Page 9 of Expectant Bride

'My security staff are not stupid,' Dio interposed crushingly, openly aggravated by her interruptions. "The premises will have been left in order.'

Ellie tilted her chin. 'It must be comforting to know that you have staff who can trespass as efficiently as burglars.'

Dio dealt her a thunderous glance from brilliant black eyes.

'It's rude to ignore people,' she told him stubbornly, and spun away.

But then you're just a cleaner, she reminded herself in exasperation. The lowest of the low hi any staff hierarchy. Even worse, she was stuck with a guy used to being waited on hand and foot by servants. Behaving as if she was the invisible woman didn't tax Dio in the slightest. He expected her to maintain a respectful silence unless first invited to speak. But she had never been that good at keeping her tongue between her teeth, she acknowledged ruefully.

Feeling cold now that she was no longer being kept warm by carting heavy bags around, not to mention the need to walk at about five times her natural speed, Ellie took out the black coat, ripped off the sale label and put it on. The hem hit the floor. If she pulled up the collar she would look like a small moving blanket.

'Here...' Dio Alexiakis extended his mobile phone to her.

Ellie blinked in complete disconcertion.

'Your story checks out. Demitrios confirms it. You may call the owner of the bookshop.'

Ellie punched out the number. As soon as he heard her voice, Mr Barry asked anxiously if something had happened at the shop. Reassuring him, but resentfully conscious of Dio listening to every word, she explained that she would be off work for a couple of days, and apologised for the lack of warning she was giving him. She said a close friend was ill.

Ending the call with relief, she returned the phone to Dio Alexiakis.

He shot her a grim, measuring look. 'You're a very con¬vincing liar.'

Several hours later, Ellie was appreciatively conceding that the interior of the Alexiakis private jet was something else.

Her eyes roved with keen curiosity in every direction. Op¬ulent cream leather seating, plush carpet and elegant door. The cabin was far more like a luxurious reception room than mere passenger space. And did Dio Alexiakis realise how lucky he was? Did he heck!

Ellie surveyed her reluctant host. While they had waited endlessly at the airport for a fresh take-off slot for the jet he had paced the VIP lounge, exuding frustration and wrathful impatience in enervating waves. Now they were finally airborne, but from what she could see he was in no better a mood.

Even so, she still found herself studying him. The dense blue-black hair so perfectly styled to his well-shaped head. The spectacular eyes enhanced by luxuriant ebony lashes. Eyes the colour of midnight that could glint like diamond stars. The hard planes and hollows of his fabulous bone struc¬ture. Strong cheekbones added character. His arrogant nose gave warning. And that wide, perfect mouth? Passion and sensuality. She pondered on the mystery of how a particular set of features could add up to such a devastating whole.

And by the time she surprised herself at that stage, she'd got distinctly hot and bothered, and acknowledged a truth she would sooner have denied. She fancied the socks off Dio Alexiakis! Who had she been trying to kid when she'd told herself he revolted her? But it had been such a very long time since Ellie had been physically attracted to a man that she was sincerely stunned by the revelation. Just hormones playing a trick on her to remind her that she could be as foolish and fallible as any other woman, she told herself. Urgently.

But even hi a filthy mood, Dio Alexiakis was incredibly sexy. If she had noticed, he had to be! Possessed of that rare fluidity of a male totally in touch with his own body, he moved like a big cat prowling on velvet paws. And he was beautifully built. Broad shoulders, taut, flat stomach, slim hips, long, lean powerful thighs, she assessed, taking indi¬vidual note of each attribute. Fantasy man...well, until he opened his mouth, she conceded, or left her carting the bags, or looked through her with supreme disdain while never once enquiring if she was hungry or thirsty. Not a feeling guy. Tough, selfish, single-minded and utterly ruthless in attaining his own ends...

Caught staring, Ellie clashed in shock with Dio's narrowed intent gaze. Eyes that could turn to the glowing gold of topaz in sunlight, she registered, suddenly running alarmingly short of breath. But it was a kind of alarm new to Ellie's experi¬ence. Edge-of-the-seat excitement, she labelled in disbelief, finding it impossible to break free of that smouldering golden appraisal. Feverish tension held her fast, the thunder of her accelerated heartbeat pounding in her ears like surf as her mouth ran dry. An arrow of twisting heat coiled up through her and warm colour stained her face.