Shackled by Diamonds

By: Julia James



She could feel the tension racking up in her.

He was getting to her, and she didn’t like it. Not one bit.

Her lips pressed together. Spending time with the man the way she had should have desensitised her to him. Should have made her get past that ridiculous disturbing rush she’d felt when he’d first walked in on the shoot and had such an impact on her. By now she should simply be able to see him abstractly, as a good-looking man. Exceptionally so, for a rich man—the combination was as rare as hen’s teeth in her experience—but nothing more. Certainly not a man who should have the slightest effect on her.

Such as making her breath catch in her throat.

Heat flush through her.

Nerves quicken in awareness.

Electricity shoot through her.

No!

Grimly she stared at herself in the mirror over the dressing table.

Yes, she was slightly flushed; her eyes were a little wider than usual. But that was just because it had been a long day and a longer evening. She was tired, that was all.

She looked at her reflection defiantly.

Out of the glass stared back a familiar image. The black hair, the pale skin and the green eyes. Probably inherited from your dad—whoever he was—her gran had always told her. The dramatic, eye-catching features an accidental meshing of DNA that had just happened to produce a face that was beautiful.

But her beauty was just a commodity. She sold it, day after day, to anyone who paid the right price for it.

And that’s all I sell.

Too many men thought otherwise. Thought she was also selling the right for them to look her up and down, strip her naked with their eyes, wonder what she was like in bed, offer to find out…

She turned away from the mirror sharply, continuing to undo, hook by hook, the simple but beautifully made dress.

At least she was free of the diamonds. The whole ridiculous glitter of them. Her eyes hardened again. Had Leo Makarios really not been able to see how overdone the whole lot was when worn together like that? That the sum was less than the individual pieces?

She shook her head in impatience. Who cared what Leo Makarios thought? About his wretched Levantsky diamonds or about her.

Or, she told herself doggedly, what she thought about him.

It’s completely academic anyway. After this I’ll never set eyes on him again. And then I’ll be safe…

She stilled. Why had she used that word? She was safe from Leo Makarios right now! Yes, he’d cast his eye over her, and found her visually pleasing, but she’d obviously annoyed him with her attitude—and anyway, for heaven’s sake, the man was in the middle of a glittering, glamorous party held to impress his rich pals—he wasn’t going to take time out to chase around some clothes-horse he’d hired. And who said he wanted her in the first place? A man with his looks and money must have women queuing round the block for his attention. He could pick any woman he wanted from his glittering social circle. He was probably schmoozing some Austrian countess or Park Avenue princess right now.

So how come he clamped you to his side the whole evening?

She shrugged. Justin had probably warned him that her booker had called her ‘difficult’, and so Leo Makarios had just been keeping her in order—at his side.

A saying floated through her head.

Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.

She frowned. Why had that come into her mind?

Leo Makarios was neither a friend nor an enemy.

He was a stranger. Nothing more.

And he was going to stay one.

That way, he’d never be dangerous to her.





CHAPTER THREE




LEO strolled down the long carpeted corridor, the two household staff in front of him loaded down with trays.

He wasn’t sure he’d ever been to this floor before. It wasn’t the old servants’ quarters in the attic, but nor was it guest apartments. But even if the rooms up here lacked the opulent extravagance of the main floors of the Schloss they were still very comfortably appointed. Just right for office staff or other employees. He wondered idly if the three models were all housed in a row. The redhead, of course, would be with Markos, in one of the lavish suites below. Would the blonde and the brunette have found somewhere else to sleep tonight? he mused. Maybe the brunette was busy adoring Antal Lukacs from close quarters, he though cynically, knowing the conductor’s penchant for females. The blonde, though, had looked far too tense to be receptive to the admiration she had received during the evening.

None of them were of any interest to him, however. There was only one woman who had caught his eye, and she, he knew, had been highly receptive to him. Oh, she might have an attitude issue, but that was immaterial. It wouldn’t last. He would see to that. He’d have her purring like a cat before long.

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