Shackled by Diamonds

By: Julia James



But now she had to think about him.

Cautiously she opened her mind to what had happened.

For the first time in four long, safe years she had seen a man who was dangerous to her.

And it was disturbing.

Because men weren’t dangerous to her. Not any more. Not since Rupert Vane had told her that he was off to marry Caroline Finch-Carleton—a girl, unlike Anna, from his own upper-crust background.

Even now, four years on, she could still feel the burn of humiliation. Of hurt.

Rupert had been the first man—the only man—who had got past her defences. He’d had the lazily confident good-mannered charm of a scion of the landed classes, and he’d simply breezed through each and every one of her rigidly erected guards. He had been funny, and fun, and fond of her in his own shallow way.

‘It’s been a hoot, Anna,’ he’d told her as he’d given her the news about his forthcoming marriage.

Since then she’d kept men—all men—at a safe distance. Thanking heaven, in a perverse way, that most of the ones she encountered held no attraction for her.

Into her mind, as the water lapped her breasts, an image stole. A picture of a man looking her over with dark heavy-lidded eyes.

Leo Makarios.

Deliberately she let herself think about him. I need to know, she thought. I need to know why he’s dangerous to me.

So that I can guard against it.

Something had happened today that had got her worried. A man had looked her over and it had got to her. And she didn’t know why.

It couldn’t be because he was good looking—her world was awash with fantastic-looking men, and not all of them were gay. And it couldn’t be because he was rich—because that had always been the biggest turn-off, accompanied as it usually was by an assumption that models were sexually available to rich men.

So what the hell was going on?

All she knew were two things.

That when it came to Leo Makarios she would have to be very, very careful.

And that she wanted to see him again.





CHAPTER TWO




EFFORTLESSLY, Leo switched from Italian to French, and then into German and English, as he greeted his guests. The vast hall had been cleared of all the photographic clutter, and was now thronged with women in evening dress and men in black tie, and waiters circulating with trays of champagne.

‘Markos!’ Leo switched to Greek and greeted his cousin. A couple of years younger than Leo’s thirty-four, and of slightly slimmer build, his dark slate eyes revealed his portion of English ancestry. Markos was otherwise all Greek. They chatted a moment or two, and Leo cast a courteous smile at the pre-Raphaelite redhead at Markos’s side.

She didn’t return the smile. She didn’t even see him. She was gazing at his cousin with a bemused, helpless expression in her eyes, as though Markos were the only person in the universe.

A strange ripple of emotion went through Leo.

No woman had ever looked at him like that…

Would you want them to?

The question thrust rhetorically, challengingly.

He answered promptly.

No, definitely not. Any woman who looked at him like that would be a nuisance.

Or faking it.

In the past there had been women who’d passionately declared their undying love for him, but he’d known better. The object of their devotion was not him, but his wealth. Now he never let any woman tell him she loved him.

He made the terms of his endearment crystal-clear from the outset. A temporary affair, exclusive while it lasted, with no emotional scenes to irritate him, no hysterical recriminations when it came to an end, and no post-affair harassment. When it was over, it was over—and could they please both move on? He would—she must too. They would inevitably cross paths again in the cosmopolitan world he moved in, and he didn’t want any unwelcome scenes or unpleasant encounters.

He moved through the throng, meeting and greeting his myriad guests. His eyes were scanning the crowd, picking out the models circulating with their display of Levantsky jewels.

Where was the sable-haired one?

Suddenly he saw her, and he stopped dead.

She looked absolutely and totally stunning.

She was wearing a black dress so simple it was almost a sarong, wrapped tightly across her breasts and then falling in a single fluid line to her ankles. With it she wore black elbow-length evening gloves. Unlike earlier, her hair was up, in a soft, immensely flattering low pompadour on the back of her head, framing her face. She had far less make-up on than she’d had for the shoot; her mouth merely seemed to have lipgloss, and her eyes little more than mascara. Her skin was still ivory-white.

Against the whiteness the shimmer of diamonds circling her slender throat glittered iridescently, enhancing her already exquisite beauty.

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