom when she felt she had achieved the miracle.

Nik was lounging back in his chair behind the Financial Times. He lowered it, cast it aside and lifted his coffee. ‘You should go back to bed. You look like a vampire victim waiting on the third bite.’

‘Very funny,’ Leah gritted, a flush driving away the pallor which had made the blusher on her cheeks stand out.

An ebony brow quirked. ‘I think you’re incredibly lucky still to be all in one unbruised, attached piece after what I found out last night. I think I have been remarkably tolerant and understanding—but don’t push it.’