She backed away. “I—need to go feed Misha,” she gasped out, and hurried down the hall. She was surprised and relieved beyond measure when he didn’t follow her.
Afterward, as she closed the nursery door, leaving a well-fed slumbering baby behind her, she was just congratulating herself on escaping her fate when she heard his voice.
“I shouldn’t have called you a bad mother. It’s not true.”
She whirled around to see Nikos step forward in the moonlit hallway, his face half hidden by shadows.
Gulping a breath, she looked down at the floor. “Nikos!”
He came closer and lightly brushed her wind-tangled hair off her shoulders. “I’m sorry I said it. You are good with him.”
She knew that his brief kindness was part of his plan to wear her down, but unfortunately it was working. Those were words she’d been so desperate to hear, especially from him.
Damn! Biting her lip, she threw a look of longing at the guest bedroom the housekeeper had assigned her. It was only ten feet down the hall, but it might as well have been a million miles away as he took her in his arms.
He stared at the way her teeth rubbed against her lower lip. “You’re so beautiful,” he whispered, lightly tracing his finger against her cheek. “And so wild. So much passion behind that prim, dignified secretary. For all those years I never knew.”
She started to tremble. She had to get out of here. She had to escape. She was already perilously close to giving in.
Swallowing, she tried to pick a fight. “Where’s Lindsey tonight?”
“I have no idea. I fired her.”
“She was never my lover, Anna. She fed you lies out of some deluded hope that she might be someday. But she was never my type.”
“What’s your type?” she retorted feebly, trying to hide her shock about Lindsey.
He blinked, then shook his head, giving her a predatory smile. “Arrogant Russian-born women with black hair, cat-shaped eyes and a tart mouth.” He leaned forward to breathe in her hair, whispering in her ear. “I remember the sweet taste of you. Tart and sweet all over, Anna…”
She struggled not to remember, not to feel anything as his voice washed over her senses. “Lindsey really wasn’t your lover?”
“Since that first night we were together you’ve been the only one.” He ran his finger gently along her lips. “You’re the mother of my child. I need you, Anna. In my home. In my bed.”
Oh, my God. She was dizzy with longing, unable to speak.
“You are meant to be my wife.” He kissed her softly on the forehead, her cheeks. “It is fate.”
“But I—I don’t want you,” she managed, her heart threatening to jump out of her ribcage.
“Prove it,” he whispered. Encircling her body with his strong arms, he slowly traced his hand down her bare back. She could feel the warmth of his skin, the strength of his hand.
“I don’t,” she insisted, but her voice was so weak that even she didn’t believe it.
He backed her up against the wall between a large plant and a Greek statue in the wide, dark hallway. “Are you sure?”
The only thing of which she was sure was that the strain of not reaching for him was causing her physical pain. She flattened her trembling palms against the wall as he gently ran his hand through her tangled dark hair. His fingers brushed against the sensitive flesh of her earlobe. He traced lightly down her neck.
“I always get what I want, and I’ve never wanted any woman like I want you…”
Lowering his mouth to hers, he kissed her. His lips was gentle and oh, so seductive. Pressing her hands against his chest, she willed herself to resist. To remember the cruel way he’d humiliated her before.
I won’t give in this time. I won’t…
But even as she made token resistance she felt her body surrender. Her head leaned back as his tongue teased her, as his lips seared her own. She felt her mind, soul, everything float away until only longing was left.
“No!” With her last bit of will-power she pushed him away. She tried to push past him toward her room, but he blocked her. She stumbled over her high-heeled sandals, kicking them off as she turned and ran down the hall. He pursued her, as single-minded as a wolf stalking a deer. She raced outside, banging the door behind her.
In the courtyard, dark clouds had spread across the sky, and she could smell coming rain. Silver threads of moonlight laced the sky, barely holding back the storm.
Barefoot, Anna tripped across the mosaic tiles of the courtyard, skirting the edge of the pool’s shimmering water. Her pale skin glowed in the moonlight as she ran beneath the dark shadows of palm trees.
Nikos caught her in front of the enormous Moroccan fountain, his arms wrapping around her from behind.
“I need you, Anna,” he said huskily in her ear, holding her body against his own. “And you need me. Don’t deny it.”
Kissing her neck from behind, he ran his hands over her, cupping her breasts in the suede.
Sucking in her breath, she whirled to face him. Angry words fell unspoken as she saw his face. His handsome, strong face, made somehow even more masculine with the dark bristles of a five o’clock shadow on his chin. In the snug black T-shirt and dark jeans he didn’t look like a billionaire tycoon. He looked like a biker, dangerous and dark, and a devil in bed.
He was right. She wanted him.
Could so easily love him…
“I can’t,” she gasped aloud.
“Can’t?” He held her even tighter.
In spite of her resolve, honesty poured out of her. “I can’t fight you anymore…”
His sensual lips curved into a smile as he reached his hand behind her head and pulled her into a hot, hard kiss. She returned the kiss hungrily, tasting blood in the intensity of their mutual need. His blood? Hers? She didn’t care. All she knew was that she’d been denied his touch for too long. If he stopped kissing her now she would die.
She wanted to possess him as thoroughly and savagely as he’d possessed her soul…
She pressed her hands against his back, desperate to pull him closer, but it wasn’t enough. She brought her hands between them, beneath his shirt, running her hands up his taut belly. She heard him gasp as she explored the trail of hair up his chest, feeling the hard planes of his torso. He’d always been strong, but his muscles were bigger now, harder than they’d ever been. And more…
“What’s this?” she murmured aloud, but didn’t wait for an answer. She yanked on the black T-shirt, and he let her pull it off his body. She lightly traced a hard ridge across his naked collarbone, then found another one over his ribs.
“You have new scars,” she whispered.
He shrugged, a deceptively careless gesture. “I worked some aggression out in the boxing ring while you were gone.”
“I’m not. I’m stronger now. No one will ever have to do my fighting for me again.”
Unlike most rich men, she thought in a daze. Unlike Victor.
Nikos ran his hands up and down her halter top, caressing the soft suede, pressing her breasts upwards until they threatened to spill over. He reached beneath the top, cupping and weighing their fullness, then bent to nuzzle between them. The dark stubble of his chin was rough against her tender skin, sending prickles all over her body as he licked his way slowly to her neck. He sucked at the crook of her shoulder, causing pain and pleasure and a mark of possession.
She moaned softly, arching into him. He pushed her back roughly against the tiled wall of the courtyard. Her eyelids fluttered, and as if in a dream she saw the splash of colorful tile in the moonlight, heard the burble of the stone fountain.
She couldn’t let this happen…
She couldn’t stop herself from letting it happen…
Dazed and unsteady, she threw her arms back against the wall for support. He pressed his hands on the small of her back, pulling her closer, tighter. His naked chest pressed against her, the hard muscles of his arms wrapped around her bare arms. Their legs were tangled as she felt the naked skin of his taut belly against her own. He kissed her hard, running his hands through her hair.
He ran his hands along the sides of her jeans. Jeans! She cursed the choice. Why hadn’t she worn a skirt? He grabbed her backside, lifting her up so she could wrap her legs around him. She could feel how hard he was, how ready for her. She wanted him to take her here, now, against the wall, before she had time to think.
“God, I want you,” he whispered. “For the last year you’re the only woman I’ve been able to think about. Just you. Only you.”
She took a deep breath. “Then take me.”
There. She’d said it. Right or wrong, she’d dared to admit what they both already knew: she wanted him. Her cheeks felt hot; she felt like a hoyden. She took a deep breath. “But please be gentle. My—my doctor said the first time I had sex after the baby might feel like…like I was a virgin. It might hurt.”