An Unwilling Desire(3)

By: Carole Mortimer


A hot tide of indignation welled up inside her. ‘How dare you say such a thing?’ she gasped, her eyes wide with accusation.

His smile widened, his teeth very white and even against his tanned skin. ‘Quite easily,’ he taunted without regret.

‘So I see,’ she snapped, pushing her notes into a drawer and locking it before glaring up at the man. ‘I don’t know who you are—and to be perfectly truthful, I don’t particularly care,’ she added insultingly. ‘But I find your mockery of a crippled man highly distasteful!’

‘James isn’t crippled,’ his voice had hardened harshly. ‘Unless you count his mind.’

Her eyes widened even more at this attack on a man who wasn’t even here to defend himself. ‘James has a wonderful mind,’ she told him heatedly. ‘As you would know if you’ve ever read any of his books!’

‘I’ve read them,’ the man confirmed scornfully.

‘Then you know he has a clever mind!’

The green eyes narrowed; the man’s speculation was increasing. ‘Do you always defend James so— vehemently?’ he queried softly.

Holly flushed her resentment. ‘If I think he needs it, yes!’

‘And does he often—need it?’ The man taunted throatily, humour glinting in his eyes. Holly glared her outrage at him for his implication.

‘If you’re a friend of his—’

‘I’m not,’ he stated flatly.

‘Not ...?’ She looked at him uncertainly now, her eyes hardening with contempt as another reason for him being here occurred to her. ‘Then you must be a friend of Maxine’s,’ she realised with sickening clarity. Dark blond brows rose, his arms folded across the broadness of his chest, the red shirt he wore moulded to his powerful frame.

‘Must I?’ He taunted softly, mocking her unashamedly.

‘Aren’t you?’ she challenged.

He seemed to consider for a moment. ‘I suppose I must be,’ he answered finally.

‘I see.’ Holly’s contempt grew along with her anger. Not only did Maxine leave her husband to go to London for weeks at a time, but this time she had actually brought her current lover back with her. Couldn’t she be content with hurting James at a distance!

‘Do you?’ The man watched the emotions flickering across her usually unreadable face. ‘I doubt it,’ he derided, shaking his head, the straightness of his golden hair growing well down over his collar and ears.

‘Oh, but I do,’ she contradicted with sarcasm. ‘Maxine arrived from London a short time ago; you arrived with her.’

‘And that tells you something, does it?’ he queried softly.

‘Yes!’

‘But you’re wrong. I didn’t come here with Maxine, I arrived just after her.’

‘Oh, she’s given you your own car, has she?’ Holly sneered heatedly, surprised at her own vehemence now. Of course it was disgusting that this man should be here, that he should have such little respect for a man like James, but she had made it a rule never to involve herself in other people’s lives and problems, knowing it could only lead to disaster.

The man’s eyes glittered a fierce emerald green. ‘What a nasty mind you have, Holly Macey,’ he said grimly.

She frowned. ‘You know my name!’

‘Of course,’ he nodded abruptly. ‘I was sent to see if you would like to come and join us in the lounge.’

She turned away, shaking slightly from this scene with a man whose identity she didn’t even know. ‘I still have some work to do before I finish for the day,’ she refused stiffly.

‘Don’t you think you should come and defend James?’ he taunted.

She blushed, suddenly looking younger than her twenty-two years. ‘He doesn’t need anyone to defend him,’ she said awkwardly. ‘He’s perfectly, capable of standing up for himself.’

‘But he isn’t, is he?’ the man derided softly. ‘Capable of standing, I mean.’

She gasped, shocked at the way this man continued to mock James’s disability. ‘That—that was a cruel and vicious thing to say!’ she choked.

‘Was it?’ he shrugged, standing up. ‘It’s even crueller that he chooses to remain in that wheelchair day after day.’ His expression was harsh.

‘He can’t walk!’

‘You’re right, he can’t.’

‘Then why mock him?’ she breathed raggedly.

‘Because I damn well refuse to pity him! He’s a coward and a—’

‘James is not a coward!’ Her hands clenched and unclenched at her sides. .