And he stilled, and Maxie gasped in stricken protest, and with an earthy sound of amusement he went on. She didn’t want him ever to stop. The slow, tormenting climb to fevered excitement had raised her to such a pitch, she ached for more with every thrust of his possession. And when finally sensation took her in a wild storm of rocketing pleasure, she uttered a startled moan of delight. As the last tiny quiver of glorious fulfilment evaporated she looked up at him with new eyes.
‘Wow,’ she breathed.
Struggling to catch his breath, Angelos dealt her a very male smile of satisfaction. ‘That was the wedding night we should have had.’
Maxie was still pretty much lost in wonder. Wow, she thought again, luxuriating in the strong arms still wrapped around her, the closeness, the feeling of tenderness eating her up alive and threatening to make her eyes overflow. Oh, yes, wouldn’t tears really impress him? Blinking rapidly, she swallowed hard on the surge of powerful emotion she was struggling to control.
‘I think it’s time I made some sort of announcement about this marriage of ours,’ Angelos drawled lazily.
Maxie’s lashes shot up, eyes stunned at all that went unsaid in that almost careless declaration. Evidently Angelos no longer saw the slightest need to keep their true relationship a secret from the rest of the world.
‘Don’t you think?’ he prompted softly, and then with a slumberous sigh he released her from his weight and rolled off the bed in one powerfully energetic movement. ‘Shower and then breakfast...I don’t think I’ve ever been so hungry in my life!’
Only then did Maxie recall what he had said about ‘crazy stories’ before they’d made love. Her face tensed, her stomach twisting. ‘Angelos...?’
He turned his tousled dark head and he smiled at her again.
Her fingers knotted nervously into a section of sheet. ‘What I mentioned earlier...what I said about my godmother’s will...that wasn’t a story, it was the truth.’
Angelos stilled, his smile evaporating like Scotch mist, black eyes suddenly level and alert.
Maxie explained again about the will. She went into great detail on the subject of her godmother’s lifelong belief in the importance of marriage, the older woman’s angry disapproval when Maxie had moved in with Leland. But Maxie didn’t look at Angelos again after that first ten seconds when she had anxiously registered the grim tautening of his dark features.
‘You see, at the time...after the way you proposed...I mean, I was angry, and I didn’t see why I shouldn’t make use of the fact that you were actually offering me exactly what I required to meet that condition of inheritance...’ Maxie’s voice petered out to a weak, uncertain halt because what had once seemed so clear now seemed so confused inside her own head. And the decision which once had seemed so simple and so clever mysteriously took on another aspect altogether when she attempted to explain it out loud to Angelos.
The silence simmered like a boiling cauldron.
Slowly, hesitantly, Maxie lifted her head and focused on Angelos.
Strong face hard with derision, black eyes scorching slivers of burning gold, he stared back at her. ‘You are one devious, calculating little vixen,’ he breathed with raw anger. ‘When I asked you to marry me, I was honest. Anything less than complete honesty would’ve been beneath me because, unlike you, I have certain principles, certain standards!’
Maxie had turned paper-pale. ‘Angelos, I—’
‘Shut up...I don’t want to hear any more!’ he blazed back at her with sizzling contempt. ‘I’m thinking of the generous financial settlement you were promised should our marriage end. You had neither need nor any other excuse to plot and plan to collect on some trusting old lady’s will as well!’
A great rush of hot tears hit the back of Maxie’s aching eyes. Blinking rapidly, she looked away. He was looking at her as if she had just crawled out from under a stone and sudden intense shame engulfed her.
‘How could you be so disgustingly greedy?’ Angelos launched in fierce condemnation. ‘And how could you try to use me when I never once tried to use you?’
‘It wasn’t like that. You’ve got it all wrong,’ Maxie fumbled in desperation, deeply regretting her own foolish mode of confession on the beach when saving face had been uppermost in her mind. ‘It was a spur-of-the-moment idea...I was hurt and furious and I—’
‘When a man gives you a wedding ring, he is honouring you, not using you!’ Angelos gritted between clenched teeth.
Maxie started to bristle then. ‘Well, I wouldn’t know about that...I only had the supreme honour of wearing that ring for about five minutes—’