The Secret His Mistress Carried

By: Lynne Graham

Gio feasted his shrewd, dark gaze on her. Twenty four freckles adorned her nose and her upper cheekbones: having once counted them, he knew that for a fact. Her clear eyes, delicate features and lush mouth were utterly unchanged, he was relieved to note, his attention sliding inexorably down over her in a staged appraisal because he was strictly rationing himself. A faded blue cotton tee shirt stretched to capacity over her high, rounded breasts and his attention lingered there against his will, lust sending his libido leaping for the first time in a long time.

Relief rather than irritation consumed Gio because it had been far too long since he had experienced that reaction to a woman, so long indeed that he had feared that his marriage had stripped him of his essential masculinity in some peculiar fashion. But then, he would have been the first to acknowledge that he had never wanted any woman the way he had always wanted Billie. He had once flown her out to New York for a single night because he literally could not get through another week without her in his bed.

Billie was so worked up, so horrified that Gio Letsos had come looking and found her, that her feet were glued to the hall carpet. She stared at Gio, unwilling to credit that he was really there in the flesh in front of her, the man she had once loved, the man she had believed she would never see again. Her heart started to thump very, very hard and she sucked in a sudden snatch of oxygen, flinching as Theo drew her back to reality by hauling on her jeans-clad legs with his little fat hands to pull himself upright.

‘Billie...?’ Dee asked from the kitchen doorway. ‘Who is it? Is there something up?’

‘Nothing.’ Billie rescued her voice from her convulsed throat and stooped down in a jerky movement to scoop up Theo, her dazed gaze roaming over her cousin’s children who were studying Gio as though he had just dropped in from Mars. ‘Dee...could you take the kids?’

Her voice emerged all husky and shaken and she had to force herself to direct her attention back to Gio while Dee put out her arms for Theo and urged her own children into the kitchen with her. The kitchen door closed, sealing the hall into a sudden claustrophobic silence.

‘I asked you why you were here and why you would have looked for me in the first place,’ Billie reminded her unwelcome visitor doggedly.

‘Are you really planning to stage this long-overdue meeting on the doorstep?’ Gio drawled, all velvety smoothness and sophistication. He was taking control the way he always did and it unnerved her.

‘Why not?’ Billie whispered helplessly, struggling to drag her eyes from his devastatingly handsome features, remembering all the many times she had run her fingers through his thick black hair, loving him, loving each and every thing about him, even his flaws. ‘I don’t owe you the time of day!’

Gio was disconcerted by that comeback from a woman who had once respected his every word and done everything possible to please him, and his lean, strong face set taut and hard. ‘You’re being rude,’ he told her icily.

Billie’s hand clutched at the edge of the front door while she wondered if its support was all that was keeping her upright. He was so cool, so collected and such a bully, really couldn’t help being one. Life had spoilt Gio Letsos although he had never seen it that way. People flattered him to an extraordinary degree and went out of their way to win his approval. And once she had been the same, she acknowledged wretchedly. She had never stood up to him, never told him how she really felt, had always been far too afraid of spoiling things and then losing him. Only a very naïve woman would have failed to foresee that naturally Gio would choose to walk away from her first.

Her abstracted gaze took in the fact that her neighbour was staring over the fence at them, possibly even close enough to catch snippets of the conversation. Embarrassment made her step back from the door. ‘You’d better come in.’

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