Page 34 of Expectant Bride

Ellie folded her arms in a defensive motion. 'But I—'

I’m as much involved in this as you are,' Dio spelt out stubbornly.


No, she thought strickenly, he wasn't. She could feel the distance in him already. He was saying the right things, going through the motions of being decent and supportive, but nat¬urally he was praying hard for a negative result and probably wishing he had never set eyes on her. 'It's very stuffy in here,' she said tautly. 'Can I go out on the balcony? I could do with some fresh air.'

'It's very cold tonight.'

'So shut the doors after me!' Ellie advised sharply.

Dio swept up a remote control. The wall of glass glided back. Ellie headed out with alacrity and was totally unappreciative of his magnificent view of the Thames. She gripped the rail girding the parapet until her knuckles showed white. All she could see in front of her still were Dio's cloaked dark eyes. Those beautiful midnight-dark eyes that haunted her dreams. She heard him behind her.

'Oh, go inside, for heaven's sake!' she urged without turn¬ing her head. 'I know you're freezing.'

'I'm not—'

'Look, I boiled alive when you switched off the air-conditioning at the beach house in the middle of the night! We don't even match temperature-wise,' Ellie completed ac¬cusingly, swallowing back the thickness in her throat

'Ellie...' Dio released his breath in an audible hiss and closed his arms round her, easing her slight body back into the lean, hard strength of his.

Every fibre of her longed to luxuriate in that physical con¬tact, but she gritted her teeth and held herself rigid, refusing to give way to her own weakness. She loved him; she really, really loved him. It was a waste of time hoping that those feelings were about to magically go away and leave her free of pain and vulnerability. He wasn't in love with her. At most all Dio had wanted was a casual affair, and now he probably didn't even want that. Unlike Cinderella, she had blown it. She hadn't gone home alone at midnight.

'You feel like ice.' Dio ran long gentle fingers down over her bare arms. 'Come inside.'

'I just want to go home,' she enunciated with great care.

'Not tonight. You shouldn't be on your own.'

'Don't be wet. I've been on my own for a long time.' She hesitated. 'I really shocked you again, didn't I?'

'What do you mean?'

'What I said to you on the beach that night. You just don't expect bad things to happen to you.'

"That is not at all how I would describe this situation.' Losing patience, Dio closed a determined arm round her and urged her back indoors. 'You need something to eat.'

Pulling free of him, Ellie sank down on a sofa. ‘I’m not hungry.'

Dio sent the wall of glass gliding shut again in the teeth of the wind. He tossed the remote aside and studied her with black fathomless eyes. 'What happens happens, yineka mou,' he murmured wryly.

'You still didn't think it was going to happen to you.' Ellie felt like a dog with a bone she had to keep on digging up, even though she knew she ought to leave it buried.

His expressive mouth quirked. 'I have to admit that I am so accustomed to more experienced women who protect themselves from pregnancy that I didn't quite compute the true level of risk we faced.'

'Why do you keep on saying we? It leaves me cold,' Ellie told him thinly. 'After all, we don't have a relationship.'

'You are very angry with me.'

Colliding with far too perceptive dark eyes, Ellie flushed and squirmed. There was a kind of rage inside her desperate to break out, but he had recognised it before she had.

'Come here...' Dio urged with the sort of rueful exasper¬ation an adult employs with a difficult child.

Ellie could feel a giant well of tears gathering behind her eyes. Instantly she scrambled upright. 'It's late, and if I'm staying, I might as well go to bed...it's not like you're going to make a move on me now, is it?'

'Not without a whip and a chair,' Dio agreed with dulcet cool.

Ellie moved a couple of steps away and then paused, dis¬covering that she was oddly reluctant to leave him. 'I thought you'd be punching walls and swearing by now,' she confided without turning round.

'Public school followed by so many years in business teaches a reasonable amount of self-control,' Dio advanced with gentle irony.

'Well, the Mr Smooth and Cool act really annoys me. You haven't given me one genuine emotional reaction since I told you!' she condemned grittily.

But even as Ellie voiced that accusation she saw how fool¬ish it was. How could he give her a genuine reaction? Did she really want him to show her the volatile flipside of that cool, controlled facade which he had donned like armour? Yes, she acknowledged. She needed a good excuse to hate him. Everything would be so much more bearable if she hated him.

Closing his hand over her knotted fingers, Dio spun her back to him. Ellie dropped her head, struggling desperately to control her emotions. Dio turned her face up to his and met defiant green eyes that shimmered with unshed tears.

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