Married to a Mistress(7)

By: Lynne Graham

‘And now that you are free, I want you in my life,’ Angelos informed her with the supreme confident cool of a male who had never been refused anything he wanted by a woman. Not a male primed for rejection, not a male who had even contemplated that as a remote possibility. His attitude spoke volumes for his opinion of her morals.

And at that mortifying awareness Maxie trembled, her usual deadpan, wonderful and absolute control beginning to fray round the edges. ‘You really believe that you can just walk in here and tell me—?’

‘Yes,’ Angelos cut in with measured impatience. ‘Don’t be coy. You have no need to play such games with me. I have not been unaware of your interest in me.’

Her very knees wobbled with rage, a rage such as Maxie had never known before. He had the subtlety of a sledgehammer, the blazing self-image of a sun god. The very first time she had seen Angelos Petronides she had had a struggle to stop staring. Lethally attractive men were few and far between; fiercely intelligent and lethally attractive men were even fewer. And the natural brute power Angelos radiated like an aura of intimidation executed its own fatal fascination.

He had filled her with intense curiosity but that was all. Maxie had never learnt what it was like to actually want a man. She didn’t like most men; she didn’t trust them. What man had ever seen her as an individual with emotions and thoughts that might be worth a moment’s attention? What man had ever seen her as anything more than a glamorous one-dimensional trophy to hang on his arm and boast about?

As a teenager, Maxie had always been disillusioned, angered or frankly repelled long before she could reach the stage of reciprocating male interest. And now Angelos Petronides had just proved himself the same as the rest of the common herd. What she couldn’t understand was why she should be feeling a fierce, embittered stab of stark disappointment.

‘You’re trembling...why don’t you sit down?’ Angelos switched into full domineering mode with the polished ease of a duck taking to water and drew up an armchair for her occupancy. When she failed to move, the black eyes beneath those utterly enviable long inky lashes rested on her in irritated reproof. ‘You have shadows under your eyes. You have lost weight. You should be taking better care of yourself.’

She would not lose her temper; she would tie herself in knots before she exposed her outrage and he recognised her humiliation. How dared dared he land on Liz’s doorstep and announce his lustful intentions and behave as if he was awaiting a round of applause? If she spread herself across the carpet at his feet in gratitude, he would no doubt happily take it in his stride.

‘Your interest in my wellbeing is unwelcome and unnecessary, Mr Petronides,’ Maxie countered not quite levelly, and she sat down because she was honestly afraid that if she didn’t she might give way to temptation and slap him across that insolent mouth so hard she would bruise her fingers.

He sank down opposite her, which was an instant relief because even when she was standing he towered over her. That was an unusual sensation for a woman as tall as Maxie, and one that with him in the starring role she found irrationally belittling.

For such a big, powerfully built man, however, he moved with the lightness and ease of an athlete. He was as dark as she was fair...quite staggeringly good-looking. Spectacular cheekbones, a strong, thin-bladed nose, the wide mouth of a sensualist. But it was those extraordinary eyes which held and compelled and lent such blazing definition to his fantastic bone structure. And there was not a soupçon of softness or real emotion in that hard, assessing gaze.

‘Leland’s wife was planning to take you to court over that loan,’ Angelos Petronides delivered smoothly into the thumping silence.

Maxie’s spine jerked rigid, eyes flying wide in shock as she gasped, ‘How did you find out about the loan?’

Angelos angled a broad, muscular shoulder in a light, dismissive shrug, as if they were enjoying a light and casual conversation. ‘It’s not important. Jennifer will not take you to court. I have settled the loan on your behalf.’

Slowly, her muscles strangely unwilling to do her bidding, Maxie leant forward. ‘Say that again,’ she invited shakily, because she couldn’t believe he had said what he had just said.

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