On the clear brink of making a deflating retort, the older woman's mouth fell open when she heard that name and took a better look at the tall black-haired male towering over Ellie. 'M-Mr Alexiakis?' she stammered in incredulously.
'Yes, the owner of this chain of shops,' Dio confirmed, surveying the unfortunate woman with menacing disap¬proval. 'Tell me, do your staff usually stand around chatting when there are customers requiring attention? And since when has a display been more important than making a sale?'
'You're quite right, sir. Please allow me to assist you,' the manageress muttered unevenly, her discomfiture uncon¬cealed.
'This lady needs lingerie. Pick some out for us.' His at¬tention falling on the shoe racks, he dragged Ellie across to them. 'What size are you?'
'I don't think I've ever been more embarrassed in my life.' Ellie was trembling with rage and chagrin. 'Is this the way you normally behave hi public?'
'What's the matter with you?' he demanded with ringing impatience. 'We don't have time to waste. Choose some shoes.'
In the background the manageress was struggling to strip the shorts outfit from the mannequin with hands that were visibly trembling.
In a sudden move of desperation, Ellie stretched up and heaped all the garments into his arms instead. 'Why don't you just go over to the checkout and wait for me there?'
‘I’ll stay here to expedite matters—'
'You are not standing around while I choose undergar¬ments!' Ellie hissed up at him, like a viper ready to strike, infuriated green eyes flaming bright as jewels. 'I don't need so much stuff either.'
Black eyes scorched down into hers. 'I'm paying you to do as you're told—'
'If I have to put up with you, it'll need to be plenty!'
His brilliant gaze literally shimmered, a dark flush of col¬our accentuating the savage slant of his sculpted cheekbones. Incredulity emanated from him in waves. Nobody speaks to me like that—'
'Oh, stop throwing your weight around,' Ellie told him witheringly. 'I—‘
'You've behaved atrociously from the moment we walked in here,' Ellie condemned fiercely. 'Go over to the checkout and keep quiet, and try not to terrify the life out of anybody else!'
Turning her back on him, unperturbed by the rasp of Greek invective Dio Alexiakis was audibly struggling to restrain, Ellie chose a pair of high-heeled black sandals and tried them on. They fitted. She passed them to him without a backward glance before joining the ashen-pale manageress at the lin¬gerie section and hurriedly selecting a nightdress and some sets of bras and briefs. Argument, she sensed with a shudder, might well lead to further public mortification. She would leave the clothes behind when she was finally free of the dreadful man. And already the mere thought of another thirty-six hours in Dio Alexiakis's domineering and boorish radius daunted her.
He handed the blue dress and the shoes back to her. 'Put them on,' he commanded with studied insolence.
Cheeks adorned with flags of outraged scarlet, Ellie stalked into a cubicle. He had no manners. He was incredibly con¬frontational, unnervingly uninhibited and outspoken. As for the way he reacted when he got a taste of his own medicine back—well, he went up in flames like a rocket! When she emerged again, the entire staff were engaged in wrapping the rest of the purchases. Never had Ellie been more grateful to leave a shop.
'I suppose you want to go in there,' Dio condemned with unconcealed exasperation as he surveyed a busy outlet which sold cosmetics and toiletries.
'No...no, I'll manage fine!' Ellie swore in haste. 'Prehis¬toric man cleaned his teeth with a twig. Maybe I'll pick one up somewhere on the way.'
Dio dealt her an arrested glance. And then he really shocked her. He flung back his imperious dark head and laughed with spontaneous amusement. Ellie simply gaped, heart-rate speeding up, pulses jumping. His even white teeth flashed against bronzed skin, dark, deep-set eyes gleaming with appreciation. Humour drove all brooding darkness from his lean, powerful face, leaving her bemusedly conscious of just how stunning he was in the looks department.
'I'm not into shopping,' he confided huskily, as if she might not already be aware of that reality. 'Other people usu¬ally do it for me.'
Her complexion uncomfortably warm, Ellie dragged her attention from him and studied the floor, but that Mediter¬ranean dark and devastating face was still imprinted in her mind's eye. He really was spectacular. That stark acknowledgement, that very thought, seriously unsettled Ellie. Dio Alexiakis wasn't making the tiniest effort to impress or please her. Yet somehow he still made her effortlessly aware of his high-voltage male sexuality. She didn't like that sen¬sation, didn't like the unease and tension he provoked inside her.