The Andreou Marriage Arrangement(7)

By: Helen Bianchin


She stood and turned towards the door. ‘Go to hell.’





CHAPTER TWO




‘I SUGGEST you think before you walk out that door,’ Loukas cautioned with dangerous quietness. ‘Or the hell you’d consign me to will be your own.’

His meaning was icily clear, and had a sobering effect.

Pride and anger held no place in Dimitri’s diabolical scheme.

Walk…and Alesha would lose the one thing she considered to be the most important entity in her life.

Could she trust Loukas? Dear heaven. If not him…who?

At least he had a vested interest in Karsouli; he possessed the skill and expertise to assume dual directorship; add considerable financial resources…

It was no contest.

Except she was damned if she’d give in easily.

For the space of a few seconds she closed her eyes, then opened them again, took a deep calming breath and turned slowly to face him.

There was an inherent strength apparent, an entity that went deep beneath the surface. An indomitable sense of power that made him both an invaluable ally and feared adversary.

But as a husband? Lover?


An instant recall of what she’d suffered at Seth’s hands sent apprehension feathering her spine.

Don’t go there.

One man’s manic proclivities were not those of all men.

Unbidden, her teeth worried the inner fullness of her lower lip.

Yet how could she know for sure?

Seth had played the perfect part as loving fiancé, adoring new husband…until she had refused to concede to his demands.

A sudden bleakness clouded her eyes. A shadow of pain which appeared so fleetingly Loukas almost missed it, and his gaze narrowed.

‘If the deal didn’t include marriage, I’d be ecstatic.’

‘Nevertheless, it does.’

‘Unfortunately.’

On some level she got the loyalty thing. Matchmaking suitable partners from two eminently suitable families. A little devious manipulation added to the mix, and voilà…the convenient marriage scenario intended to safeguard the family fortunes and ensure the continuation of a dynasty.

‘Yes or no, Alesha.’ His expression was unreadable, his eyes dark and unwavering as they regarded her.

It had to be yes. There was no way she could countenance Karsouli slipping ignominiously between the cracks to disappear in the belly of iniquity.

‘I have no choice but to agree, subject to certain conditions.’

There was a strength apparent in her demeanour, a determination he could only admire given she’d taken a king-hit about the true state of her father’s corporation.

‘Name them.’ His voice held a silkiness she chose to ignore.

‘I retain my position in Karsouli.’

Loukas inclined his head in agreement. ‘Naturally.’

Now for the cruncher. ‘A separate suite of rooms in whatever home we share.’

His gaze narrowed. ‘Your reason being?’

She kept her eyes steady on his. ‘A personal preference.’

‘Based on?’

‘A need for my own space.’

He regarded her in silence for several timeless seconds. ‘The same bedroom, separate beds.’ He waited a beat. ‘Until you feel comfortable sharing mine.’

As if that were going to happen any time soon. ‘It isn’t fair you get to dictate all the terms.’

‘Be grateful I’ve conceded one of them.’

But not for long. Apprehension rose like a spectre, and for one wild moment she wondered at her sanity in aligning herself with a man such as him.

‘So, on that basis, I should fawn at your feet and express undying gratitude?’

A faint quirk lifted the corner of his mouth. ‘For saving Karsouli?’

‘Of course.’ Her response held a certain dryness that didn’t fool him in the slightest.

Honesty, at a cost. With no attempt to hide it beneath any number of platitudes. Strength and a degree of fragility, he mused, made for an intriguing mix.

Loukas retrieved the in-room dining menu, opened it at the appropriate page and handed it to her. ‘Choose what you’d like, and I’ll order dinner.’

Food? The mere thought of ingesting anything was enough to send her stomach into immediate revolt.

‘I’m not hungry.’ What was more, she wanted out of here. Away from this forceful man who held her fate in his hands.

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