The Greek's Marriage BargainBy: Sharon Kendrick
WHY HADN’T SHE been paying attention?
Why hadn’t she registered the horribly familiar sound of footsteps on gravel?
If Lexi hadn’t been thinking about silver earrings—the type which caught the light when you moved—she might have ignored the sharp ring on the bell. As it was, she was completely distracted when she pulled open the door to see the towering form of her estranged husband standing there, sunlight glinting off his ebony hair.
His stance was fixed and immovable. He seemed to absorb all the light which surrounded him, like a piece of blotting paper drinking up a dark spill of ink.
Lexi’s heart contracted with pain. The last time she’d seen him he’d been knotting his tie with fingers which had been trembling with rage. A blue tie, she recalled—which had matched his eyes perfectly.
His gaze licked over her now like a cobalt flame. She got the feeling he was undressing her with that gaze. Was he? Didn’t he once tell her that whenever a man looked at a woman he was imagining what it might be like to make love to her? And she had listened to him of course, because Xenon had been the expert when it came to sex and she had not. Her heart began to thump heavily in her chest.
Why was he here?
She wished she’d had time to brush her hair. She wasn’t trying to impress him, but even so—a woman still had her pride. She thought he looked shocked. As shocked as she felt—though she suspected his momentary loss of composure was for very different reasons. She knew she looked nothing like the woman he had married. The gilded creature who had gazed up at him from behind a misty veil of tulle was nothing but a distant memory. These days she wore the same clothes as other women. She did the same things as other women. No more couture and fast cars. Her hand strayed up to push an errant strand of hair behind her ear. No more expensive trips to the hair salon either.
While he, of course, looked exactly the same.
Six feet two and eyes of blue. Xenon Kanellis. An olive-skinned powerhouse of a man and a legend in his native Greece. A man with a face of dark and rugged beauty. And a man she had never wanted to see again.
‘X-Xenon,’ she said, her voice stumbling over a word she hadn’t said in a long time.
‘Thank heavens for that.’ He gave the sardonic smile she knew so well. ‘For a moment back then I thought you’d forgotten me.’
Lexi almost laughed because the suggestion was so ludicrous. Forget him? It would be easier to forget her own name. True, he wasn’t on her mind 24/7 the way he used to be when they’d first split. Before she had decided to take herself in hand. She’d known she would never recover if she continued to obsess about him. The stern talking-to she’d given herself had carried her through the worst. It got her through those bleak, dark days when she had missed him so much that it had felt as if someone had ripped her heart out and crushed it.
But she had recovered because people always recovered, even if at the time they never thought they would. And she had survived worse things than a marriage which should never have happened in the first place.
‘You’re not an easy man to forget, Xenon,’ she said, and then added as an afterthought, ‘More’s the pity.’
He laughed then but it sounded strange. Maybe she just wasn’t used to the sound of male laughter any more. Or the sight of a man—any man—turning up on the doorstep of her cottage and staring at her with such a disturbing sense of entitlement.
His blue eyes bored into her. ‘Aren’t you going to invite me in?’
Something about his demeanour was unsettling and Lexi felt a flicker of foreboding. ‘Is there any point?’
‘You’re not even a bit curious to discover why I’m here?’ He gaze moved over her shoulder, to glance into the cosy interior of her cottage. ‘Why I’ve driven all the way down from London to this godforsaken little place you’ve chosen to live in?’
‘I imagine it must be for your benefit and yours alone,’ she answered. ‘And if that’s the case, then I’m not interested. I’ve got nothing to say to you that hasn’t already been said.’
‘I wouldn’t speak too soon if I were you, Lex.’
‘Veiled threats won’t work, Xenon.’ She gave him a tight smile. ‘Time after time you’ve refused to give me a divorce and we seem to have reached a stalemate. So unless you’ve got the papers with you, it’s going to have to be hello and goodbye. I’m sorry if you’ve had a wasted journey but...’