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A Secret Until Now - Page 19

She took a deep restorative breath; she would not fall apart. Yes, he’d like to... But no way. He was acting as if it was no big deal and so could she. It was just a pity the message of defiance had not reached her trembling limbs or core temperature.

 ‘You,’ she contended contemptuously, ‘wouldn’t know the truth if it bit you!’ Rich coming from someone who wasn’t telling him he had a daughter, or couldn’t admit she wouldn’t fight too hard if he decided to kiss her again. She lowered her eyes over the shamed acknowledgment and heard his throaty chuckle.

 ‘The truth is I’m more into body language.’ Especially when the body in question was as lush and perfectly formed as hers. ‘Words can lie...whereas there are some things that you can’t hide....’

 Her head came up with a guilty jerk. ‘I’m not trying to hide anything.’ The moment the words left her lips she knew silence would have been more convincing.

 ‘For instance, your pupils have expanded so much there is just a thin ring of colour left.’ Her eyes were the purest green he had ever seen flecked with tiny pinpoints of swirling gold. ‘You really are a very good kisser.’

 So long as his observations did not drop below neck level she could deal. ‘Kissing is not hard.’ It was the knowing when not to that was hard. ‘It’s a...a...reflex,’ she flung back.

 His ebony brows lifted. ‘I’ve never heard it called that before.’

 Hating the smugness in his voice, she snapped. ‘You think you know body language? Well, study this,’ she invited, pointing to her own face, pale now and set into a cold mask. ‘I was ill in that room because I saw you and was reminded of an episode in my life I’m not too proud of, in fact I’m deeply ashamed of.’

 ‘That’s your problem, not mine.’ Shame and guilt were not to his mind something to be yelled about. They were things you lived with; they were the price you paid for mistakes.

 Angel drew in a deep shuddering breath and revealed the ultimate unforgivable crime that she laid at his door. ‘You turned me into the other woman.’ Her voice dropped to an emotional whisper as she realised. ‘You turned me into the person I never wanted to be—my mother!’

 Alex’s jaw clenched but his anger almost immediately faded. He was very good at reading body language but it did not require his talent to interpret the expression in her emerald eyes as shock.

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 So Angel had mother issues? That was not his problem, and he had no interest in helping her work her way through them. He refused to recognise an uncharacteristic urge to draw out more details, an urge that directly contradicted his determined lack of interest.

 Six years, Angel, but you got there in the end. How could she not have seen it before? ‘Madre di Dio!’ she mocked softly, then gave a little laugh.

 The throaty exclamation distracted him. ‘Italian?’

 She blinked as it took her a few moments to return from wherever she had gone. ‘Half.’ She didn’t elaborate. It seemed, Angel thought grimly, that she had done too much show and tell already!

 Economy of detail was something Alex appreciated in his lovers, actively encouraged, but even he liked a whole sentence.

 Well, at least the Latin connection explained the golden glowing looks, and possibly the temper too, though if he said so she would probably not waste the opportunity to accuse him of generalising.

 ‘I’ve heard of people rewriting history but this is the first time I’ve seen it firsthand. You’re acting as though you were some passive victim. The way I recall it you were an equal and active participant, so the outraged-virgin act is a bit over the top.’ Although amazingly she retained the ability to blush like one—the colour that washed over her cheeks deepened the pale gold of her skin with a rosy sheen. ‘This can’t be the first time you’ve bumped into an old one-night stand?’

 Her eyes slid from his as she swallowed the insult, though she doubted he had intended it as such. He wasn’t making a moral judgement. That was just who he thought she was. It was easier to let him continue to hold that opinion than tell him the truth.

 What would be his reaction, she wondered, if she came out with, ‘You’re the only man I’ve ever slept with’? She almost laughed at the image of his imagined incredulity. Or worse, he might ask her the question she’d asked herself a thousand times—why him?

 How could she begin to explain to him something she didn’t even understand herself?

 She made herself look at him and felt her insides shudder as their eyes connected. ‘One like you.’

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