An Unwilling Desire(10)

By: Carole Mortimer


‘I don’t have a brother, and my father is dead,’ Holly told him quietly. ‘He has been for years. I was taught self-defence during my last year at school.’

Zack’s brows rose. ‘Even the girls?’

‘It was all girls,’ she revealed dully, knowing what he would make of that.

‘Now I begin to understand.’ His mouth twisted derisively.

Holly blushed at the knowing look in his eyes. ‘I’m not some repressed prude who despises men,’ she flashed resentfully. ‘You were kissing me against my will, I was perfectly within my rights to protect myself.’

‘Oh, you did that all right,’ he grimaced. ‘I suppose you have a few other little tricks like that up your sleeve?’

‘A few,’ she nodded.

‘Well, don’t try them out on me. God,’ he groaned his pain as he attempted to move, ‘you certainly know how to put a man out of action!’

‘Yes.’

He gave her an irritated look. ‘You don’t have to sound so proud of it. One little kiss,’ he muttered to himself. ‘Just one little kiss!’

‘Against my will,’ she reminded him tightly.

‘You only had to say no—’

‘I did!’

He sighed. ‘Not very convincingly.’

‘How convincing did I have to be?’ Holly choked her disbelief at his arrogance.

‘Okay, okay,’ he dismissed impatiently. ‘So you did say no. But how was I supposed to know it wasn’t just a token resistance?’

‘Do your women usually dig their nails into you?’ she scorned.

A devilish glint entered his eyes. ‘Sometimes.’ His smile was mocking.

Her mouth tightened. ‘On such short acquaintance?’

‘Sometimes.’ His brows rose in challenge.

Holly whirled away from him, knowing by his mocking humour that he was starting to feel better.

‘Hey, where are you going?’ he called crossly. ‘I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to walk again, and you just walk away! You might at least help me stand up!’ He struggled to get to his feet.

Contrition for his obvious discomfort made her cross the room to his side, letting him lean against her while he gained his balance. ‘I really am sorry,’ she murmured as she saw he was still in a lot of pain.

‘I’ll bet,’ he muttered.

‘But I am!’

Zack gave her a sceptical look, straightening with a heavy sigh. ‘Tell me something, Holly,’ he gave her a sideways glance. ‘Would James have got the same reaction if he’d been the one to try and kiss you?’

She blanched at the suggestion. ‘Don’t be ridiculous!’

Emerald eyes narrowed on her speculatively. ‘What’s so ridiculous about it? Or does the fact that he’s in a wheelchair set him apart from other men?’

‘The fact that he’s married does that!’

‘But unhappily, you have to agree,’ he taunted.

‘James is my employer—’

‘And you think you’re in love with him,’ Zack stated bluntly.

‘No—’

‘Oh yes, Holly,’ he derided mockingly. ‘Maybe you see yourself as his confidante, his friend. Or maybe it’s just his helplessness that appeals to you; whatever the reason, you imagine yourself in love with my brother.’

‘That isn’t true!’ Her voice rose angrily. ‘You’re wrong,’ she shook her head. ‘Just because I didn’t like you kissing me it doesn’t mean I’m in love with another man.’

‘Not just any man—James.’

‘No—’

‘Yes, Holly,’ he insisted. ‘Believe me, if I can see it then so can other people, maybe even James himself.’

‘No ...’ Her denial was a choked plea this time.

‘Yes,’ Zack’s voice was gentle. ‘And you’ll end up being hurt. James and Maxine may be a little mixed up at the moment, but they really love each other very much. You’ll be the one left out in the cold in the end.’

‘You’re wrong about me.’ She shook her head, backing away from him and making a desperate grab for the door handle, all the time shaking her head in sharp denial. ‘You’re only saying these things because of your own affair with Maxine. You—’

‘My what?’ he burst out grimly. ‘Oh, I know you jumped to that conclusion this afternoon and because your assumption amused me at the time I let you go on thinking it, but you can’t seriously still believe it’s true,’ he dismissed scathingly.

She had the door open now, poised to take flight at a second’s notice. ‘Why not?’ she challenged defensively.