‘I never dreamt you would feel so strongly about it,’ Maxie admitted tautly.

‘You’re mine now,’ Angelos countered with indolent cool. ‘I look after everything that belongs to me to the very best of my ability.’

‘I don’t belong to you...I’m just passing through...’ Hot, offended colour had betrayingly flushed Maxie’s cheeks. She wanted to hit him but, surveying him, she just gritted her teeth because she knew that the instant she got that close she would just melt into his arms and draw that dark, arrogant head down to hers. Almost seven days of sensory and emotional deprivation were making her feel incredibly weak.

Poised at the foot of the bed, lean brown hands flexing round the polished brass top rail, Angelos rested slumbrous yet disturbingly intent dark eyes on her beautiful face. ‘Leland and Jennifer do, however, lead one to reflect on the peculiarity of the games adults play with each other,’ he commented levelly. ‘What a mistake it can be to underestimate your opponent...’

A slight chill ran down Maxie’s backbone. Games? No, surely he couldn’t have recognised what she was trying to do, she told herself urgently, for, apart from anything else, she did not consider herself to be playing a game. ‘I don’t follow...’

‘Leland neglected his wife. Jennifer had a silly affair. She wouldn’t say sorry. He was too bitter to forgive her. So they spent three years frantically squabbling over the terms of their divorce, enjoying a sort of twisted togetherness and never actually making it into court. Neither one of them allowed for the other’s intransigence or stamina.’

‘Crazy,’ Maxie whispered very low.

‘Isn’t it just?’ Angelos agreed, flicking a glance down at the thin gold watch on his wrist. He released a soft sigh of regret. ‘I’d love to stay. However, I did promise to show my face at my cousin Demetrios’s twenty-first celebration at a nightclub...and it’s getting late.’

Maxie sat there as immobile as a stone dropped in a deep pond and plunged into sudden dreadful suffocating darkness. ‘You’re...leaving?’ she breathed, not quite levelly.

‘I lead a fairly hectic social life, pethi mou. Business, family commitments,’ Angelos enumerated lazily. ‘But the pressure of time and distance should ensure that the snatched moments we share will be all the more exciting—’

‘Snatched moments?’ Maxie echoed in a strained and slightly shrill undertone as she slid off the bed in an abrupt movement. ‘You think I am planning to sit here and wait for “snatched moments” of your precious time?’

‘Maxie...you’re beginning to sound just a little like a wife,’ Angelos pointed out with a pained aspect. ‘The one thing a mistress must never ever do is nag.’

‘Nag?’ Maxie gasped, ready to grab him by the lapels of his exquisitely tailored dinner jacket and shake him until he rattled like a box of cutlery in a grinding machine.

‘Or sulk. or shout or look discontented...’ Angelos warmed to his theme with a glimmering smile of satisfaction. ‘This is where I expect to come to relax and shrug off the tensions of the day... I’ll dine here with you tomorrow night—’

Maxie was seething and ready to cut off her nose to spite her face. ‘I’m going out.’

‘Maxie...’ Angelos shook his imperious dark head in reproof. ‘Naturally I expect your entire day to revolve round being available when I want you to be.’

‘For snatched moments?’ Maxie asserted in outrage. ‘What am I supposed to do with myself the rest of the time?’

‘Shop,’ Angelos delivered with the comforting air of a male dropping news she must be dying to hear. ‘Any woman who can spend for an entire week without flagging once is a serious shopaholic.’

Maxie flushed to the roots of her hair, assailed by extreme mortification. She had spent an absolute fortune.

‘And if it’s a phobia, you should now be very happy,’ Angelos continued bracingly. ‘With me bankrolling you, you won’t ever need to take the cure.’

Maxie was mute. Her every objective, her script, everything she had dreamt up with which to challenge him over the past week now lay in discarded tatters round her feet. As yet she couldn’t quite work out how that had happened. Angelos had started out angry, fully meeting her expectations, but he was now in a wonderfully good mood...even though he was about to walk out on her.

During that weak moment of inattention, Angelos reached out to tug her into his arms with maddeningly confident hands. Maxie was rigid, and then she just drooped, drained of fight. He curved her even closer, crushing her up against him with a groan of unconcealed pleasure and sending every nerve in her body haywire with wanton longing.

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