‘You gave it back—’
Maxie lifted shimmering blue eyes and tilted her chin. ‘You took it!’ she reminded him wrathfully. ‘And I don’t want it back either...and I don’t want you making any announcement to anybody about our marriage...because I wouldn’t want anybody to know I was stupid enough to marry you!’
‘That cuts both ways,’ Angelos asserted with chilling bite, temper leashed back as he squared his big shoulders. ‘And I’ll be sure to ditch you before the six months is up!’
He strode into the bathroom.
Maxie flung herself back against the pillows, rolled over and pummelled them with sheer rage and frustration. Then she went suddenly still, and a great rolling breaker of sobs threatened because just for a little while she had felt close to Angelos and then, like a fairy-tale illusion, that closeness had vanished again...driven away by her own foolish, reckless tongue.
Yes, sooner or later she would naturally have had to tell Angelos about Nancy Leeward’s will. But on the beach she had blown it, once and for all. After all, who was it who had told him that she had planned to use him? And the whole thing had struck him as so far-fetched that within minutes of being told he had decided it wasn’t true. Indeed he had assumed that she was childishly trying to ‘level the score.’ Maxie shivered, belatedly appalled by the realisation that Angelos could understand her to that degree...
That was exactly what she had been doing. Believing that their relationship was over, she had been set on saving face and so she had told him about the will in the most offensive possible terms. Now that she had convinced him that she was telling him the truth, she was reaping the reward she had invited...anger, contempt, distaste.
And how could she say now, I wanted to marry you anyway and I needed a good excuse to allow myself to do that and still feel that I was control? There was no way that she could tell Angelos that she loved him. There was no way she could see herself ever telling Angelos that she loved him...
When he came out of the bathroom, a towel knotted round his lean brown hips, Maxie studied him miserably. ‘Angelos. I was going to tear up that prenuptial contract—’
‘You should be writing scripts for Disney!’ Angelos countered with cutting disbelief, and strode towards the dressing-room.
‘You said...you said you couldn’t pride yourself on your judgement where I was concerned,’ Maxie persisted tightly, wondering if what she was doing qualified as crawling, terrified that it might be.
‘I’m back on track now, believe me.’ Angelos sent her an icy look of brooding darkness. ‘I’m also off to London for a couple of days. I have some business to take care of.’
Business? What business? They had only arrived yesterday. Maxie wasn’t stupid. She got the message. He just didn’t want to be with her any more.
‘Are you always this unforgiving in personal relationships?’ Maxie breathed a little chokily when he had disappeared from view, but she knew he could still hear her.
‘I love that breathy little catch in your voice but it’s wasted on me. You wouldn’t cry if I roasted you over a bonfire!’
‘You’re right,’ Maxie said steadily, hastily wiping the tears dripping down her cheeks with the corner of the sheet.
Angelos reappeared, sheathed in a stupendous silver-grey suit. Lean, dark face impassive, he looked as remote as the Himalayas and even colder.
Maxie made one final desperate attempt to penetrate that armour of judgemental ice. ‘I really don’t and never did want your money, Angelos,’ she whispered with all the sincerity she could muster.
Angelos sent her a hard, gleaming scrutiny, his expressive mouth curling. ‘You may not be my conception of a wife but you will make the perfect mistress. In that role you can be every bit as mercenary as you like. You spend my money; I enjoy your perfect body. Randy Greek billionaires understand that sort of realistic exchange best of all. And at least this way we both know where we stand.’
Maxie gazed back at him in total shock. Every scrap of colour drained from her cheeks. But in that moment the battle lines were drawn...if Angelos wanted a mistress rather than a wife, a mistress, Maxie decided fierily, was what he was jolly well going to get!
‘Angelos doesn’t know where you are? You mean he’s not aware that you’re back in London yet?’ Liz breathed in astonishment when the fact penetrated.
Maxie took a deep breath. ‘I came straight here from the airport. I’m planning to surprise him,’ she said, with more truth than the older woman could ever have guessed.
‘Oh...yes, of course.’ Liz relaxed again and smiled. ‘What a shame business concerns had to interrupt your honeymoon! It must’ve been something terribly important. When was it you said Angelos left the island?’