Giles shrugged, picking up her black lacy bra from the chair and putting it down again with a quirk of his eyebrows. ‘I don’t need to talk at all,’ he said softly. ‘Neither of us does—unless you’re one of those women who like to talk.’
Leonie gasped. ‘What do you mean?’
‘Jeremy told me all about you, Leonie.’ He was advancing towards her like a predator after its prey, and for once those grey eyes were not icy but held a warm glowing invitation.
‘If he told you all about me then you should know whether or not I like to talk,’ she scorned to hide her fear. This was the last thing she had been expecting from this man, and she didn’t know how to cope with it—unless she was sick all over him. She couldn’t allow him to touch her, she cringed just at the thought of it.
‘He didn’t mention it.’ Giles’s eyes were on her parted lips. ‘But he mentioned a lot of other things.’
‘I’m sure he did. Did he also mention that he’s a liar?’ she said shrilly.
‘Oh, come on, Leonie, isn’t it time you stopped this game now?’
‘Game?’ she swallowed hard. ‘What game?’
‘Four years ago we were attracted to each other.’ He was standing so close to her now his thighs were touching hers. ‘Don’t make me wait any longer to touch you.’
‘Yes.’ His hand ran from her breast to her thigh. ‘You’re more slender than you were then,’ he looked down at her breasts, slowly raising his eyes to her face, ‘but just as beautiful. Leonie…’
She was galvanised into action at the sight of his dark head lowering to hers, flinching away from him, her disgust evident in her face. ‘Keep away from me!’ she spat the words at him. ‘Don’t ever touch me again! Attracted to you?’ she swallowed down the nausea. ‘I can’t bear you near me. You—you make my skin crawl!’
He was breathing heavily, his expression savage. ‘You might lie to yourself, Leonie, but don’t bother to lie to me. You wanted me before and you want me now.’
‘Never!’ Her eyes were wide with fear as he advanced on her yet again. ‘I don’t want you. I don’t!’ she cried brokenly. ‘If you touch me again I swear I’ll be sick!’
His eyes blazed at her challenge, his mouth twisted with cruel satisfaction. ‘Maybe you like to fight—something else Jeremy didn’t tell me,’ he drawled insultingly.
‘Do you know him so well he would discuss such things with you?’ she said disgustedly.
‘About you he told me everything.’
‘More than everything, by the sound of it! If you don’t get out of my room, Mr Noble, I’m going to scream so loud I’ll wake the whole household. Do you want that?’
He gave her a considering look. ‘Now why would you do a thing like that? We haven’t even discussed the details yet. I’ll make the same arrangements for you that Jeremy did. Satisfied?’
Leonie frowned. ‘What arrangements?’
Giles shrugged. ‘The apartment, the car, the monthly allowance. Of course, it will be a bigger allowance than he gave you—after all, nearly five years have elapsed since your affair with him.’
She gasped. ‘You really believe all that rubbish about the car and the allowance?’
He nodded. ‘And don’t forget the apartment.’
‘I never stayed at that apartment. Jeremy may have paid the rent on it, may even have taken other girls there, but I never even saw the place, let alone actually lived there.’
‘The maid said differently.’
‘A maid employed by Jeremy! Don’t you see, it was all made up, to blacken my character even more.’
‘Let’s forget about Jeremy, for God’s sake!’
‘Forget him!’ Leonie echoed shrilly. ‘Do you think I haven’t tried?’ And yet his handsome face was much harder to bring to mind then Giles Noble’s, it always had been; this man’s image was indelibly printed on her memory. ‘I despise him, and I despise you even more for listening to his lies. Now would you please get out of here?’
‘No,’ he replied calmly.
‘I shall scream,’ she threatened again.
She got no farther than opening her mouth, when his firm lips instantly clamped down on hers. Leonie had never known such faintness, everything started to fade into darkness, her body going slack, and still that mouth continued its punishing onslaught, moving over the softness of her lips with a savagery that bruised.
When she felt she could take no more he at last raised his head, his eyes searching her waxen features, her dilated eyes and shaking body. That she was suffering from a minor form of shock was obvious at a glance, and Giles’s features hardened angrily.
‘You really mean it about feeling sick, don’t you?’ he rasped.
Her breathing was shallow, her eyes dazed. ‘Yes,’ she choked.
‘Sit down.’ He led her over to a chair, forcing her to sit down. ‘Bend down. That’s it,’ he put her head between her knees. ‘All right?’ he asked a few seconds later when she had struggled back up to a sitting position.
She had broken out in a cold sweat now, the shaking was getting worse. ‘Could you please leave me? I’m sure I’ll feel better when you’ve gone.’
‘I’m sure you will,’ he agreed grimly. ‘But I’m not going anywhere just yet. Come on,’ he led her over to the bed. ‘I’ll help you in,’ he rasped as she just stood there in front of him.
Leonie stood motionless as he helped her off with her robe and slipped off her mules, tucking the covers in around her as if she were a little girl.
His thoughts seemed to be running along the same lines. ‘You may only be twenty-two, Leonie, but you’ve done a lot of living in your young life.’
She was in a daze, making no demur as he moved to turn out the light, half expecting the bed to give as he got in beside her. When she heard the door open and close as he left she heaved a sigh of relief, then turned over to sob brokenly into her pillow.
She stayed in her bedroom the next morning, asking Dorothy for the luxury of breakfast in bed. Not that she was particularly hungry, but not eating breakfast at all would cause even more speculation.
The Rolls was still in the driveway when she let herself out of the house at nine-thirty, her intention to go for a walk until Giles Noble had left to go back to London. She couldn’t face him again, not after last night’s insults. To think that he had actually offered to make her his mistress! She still shook at the thought of it.
She walked down the gravel driveway, wearing practical flat shoes, her denims old and faded, her cotton sun-top showing the creamy expanse of her shoulders, finishing abruptly at her waist. She intended cutting across the fields to the river, and would have done so if the plum-coloured Rolls hadn’t come to a silent halt beside her.
Giles Noble leant over and pushed open the passenger door. ‘Get in,’ he ordered grimly.
‘Get in, Leonie,’ he repeated tautly. ‘We have to talk, surely you can see that?’
‘If it’s about last night——’
He gave an impatient sigh and got out of the car to come round and forcibly push her inside. He was soon behind the wheel again, driving off at great speed.
‘Could you please slow down?’ she finally had to ask, her fingers digging into the edge of the seat as his huge car manoeuvred the small country roads.
His foot at once eased off the accelerator, his shoes