Like a protective wall in front of her, the security man stayed by the doors, standing back again only after they had opened. Her face taut with temper, Maxie walked out into a big octagonal hall with a cool tiled floor. It was not Angelos’s apartment and she frowned, wondering where on earth she was. Behind her the lift whirred downward again and she stiffened, feeling ludicrously cut off from escape.
Ahead of her, a door stood wide. She walked into a spacious, luxurious reception room. Strong sunlight was pouring through the windows. The far end of the room seemed to merge into a lush green bank of plants. Patio doors gave way into what appeared to be a conservatory. Was that where Angelos was waiting for her?
Her heart hammered wildly against her ribs. Utterly despising her own undeniable mix of apprehension and excitement, Maxie threw back her slim shoulders and stalked out into...fresh air. Too late did she appreciate that she was actually out on a roof garden. As she caught a dizzy glimpse of the horrific drop through a gap in the decorative stone screening to her right, her head reeled. Freezing to the spot, she uttered a sick moan of fear.
‘Oh, hell...you’re afraid of heights,’ a lazy drawl murmured.
A pair of hands closed with firm reassurance round her whip-taut shoulders and eased her back from the parapet and the view that had made her stomach lurch to her soles. ‘I didn’t think of that. Though I suppose I could keep you standing out here and persuade you to agree to just about anything. Sometimes it’s such a challenge to be an honourable man.’
Shielding her from the source of her mindless terror with his big powerful frame, Angelos propelled her back indoors at speed. Appalled by the attack of panic which had thrown her off balance, Maxie broke free of him then, on legs shaking like cotton wool pins, and bit out accusingly, ‘What would you know about honour?’
‘The Greek male can be extremely sensitive on that subject. Think before you speak,’ Angelos murmured in chilling warning.
Maxie stared at him in surprise. Angelos stared levelly back at her, black eyes terrifyingly cold.
And it tore her apart just at that moment to learn that she couldn’t bear him to look at her like that As if she was just anybody, as if she was nobody, as if he didn’t care whether she lived or died.
‘You get more nervy every time I see you,’ Angelos remarked with cruel candour. ‘Paler, thinner too. I thought you were pretty tough, but you’re not so tough under sustained pressure. Your stress level is beginning to show.’
Colour sprang into Maxie’s cheeks, highlighting the feverish look in her gaze. ‘You’re such a bastard sometimes,’ she breathed unevenly.
‘And within itself, that’s strange. I’ve never been like this with a woman before. There are times when I aim to hurt you and I shock myself,’ Angelos confided, without any perceptible remorse.
Yet he still looked so unbelievably good to her, and that terrified her. She couldn’t drag her attention from that lean, strong face, no matter how hard she tried. She couldn’t forget what that silky black hair had felt like beneath her fingertips. She couldn’t stop herself noticing that he was wearing what had inexplicably become the colour she liked best on him. Silver-grey, the suit a spectacular fit for that magnificent physique. And how had she forgotten the way that vibrant aura of raw energy compelled and fascinated her? Cast into deeper shock by the raging torrent of her own frantic thoughts, Maxie felt an intense sense of her own vulnerability engulf her in an alarming wave.
‘Relax...I’ve got a decent proposal to put on the table before lunch,’ Angelos purred, strolling soundlessly forwards to curve a confident arm round her rigid spine and guide her across the hall into a dining-room. ‘Trust me...I think you’ll feel like you’ve won the National Lottery.’
‘Why won’t you just leave me alone?’ Maxie whispered, taking in the table exquisitely set for two, the waiting trolley that indicated they were not to be disturbed.
‘Because you don’t want me to. Even the way you just looked at me...’ Angelos vented a soft husky laugh of very masculine appreciation. ‘You really can’t look at me like that and expect me to throw in the towel.’
‘How did I look?’
‘Probably much the same way that I look at you,’ he conceded, uncorking a bottle of champagne with a loud pop and allowing the golden liquid to foam expertly down into two fluted glasses. ‘With hunger and hostility and resentment. I am about to wipe out the last two for ever.’
Angelos slotted the moisture-beaded glass between her taut fingers. Absorbing her incomprehension, he dealt her a slashing smile. ‘The rumour that Angelos Petronides cannot compromise is a complete falsehood. I excell at seeing both points of view and a period of reflection soon clarified the entire problem. The solution is very simple.’