No. He categorically refused to accept the thought that had somehow slipped into his head. If he wanted anything from her then it was merely sex. Nothing more.
Prove it, an inner voice challenged him. Go to her now and take her in your arms, hold her and caress her and prove that when you do those things all you feel is a clinical sexual response, without anything emotional to pollute its physical purity.
Ilios looked towards the door. This was ridiculous. He didn’t have anything to prove to anyone—least of all himself. But somehow he was on his feet and heading towards the master bedroom.
Lizzie was just getting into bed when the door opened and Ilios strode into the room.
‘I thought that tonight I’d have an early night myself,’ he told her, before disappearing into the dressing room.
Lying beneath the bedclothes, her stomach quivering with a mixture of uncertainty and excitement, Lizzie tried to breathe normally and relax, warning herself that Ilios probably hadn’t meant anything other than exactly what he had said.
There was no need for him to do this, Ilios assured himself, as he stood under the jets of the shower.
Was he afraid that he couldn’t prove what he had claimed? that inner voice goaded him.
No! Ilios denied. He stepped out of the shower and reached for a towel. If she hadn’t touched his face and looked at him the way she had earlier on this evening, when he’d been forced to put on that display of newly married bliss for Tino, then this wouldn’t be happening. He wouldn’t be aching the way he was for her now. No? If that was all that had made him ache for her, then what was his excuse for the fact that he had ached for her in the same way every night since that first time?
It was sex—that was all. Sex.
He flung down the towel. There was still time to stop this, still time to walk away and to use his will-power to silence the voice inside him.
There might still be time, but where was the desire? That, Ilios acknowledged as he opened the bedroom door, was all for Lizzie.
She was lying on Ilios’s side of the bed. How could she have forgotten?
‘I’m on your side of the bed,’ she told him as he came towards her. ‘I’ll move over.’
‘Why?’ Ilios asked her softly. ‘When we’re going to be sharing the same space?’
Lizzie felt her heart give a gigantic thump, and then her body filled with an anticipatory pleasure that poured through her like melted honey.
That was nothing compared with what she felt when Ilios got into the bed and drew her close to him. Like her, he was naked, and the feel of his skin against hers was a sensual caress almost beyond bearing.
This shouldn’t be happening. Not now, when she knew that she loved him. It had been different before, but now…Now she was deceiving him, taking from him something he would not want to give her. Ilios was touching her, stroking his fingertips down the sensitive flesh of her inner arm and making her shudder openly in responsive pleasure. Lizzie lifted her own hand to his shoulder, intending to tell him they must stop, but somehow the sensation of the warm, firm ball of male sinew and muscle beneath her touch overwhelmed her good intentions, seducing away her will-power to do anything other than give in to her own need.
Closing her eyes, Lizzie shaped the muscles of his back, her own nerve-endings recording the pleasure of each touch. Was male flesh really different from female flesh—thicker, sleeker, more warm, sensual satin than soft silk, somehow intrinsically male in its construction? Or was it merely her own response to knowing that the flesh she was touching belonged to Ilios that made her feel that?
As he kissed her and held her Ilios’s desire for her ran like ribbons of fire, until it filled his heart and his veins, spilling out into his touch so that it patterned his feelings for her on her flesh.