The Greek Tycoon's Defiant Bride(8)

By: Lynne Graham

In a fluid stride, Leonidas closed the distance between them and lifted a hand to push up her chin and enforce the eye contact she was so keen to avoid. ‘Was it the service? Did it upset you?’

He was now so close that Maribel trembled. She was taken aback by the ease with which he had touched her. She did not want to recall the fleeting intimacy that had broken down all normal barriers. She did not want to be reminded of the taste of his mouth or the evocative scent of his skin. ‘No…it was good to remember her,’ she said gruffly.

‘Then what’s the problem?’ Mesmeric dark golden eyes assailed hers, powered by a larger-than-life personality that few could have withstood.

Her throat ached with her tension. ‘There isn’t one,’ she told him unevenly. ‘I just wasn’t expecting you to call.’

‘I’m usually a welcome visitor,’ Leonidas murmured lazily, his relaxed rejoinder quite out of step with the keen penetration of his gaze.

As Maribel strove to keep a calm expression on her oval face her teeth chattered together behind her sealed lips for a split-second before she overcame that urge. ‘Naturally I’m surprised to see you here. It’s been a long time and I’ve moved house,’ she pointed out, struggling to behave normally and say normal things. ‘Did my aunt give you my address?’

‘No. I had you followed.’

Maribel turned pale at that unnervingly casual admission. ‘My goodness, why did you do that?’

‘Curiosity? A dislike of relying on strangers for information?’ Leonidas shrugged with languid cool. An infinitesimal movement out of the corner of his eye turned his attention below the table where a shaggy grey dog was endeavouring to curl its enormous body into the smallest possible space in the farthest corner. ‘Theos…I did not even realise there was an animal here. What is the matter with it?’

Maribel seized on the distraction of Mouse’s odd behaviour with enthusiasm. ‘He’s terrified of strangers and when he hides his head like that he seems to think he’s invisible, so don’t let on otherwise. Friendly overtures frighten him.’

‘Still collecting lame ducks?’ Leonidas quipped and, as he turned his head away, he caught a glimpse through the window of a hen pecking in the flower bed at the front of the house. ‘You keep poultry here?’

His intonation was that of a jet-setter aghast at her deeply rural lifestyle. Maribel was willing to bet that Leonidas had never before been so close to domestic fowl, and in another mood she would have laughed at his expression and rattled on the window to chase the hen away from her plants. Unable to relax, she resolved to treat him as she would have treated any other unexpected visitor. ‘Look, I’ll make some coffee,’ she proffered, thrusting open the kitchen door.

‘I’m not thirsty. Tell me what you’ve been doing over the past couple of years,’ he invited softly.

A chill ran down her taut spinal cord before she turned back to him. He couldn’t know about Elias, she reasoned inwardly. Why should he even suspect? Unless someone had said something at the service? But why the heck should anyone have mentioned her or her child? As far as her relatives were concerned she was a geek who led a deeply boring life. Scolding herself for the unfamiliar paranoia that was ready to pounce and take hold of her, Maribel tilted her chin. ‘I’ve been turning this place into a habitable home. It needed a lot of work. That kept me busy.’

Leonidas watched her hands lace together in a restive motion and untangle again. She folded her arms and shifted position in a revealing display of anxiety that any skilled observer would have recognised. ‘I believe you have a child now,’ he delivered smooth as glass, and all the time as his own tension rose he was telling himself that he had to be wrong, his suspicions ridiculously fanciful.

‘Yes—yes, I have. I didn’t think you’d be too interested in that piece of news,’ Maribel countered in a determined recovery, forcing a wry smile onto her taut lips, while wondering how on earth he had found out that she had become a mother. ‘As I recall it, you used to give friends with kids the go-by.’

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