‘Do you suffer from a split personality?’
‘Did you really think you knew me just because you were in the same room with me a handful of times?’ Maxie flung her head back and was dumbstruck by the manner in which his narrowed gaze instantly clung to her cascading mane of hair, and then roved on down the rest of her with unconcealed appreciation. It struck her that Angelos Petronides was so convinced that he was an innately superior being and so oversexed that he couldn’t take a woman seriously for five minutes.
Brilliant black eyes swooped up to meet hers again. ‘No way did you ever behave like this around Leland—’
‘My relationship with him is none of your business,’ Maxie asserted with spirit. ‘But, believe me, nobody has ever insulted me as much as you did yesterday.’
‘I find that very hard to believe.’
Involuntarily, Maxie flinched.
Immensely tall and powerful in his superbly tailored silver-grey suit, Angelos watched her, not an informative glimmer of any emotion showing now on that lean, strong, hard-boned face. ‘Since when has it been an insult for a man to admit that he wants a woman?’ he demanded with derision.
‘You frightened the life out of me telling me you’d paid off that loan...you put me under pressure, then you tried to move in for the kill like the cold, calculating womaniser you are!’ Maxie bit out not quite levelly, and, spinning on her heel, she started towards the door.
‘All exits are locked. You’re trapped for the moment,’ Angelos delivered softly.
Maxie didn’t believe him until she had tried and failed to open the door. Then she hissed furiously, ‘Open this door!’
‘Why should I?’ Angelos enquired, choosing that exact same moment to lounge indolently back against the edge of his desk, so cool, calm and confident that Maxie wanted to rip him to pieces. ‘Presumably you came here to entertain me...and, although I have no tolerance for tantrums, you do look magnificent in that dress, and naturally I would like to know why I’m receiving this melodramatic response to my proposition.’
In one flying motion, Maxie spun back. ‘So you admit that that’s what it was?’
‘I want you. It’s only a matter of time until I get what I want,’ Angelos imparted very quietly in the deadly stillness.
Maxie shivered. ‘When the soft soap doesn’t work, weigh in with the threats—’
‘That wasn’t a threat. I don’t threaten women,’ Angelos growled with a feral flash of white teeth. ‘No woman has ever come to my bed under threat!’
Nobody could feign that much outrage. He was an Alpha male and not one modestly given to underestimating his own attractions. But then, he had it all, she conceded bitterly. Incredible looks and sex appeal, more money than he could spend in a lifetime and a level of intelligence that scorched and challenged.
Maxie shot him a look of violent loathing. ‘You think you’re so special, don’t you? You thought I’d be flattered, ready to snatch at whatever you felt like offering...but you’re no different from any of the other men who have lusted after me,’ she countered with harsh clarity. ‘And I’ve had plenty of practice dealing with your sort. I’ve looked like this since I was fourteen—’
‘I’m grateful you grew up before our paths crossed,’ Angelos breathed with deflating amusement.
At that outrageous comment, something inside Maxie just cracked wide open, and she rounded on him like a tigress. ‘I shouldn’t have had to cope with harassment at that age. Do you think I don’t know that I’m no more real to a guy like you than a blow-up sex doll?’ she condemned with raw, stinging contempt. ‘Well, I’ve got news for you, Mr Petronides...I am not available to be any man’s live toy. You want a toy, you go to a store and buy yourself a railway set!’
‘I thought you’d respect the upfront approach,’ Angelos confided thoughtfully. ‘But then I could never have guessed that behind the front you put on in public you suffer from such low self-esteem...’
Utterly thrown by that response, and with a horrendous suspicion that this confrontation was going badly wrong shrilling through her, Maxie suddenly felt foolish.
‘Don’t be ridiculous...of course I don’t,’ she argued with ragged stress. ‘But, whatever mistakes I’ve made, I have no intention of repeating them. Now, I’ve told you how I feel, so open that blasted door and let me out of here!’
Angelos surveyed her with burning intensity, dense lashes low on penetrating black eyes. ‘If only it were that easy...’
But this time when Maxie’s perspiring fingers closed round the handle the door sprang open, and she didn’t stalk like a prowling queen of the jungle on her exit, she simply fled, every nerve in her too hot body jangling with aftershock.