He blinked and focused on the beautiful face of the most incredible-looking woman. She was sitting there looking down at him wearing nothing but a mane of glossy dark hair that lay like a silky curtain over her breasts—breasts that had filled his hands perfectly and tasted—
It all came rushing back.
His body reacted to the slumberous promise in her smile, but, ignoring the urgent messages it was sending and the desire that heated his blood, gritted his teeth and swung his legs over the side of the bed. Guilt rising like a toxic tide to clog his throat, he sat, eyes closed, with his rigid back to her. This was about damage limitation and not repeating a mistake no matter how tempting it might seem.
She was sinful temptation given a throaty voice and a perfect body, but this had been his mistake, not hers, and it was his responsibility to end it.
‘I thought you’d never wake up.’
His spine tensed at the touch of her fingers on his skin. He wiped his face of all emotion as he turned back to face her.
‘You should have woken me. I hope I haven’t made you late for anything...?’
‘Late...?’ she quavered.
He stood up and looked around for his clothes. ‘Can I get you a taxi?’
‘I...I don’t understand... I thought we’d...’ Her voice trailed away. He was looking at her so coldly.
‘Look, last night was... Actually it was fantastic but I’m not available.’
Available? Angel still didn’t get it.
He felt the guilt tighten in his gut but he had no desire to prolong this scene. He’d made a massive mistake, end of story. A post-mortem was not going to change anything.
He cut across her. ‘Last night was just sex.’
He was speaking slowly as if he were explaining something to a child or a moron. The coldness in his blue eyes as much as his words confused Angel.
‘But last night...’
‘Like I said, last night was great, but it was a mistake.’ A great big mistake, but a man learned by his mistakes and he didn’t give in to the temptation to repeat them.
She began to feel sick as she watched him fight his way into his shirt, then he was pulling on his trousers. She responded automatically to pick up the object that fell out of the pocket and landed with a metallic twang on the floor just in front of her toes. She bent to pick it up; her fingers closed around a ring.
He was meticulously careful not to touch her fingers as he took it from her outstretched hand.
For a moment he thought of telling the truth, saying that he had been, but no longer, that the ring was in his pocket because friends kept telling him it was time to move on. Alex doubted this was what they’d had in mind.
Then he realised how much easier and less painful a lie would be. It wouldn’t ease the guilt that was like a living thing in his gut, but it would make this scene less messy and allow her to say when regaling her friends later that the bastard was married.
Her incredible green eyes flared hot as she rose majestically to her feet and delivered a contemptuous ‘You disgusting loser!’ followed up by a backhanded slap that made him blink. He opened his watering eyes in time to see her vanish into the bathroom, the door locked audibly behind her.
Angel ran, hand clamped to her mouth, across the room, just making it to the loo before she was violently sick.
By the time she returned to the bedroom he was gone.
Angel found herself hating him with more venom than she thought she was capable of. She hated him even more than her mother’s creepy boyfriend, the one who had tried to grope her when she was sixteen. The only person she hated more than Alex was herself. How could she be so stupid? He had treated her like a tramp because that was how she had acted.
By the time she left the hotel room later that morning, her tears had dried and her expression was set. She had decided she would never, ever think of him again, not think of him or last night.
It never happened.
He never existed.
It was a solution.
She could move on.
‘THEY ARE THE second biggest advertising firm in Europe and—’
‘There is something in it for you?’ Alex, who had been listening to Nico’s pitch while he read the small print on a contract, made the silky suggestion without rancour. He liked his big sister’s son and why should his favourite, actually his only, nephew be any different from everyone else?