Page 3 of Expectant Bride

Still reeling resentfully from that shameless clothes-stripping appraisal, Ellie breathed jerkily. 'I mentioned the situation to the woman who normally works up here and asked if I could switch floors with her for a night. After a lot of persuasion, she agreed, and she did warn me not to clean the office behind the double doors...but unfortunately there are two sets of double doors—'

'So there are,' Dio Alexiakis conceded, his agreement smooth.

'I made a simple mistake, and I was about to slip out again when I heard somebody coming,' Ellie confided tautly. 'I was scared it was a security guard. He might've asked what I was doing up here, and that could have got Meg into trouble. I dived behind the door so that I wouldn't be seen. It was a stupid thing to do—'

'Security haven't been up here since six,' the older man interposed, unimpressed. 'And when Mr Alexiakis arrived just ten minutes ago this entire floor was empty.'

'Well, I don't know who it was. He stood in the doorway for about twenty seconds and then went away again...' Won¬dering why her reasonable explanation was being challenged, Ellie found her voice trailing away.

Expelling his breath in a slow, measured hiss, Dio Alex¬iakis lounged back against the edge of a nearby desk and glanced at the anxious older man. 'Go on home, Millar. I can deal with this.'

'I should stay and sort this out for you—'

'You have a dinner date to keep,' Dio reminded him drily. 'I've made you late enough as it is.'

Millar looked as if he was about to protest, and then, meet¬ing his employer's expectant scrutiny, he nodded. Just before he took his leave, he paused to remark gruffly, 'My thoughts will be with you tomorrow, Dio.'

Dio Alexiakis tensed, his eyes veiling. ‘Thank you.'

He closed the door in the older man's wake and swung back to survey Ellie.

'I'm afraid I can't trust your word on this, Ellie,' he drawled in a tone of daunting finality. 'You listened to a very confidential dialogue—'

'I wasn't listening... I wasn't interested!' Ellie told him frantically, intimidated much against her own will.

'I’ve got two questions for you,' Dio Alexiakis advanced softly. 'Do you want to keep your job?'

Ellie stiffened even more, despising him for using such bullying tactics. 'Of course I do—'

'And do you want the other lady who allowed you to come up here and work in her place to keep her job?'

Ellie sagged as if he had punched her, and turned very pale. 'Please don't involve Meg in this,' she argued strickenly. 'This was my mistake, not hers!'

'No, she chose to break the rules,' Dio Alexiakis contra¬dicted with lethal cool. 'She's as much involved in this as you are. And if you are some kind of spy, in the pay of one of my competitors, you must've made it well worth her while to agree to tonight's switch.'

'A spy? What on earth...?' Ellie whispered unevenly, her whole attention focused on that strong, dark face.

'Right at this moment, I find your reference to another unseen and unidentifiable individual's presence rather too convenient,' Dio Alexiakis admitted bluntly. 'If there is an information leak, you have already supplied yourself with the excuse of a third party to take the heat.'

'I d-don't know what you're talking about.' He had her so much on edge that for the first time in her life Ellie couldn't think straight.

'For your sake, I hope you don't,' Dio Alexiakis conceded, with every appearance of grim sincerity. 'But you must un¬derstand that to just let you walk back out of here is too big a risk for me to take. If you shared what you heard with the wrong person it could seriously damage my plans.'

'But I wouldn't dream of repeating what I heard!'

'So you do remember what you overheard. And yet only a minute ago you swore that you weren't even interested enough to listen!'

At that silken reminder, a frank look of dismay leapt into Ellie's eyes. She stared back at him with a sinking heart. She did have perfect recall of what he had said, but had intended to play dumb and keep that news to herself. However, he had tied her in verbal knots and tripped her up. He had a mind like a steel trap, she conceded furiously. Keen, suspicious, quick and deadly in its accuracy.

Dio Alexiakis glanced at the slim gold watch on his wrist and then back at her. 'Allow me to show you the bigger picture here, Ellie. As long as this deal goes down on Wednesday, you and your foolish friend will still be gainfully employed hi this building. But until Wednesday comes, you're not moving out of my sight!'

'I b-beg your pardon?'

'Naturally, I'll pay you well for the inconvenience—'

'Inconvenience?' Ellie interrupted in a hopelessly squeaky voice.

'I assume you have a passport?'

'A passport! Why are you asking me that?' she gasped.

'I have to fly to Greece tonight. Keeping you under sur¬veillance to ensure that you make no phone calls will require you to fly to Greece with me,' he delivered with perceptible impatience.