She fixed him with an evil-eyed stare. ‘You’re right, I didn’t think. Story of my life!’ She sniffed. ‘If I had thought, do you think I’d have wasted my virginity on a selfish, lying bastard who let me think he was married just to get out the door?’
She closed her eyes to blot out the expression stamped on his face. The man didn’t just look shocked, he looked as though someone had aimed a loaded revolver at him and pulled the trigger.
The words didn’t just hang in the air, they vibrated, the volume growing with each beat of her heart. Unfortunately, there was no way she could retrieve them because, true to form, she’d done it again. She’d blurted out the truth at the worst moment imaginable. Way to go, Angel, out to personally disprove the old adage that wisdom came with age.
‘YOU’RE TRYING TO tell me... No... No, you were not a virgin!’ Even as Alex voiced the denial his brain was making connections that he couldn’t believe he hadn’t seen before.
‘’Course not. What can I say? I have a sick sense of humour.’
Angel’s eyes were closed, squeezed tight like a little kid who thought the action made her invisible.
‘You were.’ He dragged a hand through his hair and got to his feet, walking several steps away before stalking back to stand over her. ‘You were a virgin, and you acted like a damned...’
‘Damned what?’ she challenged, getting to her feet.
He just looked at her and shook his head, groaning. ‘Theos!’
She shrugged, wrapping her arms around herself, cold despite the afternoon heat. Shock, she speculated, viewing the tremors that were shaking her body with a weird objectivity. The genie was out of the bottle, the truth was out there and she couldn’t get it back, so she did the only thing possible—she downplayed it like mad!
‘Let’s not make a big deal of it. A girl’s got to lose it some time.’
‘You think this is a subject for cheap jokes? It was a big deal. It is a big deal—to me and it should be to you.’ He hadn’t even been Emma’s first lover, and it had not been important to him. For some men perhaps there was an appeal in teaching a novice the ropes, but it was a responsibility that he would have actively avoided had the opportunity ever arisen. It hadn’t—or so he had thought.
‘I’m sorry if my ability to laugh at ancient history offends you, but it was a long time ago and life moves on.’ And it also occasionally threw some surprises, and the surprise today was the strength of Alex’s reaction to the news. He was still pale beneath his tan. ‘There has to be a first time for everyone—it’s the second time that can be more problematic.’ She cleared her throat and, regretting the reference to her nonexistent sex life, hurriedly tacked on a laughing, ‘Even you.’
She lifted her eyes to his face and her smile faded. It was impossible to imagine Alex being young and inexperienced, his face smooth, his eyes without cynicism.
‘Why the hell didn’t you tell me?’ he blasted.
His indignation continued to strike her as pretty perverse. ‘I don’t recall conversation being very high on the agenda.’ She forced the words past the tight constriction in her throat. ‘Would it have made any difference if I’d told you?’
Alex opened his mouth and closed it again. It was a good question and he’d have liked to think it would, but on that day he had not been thinking with his brain.
‘I resent being made to feel like some sort of bloody predator.’
He resented! ‘Well, I’m so sorry I’ve made you feel a victim, but I guess it’s a responsibility I’ll have to live with.’
The saccharine insincerity dripping from her sarcastic retort brought a defining flash of colour to the knife-edged contours of his carved cheekbones.
‘Did you set out that day with the intention of—?’ He bit down on the question, but not soon enough to stop Angel’s eyes sparking afresh with anger.
‘Sure,’ she drawled, disguising her hurt with a sarcastic tone. ‘I engineered the whole thing.’
A muscle alongside his mouth clenched as their eyes connected, sizzling blue on flashing green. ‘You can’t leave anything, can you?’ he charged. Like the fact you acted like a total irresponsible bastard, Alex? ‘I know it wasn’t your fault,’ he gritted through clenched teeth. ‘It was my bloody...’ He stopped abruptly. ‘You said the second time was the problem.’ He shook his head, not following the crazy idea to its equally crazy conclusion.