The Greek Tycoon's Defiant Bride(7)

By: Lynne Graham

‘I would sooner not discuss that,’ Maribel enunciated with a wooden lack of expression.

Exasperated by that prissy response, Leonidas snapped the front door shut with an authoritative hand and strolled into the front room. Her taste had not changed, he noted. Had he been presented with pictures of house interiors he could easily have picked out hers. The room was full of plants, towering piles of books and faded floral fabrics. Nothing seemed to match and yet there was a surprising stylishness and comfort to the effect she had achieved.

‘Or why you bolted from the church today?’ Leonidas queried, his rich, dark, accented drawl smooth as silk, but infinitely more disturbing.

Feeling trapped but determined not to overreact, Maribel studied his elegant grey silk tie. ‘I wasn’t bolting—I was simply in a hurry.’

‘But how unlike you to disregard the social rituals of the occasion,’ Leonidas censured softly. ‘Yet another unusual experience for me. You are the only woman who runs away from me.’

‘Maybe I know you better than the others do.’ Maribel could have clapped her hand to her mouth in horror after that verbal reprisal simply tripped off her tongue without her even being aware that it was there. She was furious with herself, for in one foolish little sentence she had betrayed the fear, the anger, the bitterness and the loathing that she would have very much preferred to keep hidden from him.


LEONIDAS was not amused by that retaliation. The devil that lurked never far below his polished granite surface leapt out. While women of all ages fawned on him and hung on his every word, Maribel, it seemed, still favoured the acerbic response. He had never forgotten the one surprisingly sweet night when Maribel had used honey rather than vinegar in her approach. He had liked that; he had hugely preferred that different attitude, since he had neither taste nor tolerance for censure.

His brilliant eyes gleamed in liquid-gold warning below his luxuriant black lashes. ‘Maybe you do,’ Leonidas acknowledged without any inflection at all.

For a long, wordless moment, Leonidas took his fill while he looked at her, his gaze roaming over her with a boldness that came as naturally to him as aggression. His attention lingered on her strained violet-blue eyes, dropped to the luscious fullness of her mouth as it pouted against her peach-soft skin, and finally wandered lower to scan the full glory of her hourglass curves. It was a novelty to know that, this time around, she would most probably slap him if he touched her. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time. He almost smiled at the memory: his very first and still quite unique experience of female rejection.

Madly aware of that unashamedly sexual appraisal and unable to bear it any longer, Maribel flushed to her hairline and breathed curtly, ‘Stop it!’

‘Stop what? ‘Leonidas growled, strong arousal now tugging at him, in spite of the powerful sense of intuition that warned him that there was something wrong. Even as he glanced back at her face, he picked up on her fear and wondered why she was scared. She had never been scared around him before, or so reluctant to meet his gaze. A faint sense of disappointment touched him, even while he wondered what was wrong with her.

‘Looking at me like that!’ For the first time in two long years, Maribel was hugely conscious of her body and she was furious that she could still be so easily affected by him.

Leonidas loosed an earthy masculine laugh. ‘It’s natural for me to look.’

Her slim hands coiled into fists of restraint. ‘I don’t like it.’

‘Tough. Aren’t you going to offer me coffee? Ask me to take off my coat and sit down?’ Leonidas chided.

Maribel felt like a bird being played with by a cat and she snatched in a fractured breath. ‘No.’

‘What has happened to your manners?’ Unasked, Leonidas peeled off his coat in a slow graceful movement that was curiously sexy and attracted her unwilling attention.

Maribel dragged her guilty eyes off him again, gritting her teeth, literally praying for self-discipline. He came between her and her wits. He brought sex into everything. He made her think and feel things that were not her choice. No matter how hard she fought it, there was a shameful hum of physical awareness travelling through her resisting body. He had always had that effect on her, always. Leonidas had provoked a sense of guilt in Maribel almost from the first moment of their meeting.

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