Page 17 of Expectant Bride

Donning the sheer, strappy midnight-blue nightdress be¬cause it was cool, blanking out her unproductive thoughts, Ellie padded out to the lounge again. The maid reappeared with a tray. Ellie tucked into the delicious buffet-style offer¬ings with appetite and then curled up on a sofa, too sleepy to keep her eyes open any longer.

The arrival of yet another meal was what finally awakened Ellie, but she wasn't hungry enough to eat anything more. The sun was beginning to go down and she couldn't believe that she had slept away the entire afternoon. She would never manage to sleep again later, and what a terrible waste it had been not to at least walk along that beautiful beach outside!

She rummaged through the eclectic mix of CDs stored in the state-of-the-art entertainment centre. Smiling to herself, she put on flamenco music, remembering the endless dance and drama classes which her mother had insisted she attend. Dancing was still her favourite method of working out. She performed a few exploratory movements, letting the rhythm flow until all her muscles had loosened up. Then, picking up on the faster tempo, she gave herself up to the passionate music.

Her breasts heaving with the rapidity of her breathing, the sheer strain clinging to her damp skin, Ellie came to a fluid halt as the CD moved to an end. She let her head slowly fall back, her slender spine arching into a perfect curve.

'That was incredible...' Dio Alexiakis murmured with rag¬ged emphasis.

Ellie whirled breathlessly round on her toes, the faraway look in her eyes banished by dismay and disconcertion.

Shorn of his jacket and tie, both of which trailed carelessly from one clenched hand, Dio stood in the shadows near the entrance door. He was still as a bronze statue. Then he sud¬denly moved an expressive hand and spread long brown fin¬gers, the extent of his appreciation of the performance he had witnessed unconcealed.

Brilliant, dark deep-set eyes sought hers. 'Quite extraor¬dinary,' he told her with husky intensity. 'So much fire, so much pathos, every single movement, every tiny gesture tell¬ing a story.'

As slow-burning colour swept up from her extended throat Ellie trembled, outraged that he had not immediately an¬nounced his presence. 'You should've told me you were had no right to watch me!'

'I didn't want to interrupt you...' A shimmer of gold as bright as a flame glimmered in Dio's semi-screened gaze as it lingered on her ripe pink mouth.

Her lips parted, an alien ache stirring low in her belly as the silence stretched.

‘That's not an excuse...' she protested unevenly, her slight frame tautening in instinctive reaction to the growing tension in the atmosphere.

Dio Alexiakis threw his darkly handsome head back and surveyed her. ' there a man alive who would have interrupted you?' he demanded with roughened urgency.

Ellie was so still and so tense she could feel every beat of her heart—even, she was dimly convinced, the very pulse of her blood through her veins. She collided with Dio's shim¬mering gaze and she felt intoxicated. Dizzy, disorientated, no longer able to get her brain to send a message to her tongue. Indeed, it was suddenly such a challenge to keep a grip on a single coherent thought that she simply stared at him in bewilderment. Her body was already responding far in ad¬vance of her brain, her breasts swelling heavily, tautened peaks pitching into almost painful prominence.

A feverish flush on his sculpted cheekbones, Dio let his stunning eyes roam hungrily over her beautiful face, and then at an incredibly slow pace over her slim figure. The fabric of the nightdress clung like a second skin to her surprisingly lush shape, moulding her straining nipples, the shapely curve of her hips and the slender line of thigh. The high-voltage charge of his powerful sexuality entrapped her, filling her with excitement and leaving her utterly without defence.

'Watching you dance was the most erotic experience I have ever had outside the bedroom door,' Dio confessed with driven urgency. 'I have never known such an overpowering need to possess a woman. And right now I'm just revelling like a crazy teenager in the pleasure of feeling something this intense!' Ellie quivered, shocked rigid by that bold speech and sufficiently jarred to begin reasoning again. A crazy teenager? Him? What sort of a line was that? Involuntarily, she glanced down at herself and froze. Belatedly appreciating how very little she was wearing, she was quite unable to comprehend how the need to cover herself up had not been her first thought when she'd seen him!

In a stumbling surge, shorn of her usual grace, her face hot as hellfire, Ellie snatched up a throw from the nearest sofa and hauled it round herself like a screening blanket. No blooming wonder he was coming on to her! Men were not very discriminating when a woman put on a provocative dis¬play. In fact it was her belief that most men lived on the constant edge of succumbing to illicit temptation.