Oh, God, no wonder she’d abandoned years of caution.
A dangerous weakness spread through her limbs and she desperately tried to summon up the anger that she’d felt for the last four months.
Lies, she reminded herself. Lies, lies and more lies.
All right, so technically he wasn’t married. But there was still the fact that he hadn’t told her the truth about himself, not to mention his reputation for never becoming involved with women.
‘Get out of my bed, Nikos.’ She spoke through gritted teeth and he gave a slow, confident smile.
‘Why? Don’t you trust yourself to be this close to me? I thought we were over. I thought you didn’t feel anything for me any more, agape mou.’
‘I was wrong about that.’ Ella tugged at the sheet, covering herself. ‘I do feel something. I feel like thumping you. Hard.’
‘You already did that.’ His eyes opened. ‘If you’re planning to do it again, don’t use your left hand. You might do me serious injury.’
Puzzled, not understanding his comment, she glanced down at her left hand and stopped breathing. A ring sparkled and gleamed in the early morning sunlight—a beautiful diamond, so large that Ella just stared at it in disbelief.
‘What,’ she muttered faintly, ‘is that?’
No wonder her hand had felt strange. She was carrying the equivalent of half her body weight on her ring finger.
‘It’s a ring.’ He raised himself on his elbows, the muscles in his powerful shoulders flexing as he supported his weight. ‘My ring. You will wear it.’
‘Why would I want to do that? You may not be married, Nikos, but I’m still not interested.’
‘You’re having my baby. You’ll wear the ring.’ Nikos leaned back against the pillows, sickeningly handsome and incredibly sure of himself. ‘It will keep other men at a distance while I make the necessary arrangements for our wedding.’ He spoke in such a cool, factual tone that she mentally reran his words through her head a second time, sure that she must have misunderstood him.
Wedding? ‘Did you say wedding? You have to be kidding. You’re asking me to marry you?’
‘Why else would I have put a rare diamond on your finger?’
‘I’ve no idea. To be flashy, I suppose. Because your billionaire secret is out of the bag? And because it’s easier to buy a gift than have a conversation?’ Genuinely shocked, Ella scooted away from him, her mouth so dry she could hardly speak. ‘Nikos, how can you possibly propose to me after everything that has happened?’
He was proposing to her?
How many times had she lain there at night, imagining this exact scenario?
How many times during their blissful six months had she dreamt about him asking her to marry him?
More times than she could count.
And then that dream had been blown away by the discovery that he had a wife. Only, she knew now that he didn’t.
She could just say yes, she thought weakly, and for a moment temptation was there, dangled in front of her in the form of this undeniably gorgeous man whom she adored. She could ignore everything that had happened, say yes and her dream would become reality.
Except that it wouldn’t, would it?
Her dream had never been about wearing a rock on her finger or choosing a frothy wedding dress. Her dream hadn’t been about bridesmaids, honeymoons or even exchanging vows.
Her dream had been about pledging to share her life with someone she loved and trusted, who loved and trusted her in return.
Where was the love and trust in their relationship?
How could she say yes to a man who had lied to her? Who kept so much of himself locked away?
‘No.’ The word emerged as a cracked whisper, as if her body knew that she didn’t really want to say that word.
His eyes narrowed with incomprehension. ‘No, what?’
‘No, I can’t marry you. There is no way I’d ever marry you, Nikos. I can’t honestly believe that you’d think I would.’
He stilled, his shock at her refusal as great as hers had been at his unexpected proposal. ‘You are having my child.’
And that was why he was here, of course. That was why she was currently wearing an enormous diamond on her finger.
‘You left me, Nikos.’ Saying the words was a painful reality check. ‘You didn’t want to be with me.’