Page 44 of Expectant Bride

'Yeah, you're right, we're definitely evens...' Ricky de¬cided out loud, and displayed his innate survival skills by hurriedly backing into his car. He was gone within a minute.

Ellie shivered in the night air. But even though she was shaken and furious her eyes clung to Dio. His black hair gleamed beneath the street light, accentuating the hard edges of his taut bone structure.

'Ricky Bolton!' Dio suddenly seethed through gritted white teeth. 'What the hell was he doing here?'

'Oh, please!’ she moaned. 'He just called by. And I don't care what you think you saw. You had no business acting like a thug!'

'Cristos! How do you think I felt, seeing you wrapped round another man?' Dio growled. 'You told me to stay away. You're treating me like a leper. I've had just about all I can take!'

Perhaps for the first time since she had learnt that she was carrying his baby, Ellie faced the fact that Dio was under stress as well. Dio had made instant decisions when her preg¬nancy had been confirmed. Without hesitation Dio had asked her to marry him and had flown over to Paris to explain the situation to Helena. But Ellie had then rejected his matrimonial solution, refused to see him or speak to him and had withdrawn to wallow in her own bitterness. But now she felt guilty. Dio had a right to know where he stood and what was going to happen next.

'I just don't know what's going to happen next,' Ellie confided raggedly.

'I do...' Dio breathed, reaching for her with determined hands and raising her up to crash her startled mouth under his.

That fiery demanding kiss knocked Ellie sideways. His raw hunger snapped her control, released all the seething emo¬tions she had been trying to control. Her head spun; her heart thundered. Sexual heat zapped her. She quivered, locking her straining body to the hard muscle and power of his, a needy moan sounding deep in her throat as she clutched feverishly at his shoulders.

Dio flung back his head, brilliant eyes burning like fire now as he scanned her bemused face. 'You do bring out the animal in me, pethi mou,' he husked, backing her indoors again and setting her back down on her own feet. 'Where's the alarm system?'

Ellie was still in another world entirely, her body throbbing with the pangs of denial. "The...a/arm?'

Dio located it for himself, set it, and doused the lights. Stuffing her bag into her hands, he tugged her outside again and locked up. 'What are you doing?' Ellie finally muttered in bewilderment.

'We're going to have dinner and talk.' 'But I'm not dressed—'

'You've got clothes on, haven't you?' Dio cut in with very male impatience.

Ellie frowned down at her skinny-rib cardy, long black skirt and flat boots.

'You look great,' Dio told her without looking at her as he pressed her into the Ferrari.

*      *     *

Their corner of the quiet, exclusive restaurant was so peaceful and so empty it was as if an exclusion zone had been set around their table. There didn't seem to be any other diners. Ellie lifted her glass of wine.

Dio looked at her, transfixed. Then he reached across the table and literally snatched the glass right out of her hand. 'You can't have that!'

Ellie gazed back at him in total bemusement. 'Why not?'

'You're pregnant. It's safest to stay off alcohol. Don't you know that?' Dio demanded.

'Why should I know that?'

'You're a woman—'


'You're supposed to know about that sort of stuff,' Dio told her with a frown.

'Well, I don't! I'm twenty-one, single and goal-orien¬tated…at least I was,' Ellie muttered darkly. 'Why would I ever have been interested in knowing what a woman should and shouldn't do when she's pregnant?'

'As it happens...Nathan dropped this book for expectant fathers in with me.' Dio shrugged, and then shrugged again with exaggerated cool to combat her now widening eyes full of wonderment. 'I just flicked through it.'

Ellie could tell he had read every sentence, down to the fine print. She was touched. He had made more effort than she had and she worked in a bookshop. Maybe he wasn't as squeamish as she was.

'I thought there were things I should know—'

'You really do want this baby, don't you?' she conceded grudgingly.

His dark, deep-set eyes narrowed warily. 'Only if you come as part of the package.'

'What's that supposed to mean?'

"That the way you've been behaving I don't know what to expect any more. You don't want to be pregnant. You don't want to be with me...except hi bed,' Dio outlined with a sardonic look of challenge.

An unexpected surge of tears stung the backs of Ellie's eyes. She blinked furiously. "That's not true...I do want the baby...' she sniffed. 'Oh, for heaven's sake, why am I cry¬ing?'

Dio reached for her coiled fingers. 'Your hormones are all over the place right now. It's making you very emotional.'