The Andreou Marriage Arrangement(5)

By: Helen Bianchin

Except it would seem petty, and not the action of a woman in control. Or one determined to treat this meeting with prosaic common sense.

There was the need to change. Comfortable well-worn jeans, a casual top, her dark hair caught in a careless knot and anchored there with a large clip, bare feet, and no make-up didn’t comprise fitting attire in which to dine out.

There was a part of her that felt inclined to slip her feet into trainers, collect her car keys, wallet, and leave.

Except her absence wouldn’t achieve a thing.

So, get over it, she admonished silently as she changed into tailored trousers and a buttoned blouse. She added a dash of colour to her lips, fixed her hair, then selected a fashionable jacket and slid her feet into killer heels.

Her intercom buzzed as she collected a clutch purse, and she picked up, clarified Loukas Andreou’s image on the security monitor, then uttered a brisk—‘I’m on my way down.’

His height and breadth of shoulder seemed vaguely intimidating, his hard, strong-boned facial features arresting in the early evening light. Black tailored trousers, a white shirt unbuttoned at the neck, and a black butter-soft leather jacket lent a casual sophisticated look…one she knew to be deceiving, given the power he wielded in the business arena.

‘Loukas.’ Her greeting was polite, almost formal as dark eyes seared her own, and for a moment she experienced the strangest feeling that time stood still. Then it was gone.

‘Shall we get this over and done with?’

Was that a faint edge of humour apparent, or simply a trick of the light? She couldn’t be sure in the brief instant before he stood to one side and indicated the black Aston Martin parked in the forecourt.

She walked at his side to the car, aware of his close proximity as he opened the passenger door and saw her seated before crossing to slip in behind the wheel.

There was an unwanted sense of nervousness she strove hard to hide as he fired the engine and eased the powerful car onto the road.

A shared meal, during which she’d state her perspective, negotiate…and hopefully resolve the terms of Dimitri’s will to their mutual satisfaction.

In a short space of time Loukas drew the Aston Martin to a halt at the entrance to the Ritz-Carlton hotel and organized valet parking.

Pleasant choice, Alesha approved, having dined in the restaurant on a few occasions.

Except once inside the foyer Loukas indicated the lift.

‘My suite will afford us some privacy.’

Her nerve-ends coiled in painful protest at the thought of being alone with him. ‘I’d prefer the restaurant.’

‘And risk public scrutiny?’ he elaborated quietly. ‘Possibly be overheard or photographed discussing a private matter?’

The fact that he was right didn’t help much. Speculation would run rife soon enough when Loukas Andreou’s continued presence in Sydney was noted. Especially when his extensive shareholding in Karsouli became known.

There was little she could do but acquiesce, albeit with some reluctance, duly observed, she noted as she bore Loukas’ slightly hooded gaze as they rode the lift to his designated floor.

You can do this, a silent voice bade as she watched Loukas swipe a card and usher her into his suite. Loukas had her late father’s trust. Otherwise Dimitri would never have structured his will the way he had.

Would he?

Dear God, how would she know…for sure?

With both parents gone, she had become very selective in whom she chose to confide in. Not even Lacey, a dear friend from childhood, knew everything about her first marriage. Some details were too personal…too hurtful to divulge.

‘Relax,’ Loukas drawled. ‘I’m not about to hit on you.’

Alesha directed him a level look. ‘I would deal with it if you did.’ Hadn’t she trained hard to effectively do so?

He shrugged out of his jacket, tossed it onto the large king-size bed, then he undid the cuffs on his shirt and turned them back twice, revealing muscular forearms sprinkled with dark hair.

‘Can I take your jacket?’

‘I’m fine, thanks.’

‘Why don’t you take a seat?’ He indicated a comfortable chair. ‘Would you like something to drink?’

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