Page 29 of Expectant Bride

Dio studied her with a reproachful light in his dark gaze. "That is not how it would be between us.'

'Would you ask a woman from your own background to be your mistress?' Ellie could not resist demanding.

Dio flung back his arrogant dark head, black eyes glittering with stars. 'You are the only woman I have ever asked.'

'Sorry, I'm not available,' Ellie told him without a single shade of regret.

Dio slid lean brown fingers into the fall of her silvery hair, holding her imprisoned. Scorching eyes roamed over her flushed and angry face. 'You're hooked. You just won't ad¬mit it yet. You want me as much as I want you—'

'Right now, I could give you freezer burn!' Ellie warned him.

'Let's see...shall we?' 'Dio, no—‘

But Dio crushed her soft mouth under his. And then he sent his tongue delving with carnal expertise into the tender interior of her mouth. Plunging and withdrawing, he set fire to her every skin cell in a charged and erotic reminder of how he had once invaded her quivering and eager body. Her thighs trembled. Helpless in the grip of that excitement, she pushed into the lean, hard heat and muscularity of his pow¬erful frame. Recognising the bold thrust of his erection against her, she melted into hot liquid honey inside herself.

With a shuddering groan, Dio cupped two big hands round her face and stared down at her with raw sexual hunger. 'Why shouldn't I offer you financial support? It would be as much for my own convenience as yours. I want you to travel with me. I want you to be there for me...'

The fevered heat in Ellie's bloodstream drained away, axed by his physical withdrawal of passion but even more by his candour. 'What you want is a sex slave on tap...'

'I'd be bored rigid with a sex slave,' Dio retorted with unblemished cool.

A ragged and involuntary laugh escaped Ellie. But, raising her hands, she firmly detached herself from him and stepped back. 'You are so smooth, Dio. And this ridiculous conver¬sation is totally pointless. You're wasting your time.'

His dark, deep-set eyes rested on her, his strong bone structure clenching. 'You belong with me—'

'No, I definitely don't.' Ellie tossed back her head as she challenged that contention. 'Nor do I have the slightest desire to be kept by anyone. The hours I work, I haven't even got room for a man in my life. I should be furious with you for asking me to be your mistress. But you did remind me that you are Greek. I suppose I have to make allowances for cul¬tural differences...'

A dark rise of blood now marked Dio's spectacular cheek¬bones. 'I think you want me to chase you—'

"That's your ego talking. What I want is to forget we ever met,' Ellie contradicted with fierce conviction, her fingernails biting into her palms. 'But you're so used to being top of every woman's wish list that when I say no you can't accept that I mean no!'

Black eyes burned into hers in ferocious challenge. 'If I walk away now, it's over.'

At that warning, and in spite of all she had said, Ellie's breath snarled up in her throat. She felt hollow in the taut, waiting silence which followed.

Without another word, Dio strode to the door. And then he was gone.

Ellie waited for a few minutes, and then went downstairs to lock up after him. When she came back up, the room felt empty and cold. It was as if Dio had taken all the light and energy with him. She dismissed that fanciful impression and strove without success to appreciate the irony of the propo¬sition he had laid before her. After all, no persuasion known to mankind would have persuaded Ellie to even consider such a lifestyle...

Her mother had been her father's mistress for sixteen years, a covert relationship full of lies and endless pretences. From the day she was old enough to finally understand why her mother had no friends in the small coastal town where they had lived, Ellie had been bitterly ashamed of her par¬entage. Leigh Morgan had decided that she could not live without the married father of her child, and in so doing, she had wrecked her own life.

Ellie suppressed her memories of her less than idyllic childhood and grimaced. No, she would never be guilty of repeating her mother's mistakes. In a couple of weeks Dio probably wouldn't even remember her name. Unfortunately, she suspected that she was going to be remembering him for a very long time...

Slicing through her defences, Dio had sent her flying high into the realms of romantic fantasy. He had taken her to par¬adise in bed. But within hours he had mercifully brought her back down to earth with a jarring crash. He had hurt her more than she had known she could be hurt. She had learnt that she was far more naive than she would ever have been prepared to admit.

Not a bad lesson to learn, Ellie told herself, striving to feel more upbeat. The excitement was over now. She had resisted Dio Alexiakis. She had done the right tiling. But why hadn't she appreciated how dreadful doing the right thing might make her feel?