Married to a Mistress(6)

By: Lynne Graham

‘I signed what I signed and it did get Dad off the hook,’ Maxie reminded her.

‘Some thanks you got for your sacrifice.’

‘Dad’s never asked me for money since—’

‘ haven’t seen him for three years,’ Liz pointed out grimly.

Maxie tensed. ‘Because he’s ashamed, Liz. He feels guilty around me now.’

Liz frowned as her guide dog, Bounce, a glossy black Labrador, sprang up and nudged his head against her knee. ‘I wonder who that is coming to the door. I’m not expecting anyone...and nobody outside the mail redirection service and that modelling agency of yours is supposed to know you’re here!’

By the time the doorbell actually went, Liz was already in the hall moving to answer it. A couple of minutes later she reappeared in the doorway. ‘You have a visitor... foreign, male, very tall, very attractive voice. He also says he’s a very good friend of yours—’

‘Of mine?’ Maxie queried with a perplexed frown.

Liz shook her head. ‘He has to be a good friend to have worked out where you’re hiding out. And Bounce gave him the all-over suspicious sniff routine and passed him with honours so I put him in the lounge. Look, I’ll be in the studio, Maxie. I need to finish off that order before I leave tomorrow.’

Maxie wondered who on earth had managed to find her. The press? Oh, dear heaven, had Liz trustingly invited some sneaky journalist in? Taut with tension, she hurried down the hall into the lounge.

One step into that small cosy room, she stopped dead as if she had run into a brick wall without warning. Smash, crash, her mind screamed as she took a sudden instinctive backward step, shock engulfing her in rolling waves of disorientation.

‘ are you?’ Angelos Petronides purred as he calmly extended a lean brown hand in conventional greeting.

Maxie gaped as if a boa constrictor had risen in front of her, her heart thumping at manic speed and banging in her eardrums. A very good friend. Had Liz misheard him?

‘Mr Petronides—?’

‘Angelos, please,’ he countered with a very slight smile.

Maxie blinked. She had never seen him smile before. She had been in this arrogant male’s company half a dozen times over the past three years and this was the very first time he had deigned to verbally acknowledge that she lived and breathed. In her presence he had talked around her as if she wasn’t there, switching to Greek if she made any attempt to enter the conversation, and on three separate occasions, evidently responding to his request, Leland had sent her home early in a taxi.

With rock-solid assurance, Angelos let his hand drop again. Amusement at her stupefied state flashed openly in his brilliant black eyes.

Maxie stiffened. ‘I’m afraid I can’t imagine what could bring you here...or indeed how you found me—’

‘Were you ever lost?’ Angelos enquired with husky innuendo while he ran heavily lidded heated dark eyes over her lithe, slender frame with extraordinarily insulting thoroughness. ‘I suspect that you know very well why I am here.’

Her fair skin burning, Maxie’s sapphire blue eyes shuttered. ‘I haven’t the slightest idea—’

‘You are now a free woman.’

This is not happening to me, a little voice screeched in the back of Maxie’s mind. She folded her arms, saw those terrifyingly shrewd eyes read her defensive body language and lowered her arms again, fighting not to coil her straining fingers into fists.

One unguarded moment almost six months ago... Was that all it had taken to encourage him? He had caught her watching him and instantaneously, as if that momentary abstraction of hers had been a blatant invitation, he had reacted with a lightning flash look of primitive male sexual hunger. A split second later he had turned away again, but that shatteringly unexpected response of his had shaken Maxie inside out.

She had told herself she had imagined it. She had almost cherished this arrogant Greek tycoon’s indifference to her as a woman. OK, so possibly, once or twice, his ability to behave as if she was invisible had irritated and humiliated her, but then she had seen some excuse for his behaviour. Unlike Leland, Angelos Petronides would never be guilty of a need to show off a woman like a prize poodle at what was supposed to be a business meeting.

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