‘We don’t have a relationship!’ Maxie bawled at him. ‘And I wouldn’t admit to having been here in your apartment if the paparazzi put thumbscrews on me!’
Angelos absorbed that last promise with unhidden satisfaction. And then, with a casual inclination of his dark, arrogant head, he was gone, and she slumped, weak and shaken as a mouse who had been unexpectedly released from certain death by a cat.
Maxie finished packing her cases. While she had been ill, Angelos had had all her clothes brought over from Liz’s. The discovery had infuriated her. A few necessities would have been sensible, but everything she possessed? Had he really thought she would be willing to stay on after she recovered?
For the first thirty-six hours after his departure she had fretted and fumed, struggling to push herself too far too fast in her eagerness to vacate his unwelcome hospitality.
The suave consultant had made a final visit to advise her to take things slowly, and the shift of nursing staff had departed, but Maxie had had to face that she was still in no fit state to look after herself. So she had been sensible. She had taken advantage of the opportunity to convalesce and recharge her batteries while she was waited on hand and foot by the Greek domestic staff...but now she was leaving before Angelos returned In any case, Liz was coming home at lunchtime.
Two of Angelos’s security men were hovering in the vast echoing entrance hall. Taut with anxiety, they watched her stagger towards them with her suitcases. Neither offered an ounce of assistance.
‘Mr Petronides is not expecting—’ the bigger, older one finally began stiffly.
‘If you know what’s good for you, you’ll stay out of this!’ Maxie thumped the lift button with a clenched fist of warning.
‘Mr Petronides doesn’t want you to leave, Miss Kendall. He’s going to be annoyed.’
Maxie opened dark blue eyes very, very wide. ‘So?’
‘We’ll be forced to follow you, Miss Kendall—’
‘Oh, I wouldn’t do that, boys,’ Maxie murmured gently. ‘I would hate to call in the police because I was being harassed by stalkers. It would be sure to get into the papers too, and I doubt that your boss would enjoy that kind of publicity!’
In the act of stepping forward as the lift doors folded back, both men froze into frustrated stillness. Maxie dragged her luggage into the lift.
‘A word of advice,’ the older one breathed heavily. ‘He makes a relentless enemy.’
Maxie tossed her head in a dismissive movement. Then the doors shut and she sagged. No wonder Angelos threw his weight around so continually. Everybody was terrified of him. Unlimited wealth and power had made him what he was. His ruthless reputation chilled, his lethal influence threatened. The world had taught him that he could have whatever he wanted. Only not her...never ever her, she swore vehemently. Her mind was her own. Her body was her own. She was inviolate. Angelos couldn’t touch her, she reminded herself bracingly.
The housesitter vacated Liz’s house after contacting her employer for instructions. Alone then, and tired out by the early start to the day, Maxie felt very low. Making herself a cup of coffee, she checked through the small pile of post in the lounge. One of the envelopes was addressed to her; it had been redirected.
The letter appeared to be from an estate agent. Initially mystified, Maxie struggled across the barrier of her dyslexia to make sense of the communication. The agent wrote that he had been unable to reach her father at his last known address but that she had been listed by Russ as a contact point. He required instructions concerning a rental property which was now vacant. Memories began to stir in Maxie’s mind.
Her father’s comfortably off parents had died when she was still a child. A black sheep within his own family even then, Russ had inherited only a tiny cottage on the outskirts of a Cambridgeshire village. He had been even less pleased to discover that the cottage came with an elderly sitting tenant, who had not the slightest intention of moving out to enable him to sell up.
Abandoning the letter without having got further than the third line, Maxie telephoned the agent. ‘I can’t tell you where my father is at present,’ she admitted ruefully. ‘I haven’t heard from him in some time.’
‘The old lady has moved in with relatives. If your father wants to attract another tenant, he’ll have to spend a lot on repairs and modernisation. However,’ the agent continued with greater enthusiasm, ‘I believe the property would sell very well as a site for building development.’
And of course that would be what Russ would want, Maxie reflected. He would sell and a few months down the road the proceeds would be gone again, wasted on the racecourse or the dog track. Her troubled face stiffening with resolve, Maxie slowly breathed in and found herself asking if it would be in order for her to come and pick up the keys.