Christakis's Rebellious Wife(6)

By: Lynne Graham

She was angry with herself, as angry as she was ashamed that she had reacted to Nik on so basic a level, responding to his lethal sexual attraction like a silly young girl without self-knowledge or defences. She wanted to feel nothing, absolutely nothing around Nik. After all, nothing was what he deserved. Cristo’s wife, Belle, had told Betsy that she should be dating again and that she would not get past her experience with Nik until she did. Unfortunately the last thing Betsy needed after the heart-rending grief of her marriage breakdown was another man to worry about. Men were very high maintenance; Nik had taught her that.

Her troubled thoughts were already whisking her back in time. When she had first met Nik Christakis she had been working as a waitress at a little bistro across the road from his office.

She had enjoyed her job. ‘If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well,’ her late grandmother had told her when she was a child, and the truth of that homely maxim had never let Betsy down. She refused to let the fact that a job was humble or low paid colour her attitude, but she had always known that had her grandmother survived she would have been very disappointed by Betsy’s lack of educational achievement. Her loving gran had taught her that with extra time and specialised tutoring she could overcome her dyslexia and that it was not an excuse for low expectations in life. That awareness in mind, she had chosen her job to fit the fact that she was studying several nights a week at evening class to get her A levels. Oh, she’d had big plans back then for a more promising future.

In those days it had never occurred to her that a man could come between her and her wits. She was twenty-one and boys had come and gone, but nobody special, nobody capable of engaging her heart or tempting her body. When she had first seen Nik, he had been sitting at one of her tables in the spring sunshine: a stunningly beautiful male sheathed in a black cashmere overcoat, light green eyes framed by impossibly long, lush black lashes, zapping her with instant tingling awareness as he ordered coffee. She hadn’t noticed that Cristo was with him that first time, hadn’t even registered the presence of plain-suited men by the wall, hovering with the protectiveness of bodyguards. As always Nik had commanded full centre stage. Her heart had beat so fast it had felt as if it were in her throat and she had feared its crazy acceleration would choke her.

When he had ordered a second coffee, she had left a complimentary biscuit on the table but he had handed it back to her. ‘I don’t touch sugar...ever,’ he had told her softly, his foreign accent purring along the syllables with disturbing sexiness.

‘Wish I could say the same,’ Betsy had breezed back, popping the biscuit in her pocket for later. She had always been hungry, free meals or snacks not having been part of her employment terms. ‘But I still have to bring you the biscuit with your coffee. It’s management policy.’

‘Wasteful,’ he had pronounced with a sardonic curve to his handsome mouth. ‘But you look like you could use the calories.’

‘I’m just skinny. I’ve always been skinny,’ Betsy had parried, dimly conscious of his companion’s frowning, silent scrutiny.

‘Cute skinny,’ Nik had countered, whipping his keen gaze over her slender proportions, sending colour flying like a banner into her cheeks. ‘Very, very cute.’

And she had rushed away to get that second coffee, wondering what on earth was wrong with her. He hadn’t been the first customer to try to flirt with her and she had usually taken it in her stride as simple banter, infinitely preferring that approach to that of the occasional creeps who had let their hands stray if she’d got too close. It hadn’t occurred to her that he might have actually meant anything by his remarks. After all, she had noticed his fancy coat and the sleek dark suit he had worn beneath it and already categorised him as some high-flying city-executive type and, as such, completely out of her league.

The next time she had served him he had offered her the biscuit first and she had flushed and said hurriedly, ‘No, thanks. My boss told me we’re not allowed to eat the biscuits because it looks bad.’

‘Really?’ Nik had quirked a black brow. ‘Maybe I should have a word with him—’

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