‘Take me home!’ she cried once, without lifting her sore head.
‘Stay out of this...what’s it got to do with you?’ Angelos shot back at her with positive savagery. ‘No woman owns me...no woman ever has and no woman ever will!’
But Angelos was fighting a losing battle. Natalie appeared to have other ideas. Denied an appropriately humble response, her voice developed a sulky, shrill edge. Angelos became freezingly unresponsive. Strained silence finally fell. A little while later, the limousine came to a halt. The passenger door opened. Natalie swept out with her rustling skirts, saying something acid in her own language. The door slammed again.
‘I suppose you thoroughly enjoyed all that,’ Angelos breathed in a tone of icy restraint as the limousine moved off again.
Opening her aching eyes a crack, Maxie skimmed a dulled glance at the space Natalie had occupied and recently vacated. She closed her eyes again. ‘I don’t understand French...’
Angelos grated something raw half under his breath and got on the phone. He had been ditched twice in as many days. And, wretched as she was, Maxie was tickled pink by that idea. Angelos, who got chased up hill and down dale by ninety-nine out of a hundred foolish women, had in the space of forty-eight hours met two members of the outstanding and more intelligent one per cent minority. And it was good for him—really, really good for him, she decided. Then she dozed, only to groggily resurface every time she coughed. Within a very short time after that, however, she didn’t know where she was any more and felt too ill to care.
‘Feeling a bit better, Miss Kendall?’
Maxie peered up at the thin female face above hers. The face was familiar, and yet unfamiliar too. The woman wore a neat white overall and she was taking Maxie’s pulse. Seemingly she was a nurse.
‘What happened to me?’ Maxie mumbled, only vaguely recalling snatches of endless tossing and turning, the pain in her chest, the difficulty in breathing.
‘You developed pneumonia. It’s a rare but potentially serious complication,’ the blonde nurse explained. ‘You’ve been out of it for almost five days—’
‘Five...days?’ Maxie’s shaken scrutiny wandered over the incredibly spacious bedroom, with its stark contemporary furniture and coldly elegant decor. She was in Angelos’s apartment. She knew it in her bones. Nowhere was there a single piece of clutter or feminine warmth and homeliness. His idea of housing heaven, she reflected absently, would probably be the wide open spaces of an under-furnished aircraft hangar.
‘You’re very lucky Mr Petronides found you in time,’ her companion continued earnestly, dragging Maxie back from her abstracted thoughts. ‘By recognising the seriousness of your condition and ensuring that you got immediate medical attention, Mr Petronides probably saved your life—’
‘No...I don’t want to owe him anything...never mind my life!’ Maxie gasped in unconcealed horror.
The slim blonde studied her in disbelief. ‘You’ve been treated by one of the top consultants in the UK...Mr Petronides has provided you with the very best of round-the-clock private nursing care, and you say—?’
‘While Miss Kendall is ill, she can say whatever she likes,’ Angelos’s dark drawl slotted in grimly from the far side of the room. ‘You can take a break, Nurse. I’ll stay with your patient.’
The woman had jerked in dismay at Angelos’s silent entrance and intervention. Face pink, she moved away from the bed. ‘Yes, Mr Petronides.’
In a sudden burst of energy, Maxie yanked the sheet up over her head.
‘And the patient is remarkably lively all of a sudden,’ Angelos remarked as soon as the door closed on the nurse’s exit. ‘And ungrateful as hell. Now, why am I not surprised? ’
‘Go away,’ Maxie mumbled, suddenly intensely conscious of lank sweaty hair and spots which had probably multiplied.
‘I’m in my own apartment,’ Angelos told her drily. ‘And I am not going away. Do you seriously think that I haven’t been looking in on you to see how you were progressing over the past few days?’
‘I don’t care...I’m properly conscious now. If I was so ill, why didn’t you just take me to hospital?’ Maxie demanded from beneath the sheet.
‘The top consultant is a personal friend. Since you responded well to antibiotics, he saw no good reason to move you.’
‘Nobody consulted me,’ Maxie complained, and shifted to scratch an itchy place on her hip.
Without warning, the sheet was wrenched back.
‘No scratching,’ Angelos gritted down at her with raking impatience. ‘You’ll have scars all over you if you do that. If I catch you at that again, I might well be tempted to tie your hands to the bed!’