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Мортимер Кэрол

Devil Lover

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‘NO!’ she gasped. ‘You can't mean that!’ She searched that cold hard face for some sign of mockery, but all she could see was his hatred and contempt of her.

‘But I do mean it,’ he told her calmly. ‘I have waited almost eleven years for this moment. I cannot tell you how much it pleases me.’

‘But I——What does it all mean?’ she demanded.

‘It means that I have brought you here to become my wife, the wife your father chose to deprive me of.’ Andreas Vatis’ voice tautened grimly. ‘I have never been particularly attracted to redheads,’ he added insultingly. ‘But then I will not be able to distinguish the colour of your hair in the dark.’

Regan gulped. ‘In the dark?’ she echoed.

He nodded his arrogant head. ‘When I take you to my bed. Only the sense of touch is important at such times, and you look as if your body might be quite—pleasant to touch.’

She blushed under his assessing gaze, feeling as if he stripped the clothes from her at a glance, saw each delectable curve beneath. ‘You're mad!’ her voice quivered in her fear. ‘I'm not going to marry you, and you certainly aren't going to touch me, in the dark or at any other time.’

‘Are you sure of that?’ He seemed unperturbed by her outburst, his calmness making Regan feel even more uneasy.

‘Very sure,’ but her voice quivered uncertainly.

‘Then I will keep you here until you change your mind. Of course I will visit your bed every night until you agree to marry me, which should not be long—Helena was born exactly nine months after the consummation of my first marriage,’ he added with grim humour.

‘You mean——’

‘I mean that unless you agree to marry me now you could find yourself in the even more unwelcome position, in your opinion, of being my mistress.’

‘But why?’ she cried. ‘Why are you doing this to me?’ Her anguish was obvious, her blue eyes shadowed.

‘I have already explained it to you,’ he told her haughtily. ‘I want from your father the wife he stole from me, and as both he and Gina are dead I intend taking his daughter instead. You will provide me with the sons I need to inherit the Vatis empire, the sons Gina would have given me if not enticed away by James Matthews, your father.’

‘But I——You got me here under false pretences, didn't you?’ she accused. ‘You knew I would never have come here if I'd known I was to be employed by Andreas Vatis. I'm only too aware of how you must hate me, and I wouldn't willingly come within a hundred miles of you. What I don't understand is how you arranged it all.’

He shrugged his broad shoulders, walking over to study the perfumes she had so admired earlier. ‘It was all too easy, Regan. I have always known of your existence, of your adoption by your uncle and aunt, but as a child you were no good to me. Now you are a woman, a very beautiful one——’

‘Except for the red hair,’ she cut in bitterly.

He looked at the waving tresses. ‘Perhaps I will come to like it in time. But as I said, it is not important that I do.’

‘Because you won't see it in the dark,’ she said dully, a terrible feeling of inevitability washing over her. It was as if she had known for the past ten years that something like this was going to happen, that she wasn't really surprised by anything Andreas Vatis was saying to her.

‘Exactly,’ he agreed cruelly. ‘But to get back to how I arranged this meeting.’ He picked up one of the bottles of perfume, smelling its fragrance. He grimaced, and replaced it to pick up one of the others. ‘I have known of your every move since you were nine years old. I knew of your school friends, of your chosen career, of the friends you have made in London.’

‘What if I'd become serious about one of these friends, had decided to marry one of them?’

‘You almost did, did you not?’ he enquired calmly. ‘A certain Rick Davidson. The romance,’ he sneered the word, ‘broke up when you found him at his flat with another girl.’

‘You've certainly done your homework,’ she snapped.

‘Not at all. I have always found Diana very—obliging.’

Regan's eyes widened. ‘You mean you arranged that too?’

‘It was not difficult, let me assure you. Diana liked Rick Davidson very much and your boy-friend was only too willing. They are married now, you know. Since that time you have been escorted by a Donny Paulos.’

‘Don't tell me,’ she scorned. ‘You arranged that too.’

‘It was necessary,’ Andreas Vatis told her coldly.

‘You mean you did arrange it?’ she gasped.

‘Certainly. I felt it safer to put you in the care of one of my employees rather than risk you becoming seriously involved again. Of course, he had no idea of my reason for wanting you watched.’

So this was the reason Donny refused to be shaken off! ‘That's disgusting!’

‘Perhaps,’ he conceded with a nod of his head. ‘But I do not want anything but a virgin in my bed. You are to know only my possession.’

Regan met his gaze challengingly. ‘And how can you be so sure that I haven't been to bed with Donny? He's very attractive,’ she added tauntingly.

‘But aware of his own vulnerability. If he has laid one finger on you that I would class as intimate I will break him. I will make sure he never works again, that all of his friends suddenly forget his existence, that his family——’

‘Okay, okay, I think you've made your point,’ she said miserably.

His eyes narrowed to icy green slits. ‘Did he touch you?’

‘Frequently,’ she answered flippantly.

‘Intimately?’ he demanded to know.

She shrugged. ‘It depends what you call intimate. We all have our own definition. And my idea of intimate may differ from yours.’

He took a threatening step towards her, his strong fingers biting painfully into her arm. ‘You will answer me!’ he ordered. ‘Did he touch you like this?’ His other hand came up to cup one of her breasts through the thin material of her blouse, caressing until he felt the nipple harden to full arousal. ‘Or like this?’ The hand moved to her thighs, moving exploringly over her silky skin. ‘Did he?’ he demanded grimly, his fingers digging into the tender flesh of her thighs.

It was so tempting to say yes, Donny had betrayed her after all. But she didn't doubt that Andreas Vatis would indeed break him, and she wasn't sure he deserved that, for all his deceit. Besides, when he had known of her plans he had tried to stop her. Perhaps he had realised her fate!

‘No, he never touched me like that.’ No man had. She was ashamed of her own response to this man's hands on her body, her breasts still tingling from his touch.

‘Nor any other man?’ he persisted harshly.

‘Nor any other man,’ she admitted dully. No one else had ever induced her to such sexual excitement!

He released her so suddenly she almost fell, but he was seemingly unmoved by the way he had just touched her, moving back to study the perfumes as if he had never deviated his attention from them. ‘When you finished your college course I contacted the employment agency you went to and asked for you to be sent for an interview.’

‘To Clive Western. Is he in on this, too?’ she asked disgustedly.

‘Clive employed you on my instructions, but he did not know the real reason I wanted you here. I think he perhaps imagined I had another relationship in mind.’

‘So Helena doesn't need a companion?’

‘As her stepmother I expect you to become just that. Your duties as my wife will not be too arduous—during the daytime hours.

Regan glared at him. ‘I've already told you, I'm not going to marry you.’

Andreas Vatis shrugged. ‘That is your choice, of course. Here,’ he handed her one of the perfumes. ‘Wear this tonight when I come to your room.’

‘I won't be here tonight, I'm leaving.’

‘I think not.’ He removed the key to the room, placing it on the outside of the door, his intention clear. ‘And we are three floors up. I would not recommend you jumping,’ he mocked.

‘But you can't keep me here against my will,’ she told him desperately.

‘I am not doing that, you are. As my wife you will be perfectly free to go where you choose—within reason. As my mistress——’

‘Don't you mean sex-slave?’ she scorned.

‘I require sons from you. Unfortunately they cannot be obtained without the sexual act.’

‘You're inhuman!’

‘But you are not,’ he smiled tauntingly. ‘You liked my hands upon you just now. Do not deny it. I am not ignorant of the workings of a woman's body. I know pleasure when I see it, and you liked what I did to you. Tonight there will be more, much more,’ he promised mockingly.

‘No!’ Her voice came out shrill.

His eyes narrowed. ‘Does that mean you will marry me?’

‘No,’ she shook her head firmly.

He shrugged. ‘Then you will wear the perfume tonight. It is called “Desirable"—let us hope I find you that way by tonight.’

Regan was aware that he was insulting her again, that his words were designed to cause humiliation. ‘You can't get away with this sort of thing in this country,’ she informed him tautly. ‘It's called kidnapping. And rape will be added to that if you carry out your threat.’

‘You came here of your own free will, I have witnesses to the fact.’

‘But I'm not staying from the same freedom.’

‘In a few weeks’ time you will not want to leave,’ he told her with indifference. ‘I will make sure of that.’

‘You're doing all this because of what happened ten years ago?’

His mouth tightened. ‘Yes.’

‘And if I agree to marry you?’

‘Then you will be shown every consideration.’

‘Except that I would still have to share your bed.’

‘Unless you know of some other way we can have children.’ His smile was cruelly mocking.

Regan took a deep breath. ‘All right, I'll marry you.’

His green eyes narrowed questioningly, his intent gaze searching her features. Regan forced herself to remain calm. ‘You are up to something.’ he said slowly, suspiciously. ‘Do you think that by agreeing you will encourage me to let you roam freely about the estate? Do you take me for a fool, Regan? You will remain in your room until tomorrow. I have arranged for us to be married then.’

‘You were so sure of me.’ she said bitterly.

‘You have no real choice,’ he told her arrogantly.

Oh yes, she did, and one he wasn't aware of. She hadn't been a tomboy for nothing. Once Andreas Vatis had left her room she intended climbing down the drainpipe she had seen outside her window, something she had done a lot as a child, and escaping that way. ‘Does that mean that you'll leave me alone tonight?’

‘Poor Regan, are you afraid of being in a man's arms?’ he taunted.

‘Not a man's,’ she flushed. ‘But the devil's, yes.’

‘So I am the devil now, am I?’ he rasped, obviously not liking what she said. ‘Then make sure you do not bring out the devil in me when I possess you,’ he warned. ‘I could hurt you very much.’

He would never possess her, never! ‘Will you have my lunch sent up here?’ she asked.

He looked taken aback, finally giving a husky laugh, ‘I will never understand the workings of a woman's mind—her body, yes, but never her mind. One minute we are talking of sharing a bed, the next you are talking of food.’

Because her mind was racing on to her escape, to gaining the most time before it was discovered she had gone, and she needed to know whether a maid would be coming up here in the next hour or so. ‘They're both appetites,’ she dismissed. ‘At the moment I happen to consider the latter of more importance. And you probably don't understand a woman's mind because that has never been the part of a woman you're interested in.’ She knew he kept a low profile on his affairs, but she also knew there had to have been several, the experience of his hands hadn't been carried forward ten years from his wife. Besides, he emitted a sexual aura that in any other circumstances she might have been drawn to. But never through force, or under duress!

‘You are probably right,’ he didn't rise to her taunt. ‘And yes, your lunch will be sent up here. I dare not risk you seeing Clive and trying to convince him to take you back to London with him. He is loyal to me, but he also has a strong sense of what is wrong and what is right.’

‘And he would know this is wrong!’

‘I'm afraid so,’ he nodded.

Regan was more and more convinced her plan was going to work. Once she had climbed down the drainpipe she could stow away in the back of Clive's car. There was a blanket on the back seat she could cover herself with, and he had said he would be leaving shortly after lunch. If she timed this right she shouldn't have to be cramped on the back seat for long. Once away from here she was sure she could convince Clive of Andreas Vatis’ ruthless plan to slake his revenge on her.

‘Then you admit it,’ she accused.

‘I admit that to an Englishman what I am doing would not be thought—gentlemanly,’ he sneered the word. ‘But I do not consider it gentlemanly of one man to try to kill another either. Oh yes,’ he said grimly as she made to protest, ‘your father did not intend to blind or even maim me when he forced me off the race circuit, he intended to kill.’

Regan was once again deathly pale. ‘I don't believe you,’ she shook her head in denial of his words. ‘My father——’

‘Was a very dangerous man. He thought that by killing me he would be free to marry Gina. But we Vatises do not die so easily. I was very badly injured——’

‘I know,’ she put in quietly. ‘I—I saw a report of the crash.’

‘So,’ he nodded. ‘Both my legs and one arm were broken, several ribs also, one of which punctured a lung. But none of these things mattered to me in comparison with the taking of my sight. That I could never forgive.’ His mouth twisted bitterly. ‘Gina could take none of it, and I admit I was not a sight to please the eyes of a woman, not even the woman who had sworn before God to love me for all time. Gina went on a visit to her parents and she did not come back. Your father had arranged to meet her there, deciding that it would have to be a divorce after all. There was only one thing he did not take into account, and that was that I would still not divorce Gina. I do not believe in it.’

‘My father loved your wife. He—he wanted to marry her. I don't believe he would harm anyone to get what he wanted.’

‘Considering he was no father to you I am surprised you still feel it necessary to defend him,’ Andreas Vatis scorned.

‘I'm not defending him, I'm saying you're wrong about him. My father would never deliberately hurt anyone, let alone try to kill them.’

‘But I have witnesses, Regan.’

She had gone very pale. ‘W-witnesses?’

‘Of course,’ he nodded haughtily. ‘You are not listening to the ramblings, of a demented man,’ he snapped. ‘Shortly before the race in which I was injured your father and I had an argument. He wanted me to divorce Gina, when I refused he threatened to kill me.’

‘The words of any angry man.’ Regan remembered her father's explosive temper well, his nature as fiery as the red lights in his hair.

‘I do not think so. And neither did the other five drivers who heard him say it. While I lay unconscious in my hospital bed an enquiry into the accident was taking place, privately, of course. It would not do to cast aspersions on a man's character until they were sure. If I had not been unconscious I could have told them that your father deliberately swerved in front of me.’ His harsh features were frightening in their anger.

‘And the—the enquiry?’ she hardly dared to ask.

His dark gaze levelled on her. ‘It was dropped.’

‘There you are, then,’ she said triumphantly. ‘You must be mistaken.’

‘I am not mistaken. Strange, is it not, that your father retired from racing after that race? A few months later he was dead.’

‘And you've been planning this revenge all those years.’

‘Oh yes. I told you, it may take a long time, but a Greek never forgives or forgets.’

‘So it seems,’ she said dully, putting a hand up to her aching temple. ‘I—I would like to lie down. I'm not feeling well.’

‘Poor Regan,’ he taunted. ‘What a shock for you!’

‘Sh-shock?’ she queried.

‘To come here thinking you are simply starting a new job when in fact you are to become my wife. A dutiful one, I hope.’

‘Never!’ Her eyes flashed at him. ‘I don't intend being meek, in bed or out of it.’

His green eyes sparkled with interest. ‘I will like that. Yes, I will like that. But you must understand that your position as my wife will not be the ordinary one.’

‘I already know that,’ she scoffed. ‘You've made your feelings very clear.’

‘I do not think so,’ he shook his head. ‘In Greece a wife is revered above all other women, respected as the mother of our children. We have our—friends, that is accepted, but the wife always comes first. Gina had that place in my life and she abused my trust of her. You will not be given the same consideration.’

‘Oh, I see, your friend will come first.’

‘I believe I said friends, and that is exactly what I meant. You, will provide me with my sons and I will get my pleasure elsewhere.’

‘My God, you are inhuman!’ she gasped.

‘I think you will find I am human,’ he corrected. ‘If you learn to please me you may even find I can be very human. I may even forget my friends and stay in my wife's bed if I find you pleasing enough.’

‘You can go to hell for all I care!’

He smiled mockingly. ‘Isn't that where the devil belongs?’

‘Go away,’ Regan choked. ‘Go away and leave me alone!’

‘I intend to. But I will lock the door, so that you will not be—tempted to try and escape.’

She heard the key turn in the lock immediately after he had closed the door. God, he would pay for this! As soon as she was free and far away from here she would tell the police about him. The man had to be insane!

How could she have guessed when she had left London so happily this morning that this man would be behind it all, the man who even ten years ago had frightened her. There had been several photographs of him in the newspapers at the time of the accident, the crash that he claimed her father had deliberately caused. And just a photograph of his harsh features had been enough to frighten her; in the flesh he was even more daunting, and his intention of becoming her husband, in every sense, terrified the life out of her.

Could he be right about her father's involvement in his accident? Could he really have meant to kill Andreas Vatis? Regan had seen her father furiously angry only once in her life, when he had struck her uncle to the gound. But murder? She didn't believe he was capable of that, no matter what Andreas Vatis said to the contrary.

She jumped nervously as the key turned in the lock once more, forgetting Andreas Vatis’ promise to provide her with lunch. Perhaps she wouldn't need to climb down the drainpipe after all—surely a maid wouldn't lock her back in this room? Her hopes were dashed as Andreas Vatis himself entered with the luncheon tray.

He smiled at her disappointment. ‘You did not expect me to make it possible for you to appeal to one of my staff?’ he quirked an eyebrow mockingly. ‘Really, Regan you surprise me. I am well aware that until you are actually my wife, no one, if they knew of our past connection, would believe you are staying here through choice. Until after the ceremony tomorrow you will see only me.’

‘Won't your staff think that a little odd?’

‘My staff have already been acquainted with the fact that my fiancée is feeling unwell.’

She swallowed hard. ‘Your—your fiancée?’

‘Did you not realise that everyone here believes us to be engaged to be married?’ He shrugged. ‘With the haste of the wedding it was necessary to tell them this.’

He had it all worked out, had covered every loophole! It had never occurred to her that Mrs Hall believed her to be her employer's future bride. Only Clive Western knew the truth, and he was leaving after lunch!

Andreas Vatis laughed at her expression of dismay, a soft mocking laugh that taunted. ‘I have been planning this for years, Regan. You have only known an hour or so. You would be advised to admit defeat, and stop fighting me.’

‘I'll fight you to hell and back!’

‘Tomorrow night I'll take you there,’ he promised cruelly. ‘Your father put me there for two years, took away my sight and made me a prisoner of my hatred for him and his family. When I came out of the darkness I determined to take you there one day.’

‘But I can't be blamed for what my father did or didn't do.’ Regan despised herself for her almost pleading tone. This man was granite, pure granite, and no amount of pleading on her part would change his mind about her, so she might as well save her breath. ‘I hardly ever saw him. I never had any life with him, he was always too busy. And his career didn't allow for a child tagging along behind him.’

‘I know that,’ this tall Greek said arrogantly. ‘It is because of your early removal from your father's influence that I feel able to offer you marriage——’

Offer me marriage?’ she repeated in amazement. ‘I don't remember there being any question about it. You told me I was to marry you.’

‘I seem to remember I gave you an alternative.’

‘Of being your mistress or your wife! What a choice,’ she scorned.

She knew she had gone too far by the white ring of anger about his firm forbidding mouth and his suddenly cold eyes. She hadn't realised before how alive with feeling his eyes were, how reflective of his mood they could be. Right now they showed his burning anger.

‘You little bitch!’ he spat out, looming up in front of her, his hands moving out and shaking her. ‘Do you think I enjoy being like this? That I like being half blind? My God, I hate it! But being half blind does not make me half a man, as you are about to find out,’ he finished grimly.

‘No——’ her protest was cut off by the brutal assault of his mouth on hers, forcing her lips savagely apart with the tip of his tongue, devouring her until she was senseless.

He was all demand, all aroused male as he pushed her down on, the bed before covering her with his body. He held her hands pinned above her head with one of his as she tried to fight free of him.

‘No, please …’ she cried her fear of the determination clearly written in his face.

‘Oh yes,’ he grated. ‘Only this way will you learn that I am the master here, that you will obey my will and no other.’ His free hand came up to clasp the top of her sundress, pulling downward with complete disregard for the material. Several of the buttons came off altogether and the others easily parted from their openings, leaving her breasts clearly visible through the cream lacy material of her bra.

‘Andreas!’ she pleaded with him in spite of herself, but saw no softening of the anger in that harsh face. If only he would release her hands … ‘Let me go,’ she begged.

‘Soon you will beg to stay in my arms,’ he rasped. ‘Soon you will be oblivious of all but me,’ he promised grimly, tearing aside the thin lace of her bra to release her breasts to his avid gaze. ‘I had thought in this day and age that women no longer bothered with such a needless article of clothing,’ he showed his impatience with the lacy garment by ripping it even further. ‘With a body such as this you certainly do not need it.’ All the time he was talking he was caressing her creamy skin, watching the emotions that flitted across her face, smiling his pleasure as she seemed to lose control. He bent his head to kiss her breasts, laughing softly as she groaned.

Regan felt as if she were drowning, a tide of emotion sweeping over her body and making her feel dizzy. She felt hot and cold at one and same time, wanted to be free and yet wanted him to continue with his lovemaking, wanted, wanted——

Suddenly he was no longer with her on the bed but had moved to stand in front of her as someone came into the room.

‘Mrs Hall!’ He seemed relieved, moving aside to reveal Regan's dishevelled appearance. ‘I thought it was Helena,’ he explained. ‘And I am afraid that after such a long separation from my fiancée I became lost to all sensibility.’

Regan had pulled the folds of her dress together, finding herself unable to look at the housekeeper. How damning this looked! How could she have let herself respond to that devil? Oh, she knew she couldn't have stopped him, he was much too strong for her to have done that, but did she have to respond to him? And he knew exactly what effect he had had on her, she could see he did by the mockery in his eyes as he turned to look at her.

Mrs Hall looked a little taken aback, but she soon had her expression under control. ‘I just came up to make sure Miss Thomas has everything she needs,’ she said primly.

Andreas Vatis gave a wolfish smile, more relaxed than Regan had so far seen him. ‘I think she has everything she could possibly want,’ he said humorously, casting a triumphant smile in her direction.

The housekeeper allowed a smile to lighten her expression. ‘Yes, I suppose she has. I'm sorry I interrupted you.’

‘I think it is as well that you did.’ Andreas walked to the door with her. ‘If you had not I might have been tempted to anticipate my wedding night, and that would never do. I am sure both Regan and I thank you.’

Mrs Hall noticed the luncheon tray. ‘Would you like me to get you something else for your lunch, Miss Thomas? I'm sure this will be cold by now.’


‘Miss Thomas isn't feeling well,’ Andreas cut in smoothly. ‘She does not feel like eating, do you, darling?’ His mocking gaze dared her to disagree.

Regan cowered beneath that look. ‘No,’ she confirmed. ‘I'm afraid I'm feeling rather sick.’ The look she directed at Andreas Vatis left him in no doubt as to what had caused this nausea. She knew by the tightening of his mouth and the clenching of his hands into fists at his side that he had got her silent message.

If only it were true that he had made her feel sick with his touch, but it was disgust with herself that had done that. How could she have responded to a man who had accused her father of attempted murder and seemed set on forcing her to replace the wife her father had taken from him? She was shocked and dismayed at her reaction to this—this devil with the glittering green eyes.

‘Perhaps a pot of tea or coffee?’ the housekeeper persisted.

‘No, I—— Thank you, but I think I'll just lie down and have a rest.’ If she didn't soon get out of here Clive Western would be on his way back to London without her safely hidden in the back of his car. ‘Could I do that?’ she asked pointedly.

‘But of course, my dear.’ Andreas Vatis moved to the door. ‘Mrs Hall and I will leave you now. I will come back later to make sure you are not feeling any worse.’ That was a threat, not a promise.

Regan glared her dislike of him. ‘Thank you,’ she said between tight lips.

He smiled at her, a mocking smile that made her even angrier. ‘Rest now, Regan.’ His words seemed to imply she was going to need it.

She waited until she heard the sound of the key turning in the lock before going over to the window. Goodness, it was a long way down! Come to think of it, it was a long time since she had climbed even a tree, and a drainpipe certainly didn't have the footholds of a tree. Still, there was no other way she was going to get out of here before tomorrow, before her wedding. And if that wasn't incentive enough to climb down ten floors, let alone three, she didn't know what was! Especially when the proposed bridegroom was Andreas Vatis.

Just what sort of person did he think she was, that she would meekly accept being forced into a marriage with a man who made no secret of his hatred of her? Well, whatever he thought he was wrong, there was nothing meek about her, and never would be.

She changed into denims and a sleeveless vest-top for her climb. She would have to get out on the ledge first, the nearest drainpipe was a couple of feet away. Getting out on to the ledge was easy enough, but after that it wasn't quite so easy. A look down at the ground made her knees shake. It certainly was a long way down! If she should fall …!

That just didn't bear thinking about. She made sure her balance was right before reaching out for the pipe, finding it was farther away than she had thought and having to make a grab for it at the last moment. It gave a terrific groan as it took the whole of her weight but didn't seem to be loosened at all. Its fastenings to the wall were her only footholds, and now that she was actually on it it was difficult to stop herself from falling.

It was a slow climb down, but she seemed to be making it. All she had to do when she reached the ground was——

‘My God!’ she heard a male voice rasp beneath her. ‘What do you think you are doing, Regan?’

She looked down over her shoulder, and the ground seemed to spin dizzily beneath her. Andreas Vatis—it could only have been her tormentor!—stood on the gravel driveway looking up at her, those luminous green eyes incredulous.

She looked back at the wall, trying to stop the sudden spinning of the world. She was still about twelve feet from the ground, out of arm's reach and yet too far from her bedroom window to climb back. So much for her certainty that she would be able to climb down without a hitch!

‘What does it look like?’ she asked through gritted teeth.

‘You are either very stupid or very brave,’ he ground out angrily.

‘Or just desperate,’ she said shakily.

‘Come down from there,’ he ordered. ‘Now!’

‘What do you think I'm trying——’ That angry look round at him was her undoing. Everything started to spin once again, and at the same time her left foot slipped from its precarious perch. ‘Oh no——’ she had time to cry before she began to fall.

The ground suddenly wasn't twelve feet away any more, it was painfully close. And she lay upon it like a broken doll.


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