‘The office. I was out of town last night. It was too late to drive back and I didn’t want to wake you up by phoning in the early hours.’
‘The next time, phone,’ Maxie urged.
‘What are you wearing, agape mou?’ Angelos enquired huskily.
Maxie gave a little shiver and crammed the phone even closer to her ear. The sound of that honeyed drawl just knocked her out. ‘Shocking pink...suit...four-inch stilettos,’ she whispered hoarsely. ‘I can’t wait to take them all off.’
‘How am I supposed to concentrate when you say things like that?’ Angelos demanded in a driven undertone.
‘I want you to miss me.’
‘I’m missing you...OK?’
‘OK...when can I expect a snatched moment?’
‘Don’t go out anywhere. I’ll pick you up at eleven. I’ve got a surprise for you.’
Maxie flicked through the topmost newspaper and went as usual to the gossip column. She saw the picture of Angelos instantly. Her attention lodged lovingly on how wonderfully photogenic he was, and then her gaze slowly slewed sideways to take in the woman who occupied the photo with him, the woman whose hand he was intimately clasping across a table.
Aghast, she just stared for a full count of ten seconds. Her stomach twisted, her brow dampened. She felt sick. Natalie Cibaud, the movie actress...
Fresh from reports of an on-off affair with the model Maxie Kendall, Greek tycoon Angelos Petronides, our all-time favourite heartbreaker, seen dining last night with the ravishing actress Natalie Cibaud. Is it off with Maxie and on with Natalie again? Or is this triangle set to run and run?
Last night? Dear heaven, Angelos had been with another woman? With Natalie Cibaud? Maxie just couldn’t believe it. She kept on laboriously re-reading the column and staring an anguished hole into the photo. Then her stomach got the better of her. She lost her breakfast in the cloakroom.
Sick and dizzy, she reeled back to the table to study the card she had received with her flowers. ‘Missing you too much.’ There was a certain appalling candour in that admission, wasn’t there? Evidently Angelos couldn’t be trusted out of her sight for five minutes. And, trusting woman that she was, Angelos had been out of her sight for almost twenty-four hours...
Maxie asked Nikos to have the car brought around. She swept up her portable phone. No, she wasn’t going to warn Angelos. Nor was she about to sit and wait for him to arrive with whatever surprise his guilty conscience had dreamt up. She would confront him in the Petronides building. Her phone buzzed in the lift. She ignored it.
The phone went again in the limousine. Angelos trying to call her. She switched the phone off with trembling fingers. Offered the car phone some minutes later, she uttered a stringent negative. Getting a little nervous, was he? By now, Angelos would’ve been tipped off about that piece in the gossip column. He knew he had been caught out. He had been unfaithful to her. He must have been. He had been out all night. All night. Maxie shivered, gooseflesh pricking her clammy skin. She was in sick shock. Why...why? was all she could think.
Until now she hadn’t appreciated just how entirely hers Angelos had begun to seem. She had trusted him one hundred per cent. And now she couldn’t comprehend how her trust had become so unassailable. He had never mentioned love, never promised to be faithful. On the very brink of making a public announcement of their marriage, Angelos had betrayed her. Why? Was this one of those male sexual ego things women found so incomprehensible? Or was an adulterous fling his revealing reaction to the prospect of fully committing himself to her?
Magnificent in her rage, Maxie stalked into the Petronides building. Every head in the vicinity seemed to turn. They did a double-take at the bodyguards in her wake. Maxie stepped into the executive lift.
Angelos had to be gnashing his teeth. Famous for his discretion in his private life, and his success in keeping his personal affairs out of the gossip columns, he would’ve assumed he was safe from discovery. Or had he deliberately sought to be found out? Was she becoming paranoid? The simplest explanations were usually the most likely, she reflected wretchedly. Had Angelos just met up with Natalie Cibaud again and suddenly realised that she was the woman he really wanted?
The receptionist on the top floor stared and rose slowly to her feet.
Maxie strode on past, the stillness of her pale features dominated by eyes as brilliant as sapphires. Agog faces appeared at doorways. Without breaking her stride, Maxie reached the foot of the corridor and, thrusting wide the door of Angelos’s office, she swept in and sent the door slamming shut behind her again.