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Bride for Real

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«Bride for Real» - Линн Грэхем

Their vows have been broken, yet neither is prepared for what this tempestuous reunion will bring…Tally Spencer is an ordinary girl with no experience of relationships; Sander Volakis is an impossibly rich and handsome Greek entrepreneur. What could they have in common? Little – except an overwhelming sexual attraction. But within weeks Sander finds himself betrayed into exchanging vows with Tally. Just when they think their hasty marriage is finished, Tally and Sander are drawn back together, and the passion between them is just as strong… However, Sander has dark reasons for wanting his wife in his bed again – and Tally also has a terrible secret… THE VOLAKIS VOW A marriage made of secrets… An enthralling two-part story by bestselling author Lynne Graham
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‘I still haven’t learned how to stop wanting you.’

‘Sander …’ Shattered by that admission of continuing desire from the husband she was in the midst of divorcing, Tally stared at him, her emotions in turmoil to the extent that she no longer knew what she was thinking or feeling.

‘In fact, wanting you is driving me absolutely crazy, yineka mou,’ Sander admitted darkly.

And for the first time in longer than Tally could remember her body leapt with actual physical hunger. Was it the dark-chocolate luxury of his deep voice which provoked the sudden rise of those long-buried needs? Or the sinfully sexual charge of his golden eyes? Tally had no idea, but she felt a sudden clenching tight sensation low in her pelvis, while her nipples were stung into tight swollen buds. Her mouth ran dry.

Like a rabbit caught in car headlights, Tally gazed back at Sander, feeling as vulnerable as if he had stripped her naked and marched her out into a busy street. Yineka mou—my wife, he’d called her. And she was still his wife, she reminded herself helplessly …

Bride for Real

Lynne Graham


A marriage made of secrets …

An enthralling two-part story by bestselling author Lynne Graham

Book One:


Tally Spencer, an ordinary girl with no experience of relationships … Sander Volakis, an impossibly rich and handsome Greek entrepreneur … Their worlds collide in an explosion of attraction and passion. Sander’s expecting to love her and leave her, but for Tally this is love at first sight. Both are about to find that it’s not easy to walk away … because Tally is expecting Sander’s baby and he is being blackmailed into making her his wife!

THE MARRIAGE BETRAYAL is still available to read via

Book Two:


Just when they thought their hasty marriage was finished, Tally and Sander are drawn back together and the passion between them is just as strong … But Sander has hidden reasons for wanting his wife in his bed again, and Tally also has secrets … and neither is prepared for what this tempestuous reunion will bring …

Can you wait to find out what happens?


BRILLIANT dark eyes grim, Sander studied the photo of his wife, small and sexy in a scarlet evening gown and wrapped in another man’s arms.

He was disturbed to appreciate that he was in shock. The white heat of the rage that followed made him lightheaded and scoured him inside like a cleansing flame, leaving him feeling curiously hollow. Robert Miller, well, that wasn’t a surprise, was it? Sander had noted at the Westgrave Manor party two years earlier that Miller had wanted Tally the minute he’d laid eyes on her. Just as Sander had, once. But in spite of his simmering fury, Sander pushed the newspaper away with a careless hand and glanced at his watching father to say lightly like a practised card player hiding his hand, ‘So?’

‘When will you be fully free of her?’ Petros Volakis demanded sourly, as if an estranged wife, whose new single life was being fully documented by the media, was an embarrassment to the family name.

‘I’m free now,’ Sander pointed out with a shrug, for although divorce proceedings still had a way to go, an official separation was already in place.

As his attention roamed involuntarily back to the newspaper lying close by he questioned the strength of his reaction to seeing Tally with someone else. They were getting a divorce. It should be no surprise that she was back on the social circuit. But, like a man forced to stand still while hot pitch was slowly dripped onto his skin, Sander was in torment. Why? Prior to their breakup Tally had brandished her indifference to Sander like a banner and he had assumed that no man could breach her barriers. The idea that another man might have succeeded where he had failed outraged and challenged him. ‘I don’t see you featuring in the gossip columns the way you did before you married,’ the older man remarked with more insight than Sander usually ascribed to him.

‘I’ve grown up,’ Sander countered drily. ‘I’m also more discreet.’

‘She was a mistake but we’ll say no more about it,’ Petros commented, noting the hardening of his son’s stubborn jaw line with a wary eye.

His lean, darkly handsome face uninformative, Sander had nothing to say, at least nothing worth saying. He marvelled that his parents, who had not even offered him sympathy on the death of his firstborn son, could think that any aspect of his marriage could be their business. But then, relations had long been chilly between Sander and his mother and father. His elder brother, Titos, the family favourite, had died in a tragic accident and, although it was only thanks to Sander that Volakis Shipping had since recovered from his brother’s disastrous management, Sander was still being made to feel a very poor second-best in the son stakes. And now, all of a sudden, he was disturbingly conscious that his meteoric triumphs in business were in stark contrast to a frankly abysmal rating in his private life

Tally, in contrast, had moved on from their marriage at startling speed and was evidently enjoying considerable success: new business, new home, new man. That knowledge infuriated Sander, who remembered a much more innocent Tally, a glowing girl who had once been too excited to breathe when he’d kissed her. He could not stand to think of her in bed with Robert Miller, and the awareness shocked him because he had never seen himself as a possessive man …


‘WHEN will your divorce from Volakis be final?’ Robert Miller asked casually.

Suspecting that his question was anything but casual, Tally stiffened. Her bright green eyes wary, she averted her head, light glancing over the smooth coil of hair at the nape of her neck and picking out its natural streaks of brighter orange as she leafed through a fabric sample book. ‘In a couple of months …’

‘It feels like it’s been going on for ever,’ Robert complained, his impatience with the situation unconcealed. ‘I’m getting tired of the fact that everyone assumes we’re only friends—’

‘We are friends and you’re my business partner,’ Tally responded lightly, knowing that he wanted more but not at all sure, even yet, that she would ever be able to give it to him.

It was only a year since Sander, the loss of their child and the sad debris of their failed marriage had broken Tally’s heart into tiny shattered pieces. The last thing she wanted in her life was the stress of a man with expectations she couldn’t fulfil. It was fun to meet Robert for casual dinner dates and occasionally accompany him to more formal events but she wasn’t ready for a full-on relationship at present.

She valued his friendship and his business guidance and support, but she had yet to feel any desire to take matters to a more intimate level. Sander, she reflected painfully, seemed to have killed those feelings stone dead.

Yet at six feet tall with dark hair and bright blue eyes, Robert was a very attractive man and a successful software designer with his own company. Nine months earlier, Robert had given Tally her first major project when he’d engaged her to make over the interior of his London Docklands apartment. Thanks to the publicity garnered by that job, Tally’s brand new interiors firm had expanded rapidly to cope with a steady influx of keen clients. Although business was good, Tally had still found it impossible in the depressed economic climate to get a bank to invest in the future of Tallulah Design. Times were hard for newly self-employed people and when Robert offered her the finance she’d needed to set up her office in upmarket premises and hire extra staff, she had been very grateful. For the past six months Robert had acted as a supportive silent partner.

Sadly, an unpleasant surprise was in store for Tally that afternoon when her assistant, Belle, told her she had a confidential call on hold for her. ‘I’ve been advised that the house you shared with Mr Volakis in France is about to be sold,’ her solicitor told her. ‘I’ve also been informed that if you want anything from the house you will need to go there and collect it.’

Thoroughly taken aback by that news, Tally grimaced and thanked the older man for passing on the information. She tried not to think about the house she had loved being sold, but it was no use; she had stamped her personality and style on the rambling property and she had once been very happy there. Knowing that it would soon belong to someone else filled her with a tide of regret. She had not been prepared for Sander to sell the house, though she could not have explained why. Would it have been a comfort to picture him there with some other woman? Absolutely not. Indeed she shivered at that offensive image and hurriedly suppressed it. When so many more important things had been lost, it would be ridiculous to bemoan the loss of bricks and mortar and memories of more contented times.

Even so, divorcing Sander was proving to be an ongoing challenge, Tally conceded ruefully as she checked her diary to work out if she could make a trip to France that very weekend and get the matter over and done with. Their divorce could certainly not be labelled a civilised break-up. Had Sander so desired, he could easily have had her belongings shipped back to the UK for her to sort out; but he had made not one single helpful gesture since their separation. He had not seen her; in fact he had, at one point, flatly refused to speak to her and had cut her out as though she had never been a part of his life.

Was that because she had walked out on him? Get over it, Sander, Tally thought angrily. If anything, she was proud of the fact that she’d had the courage to break free of a marriage that was making both of them unhappy. Since then she had read that, statistically speaking, marriages very rarely survived the death of a child.

Driving home to her apartment, Tally had to blink back a hot surge of tears and suppress the distressing recollections threatening to tear her apart. She had got over the worst of the anger, the self-pity and the bitterness; but, without warning, grief could still roll in over her like a suffocating blanket and it would be hours until she could function normally again.

Sander, however, had not suffered from that problem. Grief had not immobilised Sander in any way. During the wretched months when Tally’s life had fallen apart and she had sunk into depression, Sander had contrived to rebuild Volakis Shipping into a lean, mean, fighting machine of a booming business and had won lucrative new transportation contracts with Asian factories. At a conservative estimate Sander had quadrupled his financial worth during that contentious period of their lives. Yet Tally, determined to stand on her own financial feet as her mother had never contrived to do, had refused to accept a penny from her husband once they had parted.

Tally had not felt entitled to benefit from her estranged husband’s wealth. After all, Sander had only married her at her father’s instigation because she’d been pregnant. That brutal truth had come back to haunt her once their marriage was in crisis. In a relationship that lacked a sound foundation she had decided that it was unrealistic to hope that time would cure the tensions between them. Indeed she had had to stop and ask herself why she was still struggling to hold onto a man who had never returned her feelings. And that, in a nutshell, was why she believed their marriage had broken down: he had never loved her. She was also utterly convinced that Sander must have been relieved to get his freedom back.

‘Are you getting a share of the house in France?’ her mother, Crystal, demanded that evening on the phone when Tally mentioned her plans for the weekend. For more than a year Tally had seen little of her mother because Crystal was engaged to Roger, a retired British businessman, and had made her home in Monaco with him.

‘You know I don’t need Sander’s money—’

‘I think you’re being very short-sighted. I always needed your father’s money and don’t know how I’d have managed without it!’ Crystal asserted, referring to the Greek businessman, Anatole Karydas, who had supported Crystal and Tally, his illegitimate daughter, right up until Tally completed her education.

‘I’m managing fine just now,’ Tally retorted.

‘But be sensible and think of the future. Take a van over with you and empty the place!’ Crystal advised without hesitation. ‘By all accounts, Sander Volakis is as rich as sin and he’s not going to miss a few sticks of furniture. You walked out on a very wealthy man!’

Aware that Crystal genuinely believed that a woman should hang on for grim death to any rich man for the sake of her long-term security, Tally, who was far more independent, had the tact to swallow back an acerbic retort. She might not see eye to eye with her parent on many subjects but she was very attached to the older woman. Nonetheless, it was Binkie—Mrs Binkiewicz, a Polish widow—who had virtually brought Tally up.

It was then Binkie whom Tally missed the most when life was tough. Binkie had acted as Tally and Sander’s housekeeper in the South of France; and when their marriage had ended the older woman had returned to the UK and had taken a job with a family in Devon.

That Friday afternoon, Tally flew into Perpignan airport. Soon after she arrived she received a surprising phone call from her mother. Crystal, who had been living in Monaco with Roger for the past eighteen months, announced without the smallest preamble that she would be returning to London the next day.

‘My goodness, that’s very sudden. Has something happened between you and Roger?’ Tally enquired gingerly, conscious that her mother’s love life tended to be rather unsettled.

‘Roger and I have decided to call it a day.’ Crystal’s tone was defensive and Tally wisely made no comment. ‘I assume I can stay with you until I’ve got somewhere of my own sorted out …’

‘Of course you can!’ Tally exclaimed. ‘Are you all right?’

‘Nothing lasts for ever,’ her mother said flatly and that was the end of the call; Crystal evidently being in no mood to talk.

A slim figure in a purple print sundress, Tally collected a hire car to drive into the foothills of the Pyrenees. The old farmhouse, reached by a narrow private road that snaked through tortuous bends up a steep hill, rejoiced in glorious views. With extensive wooded grounds that were in turn surrounded by a working vineyard and orchards, it also enjoyed great privacy. Tally was very tense as she parked outside the stone house with its vine-covered, wrought-iron loggia. Her solicitor had assured her that he would inform Sander’s representative so that she could gain access to the property. But still not knowing what form that access would take, she first knocked on the door. Only when there was no response did she dig out the key she had never returned and made use of it.

The evocative scent of lavender and beeswax flared her nostrils in the terracotta-tiled hall and she was surprised to see a beautiful arrangement of flowers adorning a side table. There were no fallen petals either. Presumably the house was being as well maintained as though it were still occupied to make it appear more appealing to buyers. Even so it was distinctly eerie to walk back into the marital home she had abandoned over a year earlier and pick up on a familiar ambience that hinted that she might only have walked away the day before.

There were more flowers in the airy main reception room and a pile of the most recent interior design publications lying on the coffee table. Pale drapes were ruffling in the fresh air filtering through an open window. She spotted a small sculpture she and Sander had bought together in Perpignan and her heart lurched, for she remembered that day so clearly. Then, happily pregnant, ignorant of the tragedy to come, she had nagged Sander into taking some rare time off and spending the day with her. They had laughed and talked at length over a leisurely lunch before wandering into the art gallery and spotting the sensually curved stone figure of a couple.

Emerging from her reverie with hot cheeks, Tally realised that she was almost mesmerised by the atmosphere that so strongly evoked the past. She shook her head as though to clear it. Would she really want to take that sculpture and its attendant memories back to London with her? She thought not and mounted the oak stairs to the upper floor. Her heart started beating very fast when she entered the main bedroom. She could remember what a state she had left things in there, with clothes scattered around as she hastily packed only what she could conveniently carry in one case. Now she peered into a wardrobe in the dressing room and saw the same items all neatly hung up, the drawers full of immaculately folded garments.

Emerging from the room in a dazed state, she fell still outside a door at the end of the landing and lost colour. She had to breathe in deep, perspiration breaking out on her brow, before she could make herself depress the handle to push the door wide open. She froze on the threshold in surprise—the enchanting nursery that she had furnished with such love and hope for the future no longer existed. Her shaken eyes scanned the freshly painted walls and full-sized bedroom furniture. There was nothing now to remind her of what had once been; but the memories inside her own head, she acknowledged. She was surprised but relieved that the baby equipment, colourful wallpaper and toys were gone. In the months after the stillbirth of her little boy, Tally had haunted that room, pointlessly, painfully dreaming of what might have been.

The dulled repetitive clack of rotor blades in the distance sent Tally to the landing window where she focused on a black helicopter moving in the cloudless blue sky over the valley. Sander had taken to flying in and out during the last months they had spent in France, citing the advantage of his being able to work while someone else transported him. By then it had sunk in on her that she was married to an unashamed workaholic to whom time meant money and the eternal pursuit of profit. A pregnant wife and a marriage needing attention had been at the very foot of Sander’s to-do list. Of course it would not be Sander coming to visit today, Tally reflected wryly, moving away to pull open a storage cupboard where cases were mercifully still stored.

She would make a start by packing her clothes and then check out the rest of the house for anything she felt she could not live without. Sheets that smelled of Sander, she thought straight away before she could suppress that inappropriate notion. In fact where on earth had that ridiculous thought come from? It was the crazy spell cast by this stupid house getting into her brain and confusing her, she decided angrily. It had been a very long time since such an idea had come naturally to her.

Tally was piling clothing into a case and paying scant attention to the rules of good packing when the noise of the helicopter apparently landing nearby drew her back to the window with a frown of curiosity. By then, the craft had landed on the pad at the edge of the orchard and through the screening mass of summer shrubbery in the grounds she recognised the colourful red ‘V’ logo on its side: V for Volakis. Her heart started beating very fast. It couldn’t be Sander, it couldn’t possibly be Sander!

As Tally backed away unconsciously from the glass she saw a tall, black-haired man in a business suit striding towards the house and shock almost stopped her heart beating altogether. The leashed masculine power of Sander’s proud carriage and long stride were unmistakeable. Something shamefully akin to panic assailed Tally and, for a split second, she seriously thought of stepping into the storage cupboard where she had found the cases and closing the door. She soon shook off that nonsensical idea but she was still frozen on the landing when she heard the front door open.

‘Tally—where are you? It’s Sander,’ a painfully familiar accented drawl announced; and fingered down the length of her spine like a mocking caress.

Her grip on the banister tightened and she moved stiffly to the head of the stairs before starting reluctantly down them, a slender very straight-backed small figure sporting an unconvincing smile. ‘I’ve been packing. What on earth are you doing here?’

‘This is still my house,’ Sander reminded her softly.

Black-haired head tipped back at an almost aggressive angle, he subjected his estranged wife to an intent scrutiny because it felt like a lifetime since he had last seen her. He instantly noted the changes in her and disliked them. Her curls were gone, replaced by a sleek coil of straightened hair worn in a classic style that made her look older; and her summer dress was formal enough to have met even his mother’s strict standards of ladylike grooming. As always, though, Tally’s make-up was subtle, highlighting the undeniable appeal of her big green eyes and soft, full, pink mouth and the freckles scattered across her nose. His chest felt strangely tight. He could only think that he had liked that tousled torrent of rebellious curls and her once youthfully chaotic sense of fashion. Perhaps he just didn’t like people to change, he told himself, uneasy with the strength of his reaction

‘You must’ve planned this! I don’t believe your arrival while I’m here could be a coincidence,’ Tally condemned, struggling not to notice just how incredibly handsome he still was or how wonderfully his thick sooty lashes enhanced his lustrous dark eyes. He was clean-shaven, immaculate in a navy designer suit of faultless cut, and she couldn’t drag her mesmerised gaze from him. The edge of panic inside her snapped taut like a nerve end pulling, goose bumps of awareness rising on the exposed skin of her arms.

She hated Lysander Volakis for the pain and disillusionment he had put her through. She had loved him once—loved him far too much for comfort or relaxation. But a few weeks after their wedding when she had discovered that he had been virtually blackmailed into marrying her because she’d been pregnant, she had attempted to let him go free again. She had walked out then but instead of letting her go he had followed her to the airport and persuaded her that he felt enough for her to give their marriage another chance. She still despised herself for being weak enough to give him that chance. She had dragged out her own suffering because, for a few brief months while on his very best behaviour, he had made her exceedingly happy. Then, when she was at the very height of her rose-coloured expectations of their marriage and looking forward to motherhood, she had lost everything and he had not been there for her; he had not been there for her at all. She had travelled from the warmth of sunlight into the cold of winter.

‘I’ve never believed in coincidences,’ Sander fielded with more than a hint of provocation that dragged her thoughts right back to the present. ‘Naturally I knew you would be here. We can divide up the contents together.’

Having stiffened at that almost teasing intonation, Tally gritted her teeth. ‘I don’t think that’s a good idea.’

‘Wouldn’t Robert like it?’ Sander quipped, brilliant eyes like bright chips of golden challenge in his lean strong face.

‘I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ Tally responded flatly, uneasily aware of the sparks smouldering in the atmosphere and the essentially volatile nature of Sander’s temperament.

Yet she saw changes in Sander too. His recent dazzling success in the business world had boosted the element of darkness in him, giving his lean, strong features a tougher, more ruthless edge and accentuating his hard masculinity. Sander had also acquired an intimidating degree of implacability. And she noted now, registering in surprise, that in the aftermath of their marriage her estranged husband also believed that he had an axe to grind and was in no mood to let bygones be bygones. At that moment it struck her as strange that she had never before acknowledged the likelihood that he might blame her for things just as she blamed him. In retrospect, she was shaken by the extent of her tunnel vision and her view of herself as the victim of his cruel insensitivity. Had she truly fallen into the trap of believing that she was a perfect wife?

‘Miller wouldn’t like the fact that you’re here in this house alone with me,’ Sander proclaimed in a deceptively indolent tone.

Tally was tempted to say that Robert Miller minded his own business but that would immediately reveal that theirs was a friendly rather than intimate relationship and she did not see why she should hand Sander that interesting information on a plate. No doubt he would be amused to learn that when she had last made love with a man it had been him; and that had been at least eighteen months ago. She knew Sander’s hot-blooded nature and was certain that he would have moved on much sooner than she had contrived to do. A bitterness she could not suppress rose like bile in her tight throat as she still could not bear to think of Sander with anyone else.

‘Robert knows better than to try and tell me what to do,’ Tally replied drily, her chin lifting, green eyes glinting as if to say: Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

Sander released a husky laugh that purred down her backbone like a taunting scratch. ‘You surprise me; you liked it when I did it …’

And that crack smashed through Tally’s superficial shell of civility like a brick and made her fingers flex like claws and her face burn as red and hot with mortification as any fire. She knew exactly what he was getting at. In the early months of their relationship, Sander had often told her what to do in bed while he explained what he enjoyed. Not only had she had no objection to that intimate education, but she’d also discovered that it turned her on.

‘That’s it … I’m leaving!’ Tally snapped furiously, stepping past him to snatch at the car keys she had tossed down on the side table. ‘You can dump my stuff. I don’t want any of it!’

But Sander’s reflexes were much faster than hers and long brown fingers scooped up the keys a split second before she could. ‘You’re not driving off in the temper you’re in—’

‘Give me those keys!’ Tally launched at him in a burning rage at his interference.

‘How long did you wait before you welcomed Miller into your bed?’ Sander enquired, relishing the sight of her all shaken up, stray strands of hair flying loose from the smooth bun at the nape of her neck while her green eyes crackled like fireworks. All of a sudden she was the woman he remembered again. No other woman of his acquaintance had ever equalled her passion, but the conviction that she had taken another man as a lover was like a knife in his chest and he couldn’t leave the subject alone.

‘You’ve got no right to ask me that!’ Tally hurled, her cheeks burning as she reached for the keys.

Much taller than she was, Sander simply held the keys out of her reach. ‘I’m still your husband and naturally I’m curious—you barred me from your bed for months before we broke up,’ he reminded her harshly, his hard jaw line grim.

‘We’re almost divorced. I’m not having this conversation with you—now give me those keys!’ Tally hissed back at him in vexation.

‘No,’ Sander responded in Greek. ‘I won’t enable you to get behind the wheel in a blind rage …’

‘Oh, so caring all of a sudden!’ Tally raked back at him in a furious hiss of condemnation that she could not restrain. ‘Where did that caring guy go when we lost our child?’

Sander froze as though she had struck him. His dark eyes blazed with hostility before he veiled them, and his superb cheekbones clenched into hard angular lines below his bronzed skin. ‘That’s not something I’m willing to discuss—’

‘No, I didn’t think it would be,’ Tally spat back with raw contempt. ‘Not with your track record for working eighteen-hour days, or being back at your desk the day after the funeral of our child. All you care about is making more money … it doesn’t matter that in comparison to most people you are already rich as Croesus, you never seem to have enough money to be satisfied!’

Thick black lashes lifted on blistering, dark golden eyes as direct as knives aimed at a target. ‘How dare you? You carried our son, so you’re the only one allowed to be sensitive and have feelings, is that right?’

Unprepared for the immediacy of that scorching comeback, Tally muttered, ‘Well, er …’

‘We all cope with grief in different ways. I could have got drunk and slept with other women to express my wounded feelings,’ he grated in a tone of derision. ‘But that’s not who I am. I’m not into therapy or wallowing in emotion either, wasn’t brought up that way … sorry In my family we don’t whinge or talk about stuff like that. I worked every goddamned hour I could because the same day that I lost my son I lost my wife as well and working was the only way I could handle it!’

Totally disconcerted by that explosive response, which roared from him like a tornado set suddenly free from a cage, Tally had fallen back several steps in shock. She was already regretting her attack on him, wincing at how unwise it had been to break open the wound of that painful subject when she was still in the process of healing. Now catching the sheer rawness in his voice, and the caustic charge of bitter reproach in his hard gaze, Tally was paralysed to the spot and recognising in Sander a depth of emotion she had not acknowledged he might possess. Her conscience was already censuring her ill-considered words. Now she was asking herself why she had so hugely underestimated what he might be feeling when their child was born dead.

‘What do you mean … you lost your wife?’ Tally prompted unevenly, reluctant to ask but unable to let the statement stand unchallenged.

‘You acted as if you had cornered the market on grief and you turned into a zombie. You wouldn’t talk to me or go out or do anything but cry. You were suffering from depression but when I tried to persuade you to see a doctor or even a counsellor you went bonkers and told me that I couldn’t possibly understand what you were going through!’

‘I didn’t think you did … I was all screwed up inside myself.’ Tally struggled to defend her past behaviour, her heart beating so fast with tension that she could hardly breathe.

But Sander was not yet finished. Seeing her back inside the house where everything had so suddenly fallen apart had brought the past alive again for him in a way he had not foreseen. He was also reacting in a way he had not known he might and it was one of the very few times in his life that he was not fully in control. He had tried to swallow back the furious words that had come out of nowhere at him but found that he could not silence them, for his sense of injustice still burned deep and strong. ‘When I suggested we have another baby you reacted like that was unforgivable and you screamed that you didn’t want another child!’ Sander bit out in wrathful reminder. ‘And when I made the very great mistake of trying to get back into bed with you again you behaved as if it was an attempted rape!’

To say that Tally regretted what she had invited with her emotional attack on him would have been a severe understatement. Pale as milk, she was trembling with perturbation and disbelief, reeling in dismay from the bitter accusing anger he could not conceal. One minute she had been fighting him for her car keys, the next…?

‘I’m sorry,’ she framed shakily, appalled that she had surrendered entirely to her own pain after their loss while flatly refusing to recognise that he was having a tough time as well.

Sander loosed a harsh laugh. ‘Sorry’s not enough, is it? Sorry doesn’t fix anything!’ he flung back at her without hesitation. ‘Our baby dying didn’t stop me wanting you, it made me need you more …’

Shame filled Tally in the instant that she recognised that they had let each other down. Neither of them had been capable of keeping their relationship alive in the maelstrom of grief and misunderstanding that had followed the arrival of their stillborn son.

Sander tossed the keys back down on the table and turned his darkly handsome head back to her, eyes as black as pitch in the sunlight and glinting with emotions she couldn’t read. ‘And I still haven’t learned how to stop wanting you,’ he breathed in a sizzling undertone that stung her like a hot jet of steam on tender skin. ‘Is there some magical combination of aversion responses that I lack? You did a hell of a number on my libido, Tally!’

‘Sander …’ Shattered by that admission of continuing desire from the husband she was in the midst of divorcing, Tally stared at him. Her emotions in turmoil to the extent that she no longer knew what she was thinking or feeling.

‘In fact, wanting you is driving me absolutely crazy, yineka mou,’ Sander admitted darkly.

And for the first time in longer than Tally could remember, her body leapt with actual physical hunger. She was astonished as she had felt nothing for so long that she had believed that that side of her nature might be gone for ever. Was it the dark chocolate luxury of his deep voice that provoked the sudden rise of those long-buried needs? Or the sinfully sexual charge of his dark golden eyes? Tally had no idea but she felt a sudden clenching tight sensation low in her pelvis while her nipples stung into tight swollen buds of desire. Her mouth ran dry.

Like a rabbit caught in car headlights in the dark Tally gazed back at Sander, feeling as vulnerable as if he had stripped her naked and marched her out into a busy street. Yineka mou, my wife, he’d called her. And she was still his wife, she reminded herself helplessly.

‘Any idea what I can do about it?’ Sander husked that question, strolling closer with the silent elegant grace that was as much a part of him as his physical strength.

‘No, no idea at all.’ Tally had gone rigid, suddenly aware of a danger that she had not realised she might face. She had married a manipulative man and she knew it; indeed, she had once gloried in the level of intelligence and cunning that generally kept him several steps ahead of his business competitors. Sander was a remarkably clever and shrewd guy and now, somehow, she had no idea how, he was pushing her buttons and making her feel things she did not want to feel. As he advanced she backed away until she was trapped between him and the door.

‘You push me much too close to the edge, yineka mou,’ Sander murmured, tilting down his darkly handsome head and running the angular side of his jaw back and forth over the smooth soft line of her cheek like a jungle cat nuzzling for attention. The familiar sandalwood and jasmine scent of his expensive aftershave lotion made her nostrils flare while the faint rasp of his rougher skin scored her nerve endings into life.

Suddenly Tally felt like someone pinned to a cliff edge, in danger and swaying far too close to a treacherous drop. She didn’t want to be there, she didn’t want to fall either, but any concept of choice was wrested from her when Sander found her mouth and kissed her, strong hands firm on her slim shoulders to hold her still …


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