‘I feel as if I’m on trial. We’re married. You won’t wear my ring. You still don’t want anyone to know you’re my wife—’
‘You made the offer to announce our marriage out of guilt.’
‘I’m not that big a fool. I think you’re paying me back for refusing to do it the right way from the start,’ Angelos countered steadily. ‘I hurt you and I’m sorry, but we have to move on from there.’
Maxie’s gaze was strained, wary. ‘I’m not ready for that yet.’
‘Thanks for that vote of faith.’ Releasing her with startling abruptness, Angelos sprang upright and strode up the beach.
Fighting a sensation of panic, and the urge to chase after him, Maxie hugged her knees tightly and stared out at the sun-drenched blue of the sea. The first row since they had left London. It totally terrified her. She could not overcome the fear that she was just a fascinating interlude for Angelos, that she did not have what it would take to hold him. She could not face the prospect of being his wife in public and then being dumped a few months down the line when he lost interest...
And yet, to be fair, so far Angelos had not shown the slightest sign of becoming bored with her. In fact, with every passing day Angelos made her feel better about herself, so much more than a beautiful face and body—something no man had ever achieved or even tried to achieve.
Yesterday he had had to fly to Athens for the day on business. Three gorgeous bouquets of the white lilies she loved had been flown in during his absence. And every one of them had carried a personal message, carefully block-printed by his own hand. ‘Missing you.’ ‘Missing you more.’ ‘Missing you even more,’ Maxie recalled headily. So impractical, so over-the-top. Not bad for a guy she had believed didn’t have a romantic, imaginative, thoughtful, sensitive or tender bone in his entire beautiful body.
But for the past ten days Angelos had been proving just how wrong she had been to attribute such flaws to him. The list? Well, as yet, since that dinner jacket was still in London, she hadn’t had a chance to get hold of it, and the list might well have been dumped by Nikos or trashed at the dry-cleaners or some such thing by now. She knew Angelos couldn’t have found it before they left London. He couldn’t possibly have kept his mouth shut on the subject if he had.
He had presented her with a laptop computer with a wonderful spellcheck mechanism on it so that she could write things with ease. He read newspapers with her. He was so patient with her efforts and, as her confidence had risen from absolute rock-bottom inadequacy, she had improved amazingly. How had she ever imagined he was selfish and inconsiderate? And how had she ever thought she could bask in such generosity and not be expected to give something back? And she knew what he wanted back. Total, unconditional surrender. That was what trust was. She was being such a terrible, selfish coward...
Maxie found him in the airy lounge. Hovering in the doorway, she studied him, her heart jumping worse than it did when he took her up in the helicopter most mornings. ‘I trust you,’ she said tautly, a betraying shimmer brightening her eyes.
Angelos dealt her a pained, unimpressed look, and then he groaned with suppressed savagery. Striding across the room, he pulled her into his arms in one powerful motion. ‘Christos...don’t look at me like that, agape mou!’ he urged ruefully. ‘Forget that whole conversation. I’m just not very good at patience...not a lot of practice and too big an ego.’
‘I like you the way you are.’
‘The lies women tell in certain moods,’ Angelos sighed with an ironic look.
‘It’s not a lie, Angelos—’
‘Possibly it won’t be...some time in the future.’ And with that last word he sealed his sensual mouth to hers with a kind of hungry desperation.
The ground beneath Maxie’s feet rocked. In that one way Angelos controlled her. He understood that. He used it. She accepted it; the passion he unleashed inside her was more than she could withstand. But, most importantly of all, it was the one time she could show him affection without the fear that she might be revealing how much she loved him. And if anything, after the past ten days, she loved him ten times more.
She was enslaved, utterly, hopelessly enslaved. So the minute Angelos touched her she let all that pent-up emotion loose on him. She clutched, she clung, she heaved ecstatic sighs and she hugged him tight. And he responded with a flattering amount of enthusiasm every time.
Probing her mouth with hot, sexual intimacy, Angelos unclipped her bikini bra. As her breasts spilt full and firm into his palms, he uttered a hungry sound of pleasure. He let his thumbs glance over her urgently sensitive pink nipples. Maxie moaned, her spine arching as he used his mouth to torment those straining buds. She was so excited she couldn’t breathe. Reaching down, he unclipped the bikini briefs clasped at her slim hips and pulled them free, leaving her naked.