Somehow as he’d moved he’d also found time to push back the protective hard hat he was wearing, so that now she could see the thick darkness of his hair. She was five foot six. He was much taller—well over six foot—and of course far more powerful that her. Lizzie could see that the effort of holding her had hardly raised the biceps in his powerful arms, but that didn’t stop her from trying break free of him.
He stopped her with contemptuous ease, pulling her closer to him. He smelled of earth, and hard work, and of being a man. From somewhere deep down, in the place where she kept her most special memories, she had a sudden mental image of being held in her father’s arms in the garden at her parents’ lovely house in Cheshire, laughing in delight as she looked down from that height to where her mother was kneeling beside her two younger sisters. Those had been such wonderful years—years when she had felt safe and secure and loved.
But this man was not her father. With this man there would be no safety, no security, and certainly no love.
Love? She was so close to the dirt-streaked tee shirt that she could see the dark shadow of his body hair through it. She could almost feel the force of his hostility towards her. And she felt equally hostile to him. That was why her heart was banging into her chest wall and why her senses were recoiling from the intense awareness of him that his proximity was forcing on her.
What kind of awareness? Awareness of him as a man? Awareness of his maleness? Awareness of his sexuality? Awareness that within her something long denied, something starved of the right to express itself, was pushing against the barriers she had erected against it. Because of this man?
No, of course not. That was impossible. Her heart was thudding even more frantically, pumping adrenalin-fuelled denial through her veins. Why was she reacting to him like this? She had no interest in his sexuality. She must not have any interest in his sexuality. She must not want to stay here in his arms.
The panic caused by her own feelings had Lizzie demanding fiercely, ‘Let go of me.’
Ilios wasn’t used to women demanding to be set free when he was holding them—quite the opposite. Normally women—especially women like he knew this one to be: selfish, shallow, self-seeking women who cared nothing for others—were all too keen to inveigle themselves into situations of intimacy with him. Which was, of course, why he felt so reluctant to release her.
When she pulled back against him the movement of her body released the scent she was wearing, delicate and light. Deep down inside him something visceral and unfamiliar jerked into hot molten life. Desire? For a woman like this? Impossible. He released her abruptly, stepping back from her.
‘Who are you?’ Lizzie asked unsteadily, struggling for balance both physically and emotionally.
‘Ilios Manos,’ Ilios told her curtly.
This man was Ilios Manos? The man who had sent her that letter? Lizzie’s heart thumped into her ribs, its sledgehammer blow fired by shock.
‘Ilios Manos, the owner of this land on which you have no right to be, Miss Wareham,’ Ilios told her grimly.
‘How do you know who I am?’ The question had been spoken before Lizzie could stop herself.
‘Your name is on your suitcase strap,’ Ilios pointed out curtly, gesturing towards the brightly coloured strap wrapped around the handle of the small trolley case she had abandoned in the shock of discovering that the apartment block had gone.
‘What’s happened to the apartments?’
‘I gave orders for them to be knocked down.’
‘What? Why? You had no right.’ Her shocked disbelief deepened her anger, and also in some illogical way her awareness of him—as though she had developed some unwanted new sense designed exclusively to register everything about him and make her intensely receptive to that information. From the way the narrowing of his eyes fanned out fine lines around his eyes to the shape of his mouth as he spoke and her extreme awareness of the powerful maleness of his body.