‘You are daring to call me a liar?’ Ilios grabbed hold of her, gripping her arms as he had done before. How had she dared to accuse him of lying? His desire to punish her, to force her to take back her accusation, to kiss her until the only sound to come from her lips was a soft moan of surrender, pounded through him, crashing through the barriers of civilized behaviour and forcing him to fight for his self-control.
She had said the wrong thing, Lizzie knew. Ilios Manos was not the man to accuse of lying. His pride lay across his features like a brand, informing every expression that crossed his face—and, Lizzie suspected, every thought that entered his head.
He was still holding her, and his touch burned her flesh like a small electrical shock. Her chest lifted with her protesting intake of air. Immediately his gaze dropped to her body with predatory swiftness—as though somehow he knew that when he had touched her, her flesh had responded to his touch in a way that had flung her headlong into a place she didn’t know, brought her face to face with a Lizzie she didn’t know. Her heart was thumping jerkily, her senses intensely aware of him, and her gaze was drawn to him as though he was a magnet, clinging to his torso, his throat, his mouth.
She swung dizzily and helplessly between disbelief and a craving to move closer to him. Beneath her clothes her breasts swelled and ached, in response to a mastery she was powerless to resist. How could this be happening to her? How could her body be reacting to Ilios Manos as though…as though it wanted him? It must be some weird form of shock, Lizzie decided shakily as he released her, almost thrusting her away from him.
‘I’m not calling you a liar,’ Lizzie denied, feeling obliged to backtrack, if only to remind herself of the reality of her situation. ‘I’m just saying that I think you’ve got some of your facts wrong. And besides—why aren’t you demanding recompense from your cousin, instead of threatening and bullying me?’ she demanded, quickly going on the attack.
Attack was, after all, the best form of defence, so they said, and she certainly needed to defend herself against what she had felt when he had held her. How could that have happened? She simply wasn’t like that. She couldn’t be. She had her family to think of. Being sexually aroused by a man she had only just met, a man who despised and disliked her, just wasn’t the kind of thing she had ever imagined being. Not ever, and certainly not now.
Determinedly she martialled her scattered thoughts and pointed out, ‘After all, I only owned twenty per cent of the apartment block. Your cousin, from what the Rainhills told me, owned the land, most of the apartments and was responsible for the building work. I never even met him, never mind discussed his business plan with him. I was given the apartments and made a partner in lieu of payment for the work I’d done. That’s all.’
Ilios knew that that was true, but right now it didn’t suit his mood to allow her any escape route—especially now that his cousin had increased his fury by continuing to plot against him. Ilios wanted repayment, he wanted retribution, he wanted vengeance—and he would have them. Ilios hated cheats, and he hated even more being forced to let them get away with cheating.
‘My cousin has no assets and is heavily in debt. The Rainhills, as I am sure you have discovered yourself, have disappeared. And, whilst you might only own twenty per cent of the apartment block’s value, the partnership agreement you signed contains what is called a joint and several guarantee—which means that each partner is both jointly and severally liable for the debts of the whole partnership. That means that I can claim from you recompense for the entire amount owing.’