‘Melody!’ George charged after her, completely baffled as to why she was upset. The concrete stairs were cold beneath his feet but that was the least of his worries. ‘Talk to me,’ he demanded, his voice echoing. The clip-clop of Melody’s shoes reverberated around the stairwell and he was pleased to note she was holding onto the railing. The last thing she needed was a twisted ankle.
‘There’s nothing to say.’ She rounded the bend and started on the next flight. She was grateful that Rudy’s suite hadn’t been on the twentieth floor but given the way she was feeling she wouldn’t have cared how many flights of stairs she had to walk down. All she wanted was to get out of the hotel and away from George.
‘Nothing to say? You’re being stubborn and irrational.’
Melody stopped and whirled around to look up at him. He stopped too. ‘Stubborn? Irrational?’
‘Yes.’ There were only two steps between them and George slowly moved down one, hoping she wouldn’t move. It didn’t work.
She whirled around again and started clopping her way down the noisy stairwell. ‘So what if I am being irrational? I’ve got good reason.’
‘Then tell me what it is so I can apologise.’
‘It’s the fact that you don’t know you’ve done anything wrong that’s made me angry.’ That and her own uncontrollable reaction to him. She had to become stronger. She had to fight the attraction between them with every ounce of her strength.
‘Wanting to kiss you was wrong?’
‘Oh, you know it was,’ she growled. ‘And then you want to pretend it didn’t happen.’
‘But it didn’t happen,’ he returned.
‘Not the kiss, that’s not what I’m talking about.’
‘Then what are you talking about? I’m completely perplexed about why I’m suddenly in the doghouse when, as far as I’m concerned, I’ve done nothing wrong.’
‘Isn’t that always the way with you men?’ She threw over her shoulder as she continued her descent. ‘And then there’s Astrid and goodness knows how many other women throwing themselves at you, day and night.’
‘That’s hardly my fault—and I’m not with Astrid, I’m with you.’
‘Because you’re hoping to pick up where we left off?’ she queried. ‘You didn’t get to kiss me, so now you’ll chase after me in the hope that you’ll get what you want in the end?’ She clicked her tongue disapprovingly. ‘You men really are all the same.’
‘You keep saying that,’ George argued back. ‘Are you really comparing me to the dead-heads you’ve dated in the past?’
‘Dead-heads? They were both qualified doctors and you don’t even know them.’
‘They broke your heart. That means they were not only stupid but idiotic, and I don’t care how many university degrees they held. A qualification doesn’t give you licence to treat people badly.’ His words were harsh and filled with annoyance. Was he annoyed at her or at the dead-heads she’d dated?
‘At any rate, it’s none of your business.’ She rounded the corner for the final flight of stairs.
‘It is my business if you’re going to tar me with the same brush as them.’
‘How can I? I hardly know you, George. You tell me you’re attracted to me, that no other woman has made you feel this way since—’ She stopped and sighed, not wanting to have a discussion about his wife because she really only knew what George had told her and therefore had no authority to speak about it.
‘My wife,’ he finished for her. ‘Yes, that’s true.’
‘That’s what you tell me. You’ve been travelling for so long, you’re bound to get—well—lonely and…’
‘So you just think I try and kiss any woman who shows an interest in me, eh?’
‘How do I know? You might.’ The last thing Melody wanted to think about now was George kissing other women. Jealousy reared its ugly head.
‘Even though we’ve spent such a short time together, Melody, I thought the answer to that question might have been obvious. For all I know, you might be the type of woman who gives in to every guy who makes a pass at you.’
‘What?’ She stopped walking long enough to turn and glare at him. ‘How dare you?’
‘Ah, so you don’t like either. It’s all right for you to accuse me of awful behaviour but not vice-versa.’ He came to stand beside her on the step, both of them staring at each other, their emotions rioting. Melody was still annoyed with him for withdrawing from her the way he had, for pretending that almost-kiss hadn’t happened and that she—she—He’d made her feel unworthy but she wasn’t sure how to voice such a thing given she really had no idea where or if this attraction between them was going anywhere.