An Unwilling Desire(6)

By: Carole Mortimer


Maxine accepted her drink with a warm smile before once more looking at Holly. ‘Zack came to look for you. James was quite worried when he came back and said he couldn’t find you,’ she added derisively.

‘I—er—’ Holly gave Zack an angry glare, receiving only a mocking smile in return. ‘I was in the library.’

‘What a pity I didn’t think to look there,’ drawled Zack. ‘I’d been looking forward to meeting you.’

‘Really?’ she answered coldly.

‘Stop teasing her, Zack,’ Maxine cut in irritably. ‘What on earth can be keeping James?’ she added impatiently. ‘Probably Robert can’t decide which tie he’s to wear.’

Holly’s mouth tightened resentfully at the derision Maxine didn’t even try to hide. She didn’t know why the other woman came home at all if she was going to act like this. ‘Maybe he would have welcomed your opinion,’ she defended icily.

‘He has only to ask,’ Maxine told her in a bored voice.

That was the trouble, James would never ask his wife for anything, not her time, and certainly not her love. Couldn’t Maxine see that? Or did she just not care? If only—

‘Are your eyes really violet, Holly?’ Zack asked irrelevantly.

She gave him a puzzled frown. ‘So I’ve been told.’

‘Really, Zack,’ Maxine snapped tautly, ‘the colour of Holly’s eyes is of little interest.’

‘Not to me,’ he drawled. ‘I’ve never met a girl who has violet eyes, I’ve only ever seen Elizabeth Taylor’s in films.’

‘Holly bears little resemblance to Elizabeth Taylor,’ the other woman derided, her movements nervy as she kept glancing expectantly towards the door.

Zack gave Holly a long look of consideration. ‘No, she’s more like a red-haired Audrey Hepburn, all eyes.’

‘Brings out the protective instinct in you, does she, darling?’ Maxine’s voice had hardened to scorn.

‘A little,’ he nodded. ‘Maybe you should go up and see what’s keeping James, Maxine,’ he suggested softly. ‘It’s almost eight o’clock.’

Holly was becoming concerned with James’s non-appearance herself, although she was more than a little surprised to see Maxine actually leave the room as Zack had told her to do.

‘You can close your mouth now,’ he drawled with amusement once they were alone.

Her mouth closed with a snap. This man gave the impression of making life a game, and yet he missed none of the emotions or movements of those about him. ‘And maybe in future,’ he added, dangerously soft, ‘you should keep your opinions concerning Maxine and James to yourself.’

‘I beg your pardon?’ she gasped.

‘You heard me.’ The lazy humour had completely gone from his face and voice now, revealing a more steely side to his character. ‘They have enough problems already, without a third person adding to them,’ he warned.

‘If anyone is an unwanted third person here it isn’t me,’ she snapped. ‘You—’ she broke off as she heard the descent of the lift from the bedrooms to the ground floor, a necessity with James’s wheelchair, and turned away as the other couple entered the room a few seconds later.

James looked tired, more tired and strained than she had ever seen him. Her anger towards the other couple grew. How dared this man Zack tell her not to interfere when he and Maxine were the ones hurting James!

‘Holly, my dear,’ James greeted her with a smile. ‘Maxine tells me you were in the library all the time this afternoon.’

She hated deceiving this man, and yet about this she had little choice. ‘Er—yes, for a while.’

‘But you and Zack have been introduced now?’

‘Well...’

‘There hasn’t realty been the time or opportunity,’ Zack answered him.

James frowned. ‘Maxine, didn’t you—’

‘Of course not,’ his wife cut in sharply. ‘The two of them were together when I came downstairs, I naturally assumed Zack had introduced himself. He isn’t usually so backward in coming forward.’

‘What must you think of our manners, Holly!’ James said irritably. ‘This is my brother Zack. Zack, my secretary, Holly Macey.’

His brother! That was the only part of the introduction that registered with Holly. This man Zack, the man she had been consistently rude to, was James’s brother. No wonder she had confused the two of them at first glance, the family resemblance was such as to have easily made that mistake. But how could Zack Benedict have such contempt for his own brother, talk so scathingly about him getting up and walking?