Page 49 of The Crown Affair

Matt stalked into his dressing room, yanking his tie off and undoing the top button of his shirt. He flung his jacket over the back of a chair and kicked off his shoes. A cold shower. That was what he needed. And then he’d seek her out, put his proposal to her and see what she had to say.

He undid the buttons of his shirt, tugged it from his trousers and marched through to his bedroom.

And stopped dead.

Laura was standing by the French doors that opened onto his private terrace, the sun streaming in behind her giving her a blazing kind of corona.

For a second Matt thought he was hallucinating. That somehow his feverish imagination was playing tricks on him.

But then she jumped, her gazed dipped to his bare chest and she let out a little gasp and from the heat that suddenly whipped through him Matt realised she was no hallucination.

Which, on reflection, was great. He was so hard it hurt. Whatever the reason she was in his bedroom, her timing couldn’t be more perfect.

‘Good trip?’ she said, the ice in her voice slamming a brake on his thoughts.

Hmm. Matt went still. Perhaps suggesting a fling at right this moment might not be wise. With the hostility rolling off her in his direction, he’d probably get a slap in the face.

‘Great,’ he said, wondering why she was quite so frosty.

‘I’m so glad.’

‘What are you doing in my bedroom?’

‘Waiting for you. I heard you were back.’

‘I was just about to take a shower,’ he said, taking his shirt off and seeing her little white teeth catch her lip.

‘Why did you leave without saying goodbye?’

That was what the hostility was about? Matt rubbed his jaw. He’d left without saying goodbye because he hadn’t been able to trust himself not to get all caught up again in the spell she’d woven over him. He’d done it for all the right reasons, but that didn’t stop the trace of hurt in her voice making a stab of guilt dart through him.

‘Didn’t you get my note?’

‘I did.’

Matt shoved the guilt aside. ‘That explained everything.’

‘Eight words, Matt. Eight words. After the night we shared do you really think they explained everything?’

Well, yes, he did. He couldn’t have put it more simply. ‘I didn’t want to wake you.’

‘I wouldn’t have minded.’

But he would have.

‘You want to know what I think?’ she said, tilting her head and shooting him a shrewd glance.

Not really. He had no intention of discussing his motives for hurtling off to Athens. ‘What?’ he said, because she was probably going to tell him anyway.

‘I think you were avoiding me.’

The air in the room thickened. Grew warmer. Tighter. Matt’s eyes narrowed. How had she managed to work that out? ‘Nonsense,’ he said flatly.

‘Is it?’

‘Why would I be avoiding you?’

‘That’s what I haven’t been able to work out.’

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