It was her very first tongue-to-tongue experience and the pleasurable sensations it fed into her tapped into one of her many restless, hopeless dreams about moments like this. The warm, clean, expensive scent of him, the smooth, knowing expertise with which he moulded her mouth to his, the slight rasping brush of his skin against her soft skin, the trailing, sensual drag she could feel on her senses that made her relax into him.
He drew back the moment he felt her first tentative response to him. Eyes too dark to read watched the soft quiver of her mouth before he looked deeply into the swirling green confusion mirrored in her eyes. Then he smiled.
'There,' he murmured with silken huskiness. 'I have just saved you from yourself. Aren't you fortunate to have a caring husband like me?'
As she frowned at the comment, he brushed a contemptuous kiss across her still parted mouth then drew right away, fingers trailing from her throat and untangling from her silken hair while she continued to puzzle-until she remembered what she had been about to say before the kiss. She shivered, horrified at how easily she had let herself be diverted. Resentment poured into her bloodstream. 'I still intend to leave you the moment I get out of here,' she said.
'You will not.' He was already on his feet and replacing the chair back from where he'd got it. 'And I will tell you why.' He sent her a cold look down the length of his arrogant nose. 'We still have a contract to fulfil.'
Nell lifted her chin to him, green eyes wishing him dead now. 'I signed under duress.'
'You mean you signed without reading it.'
Because she'd loved him so much she was blind! 'How many women would expect to be duped by both their own father and their future husband?' she defended her own piece of stupid folly.
Xander nodded in agreement. 'I offered to renegotiate,' he then reminded her. 'You turned the offer down, so the contract stands as written and signed.'
'And all for the love of money,' she said bitterly.
'A loan of fifty million pounds to haul your father out of trouble is a lot of money, Nell. Have you got the resources to pay me back?'
He knew she hadn't. The only money Nell had even a loose connection to was tied up in trusts left by her grandmother for any children Nell might have. And what her mother had left would not even pay back a tenth of what was owed to Xander.
'But I was not referring to the money,' he slid in smoothly. 'I was referring to the other clause-the one which involves me protecting my investment by you providing me with my son and heir to inherit from your father.'
Effectively putting Nell right out of the inheritance loop! 'Not with my permission.'
'With your permission,' he insisted. 'And at my time of choosing...'
He came back to the bed to lean over her again, ignoring her defensive jerk as he began plumping up the pillows behind her back.
'I have been very patient with you until now, yenika mou-'
'Because you had more-interesting things to do.'
As a direct shot about Vanessa, it went wide of its mark. 'Because,' he corrected, 'when we married you were nothing but a wounded babe in arms only a monster would have forced himself upon. The arrival of another man on the scene tells me I may well have been too patient with you.' Taking her by the shoulders, he gently urged her to lie back. Then his eyes were pinning her there, relentless and hard. 'Your growing time is up, Nell. I want a proper wife. Renege on the contract we made and I will take you, your father and your boyfriend to the cleaners and hang you all out to dry.'
'And cause yourself a nasty scandal involving yourself, your mistress and your lousy unfaithfulness?'
'Is that why you thought you could leave and get away with it?' Black silk eyebrows made a mocking arch. 'You think that because Vanessa has suddenly arrived back on the scene it gives you a tasty weapon to wield? I will let you into a little secret,' he murmured, a taunting fingertip making a swipe of her full bottom lip before he replaced it with the casual brush of his mouth. 'Vanessa has never been off the scene,' he informed her smoothly. 'I am just very discreet-usually.'
It was like being kicked while she was already down on the ground. It didn't help that her lips had filled with soft, pulsing heat. 'I hope you both rot in hell,' she breathed thickly.
'But you still want me, as that beautiful, quivering, hungry mouth is telling me.' He smiled a very grim smile. 'And if you were not so battered and bruised I would show you how much you want me.'
He saw the lie coming, the tight repudiation of his arrogant confidence, and he swooped, claiming her parted mouth and pressing her back into the pillows. The long length of his torso followed, exerting a controlled power that stopped just short of crushing her beneath his weight. Nell felt taken over, overwhelmed, besieged. The scent of him, the heat, the way he used this kiss to demonstrate the difference between taunting and a full sexual onslaught. Hot tingles of sensation flared up from nowhere with the stabbing invasion of his tongue. Fierce heat rushed through her bloodstream, desire like she'd never known before set her groaning in protest and lifting up her hands to push at his chest.
But Xander was going nowhere, the unyielding contours of his body remaining firm as he deepened the kiss with an unhidden hunger that had Nell stretching beneath him in a wild sensual act that arched her slender shape from breasts to toes. He moved with her, a very male thigh finding a place for itself between her thighs. The bedcovers should have lessened the coiling spring of intimacy she was experiencing but did nothing of the kind.
She tried to drag in some air but found that she couldn't. She tried to separate their mouths but he had control. His tongue slid across her tongue and set it quivering as it hungrily began to follow his lead. Nothing had prepared her for a kiss like this. A kiss that sparked senses alive in every intimate place she had. When his hand covered the arching thrust of one of her breasts she almost shattered into little pieces, writhing and gasping as the rosebud nipple stung as it tightened to push into his palm.
He muttered something, went to move away, her hands stopped pushing at his chest and slid up to bury themselves in his hair so she could hold this amazing, sensational mouth clamped to her own. She didn't know she had the ability to behave like a wanton, but wanton she felt and wanton she acted, writhing beneath him, ignoring the many twinges of physical agony because everything else that was happening to her was oh, so much more important. When his thigh pressed into greater contact with the apex of her thighs she went up like tinder, a thick cry of pleasure coiling in her throat.
A knock sounded at the door. Xander drew back like a man bitten. Eyes like burning black coals scorched her a blistering look. Two hot streaks raked his high cheekbones; his mouth pulsed visibly even though it was suddenly stretched taut. She was panting and still clinging to his hair, the green of her eyes glazed by the stunning shock of her own loss of control.
'This had better be your awakening, cara, or you're dead,' he blasted down at her, voice rusted by jealous desire.
Before she could construct any kind of answer he had moved away, landing on his feet beside the bed. He did not look at her again until he'd stridden to the door and grasped the handle. The pause he made then sang between them, stretched taut and raw by that final rasping threat.
He was angry-still angry. The kiss had been delivered in anger, the deliberate assault of angry passion that left her lying here hot and trembling, shaken to her core by her own response, her mouth, her body, her deserted breast with its stinging nipple feeling utterly, shamefully bereft.
'Hypocrite,' she heard herself whisper across a throat thickened by the bubble of tears to come. The charge swung him round to lance her with a hard, glinting look. 'And primitive with it,' he extended grimly. 'Forget the lover,' he warned thinly. 'You will not be laying eyes on him again.'
The note in his tone brought Nell upright. 'Why-w-what have you done to him?' she demanded in alarm.
'As yet-nothing.' His eyes blackened dangerously. 'His fate rests in the future when I have more time to discover if he taught you more than just how to kiss.'
Nell blinked then blushed at his thinking behind that revealing comment. He thought it was Marcel who'd taught her to kiss as she'd just done! Her kiss-numb lips parted to speak a denial then closed again. Let his primitive side twist his gut, she thought angrily, lowering her gaze from the piercing hardness of his. Let him learn what it felt like to imagine her locked in naked passion with another man as she had spent the last year imagining him with Vanessa the tramp!
'I will be away for the next few days but will be back in time to collect you from here on Saturday.'
This final piece of news brought her eyes flickering up again as he opened the door and left without another word, allowing whoever had knocked on the door earlier to come into the room. It was one of his personal bodyguards, his polite greeting spoiled by the tough look on his face. He placed something down on the bedside cupboard. 'Mr Pascalis gave his permission for you to have these,' he said, then went to leave the room.