‘Angelos...?’ she mumbled, her fingers rising without her volition to trace the unremittingly harsh compression of his mouth.
He jerked back his head, so that she couldn’t touch him. In pained bewilderment Maxie lowered her hand again and stared up at him.
‘You used to watch me all the time,’ he breathed grimly. ‘But the instant I turned in your direction, you looked away...except that once, seven months ago. Then I knew you were mine, as much mine as if I had a brand on you!’
Stricken by that assurance slung at her out of the blue, Maxie twisted her head away, feeling naked, exposed. Even then Angelos had been able to see inside her, see below the surface which had dazzled other men. And, worst of all, he had immediately recognised the hunger she had refused to recognise within herself.
‘So I waited for you to make your move,’ Angelos admitted in a tone of growing condemnation. ‘I waited and I waited for you to dump him. But you still stayed with him! I began to wonder if you had a single living brain cell inside that gorgeous head!’
He was talking about Leland. Shocked rigid by what he was telling her, Maxie muttered, ‘But I...I didn’t—’
Angelos vented a harsh, cynical laugh. ‘Oh, I know why you stayed with him now! You owed him too much money to walk out. Did you think I hadn’t worked that out yet? But that’s when you reduced yourself to the level of a marketable commodity, and when I think about that it makes me want to smash things! Because, having learnt that wonderful lesson with him, you then sold yourself to me for an even higher price.’
‘How can you—?’
‘What else is this marriage but the price I had to pay for you?’
‘You...swine,’ Maxie whispered brokenly, white as death as the contempt he had concealed from her sank into her sensitive flesh like poison.
‘And I’ll get you out of my system soon if it kills me,’ Angelos swore with ragged force as he gazed broodingly down at her.
‘Start by letting me out of this bed,’ she demanded unevenly.
‘No way...I paid with a wedding ring and millions of pounds for this pleasure.’
‘But you’re no good at saying no to me,’ Angelos murmured with roughened menace against her tremulous lips. ‘Sexually you are one very weak reed where I’m concerned. It’s my one and only consolation while I’m making a bloody fool of myself over a woman like you!’
‘How dare you?’ Maxie gulped.
But Angelos skimmed an assured hand down the taut length of one quivering thigh and kissed her with fierce, angry hunger. And it was like instantaneous combustion. She went up in flames. He didn’t hold her down. He didn’t pin her to the mattress. He kissed her into submission, tormented her with every erotic trick in his extensive repertoire and the most overpowering physical passion. He swept away her defences with terrifying ease.
Stroking apart her slender thighs, Angelos traced the swollen, moist sensitivity at the very heart of her with knowing fingers. With a strangled moan, Maxie clutched at him in desperation. He controlled her with the hunger she could not deny and made her ache for him. That ache for satisfaction tortured her. He groaned something in Greek, pushing her tumbled hair back off her brow with an unsteady hand, circling her mouth caressingly with his one more time.
As Angelos shifted over her she couldn’t get him there fast enough. Her own urgency was as screamingly intense as his. And then she felt him, hot and hard and gloriously male, seeking entrance, and she shivered convulsively, on a high of such anticipation and excitement she was mindless.
So when he thrust hungrily into her willing body she was quite unprepared for the jagged pain of that forceful intrusion. Pain ripped apart the fog of sensual sensation and made her jerk and cry out in shock as she instinctively strove to push him away from her. But Angelos had already stilled to frown down at her with stunned, disbelieving black eyes. ‘Maxie—?’
‘What are you looking at me like that for?’ Maxie whispered in stricken embarrassment, utterly appalled and outraged that her own body could have betrayed her to such an extent.
With a sudden shift of his hips, Angelos withdrew from her again. But he kept on staring down at her in the most mortifying way, his bewilderment blatant. A damp sheen accentuated the tautness of the bronzed skin stretched over his hard cheekbones and the pallor spreading beneath. ‘Cristo...a virgin...’ he breathed, not quite levelly.
Maxie lay there, feeling horribly rejected and inadequate and wishing she could vanish.
‘And I really hurt you,’ Angelos groaned even more raggedly, abruptly levering his weight from her, black eyes holding hers with the same transfixed incredulity with which he might have regarded the sudden descent of an alien spaceship in his bedroom. ‘Are you in a lot of pain?’