‘I don’t need a doctor...I’m OK,’ Angelos bit out in exasperation.

‘If you drop dead from a skull fracture or something,’ she said grimly, ‘I don’t want to feel responsible!’

‘I have cuts and bruises, nothing more. I have no need of a hospital. All I want to do is lie down for a while and then I’ll call for a car.’

He sounded more like himself. Domineering and organised. Maxie mulled over that unspoken demand for a place to lie down while she crept along the road in the direction of the cottage at the slowest speed a Ferrari had probably ever been driven at. Then the heavy rain was bouncing off the windscreen and visibility was poor. ‘All right...I’ll take you home with me—but just for an hour,’ she warned tautly.

‘You are so gracious.’

Maxie reddened, conscience-stricken when she recalled the amount of trouble he had taken to ensure that she was properly looked after when she was ill. But then Angelos had not been personally inconvenienced; he had paid others to take on the caring role. In fact, as she drove up the lane to the cottage, she knew she could not imagine Angelos allowing himself to be inconvenienced.

Her attention distracted, she was wholly unprepared to find herself driving through rippling water as she began to turn in at the front of the cottage. In alarm, she braked sharply, and without warning the powerful car went into a skid. ‘Oh, God!’ she gasped in horror as the front wheels went over the edge of the stream bank. The Ferrari tipped into the stream nose-first with a jarring thud and came to rest at an extreme angle.

‘God wasn’t listening, but at least we’re still alive,’ Angelos groaned as he reached over and switched off the engine.

‘I suppose you’re about to kick up a whole macho fuss now, and yap about women drivers,’ Maxie hissed, unclamping her locked fingers from the steering wheel.

‘I wouldn’t dare. Knowing my luck in your radius, I’d step out of the car and drown.’

‘The stream is only a couple of feet deep!’

‘I feel so comforted knowing that.’ With a powerful thrust of his arm, Angelos forced the passenger door open and staggered out onto the muddy bank. Then he reached in to haul her out with stunning strength.

‘I’m sorry... I got a fright when I saw that water.’

‘It was only a large puddle. What do you do when you see the sea?’

‘I thought the stream had flooded and broken its banks, and I wanted to be sure we didn’t go over the edge in the dark...that’s why I jumped on the brakes!’ Fumbling for her key, not wishing to dwell on quite how unsuccessful her evasive tactics had been, Maxie unlocked the battered front door and switched on the light.

Angelos lowered his wildly tousled dark head to peer, unimpressed, into the bare lounge with its two seater hard-backed settee. Without the fire lit or a decorative face-lift, it didn’t look very welcoming, she had to admit.

‘All right, upstairs is a bit more comfortable. You can lie down on my bed.’

‘I can hardly believe your generosity. Where’s the phone?’

Maxie frowned. ‘I don’t have one.’

Tangled wet black lashes swept up on stunned eyes. ‘That’s a joke?’

‘Surely you have a mobile phone?’

‘I must’ve dropped it in the street during the fight.’ With a mutter of frustrated Greek, Angelos started up the narrow staircase.

He was a little unsteady on his feet, and Maxie noted that fact anxiously. ‘I think you need a doctor, Angelos.’

‘Rubbish...just want to lie down—’

‘Duck your head!’ she warned a split second too late as he collided headfirst with the lintel above the bedroom door.

‘Oh, no,’ Maxie groaned in concert with him, and shot out both arms to support him as he reeled rather dangerously on the tiny landing. Hurriedly she guided him into the bedroom before he could do any further damage to himself.

‘There’s puddles on the floor,’ Angelos remarked, blinking rapidly.

‘Don’t be silly,’ Maxie told him, just as a big drop of water from somewhere above splashed down on her nose.

Aghast, she tipped back her head to gaze up at the vaulted wooden roof above, which she had thought was so much more attractive and unusual than a ceiling. Droplets of water were suspended in several places and there were puddles on the floorboards. The roof was leaking.

‘I’m in the little hovel in the woods,’ Angelos framed.

Maxie said a most unladylike word and darted over to the bed to check that it wasn’t wet. Mercifully it appeared to be occupying the only dry corner in the room, but she wrenched back the bedding to double-check. Angelos dropped down on the edge of the divan and tugged off his jacket. It fell in a puddle. She snatched up the garment and clutched it as she met dazed black eyes. ‘I shouldn’t have listened you. I should’ve taken you to Casualty.’

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