Page 19 of The Greek Tycoon's Revenge

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Suddenly she was plunged into complete turmoil between her thoughts and emotions. She was deeply ashamed of the fact that she could not withstand Marcus’s particular brand of blatant sexuality, even though she knew he had no respect, no love for her at all.

Ashen-faced, she struggled into a sitting position, and pulled her dress up over her tight, aching breasts. Head bent, her hair cascaded either side of her face, hopefully masking the humiliation and desperation she felt from his too astute eyes. She clasped her hands in her lap, her fingers entwining nervously. Her heart raced and she fought for breath—panic or passion, she didn’t know.

Marcus saw the pallor of her face before she hid it from him. He noted the defeated droop of her shoulders covered by the mass of her glorious red hair. She looked like some fragile, broken tiger lily sitting there.

Where the hell had that maudlin thought come from? He frowned and shoved his hands into the pocket of his trousers, willing his aroused flesh to subside. She was a man-eating tiger all right. The fragile flower act was a ploy to catch her prey, and he would do well to remember that. His frown deepened. ‘What’s it to be, Eloise?’ A private arrangement or the courts?’

He might as well have said a private affair, because that was what he was demanding from her. She lifted her head. He was standing a foot away, his black hair ruffled where she had run her fingers through it, naked from the waist up. His bronzed torso glistened in the dim light, the muscles clearly defined. She thought of how he had kissed, of how it had felt to have his mouth at her breast, and wished he would put his shirt back on.

‘Not the court,’ she said a little unsteadily, lowering her eyes. Marcus couldn’t possibly know and she couldn’t tell him, but it had coloured her life for years.

It had been a sunny June evening, and a game of tennis on the public courts in the park with a student friend. Eloise at twenty had thought nothing of walking back across the park to the flat she shared with Katy. Until she was grabbed from behind, a horrible dirty hand squeezing her breast, and she was dragged into some bushes. Her attacker had had a knife, but she had screamed anyway and struggled like mad, lashing out with her tennis racket. Her top was ripped from her body, and the short tennis skirt was no barrier to the man’s marauding hand. The knife was at her throat and she was giving up hope of escape when a dog pounced on her attacker. He lashed out with the knife and slashed her leg before running off. The man was caught, but as horrific as the attack had been the court case that followed was worse.

Eloise would never forget facing her attacker in court, nor could she forget the defence lawyer. He raped her with words. Her perfectly conventional tennis outfit became clothing designed to tease, a deliberate provocation. It was her fault she had long legs, long hair; she shared a flat with a man, the fact it was Katy’s boyfriend ignored. The lawyer made her feel dirty and ashamed. The case took two days, and by the end of it when a guilty verdict was returned Eloise was too emotionally shattered to care. And she vowed she would never set foot in a court again.

Lifting her head, she stared at Marcus with cold green eyes. ‘Definitely not the court.’

A cynical smile twisted Marcus’s hard mouth. ‘No court.’ Why did that not surprise him? It simply confirmed she was guilty and she knew it. Still, what did he care for her morals or lack of them? He wanted her sinfully sexy body in his bed, until he sated himself, and she obviously knew the score, so there would be no messy break-up when he tired of her. His conscience clear, reaching out, he grasped her upper arms and hauled her to her feet.

‘Instead, you agree to be my mistress for one year, exclusively mine,’ he emphasised, his dark deep-set eyes burning into Eloise’s. ‘I don’t share, understand?’

She understood, all right. One year in his bed: it was blackmail, pure and simple. Well, maybe not so pure…

‘At the end of that time I will give you the evidence of the fraud and cancel your debt.’

‘I would prefer to pay back the money my mother stole.’ Eloise accented the word. ‘Not me,’ she added forcibly; she was not admitting a guilt she did not feel.

‘That isn’t an option.’ But Marcus had to give her points for trying; she looked so defiant, her green eyes blazing, and infinitely desirable. He wondered if he should have said two, or maybe three years.

Realistically, she knew if she lived as poor as a church mouse it would take her years to pay back the money, unless she sold the house, and that would ruin her relationship with her friends, never mind what it would do to the business. It was a catch twenty-two situation. She looked into his hard dark eyes, and she knew he would carry out his threat of court action.

A tiny shiver slivered down her spine, and suddenly she was fiercely aware of his long fingers on the flesh of her upper arms, the sensual heat emanating from his hard body. She thought of his lovemaking; the experience had been an earth-shattering, life-changing experience for her. But how did she know what it had been for him? Not love, that was for sure, but good enough sex as he wanted more, she realised grimly. As for what she wanted, her body had already answered for her, her nipples tight against the bodice of her dress.

‘All right,’ Eloise said lowering her eyes from his to intense gaze, afraid he would see more than she wanted him to know. ‘I agree, one year from today and we go our separate ways.’

‘I knew you would be sensible, after all what have you got to lose?’ he husked, his hands stroking up over the soft curve of her shoulders.

Eloise didn’t answer for a long moment. I knew you would be sensible. His arrogant assumption stiffened her spine, as nothing else could have done, a slow-growing, icy anger invading every cell in her body. Marcus did not know her at all, and never would…

For four years she had had no faith in her own femininity and had repressed all her sexual urges, until three months ago when Marcus had shown her in one memorable night what it was to be a woman. For a while she had confused lust with love. But by not contacting her again Marcus had effectively disabused her of the notion, and his actions tonight simply underlined the point.

For the first time in her life she faced up to the fact she was a mature woman, a sensual being with needs and desires of her own and she had no need to be ashamed of them… Ironically, Marcus had taught her that tonight as well. If sex was all he wanted, what had she got to lose? His words! They had already been lovers, and she did want him; she had a sneaky suspicion he might be the only man she wanted. But she owed him no loyalty, nothing, and she could walk away when the time came with her business and life intact.

She let her gaze slide over him, sizing him up, tall powerful, authority stamped in every line, a pure alpha male. She didn’t doubt he would take her to court. She lifted her eyes to his face—strikingly handsome, with a strong jaw that was beginning to show a dark shadow, and a wickedly sensuous mouth—and she had made her decision. Why not use him as he intended using her?

‘Nothing. Nothing at all,’ she finally answered. Eloise saw the blaze of triumph in the glittering depths of his eyes, and his satisfied smile. She felt his hand tighten on her shoulder. She knew he was going to kiss her and she waited until his dark head bent towards her before tilting up her chin determinedly and meeting his smile with a cold one of her own.

‘But first we will have to work out the technicalities,’ she said brusquely, and saw his head lift and the flicker of surprise chase across his handsome features. ‘I will not have Katy or Harry involved in any way in our private arrangement.’

Marcus couldn’t read the expression in the depths of her huge emerald eyes. But he guessed she was thinking there was really no way out for her. And this was her way of gaining some kind of control.

‘I agree, strictly personal between you and I.’ He could be magnanimous in victory, and let her think she had won a point. He drew her closer, he had more pressing needs right at this moment. ‘After all it isn’t Katy or Harry I want to sleep with,’ Marcus drawled in a deep husky tone, his breath

fanning her cheek.

She had agreed to be his for one year. He should have felt elated but he couldn’t help wondering what her eyes would look like if they were shining with joy for the man she loved, instead of the man she had agreed to sleep with for money, because the bottom line was, that was what she’d just done.

For a second his fingers dug almost angrily into the tender flesh of her shoulder, refusing to admit he was disappointed, telling himself revenge was sweet.

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