Christakis's Rebellious Wife(10)

By: Lynne Graham

‘Isn’t it just amazing?’ she had exclaimed in excited appeal on their very first visit to Lavender Hall, her face lit up like a Christmas tree.

‘It needs to be demolished,’ Nik had countered, unimpressed.

‘It’s not past saving,’ Betsy had argued. ‘Can’t you feel the atmosphere? The character of the place? Can’t you imagine what it would look like with a little work?’

A little work with a wrecking ball, Nik had thought grimly, uninspired by the chipped and broken bricks and the floor puddled by drips from gaping windows and a leaking roof. She had dragged him off on a tour, chattering with bubbling enthusiasm about how the Elizabethan property was a treasure chest of history and on the endangered historic buildings list. Right from the start he had thought it was a horrible house and about as far removed from his idea of a comfortable and suitable country home as it was possible to imagine. But he had recognised that Betsy had fallen madly in love with the dump and, even though it wasn’t what he wanted, he had agreed to buy it for her, a generous act that had rebounded on him many times in the following months when the costs of restoration had risen to outrageous levels.

Ne...yes, he had been a decent, caring husband, Nik reflected with brooding hostility. He had tried to make his wife happy, had given her everything she had ever wanted with the single exception of that last impossible demand of hers, and he still could barely credit that their marriage had been destroyed by her desire for, of all things, a baby. Her careless dismissal of the idea of having a child had been so convincing before their marriage.

Lean, strong face tensed by the forbidding tenor of his thoughts, Nik swung round with a frown just as Betsy surged through the kitchen door. She looked harassed, her pale blonde hair tumbling round her delicate, flushed features, making her eyes look more mauve in hue than ever and emphasising the pink, pillowy, luscious shape of her unpainted lips.

Instantaneous desire lit Nik up inside in a firework burst of startling heat that took his breath away. Without the smallest warning everything he had failed to feel in the limo with Jenna the day before surged through him, tightening every muscle in his body and setting off a fast-beating pulse at his groin that made him want to smash something in sheer frustration.

‘Betsy,’ he breathed in growling acknowledgement.

One glimpse of her visitor and Betsy had frozen in place like someone who had run head first into a solid brick wall. Why on earth hadn’t Edna warned her? His sexy-as-sin voice washed over her like rich vanilla ice cream coated in melted dark chocolate, vibrating down her taut spinal cord... Nik’s voice, the first weapon in his considerable arsenal of attraction. Nik here at the hall where she had never expected to see him again! His sudden appearance was a huge shock and she blinked rapidly and snatched in a stark breath, striving to brace herself for what could only be bad news of some kind.

‘What are you doing here?’ she gasped strickenly before she could think better of openly revealing her dismay.

‘I needed to see you.’

Unconvinced, Betsy simply stared back at him. His dark grey pinstripe designer suit was faultlessly fitted to every muscular angle of his lean, powerful body. Big and strong, he was a brutal force of nature beneath that sleek, sophisticated façade he wore to the world. In all the months they had lived apart he had made not one single attempt to see her, so why now? Her brain, however, was stuttering to a halt when confronted with Nik in the flesh. Those lean, darkly beautiful features of his drew her in like a fire on a freezing day. She didn’t want to look but she couldn’t help herself. He had the gorgeous face and classic body of a mythical god, eyes shimmering bright as emeralds, awakening a primal attraction that was rooted so deep inside her she didn’t know where it began or how she would ever be free of its sway. Her skin prickled, tiny hairs rising at the nape of her neck as she subdued a responsive shiver. Her heart was racing.

And then mercifully a voice from outside broke into the smouldering silence. ‘Come back here!’ a man was shouting.

The pitter-patter of rushing paws and an unforgettably familiar bark made Betsy’s eyes fly wide in recognition and she hurtled to the door to peer out. An ecstatic bundle of wriggling, whining terrier dog leapt up into her arms and covered every part of her he could reach with delighted doggy kisses.

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