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Bought For The Greek's Revenge: The 100th seductive romance from this bestselling author

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«Bought For The Greek's Revenge: The 100th seductive romance from this bestselling author» - Линн Грэхем

Bedded for the Greek’s pleasure!Ella Davies has neither the money nor the connections to warrant the interest of Nikolai Drakos’s arch enemy. Yet the unassuming beauty has done just that – and claiming her will be Nikolai’s ultimate satisfaction!The ruthless tycoon will use any means necessary to ensure Ella’s compliance so he buys out her family’s debts. Debts he’ll forgo if Ella becomes his mistress. But when he discovers the true extent of her innocence, Nikolai is forced to consider something new; it appears the indomitable Greek is about to take a bride!Congratulations Lynne Graham on OVER 35 MILLION copies sold worldwide with Harlequin®!
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‘Mistress,’ Nikolai slotted in, cool as ice.

‘But we don’t even know each other,’ Ella framed dazedly. ‘You’re a stranger.’

‘If you live with me I won’t be a stranger for long,’ Nikolai pointed out, with monumental calm.

The very sound of that inhuman calm forced her to flip round and settle distraught eyes on his lean, darkly handsome face. ‘You can’t be serious about this.’

‘I assure you that I am deadly serious. Move in and I’ll forget your family’s debts.’

‘But it’s a crazy idea!’ She gasped the words, floundering against his restrained silence. It was obvious that he was determined to behave as though such a proposition was an everyday occurrence.

‘It’s not crazy to me,’ Nikolai asserted. ‘When I want anything I go after it—hard and fast.’

Did he want her like that? Enough to trace her, buy up her father’s debts and try to buy the rights to her body along with those debts? The very idea of that made her dizzy, and plunged her brain into even greater turmoil.

‘It’s immoral … it’s blackmail …’

‘It’s definitely not blackmail. I’m giving you the benefit of a choice you didn’t have before I came through that door,’ Nikolai Drakos said with glittering cool. ‘That choice is yours to make.’

I can’t quite believe this is my 100th book for Mills & Boon! It’s been an incredible experience, made all the more special by the wonderful editors, writers and readers I’ve met along the way.

As you may have guessed, this book is a very special one for me. When my editor gave me carte blanche on the story, I couldn’t resist coming back to my favourite themes. There’s something about a mistress story—especially when the hero is as commanding and determined as Nikolai Drakos!

Perhaps it’s the moment when the hero realises that he’s got more than he bargained for with the heroine … or maybe it’s when he realises just how much he has to make amends that I can never wait to write about. Perhaps it’s because finally the heroine is going to get the true love that she absolutely deserves. Either way, I couldn’t think of anything that I wanted to write more than Bought for the Greek’s Revenge for my 100th book.

It was a joy to write, from start to finish, and I hope that you love it as much as I do.

Much love,

Lynne Xx

Bought for the Greek’s Revenge

Lynne Graham

LYNNE GRAHAM was born in Northern Ireland and has been a keen romance reader since her teens. She is very happily married to an understanding husband who has learned to cook since she started to write! Her five children keep her on her toes. She has a very large dog who knocks everything over, a very small terrier who barks a lot, and two cats. When time allows, Lynne is a keen gardener.

For my readers,

who have given me endless support throughout my career.

Thank you.




Title Page

About the Author







html#litres_trial_promo">CHAPTER NINE





NIKOLAI DRAKOS SCANNED the photo with a frown and enhanced it. It couldn’t be the same woman; it simply couldn’t be! There was no way that his quarry, Cyrus Makris, could possibly be planning to marry a woman from a humble background.

Bemused, Nikolai lifted his arrogant dark head high and once again studied the picture of the ethereal redhead. No way could it be the same little temptress he had once met working as a parking attendant. The world wasn’t that small. Even so, he was aware that Cyrus owned a country house in Norfolk. A deeper frown lodged between his level dark brows, his quick and clever brain taking a rare hike into the recent past.

For all her diminutive size the woman he had met had had attitude, lots and lots of attitude, certainly not an attribute Nikolai sought from the transient beauties who shared his bed. But she had also had aquamarine eyes and a mouth as soft, silky and pink as a lotus blossom. A sizzling physical combination, which had taken a hell of a lot of forgetting on his part. His wide sensual mouth compressed with dissatisfaction. After she had blown him off, another man might have tried to find her again to make another attempt but Nikolai had refused to do so. He didn’t chase women, he didn’t do sweet talk or dates or flowers or any of that stuff ever. He walked away. The mantra by which he lived insisted that no woman was irreplaceable, no woman unique, and he didn’t believe in love. She had simply caught his imagination for a few intoxicating moments but he had refused to allow lust to seduce him into pursuit. Since when had he had to pursue a woman?

And although it was generally known that Cyrus’s elderly father was putting pressure on his forty-five-year-old son and heir to take a bride, it was a challenge to credit that Cyrus could be planning to marry the feisty little redhead who had scratched the paintwork on Nikolai’s cherished McLaren Spider. Besides, only pure and untouched female flesh excited Cyrus, as Nikolai’s late sister had learned to her cost. And no way could that sparkling little redhead still be that pure and untouched.

Flexing his lean muscles as he sprang upright, Nikolai swept up the file he had been studying. The investigator he used was a consummate professional and the report would be thorough. He studied the photos afresh. He was willing to admit that the likeness between the two women was startling. Curiosity at a height, he began to read about Prunella, known as Ella. Yes, that night he had definitely heard her boss using that name, he conceded grimly. Ella Palmer, aged twenty-three, a former veterinary student who had once been engaged to Cyrus’s dead nephew, Paul. Now there was a connection he could not have foreseen for Cyrus, who rarely bothered with relatives.

Nikolai read on, unexpectedly hungry for the details. It had been a year since the nephew had died of leukaemia and two years since Ella’s father, George Palmer, had had a stroke. The older man was currently drowning in debt. Nikolai marvelled that Cyrus, who was rich but tight, had not stepped in to help Ella’s family, but perhaps he was holding that possibility in reserve as a power play.

Nikolai, on the other hand, immediately grasped that it was his optimum moment for action and intervention. He called his team of personal assistants and issued his instructions even while he was still struggling to work out why Ella Palmer could be in line to become Cyrus’s bride.

What was so special about her? For a couple of years at least she had evidently hovered on the outskirts of Cyrus’s life. As his nephew’s fiancée she would have been untouchable, the unattainable always a powerful temptation to a male who thrived on the challenge of breaking the rules. Now she was alone and unprotected and Cyrus appeared to be playing a waiting game. However, it was equally possible that Ella was eager to marry Cyrus, because although he was old enough to be her father he was also a prominent, and wealthy, businessman.

But what, other than innocence, could be attracting Cyrus? Ella Palmer had neither money nor connections to offer. She was a beauty, but could a formerly engaged young woman still be a virgin in this day and age? Nikolai shook his arrogant dark head in wonderment. Was that even possible? And had she the smallest concept of the kind of male she was dealing with? A man who was excited by sexual violence? And who, given the opportunity, would cause her irreparable harm? Would she consider a wedding ring adequate compensation for brutal mistreatment?

Whatever, Nikolai’s objective was to take her off Cyrus. Cyrus was a dangerous man and Nikolai knew exactly how addicted he was to the seamier side of life. By utilising bribery, intimidation and hush money, Cyrus had so far contrived to escape justice. Nikolai had long been forced to pursue a more subtle form of revenge. Being both extremely rich and extremely clever, Nikolai had tracked his quarry’s every move in the business world and had regularly snatched lucrative deals from right under Cyrus’s nose. That had been easy because Cyrus was better at making enemies than keeping friends and making connections.

But it wasn’t nearly as satisfying as striking out at Cyrus on a more personal level would be. Losing Ella Palmer, seeing her choose his greatest rival over him, would really hit Cyrus hard where it hurt. And anything that caused Cyrus pain made Nikolai happy.

As for how his actions would affect Ella Palmer and her family, Nikolai ruminated darkly, did he really care? They would simply be collateral damage in Nikolai’s battle. But, at the same time, her family would be freed from crippling debt while Ella would be protected from Cyrus. Nikolai’s burning desire for revenge was fuelled by ruthless resolution and by the knowledge that all Cyrus’s victims had been cruelly denied justice. Yet there was also a weird personal feel to the challenge that made his teeth grit because, try as he did to stay cool and in control and essentially uninvolved, unholy rage gripped Nikolai at the thought of Cyrus getting his slimy hands on Ella and hurting her...

* * *

‘It’s bad, Ella,’ Gramma said heavily.

‘How bad?’ Ella prompted, dry-mouthed.

George Palmer, Ella’s father and Gramma’s son, sighed heavily. ‘I’m a terrible failure of a man when it comes to my family... I’ve lost everything.’

‘The business, yes...perhaps it’s too late for anything to be saved there, but that doesn’t make you a failure,’ Ella conceded in a wobbly voice, because they had known for ages that the shop was doing badly. ‘But, at least, the house—’

‘No, Ella,’ Gramma cut in, her lined face pale and stiff with self-discipline. ‘This time the house has to go as well—’

‘But how can that be?’ Ella exclaimed incredulously. ‘You own the house, not Dad!’

‘My divorce from Joy took half the business,’ the older man reminded her.

‘And the house was the only asset we had left. Your father couldn’t get the business loan he needed to pay off Joy without backing it up with the house,’ Ella’s grandmother, Gramma, a petite white-haired lady in her seventies, told her tightly. ‘So, we put the house on the line and hoped for the best.’

‘Oh, my...goodness,’ Ella gasped after carefully searching for a word that would not make her grandmother flinch.

Thinking of her stepmother, the volatile Joy, Ella tried to reflect on the reality that since the divorce her father was a much happier man. His wife had been a very demanding woman, and although the older man had made a decent recovery from the stroke that had laid him low two years earlier, he now used a stick and the left side of his body remained weak. His wife, Joy, had walked out on him during his rehabilitation. She had deserted him as soon as his once comfortable income had declined. Her father had not been able to afford the services of a good lawyer in the divorce that followed and it had been a shock when his estranged wife had been awarded half the value of his furniture shop in the settlement. That pay out had led them straight into their current dire financial straits.

‘Taking that risk with the house hasn’t worked out for us but I’m trying to console myself with the idea that at least we tried,’ George Palmer said wryly. ‘If we hadn’t tried we would always have wondered if we should have done. Now it’s done and dusted and, unhappily for us, my creditors need to be paid.’

Ella’s mood was not improved by the older man’s accepting attitude. George Palmer was one of nature’s gentlemen and he never had a bad word to say about anyone or anything. Her attention fell instead on the letter lying on the kitchen table and she snatched it up. ‘That’s what this is about? Your creditors?’

‘Yes, my debts have been sold on to another organisation. That’s a letter from the new owner’s solicitors telling me that they want to put the house on the market.’

‘Well, we’ll just see about that!’ Ella snapped, scrambling upright and pulling out her phone, eager to be able to do something at last, for sitting around bemoaning bad situations was not her style.

‘This is business, Ella.’ Gramma gave her feisty grandchild a regretful appraisal. ‘Appealing to business people is a waste of your time. All they want is their money and hopefully a profit out of their investment.’

‘It’s not that’s our lives you’re talking about!’ Ella proclaimed emotively, stalking out of the kitchen to ring the legal firm and ask for an appointment.

Life could be so very cruel, she was thinking. Time and time again misfortune and disappointment had made Ella suffer and she had become so accustomed to that state of affairs that she had learned to swallow hard and bear it. But when it came to her family suffering adversity, well, that was something else entirely and it brought out her fighting spirit. Her father couldn’t regain his full health but he did deserve some peace after the turmoil of his divorce. She couldn’t bear him to lose his home when he had already been forced to adjust to so many frightening changes.

And what about Gramma? Tears flooded Ella’s bright green eyes when she thought of Gramma losing her beloved home. Gramma’s late husband had moved her into this house as a bride in the nineteen sixties. Her son had been born below this roof and she had never lived anywhere else. Neither had Ella or her father, Ella reflected wretchedly. The worn but comfortable detached house sat at the very heart of their sense of security.

George Palmer had fallen in love with Ella’s mother, Lesley, at university and had hoped to marry her when she became pregnant with Ella. Lesley, however, had been less keen and shortly after Ella’s birth she had left George and her daughter behind to pursue a career in California. A brilliant young physicist, Ella’s mother had since gone on to become a world-renowned scientist.

‘I obviously lack both the mum and the wife gene because I have no regrets over being single and childfree even now,’ Lesley had told Ella frankly when they first met when Ella was eighteen. ‘George adored you and, when he married Joy, I assumed it would be better for me to leave you to be part of a perfect little family without my interference...’

Ella dragged her mind back from that ironic little speech that she had received from her uncaring mother. Lesley hadn’t recognised that her complete lack of interest in Ella and absence of regret would hurt her daughter even more. In addition, George, Joy and Ella had not been a perfect family because as soon as Joy had become George’s wife she had made her resentment of Ella’s presence in their home very obvious. Had it not been for George’s and Gramma’s love and attention, Ella would have been a deeply unhappy child.

And Joy, Ella thought bitterly, had done very nicely out of the divorce, thank you. However, she cleared her mind of such futile reflections and concentrated on thinking instead about her family’s predicament while she outlined her request to the very well-spoken young man who accepted her call after she had been passed through several people at the legal firm. She was dismayed to then walk into a solid brick wall of silence. With a polite reference to client confidentiality, the solicitor refused to tell her who her father’s creditor was and pointed out that nobody would be prepared to discuss her father’s debts with anyone other than her father, although he did at least promise to pass on her request.

As she replaced the phone and checked her watch in dismay Ella’s eyes were stinging with tears of frustration, but she had to pull herself together and get to work, her small income being the only money currently entering the household aside of Gramma’s pension. As she pulled on her jacket an idea struck her and she paused in the kitchen doorway to look at the two older people. ‘You you thought of approaching Cyrus for help?’ she asked abruptly.

Her father’s face stiffened defensively. ‘Ella... I—’

‘Cyrus is a family friend,’ Gramma stepped in to acknowledge. ‘It would be very wrong to approach a friend in such circumstances simply because he has money.’

A flush of colour drenched Ella’s heart-shaped face and she nodded respectful agreement, even though she was tempted to remark that matters were serious enough to risk causing offence. Perhaps her relatives had already asked and been refused help or perhaps they knew something she didn’t, she conceded uncomfortably. In any case approaching Cyrus was not currently possible because Cyrus was abroad on a lengthy trade-delegation tour of China.

She climbed into the ancient battered van that was her only means of transport. Butch went into a cacophony of barking on the doorstep and she blinked, very belatedly recalling her pet, who normally went to work with her. She braked and opened the car door in a hurry to scoop the little animal up.

Butch was a Chihuahua/Jack Russell mix and absolutely tiny, but he had the heart and personality of a much bigger dog. He had been born with only three legs and would have been euthanised at birth had Ella not fallen in love with him while she had been working on a placement at a veterinary surgery. He settled down quietly into his pet carrier, knowing that his owner frowned on any kind of disturbance while she was driving.

Ella worked at an animal sanctuary only a few miles from her home. She had volunteered at Animal Companions as a teenager, found solace there while the man she loved had slowly succumbed to the disease that would eventually kill him and had ended up working at the rescue centre when she had been forced to leave her veterinarian course before its completion. One day she still hoped to be able to finish her training and become a fully qualified veterinary surgeon with her own practice, but Paul’s illness and her father’s stroke had been inescapable events that had thrown her life plan off course.

Not such a bad thing, she often told herself bracingly at times when it seemed that her desire to work as an animal doctor was continually destined to collapse in the face of other people’s needs. She had gained a lot of experience working at the rescue centre and was using the skills she had acquired during her training by functioning as an unofficial veterinary nurse. To think any other way when her presence at home had achieved so much good would be unforgivably selfish, she told herself firmly. Gramma and her dad had badly needed her assistance during that testing time. And she was painfully aware of all the advantages that their loving support had given her.

Her boss, Rosie, a generous-hearted woman in her forties with frizzy blonde curls, surged out to the car park to greet Ella. ‘You’ll never believe it... Samson’s got a home!’ she gasped excitedly.

Ella started to smile. ‘You’re kidding—’

‘Well, I haven’t done the home visit yet to check them out but they did seem very genuine people. Just lost their own dog to old age, so I didn’t think they’d want another oldie but they’re afraid that a young dog could be too much for them to handle,’ Rosie told her.

‘Samson really deserves a good home,’ Ella said fondly, for the thirteen-year-old terrier had been repeatedly passed over because of his age by other prospective owners.

‘He’s a very loving little chap...’ Rosie paused, her warm smile dwindling. ‘I heard your father’s shop closed down last week. I’m so sorry for your dad—’

‘Well, can’t be helped,’ Ella responded, hoping to forestall further comment because she couldn’t discuss her family’s financial affairs with Rosie, who was a hopeless gossip.

While Rosie talked about the rise of the big furniture chain stores working to the detriment of smaller businesses, Ella made polite sounds of agreement while she checked that the kennel staff had completed their early morning cleaning routine. That done, Ella put on overalls and concentrated on sorting out an emaciated stray with matted hair brought to them by the council dog warden. When she had finished she peeled off the overalls, washed and fed the poodle mix and settled her down in a run.

She heard a car and assumed that Rosie had set off to do her home visit to check out Samson’s new potential owners. She went into the office where she worked between times, being better at paperwork than Rosie, who was more driven by her need to rescue animals and rehome them than by the equally important requirement of meeting all of a recognised charity’s medical, legal and financial obligations. As a team, however, she and Rosie were efficient because their abilities fitted neatly together. Rosie was fantastic at dealing with the public and fundraising while Ella preferred to work with the animals in the background.

Indeed Ella had been very uncomfortable at the fancy charity auction that Cyrus had persuaded her to attend with him only a month earlier. Champagne, high heels and evening dresses were really not her thing. But how could she have said no when Cyrus had been so very good to Paul while he was ill? Acting as Cyrus’s partner at a couple of social occasions was little enough to be asked to do in return, she ruminated wryly, wondering as she often had why Cyrus had never married. He was forty-five years old, presentable, successful and single. Once or twice she had wondered if he was gay but Paul had got very annoyed at her for trying to make something out of what he insisted was nothing.

Rosie entered the office, rudely springing Ella from her momentary loss of concentration. The older woman looked flustered. ‘You have a visitor,’ she announced.

Her smooth brow furrowing, Ella stood up and moved round the desk. ‘A visitor?’ she prompted in surprise.

‘He’s a foreigner,’ Rosie stage-whispered as if that fact were terribly mysterious and unusual.

‘But he went to school in the UK and speaks excellent English,’ a very masculine voice commented from the door that still stood open on the small outer hall, where he had evidently been left to hover.

Ella’s lower limbs succumbed to nervous paralysis as she froze where she stood, a tiny disbelieving quiver running down her spine because, incredibly, she recognised that voice even though she had only heard it on one previous occasion almost a year earlier. It couldn’t be but it was him, the gorgeous guy with the fancy car and the very short temper and the eyes that reminded her of melted caramel. What on earth was he doing visiting her at Animal Companions? Had he tracked her down?

‘I’ll just leave you,’ Rosie pronounced awkwardly, backing out of the office again as the very tall, dark man behind her strode forward without taking any apparent note of her still-lingering presence.

Rosie arched a pale brow. ‘Do we need privacy?’ she asked doubtfully.

Nikolai studied her fixedly. She was incredibly tiny and delicate in build. He remembered that. He remembered the long curling tangle of her bronze-coloured hair as well because the shade was unusual, neither brown nor red but a metallic shade somewhere between the two. She bore a ridiculously close resemblance to a pixie he had once seen in a fairy-story book, he thought, feeling oddly numb, oddly dry-mouthed as his keen dark gaze roved over her, reluctant to miss out on a single detail of that petite, pixeish perfection. No, of course she wasn’t perfect, no woman was, he reasoned, striving to be more lucid, but that flawless porcelain skin, those glorious green eyes and that lush mouth in that beautiful face were quite unforgettable. Memory hadn’t exaggerated her beauty, but his brain had persuaded him he had to prevent himself from chasing after her, he decided in exasperation.

‘We do,’ Nikolai confirmed, firmly shutting the door in Rosie’s wake. ‘We weren’t introduced at our last meeting.’

‘No, you were far too busy shouting at me,’ Ella reminded him doggedly.

‘My name is Nikolai Drakos and you are?’

As he extended a hand Gramma’s strict upbringing brought Ella’s own hand out to grip his. ‘Prunella Palmer. Most people call me Ella. What are you doing here, Mr Drakos? Or are you here about that stupid car?’ she asked witheringly.

‘You pranged that stupid car,’ Nikolai pointed out, unamused.

‘I inflicted a minuscule rubbing mark on one wing. I didn’t dent or scratch it,’ she traded drily. ‘I can’t believe you’re still complaining about it. Nobody got hurt and no real damage was done.’

Nikolai was very tempted to tell her how much that ‘rubbing’ mark had cost to remove. She had scraped the car past a bush when she’d accelerated too fast. His teeth ground together. It was healthy to be reminded just how very annoying she could be, he told himself warningly. Complaining? He had never complained in his life, not when his father beat him up, not when he was bullied at school, not even when his sister and only living relative had died. He had learnt at a very young age that basically nobody cared what happened to him and nobody was interested enough to listen to what he had endured. Nothing in life had ever come easy to Nikolai.

Ella couldn’t take her eyes off him. He was so physically large in both height and breadth that he ate up every inch of space in Rosie’s little office and made it feel crowded and suffocating. Tension held her rigid while she watched him like a rabbit mesmerised by a hawk ready to swoop down on her. Nikolai Drakos—the ultimate female fantasy with olive skin, black hair and spectacular dark eyes. His tailored charcoal-grey business suit couldn’t hide the reality that he was built with an athlete’s lean, muscular power and he moved with long-legged easy grace, she registered, struggling to pinpoint exactly what continually drew her attention to him. He was very, very good-looking but it wasn’t just the looks. He had amazing bone structure though and would probably still be turning heads in his sixties. Maybe it was the electrifying quality of the raw, masculine sex appeal he exuded. Twelve months earlier his sheer charisma had struck her like a thunderbolt and utterly humiliated her.

‘I’m not here about the car,’ Nikolai said very drily. ‘I’m here because you asked to see me...’

Ella was thoroughly disconcerted by that statement. ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about. How could I ask to see you when I have no way of contacting you? And why would I contact you when I haven’t had the slightest desire to see you again?’ she enquired tartly, her whole bearing suggesting that such a belief could only have come from an intolerable egotist.

A sardonic smile curved Nikolai’s wide sensual mouth as he gazed down at her with scantily leashed satisfaction. She had approached him. She had come looking for him first and that felt very much like the helpful hand of fate working on his behalf.

‘You did request my attention,’ he told her again.

Bewilderment gripped Ella but it was swiftly followed by a surge of frustrated fury. So far she had been having a very bad day and she was not in the mood for big arrogant male surprises and particularly not one who had offended her by offering her a one-night stand before he had even enquired what her name was! Yes, act first, think afterwards, that was how Nikolai Drakos functioned around women, she reflected scornfully. He had made her feel bad about herself and she allowed no man to do that to her. Yet when she gazed back at him and rated the uncompromising light in his eyes and the hard resolution etched in his strong-boned features, she could suddenly see that he was not the weak, frivolous and impulsive male she had first assumed him to be and that threw her off balance...badly.

‘I’ve had enough of this nonsense!’ she told him bluntly. ‘I want you to leave.’

Nikolai compounded his sins by slowly raising a beautifully drawn ebony brow. ‘I don’t think so.’

The rage that Ella always struggled to control broke through her cracking composure because she hated bullies and it seemed to her that he was trying to intimidate her. ‘I know so!’ she slammed back at him, half an octave higher. ‘And if you’re not out of here by the time I count to ten, I’m calling the police!’

‘Go right ahead,’ Nikolai advised, lodging his wide-shouldered frame back against the door and folding his arms with the infuriatingly cool poise of a male who had no intention of going anywhere. As she almost bounced in fury, she reminded him of a hummingbird dive-bombing a flower. Tiny but also colourful, intense and vibrant.

An unholy flash of hostility lit up Ella’s emerald-green eyes. ‘I mean it!’

Nikolai sighed. ‘You only think you mean it. Be aware that that temper of yours is a major weakness.’

Incensed by that crack, Ella said, ‘One—’

‘When you allow yourself to lose your head, you surrender control.’


‘And you’re not thinking rationally either,’ Nikolai told her smoothly.


‘How could you be?’ Nikolai continued. ‘Right now I can read your face like a map. You want to jump on me and thump me but you’re not physically up to that challenge, so you’re stuck acting illogical and childish—’

‘Four! And shut up while I’m counting! Five!’ Ella added jerkily, her throat muscles so tight, she could barely get the words out.

‘The performance you’re putting on for me now is why I never allow myself to lose my temper,’ Nikolai told her, thoroughly enjoying himself for the first time in a long time because she was that easy to rile. He would be able to wind her up like a clockwork toy and control easily.

‘Of course, you could try asking yourself why you’re being this unreasonable. As far as I’m aware I did nothing worthy of this reception,’ Nikolai murmured smooth as glass, his wide, expressive mouth quirking round the edges.

‘Six!’ But that fast she remembered his mouth on hers, hard and demanding and passionate, rather than playful and shy and sweet. He was the only man apart from Paul to ever kiss her. The core of steel deep inside her reached a furnace heat of hatred and temper and shame but her body still betrayed her. Her nipples pinched into tight little buttons that stung, and lower down in a place she didn’t even want to think about she felt that almost forgotten liquid, hot, sliding sensation. It made her teeth grind together in vexation.

‘Seven!’ she launched and reached for the phone on the desk, almost desperate to see him go, her brain a morass of angry, tumbling impressions and images.

‘We’re going to get on like a house on fire...literally,’ Nikolai told her with sardonic bite. ‘Because while I may control my temper, I am demanding, stubborn and impatient and if you cross me you’ll know about it.’

‘Out!’ she spat at him furiously, outraged by the fact that she couldn’t get him to react to her threat in even the smallest way. ‘Get out of here!’

‘Eight...maybe even nine,’ Nikolai pronounced for her. ‘When you know why I’m here, you’ll beg me to stay.’

‘In your dreams...ten!’ Ella countered in a ringing tone of finality as she lifted the phone with a flourish.

‘I’m the man who bought your father’s debts,’ Nikolai admitted and watched her freeze and lose all her animated angry colour while her arm slowly lowered the phone back on its rest and her hand fell back from it in dismay.


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