Shocked by the slow, dangerous curl of awareness in her stomach, Ella breathed deeply. ‘I’m not yours.’
‘You’re carrying my child.’
‘And that means that no other man can speak to me?’
‘He can look,’ Nikos drawled softly, ‘but he can’t touch.’
Ella shook her head in disbelief. ‘As I said—primitive. You’re a doctor. You’re supposed to heal the sick.’
‘I would have healed him—’ his smile was dangerous ‘—after I’d beaten him up for being too familiar with you.’
The knowledge that he wasn’t married changed everything, even though she didn’t want it to. ‘You’re behaving like a caveman.’
‘He is interested in you. It’s only fair to let him know that he doesn’t stand a chance in hell. I saved him from disappointment.’
‘How do you know he doesn’t stand a chance?’ Ella felt her heart race in a rhythm all of its own. ‘It’s my decision who I see. I’m not your property, Nikos. Our relationship is over.’ He’d lied to her, she reminded herself desperately. And he was clearly incapable of emotional commitment.
Maybe he wasn’t married, but as a partner he was bad news.
His dark eyes locked on hers. Those clever, all-seeing doctor’s eyes. ‘You’re carrying my child.’
The sexual chemistry between them was so powerful that she couldn’t breathe. ‘That’s a separate issue.’
‘Not to a Greek male.’
‘It’s a little late to be possessive, Nikos.’ She shook her head. ‘What are you doing here, anyway? Why did you come here tonight?’
‘To say the things I should have said this afternoon and didn’t. I’ll get you another drink. Then we can talk.’
He gave a faint smile. ‘I hoped it might force us both to be calm and rational.’
Aware of the curious stares of the rest of the group, Ella fixed a smile on her face. She watched as he strolled over and greeted everyone, his comments delivered with a light, masterly touch that guaranteed his immediate acceptance into this group of strangers.
There was warmth and a large dollop of deference in the attitude of the rest of the team and Ella gritted her teeth because his charisma and unmistakable leadership qualities had had a similar effect on her at one time. Progress and equality had apparently done nothing to diminish the attractions of a powerful man, she thought wryly, and Nikos Mariakos wore responsibility as comfortably as he wore the sleek designer suit that skimmed his broad shoulders.
He addressed a few words to the group, made them laugh with an astute observation and then secured his place as one of them by inviting them to order at his expense.
It was a mark of respect and an acknowledgement of his reputation and seniority that someone offered him a chair, but he declined, spoke to someone behind the bar and then settled his lean hips against the harbour wall, next to Ella.
Her hand was on the wall and he placed his over it, long strong fingers covering hers in a gesture that said ‘mine’ as clearly as if he’d sprayed the word in red on the bricks.
A few months ago Ella would have found such a macho display amusing. She also would have found it hopelessly flattering, although she would never in a million years have admitted it to anyone. Now, when she turned her head, her eyes were mocking. ‘Unreconstructed Greek,’ she murmured, and he gave a wry smile, his fingers locking with hers.
‘Perhaps. In some things at least. Have you eaten?’
‘You put me off my food.’
His laugh was soft. ‘Your heart may be broken, but I see your spirit is intact.’ He glanced briefly towards the others but they’d already lost interest and were now involved in a heated debate about the use of the air ambulance.
Ella was painfully aware of the press of his hard thigh against hers, the gentle caress of his fingers on hers. For her own protection, she wanted to snatch her hand away but she didn’t want to draw the attention of the group.
‘This is a low trick because I can’t slap you in public. What is it that you want, Nikos?’
‘You.’ His gaze was focused on her mouth. ‘I want you, agape mou. Back in my bed, where you belong.’
His words robbed her of breath. ‘Why?’ It was hard to keep it light. ‘None of your relationships have lasted more than six months. I’m already past my sell-by date.’