Page 7 of Expectant Bride

She might be only twenty-one, but it was over a year since Ellie had gone out on a date. Men, she had decided, were a waste of precious time and effort, and she hadn't once re¬gretted that decision. She didn't consider herself a man-hater, but she did get a secret kick out of jokes that suggested the male sex was useless and increasingly surplus to female re¬quirements. After all, by and large, that had been Ellie's ex¬perience from childhood.

As Dio urged Ellie at speed through the crowded terminal, he rested a lean hand lightly on her taut spine to keep her moving. She stiffened defensively. 'Excuse me,' she heard herself say stiltedly, stepping back, suddenly determined to escape him, even if it could only be for a little while.


'Where do you think you're going?' he demanded.

"The ladies' cloakroom,' Ellie framed with frigid empha¬sis. 'Are you planning to come with me?'

His aggressive jawline squared. ‘I’ll give you two minutes.'

Pointedly dumping the carrier bags she was loaded down with at his feet, she began to walk away.

'Ellie...' He extended a comb to her with a sardonic look.. 'Maybe you should do something with your hair while you're in there.'

Gritting her teeth at the realisation that she hadn't taken the time to check her appearance in the shop, and strongly resisting an unusually feminine urge to start smoothing her hair down, Ellie vanished into the cloakroom.

It was the work of a moment to tame her bright hair back into a straight heavy fall just below her shoulders. She frowned at her reflection, noticing the animated pink in her cheeks, the surprising sparkle in her eyes. The dress had a cool simplicity she liked, but it wasn't her style.

Her full pink mouth tightening, Ellie studied the expensive silver comb he had given her and recalled the ease with which he had accurately assessed her dress size. But then that had not been a surprise to her. At twenty-nine years of age, Dio Alexiakis was an unrepentant, totally unrecon¬structed womaniser. Naturally he was, Ellie reflected cyni¬cally. Men with money and power lived hi a buyers' market of all too willing women. Dio was a real babe magnet, and he knew it. He had undoubtedly never had to worry too much about honing the rough edges from his less than presentable manners.

But, even so, she was to get a free trip to Greece. Private jet, five-star luxury all the way. The drawback? Dio Alexiakis breathing down her neck. An adventure, she told herself staunchly. Even with him around it ought to be more fun than polishing endless floors.

Heavens, she realised abruptly, she'd have to ring Mr Barry. Tomorrow morning her boss would be expecting her to open up as usual. He never turned in until noon, and when he found the shop still locked up he'd go straight upstairs to her bedsit and hammer on the door, thinking she had fallen ill. Regardless of Die's embargo, she had to phone Mr Barry, and as she could hardly tell the older man the truth, she would have to lie to excuse her absence.

Carefully concealing herself behind a pair of large, gossip¬ing women, Ellie slipped out of the cloakroom and lunged breathlessly at the public phone only a few yards away. Dio Alexiakis was now standing in the centre of the busy con¬course, talking on his mobile phone, his attention conven¬iently distracted.

Ellie dialled the operator. Since she had no cash on her at all, she would have to request a reverse-charge call. But just as the operator answered, Dio turned his dark, arrogant head. She crashed the receiver back on the hook, but she wasn't quick enough. Dio saw her before she could put some space between herself and the phone.

Ellie froze like a criminal as glittering black eyes locked to her in instantaneous judgement, his lean, strong face dark¬ening as he strode towards her. And Ellie, who knew all too well what it felt like to be irritated or bored by a member of the male sex, discovered for the first time hi her life what it felt like to be scared...

CHAPTER TWO

EYES as dangerous as black ice scanned Ellie's pale face. 'The instant I allowed you out of my sight, you rushed to the phone to pass on the information you overheard. You have betrayed my trust!' Dio Alexiakis condemned with scantily suppressed savagery.

Even trembling, and with her stomach knotted light with apprehension, Ellie was fascinated by the volatile charge of that explosive Mediterranean temperament and that innate sense of drama. Both were so utterly foreign to her.

'Mr. Alexiakis—' she began, keen to disabuse him of his eagerness to assume the worst.

'You have made your choice. So be it.' Dio surveyed her with cold, lethal menace. 1 will destroy you for this.'

Ellie's tummy performed an unpleasant somersault. 'You've got it wrong,' she protested feverishly. 'I only got as far as dialling the operator!'

With a look of thunderous derision, Dio swung on his heel and strode away, outrage etched in every line of his lean, tight, powerful body.

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