The Andreou Marriage Arrangement(9)

By: Helen Bianchin

‘Did you have to behave like a dictatorial ass?’ Alesha demanded the instant he eased the sleek Aston Martin out onto the street.

‘That’s a first.’ His drawled comment held a tinge of humour she chose to ignore.

‘So, bite me.’

‘Aren’t you in the least concerned I might bite back?’

She was unprepared for the faint sensation feathering over the surface of her skin as it stirred something deep inside she had no wish to disturb.

She didn’t offer so much as a word during the short drive to her apartment, and she reached for the door-clasp the instant the car slid to a halt at the kerb.

Cool, polite words born from instilled good manners emerged from her lips. ‘Thanks for the ride.’

She didn’t wait for his acknowledgment, nor did she look back as she swiped her card at the main entry and hurried into the foyer.

It was a relief to enter her apartment, tend to the lock and security system.

Home. A place uniquely hers, where she felt safe, secure.

But not for long, a tiny voice taunted. All too soon her life…everything would change. She slipped off her stilettos, then discarded her jacket. It wasn’t late, and she was too tense to consider retiring to bed.

Television, watching a DVD, or work were three options, and she retreated to her bedroom, discarded her clothes and donned cotton sleep trousers and a singlet top before cleansing off her make-up. Then she slotted in a DVD and settled into a comfortable chair with the remote.

It was almost midnight when the credits rolled, and she switched everything off, then made her way to bed…surprisingly to sleep until the alarm roused her early next morning.

Maintaining a routine gave focus to the day, and Alesha donned sweats, slid her feet into trainers, tied back her hair, exited the apartment building and broke into a steady jog en route to a local gym.

An hour’s workout helped diminish her stress levels, and she returned home with renewed vigour to shower, breakfast, then dress for work.

The executive power suit, minimum jewellery, hair smoothed into an upswept style, a light touch with make-up, killer heels…and she was good to go.

Laptop, briefcase, shoulder bag…check.

Minutes later she slid behind the wheel of her silver BMW, engaged the engine, then made her way to the main arterial road leading into the city.

Traffic at this hour was heavy, and making it through electronically controlled intersections without at least two enforced stops was rare.

Consequently it was almost eight when Alesha took the lift from the basement parking area to a high floor in the tall modern building housing the Karsouli Corporation.

A luxurious office suite with prime views over the inner harbour, expensive carpeting, sparkling glass, executive furniture and expensive works of art adorning the walls.

Dimitri had enjoyed displaying the acquisitions earned by his success. Ongoing consultations with a prominent interior decorator ensured ostentatious didn’t figure in the scheme of things.

Alesha didn’t want anything to change. In fact, she’d insist on it. Karsouli would remain Karsouli in honour of her father’s memory, his years of hard work.

‘Good morning.’ Her smile held genuine warmth as she passed through Reception and trod the wide passageway leading to her office.

A greeting she repeated as her PA rose from behind a desk with the day’s scheduling in hand.

‘Mr Andreou requests your presence a.s.a.p. An executive meeting will be chaired by Mr Andreou at ten in the conference room. Department heads are currently being advised. I’ve noted everything in your diary, and printed a copy for your perusal.’

Alesha took the offered schedule, skimmed it, and her eyes widened fractionally.

Loukas was wasting no time in setting several contingency plans in motion.

‘Thanks, Anne. You can alert Mr Andreou I’ll be with him in ten minutes.’

‘I understand there is some urgency to his request.’

Sufficient for Anne to issue the caution? All hail the new chief? Except the partnership with Loukas was equal. And damned if she’d drop everything and rush to his bidding!

‘Ten minutes, Anne.’

She took every one of them before entering the large office Dimitri had occupied for as long as she could remember…and tamped down the faint resentment she experienced at seeing Loukas seated behind her father’s desk.

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