A roughened groan escaped him. 'You're panicking. Why? You are not alone with this. Trust me.'
'How do I trust a guy who asked me to be his mistress?' Ellie demanded with raw, incredulous force.
'What has that got to do with this?' Dio asked with a frown.
'Everything!' Ellie condemned unevenly. 'You were think¬ing of what suited you.. .you certainly weren't thinking about my wellbeing! Do you honestly think I'm stupid, Dio? How could I possibly trust you? If I'm pregnant, your solution will be a discreet termination...exactly what my loving father planned for me!'
His hard, bronzed features froze. As a ragged sob broke from Ellie's throat, her vision of him mercifully blurred and she twisted away. With a stifled expletive in his own lan¬guage, Dio closed his arms round her. She made a frantic effort to pull free, but he was so much stronger she might as well have been trying to break through solid steel bars.
Ellie finally subsided against him, weak as water after that outburst which had come from the very depths of her. Crushed against his chest, she Listened to the solid, reassuring thump of his heart and drank in the achingly familiar scent of him. She shut her eyes tight and wished the world could stop for ever at that moment
'I can promise you that I will not suggest that as a rem¬edy,' Dio breathed, his Greek accent very thick.
The tight knot of fear inside her began to uncoil. 'I just don't want that pressure put on me...it's not fair,' she mut¬tered shakily.
'At least your mother withstood that pressure—'
A humourless laugh was dredged from Ellie. 'Only be¬cause she was terrified of what the procedure might involve.' She snatched in a jagged breath. 'She didn't even see that my father just didn't want me to be born. He told her that he couldn't bear the thought of her having to live as an un¬married mother and she believed him.'
'You never did tell me the rest of that story.'
"There was no happy ending.'
'So?' Dio challenged, his deep-pitched drawl reverberating through his chest, making her quiver in reaction.
Ellie lifted her head and looked up at him. It was a long way up, but those stunning black eyes of his could have gripped and held her at a hundred yards. She fought to con¬centrate. 'Mum was his mistress for sixteen years...'
Taken aback by that bald admission, Dio expelled his breath in a fracturing hiss.
'So you really weren't on a winning streak with that offer you made,' Ellie pointed out, a pained attempt at a teasing smile curving her soft full mouth. 'But at least you're not someone else's husband, like he was...'
Dio had gone very still. His incredible lashes lowered to screen his gaze.
'And even though it wasn't what I wanted to hear, I guess you were honest,' Ellie conceded jerkily. 'Which he never was.'
Tension snaked through Dio's big powerful frame. His arms tightened round her. Ellie felt whole again for the first time since she had left Chindos, but all the more conscious that the emotional hold which Dio had on her was stupen¬dously strong.
Dio smoothed the tumbled silvery hair from her damp brow, his eyes liquid dark with emotion. 'You were right,' he murmured with a roughened edge to his dark, deep voice.
‘When I asked you to be my mistress, I didn't consider you. I wanted you back in my bed. That was the bottom line.'
Ellie trembled, defenseless against her own hunger to be as close to him as his own skin. 'Well, I don't want to be your mistress,' she whispered shakily. 'But I do want to be with you tonight...'
Dio wasn't quite quick enough to hide his surprise.
Shocked by her own daring, Ellie reddened, not even sure where that frank confession had come from.
'I really don't deserve you,' Dio grated quietly as he bent and lifted her easily off her feet and up into his arms.
Ellie buried her hot face in his shoulder and gloried in his physical strength. At that instant being with Dio was all she wanted hi the whole wide world. He settled her down on a divan in a low-lit elegant bedroom. He ran the zips down on her boots and eased them off. He sprang upright again with that fluid grace she adored and began to undress.
Watching him discard his clothes, Ellie was weak with longing. She shimmied out of her tights and clumsily tugged off her sweater.
'Stop it,' Dio scolded with shimmering golden eyes full of mingled reproach and anticipation. 'I want to do that.'
Her mouth ran dry as he came back to her, his bold arousal flagrant proof of his powerful masculinity. He was like a bronze sculpture, but far too erotic to ever be put on public view. Nor could any metal ever have portrayed his sheer vibrance. Stinging sexual awareness shot through Ellie like an electric current
Dio unclipped her bra. Her full breasts were adorned by pouting pink nipples. His slumbrous eyes burning her tempt¬ingly exposed flesh, Dio suddenly groaned, 'Cristos… I shouldn't be doing this!'