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The Purchased Wife(8)

By´╝ÜMichelle Reid



The door swung open and Xander strode back in again, catching her lying on her side staring at the roses through a glaze of tears.

'If you miss him that much I will bring him home,' he announced curtly.

'Don't put yourself out,' she responded with acid bite. 'What brought you back here so quickly?'

He didn't seem to understand the question, a frown darkening his smooth brow as he moved across the room to collect a chair, which he placed by the bed at an angle so that when he sat himself down on it he was looking her directly in the face.

Nell stirred restlessly, not liking the way he'd done it, or the new look of hard intensity he was treating her to. She stared back warily, waiting to hear whatever it was he was going to hit her with. He was leaning back with his long legs stretched out in front of him and his jacket flipped open in one of those casually elegant attitudes this man pulled off with such panache. His shirt was startlingly white-he liked to wear white shirts, cool, crisp things that accentuated the width of his powerful chest and long, tightly muscled torso. Black handmade shoes, grey silk trousers, bright white shirt and a dark blue silk tie. His cleanly shaved chin had a cleft that warned all of his tough inner strength-like the well-shaped mouth that could do cynicism and sensuality at the same time and to such devastating effect. Then there was the nose that had a tendency to flare at the nostrils when he was angry. It wasn't flaring now, but the black eyes were glinting with something not very nice, she saw. And his eyes weren't really all black, but a dark, dark brown colour, deeply set beneath thick black eyebrows and between long, dense, curling lashes that helped to shade the brown iris black.

Xander was Greek in everything he thought and did but he got his elegant carriage from his beautiful Italian mother. And Gabriela Pascalis could slay anyone with a look, just as her son could. She'd done it to Nell the first time they'd met and Gabriela had not tried to hide her shock. 'What is Alexander playing at, wanting to marry a child? They will crucify you the moment he attempts to slot you into his sophisticated lifestyle.'

'He loves me.' She'd tried to stand up for herself.

'Alexander does not do love, cara,' his mother had drily mocked that. 'In case you have not realised it as yet, he was hewn from rock chipped off Mount Olympus.' She had actually meant it too. 'No, this is more likely to be a business transaction,' her future mother-in-law had decided without a single second's thought to how a statement like that would make Nell feel. 'I will have to find out what kind of business deal. Leave it to me, child. There is still time to save you from this...'

'Finished checking me out?' The mocking lilt to his voice brought her eyes back into focus on his face. She wished she knew what he was thinking behind that cool, smooth, sardonic mask. 'I am still the same person you married, believe me.'

Oh, she believed. Nothing had changed. His mother had been right but Nell hadn't listened. Not until Vanessa DeFriess had entered the frame.

'Want do you want?' She didn't even attempt to sound pleasant.

He moved-not much but enough for Nell to be aware by the way her senses tightened on alert to remind her that Xander was a dangerously unpredictable beast. He might appear relaxed, but she had an itchy suspicion that he was no such thing.

'We need to talk about your accident,' he told her levelly. 'The police have some questions.'

Nell dropped her eyes, concentrating her attention on her fingers where they scratched absently at the white sheet. 'I told you, I don't remember anything.'

'Tell me what you do remember.'

'We've been through this once.' Her eyebrows snapped together. 'I don't see the use in going through it a-'

'You would rather I allow the police to come here so that you can repeat it all to them?'

No, she wouldn't. 'What's to repeat?' Flicking him a guarded look, she looked quickly away again. 'I remember driving down the driveway and through the gates then turning into the lane-'

'Left or right?'

'I don't remember-'

'Well, it might help if you said where it was you were going.'

'I don't remember that either.'

'Try,' he said.

'What for?' she flipped back. 'What does it matter now where I was going? I obviously didn't get there.'

'True.' He grimaced. 'Instead of arriving-wherever it was-you left the road at speed on a notorious bend we all treat with respect. You then proceeded to plough through a row of bushes and concluded the journey by piling head-on into a tree.'

'Thanks for filling in the gaps,' she derided.

'The car boot sprang open on impact,' he continued, unmoved by her tone. 'Your possessions were strewn everywhere. Sweaters, skirts, dresses, underwear...'

'Charity!' she declared with a sudden burst of memory. 'I remember now, I was taking some of my old things to the charity shop in the village.'

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