Stepping into full view, her attention all for Angelos as he mounted the shallow steps to the door, Maxie snapped, ‘And what sort of a time do you call this? Where the heck have you been?’
As his lawyer froze into shattered stillness, Angelos’s black eyes lit on Maxie like burnished blazing gold. And then a funny thing happened. A sudden scorching smile of raw amusement wiped the disturbing detachment from his savagely handsome features. ‘We had to wait thirty minutes for a landing slot at the airport. Short of a parachute jump, there wasn’t much I could do about that.’
Suddenly self-conscious, her cheeks flaming, Maxie shrugged. ‘OK.’
‘Thanks for wearing my favourite outfit. You look spectacular,’ Angelos murmured huskily in her ear, before he moved smoothly forward to offer his apologies to the rector for his late arrival.
Minutes later, they were walking down the aisle. As the ceremony began Maxie looked tautly around herself and then down at her empty hands. Not even a flower to hold. And her dress—so inappropriate, so strident against the timeworn simplicity of the church and its quiet atmosphere of loving piety. But then what did love have to do with her agreement with Angelos?
Suddenly she felt the most terrible fraud. Like any other woman, she had had wedding day dreams. Not one of them had included marrying a man who didn’t love her. Not one of them had included the absence of her father and of even a single friend or well-wisher. Her eyes prickled with tears. Finding herself all choked up, Maxie blinked rapidly, mortified by her own emotionalism. A ring was slid onto her wedding finger. And then it was over. When Angelos tried to kiss her, she twisted her golden head away and presented him with a cool, damp cheek.
‘What’s the matter with you?’ Angelos demanded as he strode down the steps, one big hand stubbornly enclosing hers in spite of her evasive attempts to ease free of him. ‘Why the tears?’
‘I feel horribly guilty...we just took vows we didn’t mean.’
Maxie climbed into the Mercedes. After a brief exchange with his lawyer, Angelos swung into the driver’s seat and slammed the door. Starting the engine, he drove off. The silence between them screeched louder with every passing minute.
‘Tell me, is there the slightest hope of any bridal joy on the horizon?’ Angelos finally enquired in a charged and sardonic undertone.
‘I don’t feel like a bride,’ Maxie responded flatly. ‘I thought you’d be pleased about that.’
Angelos brought the Mercedes to a sudden halt on the quiet country road. As he snapped free his seat belt Maxie turned to look at him, wondering why he had stopped. With a lack of cool that took her completely by surprise, Angelos pulled her into his powerful arms and sealed his mouth to hers in a hot, hard, punishing kiss. Maxie struck his broad muscular back with balled fists of outrage, but all that pent-up passion he unleashed surged through her like a lightning bolt of retribution.
Her head swam; her heartbeat thundered insanely fast. Her fists uncoiled, her fingers flexed and then rose to knot round the back of his strong neck. She clung. He prised her lips apart and with a ragged groan of need let his tongue delve deep. Excited beyond belief at that intensely sexual assault, Maxie reacted with a whimpering, startled moan of pleasure, and then as abruptly as he had reached for her Angelos released her again, his hard profile taut
‘We haven’t got time for this. I don’t want to have to hang around at the airport.’
Maxie’s swollen mouth tingled. She lowered her head, but as Angelos shifted restlessly on the seat and switched the engine back on she could not help but notice that he was sexually aroused. Her face burning from that intimate awareness, she swiftly averted her attention again. He seemed to get that way very easily, she thought nervously. And only then did Maxie admit to herself that her own lack of sexual experience had now become a source of some anxiety to her.
For a cool, sophisticated male, Angelos had seemed alarmingly close to the edge of his control. If he could react like that to one kiss, what would he be like tonight?
That Greek temperament of his was fiery. Virile, overwhelming masculinity powered his smouldering passion to possess, which she had already frustrated more than once. And, since he believed that she had had other lovers, maybe he wouldn’t bother too much with preliminaries. Maybe he would just expect her to be as hot and impatient as he was for satisfaction...
For goodness’ sake, Angelos wasn’t a clumsy teenager, she told herself in exasperation. As experienced as he undoubtedly was in the bedroom, he was sure to be a skilled and considerate lover. And he would never guess that she was inexperienced. She had once read on a problem page that most men couldn’t even tell whether a woman was a virgin or not.