The Wealthy Greek's Contract Wife(7)

By: Penny Jordan

Lizzie badly wanted to sit down. She was tired and shocked and frightened, but she knew she couldn’t show those weaknesses in front of this stone-faced man who looked like a Greek god but spoke to her as cruelly as Hades himself, intent on her destruction. She was sure he would never show any sign of human weaknesses himself, or make any allowances for those who possessed them. But there was nowhere to sit, nowhere to hide, to escape from the man now watching her with such determined intention on breaking her on the wheel of his anger.

‘I had no choice. Even if I had wanted to keep them it would have been impossible, given their lack of sound construction. The truth is that they were a death trap. A death trap on my land, masquerading as a building constructed by my company.’

As he spoke Ilios remembered how he had felt on learning how his cousin had tried to use the good name of the business Ilios had built up quite literally with his own bare hands for his nefarious purposes, and his anger intensified.

His company. Lizzie automatically looked at his hard hat and its logo. She remembered Basil Rainhill smirking when he’d told her that Manos construction was ‘fronting’ the building of the apartments, and that they had a firstclass reputation. Then she had assumed his smirk was because of the good deal he has boasted about to her, but now…

‘I don’t know anything about how the apartments were built. In fact, I don’t understand what this is about. I was contracted to design the interiors of the apartments, that’s all.’

‘Oh, come, Miss Wareham—do you really expect me to believe that when I have a contract that stages unequivocally that payment for your work was to be a twenty per cent interest in the apartment block?’

‘That was only because the Rainhills couldn’t pay me. They offered me that in lieu of my fee.’

‘I am not remotely interested in how you came by your share in the illegal construction my cousin built on my land, only that you pay your share of the cost of making good the damage as well as what you owe your suppliers.’

‘You’re making this up,’ Lizzie protested.

‘You are daring to call me a liar?’ Ilios grabbed hold of her, gripping her arms as he had done before. How had she dared to accuse him of lying? His desire to punish her, to force her to take back her accusation, to kiss her until the only sound to come from her lips was a soft moan of surrender, pounded through him, crashing through the barriers of civilized behaviour and forcing him to fight for his self-control.

She had said the wrong thing, Lizzie knew. Ilios Manos was not the man to accuse of lying. His pride lay across his features like a brand, informing every expression that crossed his face—and, Lizzie suspected, every thought that entered his head.

He was still holding her, and his touch burned her flesh like a small electrical shock. Her chest lifted with her protesting intake of air. Immediately his gaze dropped to her body with predatory swiftness—as though somehow he knew that when he had touched her, her flesh had responded to his touch in a way that had flung her headlong into a place she didn’t know, brought her face to face with a Lizzie she didn’t know. Her heart was thumping jerkily, her senses intensely aware of him, and her gaze was drawn to him as though he was a magnet, clinging to his torso, his throat, his mouth.

She swung dizzily and helplessly between disbelief and a craving to move closer to him. Beneath her clothes her breasts swelled and ached, in response to a mastery she was powerless to resist. How could this be happening to her? How could her body be reacting to Ilios Manos as though…as though it wanted him? It must be some weird form of shock, Lizzie decided shakily as he released her, almost thrusting her away from him.

‘I’m not calling you a liar,’ Lizzie denied, feeling obliged to backtrack, if only to remind herself of the reality of her situation. ‘I’m just saying that I think you’ve got some of your facts wrong. And besides—why aren’t you demanding recompense from your cousin, instead of threatening and bullying me?’ she demanded, quickly going on the attack.

Attack was, after all, the best form of defence, so they said, and she certainly needed to defend herself against what she had felt when he had held her. How could that have happened? She simply wasn’t like that. She couldn’t be. She had her family to think of. Being sexually aroused by a man she had only just met, a man who despised and disliked her, just wasn’t the kind of thing she had ever imagined being. Not ever, and certainly not now.

Determinedly she martialled her scattered thoughts and pointed out, ‘After all, I only owned twenty per cent of the apartment block. Your cousin, from what the Rainhills told me, owned the land, most of the apartments and was responsible for the building work. I never even met him, never mind discussed his business plan with him. I was given the apartments and made a partner in lieu of payment for the work I’d done. That’s all.’