Page 14 of Expectant Bride

Ellie breathed in so deep on that staggering claim she was vaguely surprised that she didn't explode. She studied him with scornful green eyes. 'What with? A Stone Age hammer? Because let me tell you, knocking me out and dragging me by force back to the family cave would be the only way!'

Without the slightest warning, Dio reached for her with powerful hands that brooked no refusal. He brought his mouth crashing down hard on hers. Shock paralysed Ellie. But a far deeper level of shock awaited her. When that wide, sensual mouth possessed hers with hungry force, it was as if the world came to a sudden screeching halt and sent her flying off into the sun.

The surge of heat Dio ignited could have burned up an entire planet. Ellie's head swam, all rational thought sus¬pended beneath that shattering shower of instant sensation. As he hauled her into a crushing and deeply satisfying em¬brace, her blood pounded madly through her pliant body.

He tasted like water after a long summer drought. He cre¬ated a thirst she had never known she had. She was so hooked on that electrifying excitement that she clung like a vine to a tree, moaning low in her throat as his tongue in¬vaded the moist sensitivity of her mouth in an erotic invasion that drove her wild.

Dio dragged her back from him, his breathing fractured, his eyes blazing over her with a primitive satisfaction he couldn't hide. 'I wouldn't need to use force with you, Ellie. You'd come back to the family cave like a little lamb,' he contended thickly.

As the haze of intoxicating passion evaporated, Ellie gazed up into his darkly handsome features, aghast. Simultaneously, Dio stiffened, veiled his eyes and set her back from him. A boiling wave of hot embarrassment enveloped Ellie. She couldn't believe that what had happened had happened. She couldn't believe that she could possibly have felt what he had made her feel when she hadn't wanted to feel anything. And the silence lay there, thick and treacherous as a swamp that neither of them wanted to risk trying to cross.

'I... I...' Ellie began unevenly, suddenly eager to give both of them an acceptable excuse. 'I shouldn't have slapped you. I made you angry—'

'Greek men don't like having their masculinity challenged.' Dio loosed a sardonic laugh and dealt her a bleak glance. 'But I kissed you because I wanted to. As you said to me, tell it like it is.'

Taken aback by that blunt acknowledgement that the at¬traction playing havoc with her own self-discipline was not solely her problem, Ellie gazed at him in frank perplexity. Then she swiftly turned her head away.

'Naturally we won't be repeating the experiment,' Dio completed with flat finality.

Ellie's delicate profile tautened. Although he was only stat¬ing the obvious, only saying what she would have said her¬self, angry mortification still engulfed her. Conscious that she was being warned off, she felt humiliated. He had kissed her! Yet he still evidently saw a need to depress any foolish ideas she might be developing. Who the heck did he think he was?

Mr Totally Irresistible? Yes, she answered for herself. And that blazing confidence wasn't vanity, she acknowledged with driven reluctance. He had it all. The looks, the money, the power. How often did Dio Alexiakis meet with rejection? How much more often must he meet with blatant encourage¬ment?

But still Ellie felt the need to defend herself. 'I lashed out because you were extremely ru—'

'I don't wish to discuss this any further,' Dio interposed harshly. 'I'm not myself today. My reactions are on a very short fuse.'

But in the space of a heartbeat he had blown Ellie's belief that she wasn't a very sexual person right out of the water. She could only cringe when she recalled the almost irre¬sistible temptation to snatch him greedily back into her arms. She had never dreamt that any man could rouse her to that level of excitement, hunger and craving. That Dio Alexiakis had that power shook her to her very depths.

The limousine drove up the steep road at a stately crawl, other vehicles now falling in behind to follow in their wake. Above them, perched on the spectacular height of a cliff, the large domed roof of a pale building came into view. The higher they climbed, the bigger that building seemed to be¬come. It couldn't be called a villa, Ellie decided wide-eyed, it could only be called a palace.

'Is this your home?' she prompted tautly.

As the limo glided to a halt in front of the massive en¬trance, Dio gave a bleak nod of confirmation.

'If you're going to be socialising with friends and family now, just find me a room somewhere and lock the door. I don't want to intrude—'

'You're staying with me,' Dio countered steadily.

'But what am I supposed to say if anyone speaks to me?' Ellie's dismay was unhidden. 'I don't even know what your father was called!'