Page 32 of Expectant Bride

'You finish work soon. Let me take you out to eat some¬where.'

Ellie studied him where he lounged up against the door like a sleek, dark predator at rest. He aroused the most terrifyingly powerful hunger in her. She thought of all the nights she had tossed and turned, unable to get him out of her mind and hating herself for being so weak she couldn't control her own thoughts. But there it was, this aching, hurting  craving that went way beyond physical desire...

'Ellie...' Dio prompted gently.

'I finish work and go to bed, Dio,' she stressed curtly, bending down to plug in the polisher again.

'So we skip the food.'

Anger lancing through her in response to that provocative suggestion, Ellie came upright again very fast. But that sud¬den movement engulfed her in a wave of dizziness. Her view of Dio and the well-lit corridor lurched, and then blurred out of focus. With a muffled gasp of fright she went down and down into the beckoning darkness, her legs crumpling be¬neath her.

When Ellie began to recover consciousness, she felt nau¬seous and dazed. Her lashes lifted slowly. Dio was so close she could see the tiny golden lights in his eyes and every inky individual spike of his lush lashes. They were hi a lift and he was carrying her, she finally registered, twin discov¬eries which confused her even more. 'Dio...'

'What?' he demanded with unconcealed aggression, pow¬erful arms tightening round her to keep her firmly wedged against his hard, muscular chest.

'What happened?' she mumbled heavily.

'You fainted.'

A frown indented her damp brow as she fought to regain her wits. 'I don't faint...'

'I've had it with this cleaning lark,' Dio ground out, his jawline squaring. 'It's obvious that you're not fit for it'

'Dio...put me down!'

'If I put you down, you'll fall over again! You look ter¬rible, but then that's not very surprising, is it?' Dio continued in the same accusing tone. 'You work six days a week in that bookshop, and more than half the time you're left to cope on your own there.'

'How do you know that?' Ellie gasped, taken aback by his knowledge.

'I made it my business to know.' Black eyes gleamed down into hers. 'Your other employer has got it made. He wanders in around lunchtime and heads home again mid-afternoon. How can you expect to work all day and then put in five nights here in a physically demanding job?'

'I'm young, and healthy as a horse,' Ellie protested as the lift doors sprang open, belatedly prompting her to demand to know where on earth he was taking her.

‘I’m taking you home.' With long, forceful strides, Dio headed out across the ground-floor foyer towards the line of exit doors.

With difficulty, Ellie dragged her attention from him and took in the presence of the security guards at the main re¬ception area. One of them was rushing to get a door open. The other two were gazing rigidly into space with the fixed expressions of men who had had a really good look at them coming out of the lift but were determined not to betray any reaction that might cause offence.

Belatedly appreciating the spectacle Dio was making of them both, Ellie groaned out loud. 'How am I ever going to work here again after this?'

'Goodnight, Mr Alexiakis,' the guard swinging open the door said stiltedly.

‘Ne...yes, it is a good night,' Dio drawled with a truly staggering lack of self-consciousness.

Ellie just closed her eyes tight, feeling the cool air of out¬doors chill her burning cheeks. 'If I didn't still feel so awful, I'd strangle you for this, Dio!'

Unrepentant, Dio stowed her hi the back seat of the waiting limousine and swung in beside her. 'We have to wait,' he advanced. 'Demitrios is clearing your locker out.'

Ellie noted the finality of that statement, but she was past caring. With the slamming of a door, the car moved off a few minutes later. Only when mind over matter appeared to be winning and her stomach had settled back to normality did she risk opening her eyes again. Dio was lounging back in one corner, surveying her with slumbrous dark eyes filled with satisfaction.

'Don't look at me like that!' she told him thinly.

'What way am I looking at you?' he murmured huskily. The same way she had once seen a man study his new car. With the proud possessiveness of ownership. 'Nothing's changed,' she warned him feverishly.

'Sometimes,’ Dio responded with indolent cool, 'you are incredibly naive.'

'On the island. Not any more,' Ellie qualified with delib¬erate acidity. 'And if naive is what you like, well... with your money I'm sure you'll find plenty of takers.'

A slow-burning smile curved his wide, sensual mouth. 'Where would I find a woman with the courage to be as scathing as you?'

'If I were you, I'd be getting worried about what you find attractive in a woman!'

Dio loosed an appreciative laugh. 'You challenge me. I enjoy the fact that you're not impressed by who I am and what I possess. You have no idea how rare a quality that is in my world.'