The Petrakos Bride | Chapter 7 of 15

Author: Lynne Graham | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 1257 Views | Add a Review

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CHAPTER THREE

EMERGING from the CEO’s office suite into the corridor, Maddie was relieved to discover that the majority of the staff had already gone home. At a fast trot she collected her bag and her jacket, and was about to get into the lift when she was intercepted by Nemos.

‘Mr Petrakos asked me to ensure that you get home safely,’ the Greek security man informed her. ‘A car is waiting downstairs at the side entrance.’

Startled by his appearance, because in spite of his size he moved with remarkable stealth, Maddie was still more dismayed at the unexpected offer of a lift home. An agonised flush blossomed in a betraying burst of scarlet beneath her fair skin. She could not bear to think that anyone else might have guessed what she had so lately been engaged in.

‘No, thank you,’ she gasped in an agitated undertone, and, as Nemos gazed down at her in frank surprise, she hurriedly slid past him and into the lift before the doors could close again and leave her marooned.

Maddie didn’t breathe again until she had left the building. She knew that she would never willingly set foot in Petrakos Industries again. All the way home on the bus she was tormented by the aftermath of shock—regret and self-loathing.

What on earth had possessed her to behave in such a way? To give her body to a guy who was almost a stranger?

Yet Giannis hadn’t felt like a stranger, and it seemed to her that foolish false sense of familiarity had stifled all her wit and common sense. She had behaved like a starstruck groupie, she thought painfully. Nine years had passed since she first laid wondering eyes on Giannis Petrakos. She had been just fourteen years old when he’d visited her sister Suzy in hospital. At the age of twenty-two, when—ironically—he’d been getting loads of bad press for being a wild and womanising hell-raiser, he had been quietly giving considerable time and cash to the cause of terminally sick children.

Born though Giannis had been, into a world of unimaginable wealth and privilege, he had sat down to chat to Suzy as if it had been the most natural thing in the world. When he’d discovered that Suzy idolised the lead vocalist in a famous boy band, he had brought the singer to the hospice where Suzy had spent her final weeks. He’d made her sister’s wildest dreams come true. Suzy had been so thrilled that she had still been talking about that momentous day right up until a few minutes before she died.

Maddie had never forgotten how happy Giannis Petrakos had made her twin. Now she recognised how she had idealised him and begun imagining that she knew him when she did not. She felt she had been too quick to seize on Annabel’s concerns as an excuse to approach Giannis and talk to him alone. Why hadn’t she immediately backed off when she’d realised that he was only semi-clothed? His apparent interest in her had gone to her head like strong spirits. She had not had the strength of will to withstand temptation. And he had been unutterably, wildly tempting. The dulled throb between her slender thighs lingered to remind her of her weakness and her sense of shame increased. Passion had made her betray her values.

Only as Maddie reached her bedsit did she remember the accident with the contraception, and her skin turned clammy with instinctive fear. She could only hope that Giannis would be proved right in his belief that there would be no repercussions in that field. She was appalled at the idea of conceiving after the equivalent of a one-night stand with a male who would regard the development as a calamity. Any child forced to deal with such wounding knowledge of its beginnings would have a right to be disgusted with her. How the mighty have fallen, she reflected, with painful new self-knowledge.

 

The days passed for Maddie at a painfully slow pace. She was restless, worried and unhappy. The sense of peace she had taken for granted had been replaced by inner turmoil. Nothing that she was feeling was quite what she felt it ought to be, either. Every time her phone sounded she jumped and snatched it up. Either it was a call from the temping agency or from the supermarket where she did weekend shifts. When she finally grasped the fact that she had been waiting to see if Giannis would phone, she was even angrier with herself. It was already painfully clear: she had been bedded and discarded as if she had no more worth than an old newspaper.

The following Saturday morning, however, someone rapped on her door. Looping her tumbling hair back from her face as she answered it, she stilled in astonishment when she recognised that her caller was Giannis’s security chief.

‘Mr Petrakos wants you to join him for lunch,’ Nemos announced with precision. ‘He’ll pick you up in an hour.’

Her delicate brows pleating, Maddie stared up at the big man. It took her a few seconds to absorb that most unexpected message. Not so much a message as a royal summons, she registered, watching Nemos clatter back down the stairs again without even waiting for her response. Evidently there was a strong assumption that nobody ever said no to an invitation from Giannis Petrakos.

Maddie leant back against the door as she closed it. Her knees felt a little wobbly. A giant wave of incredulity was washing over her. He had ignored her existence for the rest of the week and now he was issuing a last-minute offer of a lunch-date on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. Naturally she would be leaving it. For a tiny, tiny fraction of a split second she had felt a leap of joy that he had not totally forgotten her existence, but she swiftly crushed that shameful reaction. Where did he get the nerve to act as if she was some servant at his beck and call?

You gave him the nerve, a little inner voice jibed. He hadn’t even had to ask her out to get her into bed. She had been a push-over—a sure thing. Evidently he expected her to drop everything and run the instant he chose to beckon. And why not? She had set no limits and demanded no respect that day at his office. It hurt her to acknowledge it, but she had behaved like a slut. Now he was treating her with a careless, casual indifference to her feelings that could only wound her even more.

Inwardly cringing at the hard lesson she felt she was being taught, she got changed for her shift at the supermarket. Slowly and surely, however, anger was starting to lace her turbulent feelings.

When a knock sounded on the door again, Maddie was ready for it. Before Nemos could even speak, she said tightly, ‘I’m not coming. I don’t want to see your employer again. It’s up to you how you tell him that.’

Disbelief followed by consternation flickered in the older man’s craggy features before he turned on his heel. The depth of her anger dismayed Maddie, for she had always believed that she had the most placid, even-tempered nature. When yet another rap landed on the door, her backbone stiffened and she flung it wide. It was Giannis, and his appearance right there on her doorstep startled her—because she had assumed that Nemos had arrived merely to chauffeur her to some restaurant. Evidently the Greek tycoon had been waiting in his limousine.

Giannis ran his devouring gaze over her lovely face, his attention lingering on her vivid green eyes and the pillowy fullness of her pink mouth. Her lily-white skin and the long curling streamers of crackling Titian hair falling round her shoulders drew him like a magnet. Every time he had relaxed his mental discipline in the past couple of days she had featured in an erotic daydream, and he was not disappointed now, with the reality of her lush, extravagant femininity. Even without couture trappings she was a total babe.

He took immediate advantage of her distracted backward step to press the door wider with a fluid skim of his fingers and stroll in. But he was taken aback by his first view of the poorly furnished, dingy bedsit in which she lived. It had been a long time since he had had contact with such poverty. The chasm between their respective social positions had never been more obvious. But Giannis was where he wanted to be, and it would take the equivalent of an avalanche to send him off course.

Maddie was transfixed by his arrival. He towered over her like a golden Greek god. The pace of her heartbeat rose to a pounding thud in her eardrums. From the ebony darkness of his hair to the gilded bronze of his eyes, set above the smooth, high jut of his stunning cheekbones, he utterly dazzled her. His slate-grey designer suit was the epitome of perfect grooming. He looked devastatingly handsome. He also made her remember the disturbed nights she had endured and the wicked forbidden dreams that constantly replayed the passion she was desperate to forget. Her mortification at the tenor of her thoughts was intense.

‘Nemos declined to explain your non-appearance,’ he proffered lazily.

The rich, dark timbre of his accented drawl snapped Maddie out of her nervous paralysis. Affronted by the acknowledgement that she had been gaping at him like a country hick, she lifted her chin at a challenging angle. ‘What explanation do you need? I don’t want to have lunch with you—’

From the first, Giannis had appreciated her beauty, but her plain speech and lack of affectation had added to her attractions. Now, sensual impatience lanced through him. He found her behaviour incomprehensible when all he wanted to do was get her back into his bed again. He was eager to sate the savage ache of desire that had built up while he was abroad on business.

‘I told you that I didn’t want you to call me,’ Maddie completed doggedly, her hands curling into tense fists by her sides.

‘You also kissed me,’ he countered, brilliant dark eyes lowering with slow, measured provocation to her luscious pink mouth.

Her pale, perfect skin flamed and her silky brown lashes dropped to screen her guilty eyes. ‘That…er…that, like everything else that happened between us, was a mistake—’

‘Nonsense, glikia mou,’ Giannis proclaimed in unapologetic disagreement, his tone of command and conviction as instinctive as his inability to accept defeat.

His cast-iron confidence incensed Maddie. ‘It was a mistake for me!’

Giannis elevated an ebony brow. ‘You have a boyfriend?’

Maddie was insulted that he could think her capable of such a betrayal. ‘No! If I had had, I wouldn’t have behaved as I did with you.’

‘Of course you would have. All women cheat…when a better prospect comes along,’ Giannis incised with immovable cynicism.

Her angry distaste made her stand even straighter. ‘Maybe the kind of women you’re used to mixing with. I am not like that.’

His lean, darkly handsome features turned taut and hard. ‘Perhaps not. After all, you do harbour the distinction of having had me as your first lover.’

That he had registered that she had been a virgin came as a shock to Maddie, and an embarrassing one at that. To have that truth flung in her face hurt, and his insolent attitude could only heighten her regret over their short-lived intimacy.

‘I don’t regard it as a distinction.’ The flame of anger she had been controlling in a forlorn effort to be dignified had been fanned into a blaze. ‘Nor is it a fact I’m likely to want to talk about. No woman would want to boast about having slept with a guy as insensitive as you are!’

Giannis had come into contact with that word ‘insensitive’ before, but it had only been hinted at, or whispered playfully, and at the first suggestion of a frown had been swiftly smoothed over with plenty of sex. Never before had it been flung at his even white teeth. A warning glint of simmering gold entered his usually level black gaze.

‘You’re annoyed that I didn’t phone you,’ he murmured with silken derision. ‘I’m a busy guy, and I make no apology for the fact.’

His very intonation was like a red rag to a bull for Maddie. Every syllable he spoke seemed to touch a raw nerve inside her and she bristled, green eyes brightening to emerald chips above her flushed cheekbones. ‘I suspect that you don’t apologise for very much in life. Obviously people let you get away with being rude and offensive and arrogant—’

‘Don’t forget insensitive,’ Giannis Petrakos purred in helpful addition, while his scorching golden eyes rested on her with raw incredulity. No woman had ever dared to criticise or insult him in such a way. Outraged though he was, he still could not quite believe that she was addressing him with such disrespect.

‘Yes—and that too!’ Maddie gasped, letting anger become the vent for her emotional turmoil. ‘Out of the blue you send an employee to tell me I’m going to have lunch with you…you don’t even bother asking…and then you send him back to pick me up. You act and you talk like you’re doing me a big favour. Are you so used to women falling over themselves to please you that you just assume I’m the same?’

It was exactly what Giannis was accustomed to. But torture would not have persuaded him to own up to the fact. In a graceful movement he shifted closer, invading her personal space with alacrity. He was seething with anger. He curled a purposeful hand to her chin and tipped up her face. His smouldering gaze clashed head-on with her startled upward glance. ‘You gave me good cause, glikia mou,’ he told her, his Greek accent roughening the delivery of every word.

Her nostrils flared at the faint exotic aroma of the designer cologne he used. Locked to his fierce appraisal, she was shocked to feel a pronounced prickle of sexual awareness travelling through her like a contained electric shock. Her nipples pouted and pushed against the lacy cups of her bra and she tensed in dismay. ‘I—’

‘And the invitation is still there in every look you give me—because the sex was fantastic,’ Giannis intoned thickly.

Her memory flung up an explicit image of his lean, powerful body engulfing hers, and the pain of initiation which had been followed by the waves of hot, piercing pleasure. But even as she helplessly responded, as though he had programmed her, she was shocked by his earthy candour. The sex was fantastic. Not exactly a solid base on which to build romantic girlie dreams, she thought painfully.

‘And that’s all you want.’

Giannis anchored a hand briefly in the luxuriant fall of her rippling curls and intoned steadily, ‘I want you. Whatever that entails.’

With a valiant effort Maddie detached herself and pulled back from him, snatching in a gulp of oxygen. She was trembling. ‘For how long?’

Giannis shifted graceful lean brown hands in a speaking gesture that asked how he could possibly answer such a question. Watching him, Maddie felt almost mesmerised by his cool sophistication. He was gorgeous, a powerful and masculine work of art. He was out of her league, though—way out. She had already had a taste of how he would treat her. If this was what he was like when he was keen, what would he be like when her attraction had faded? Pride and her usual common sense began to reassert its sway.

‘It wouldn’t work…it didn’t start out right,’ she muttered tightly

Sardonic amusement lightened his lean bronzed features. ‘Is that the problem? You imagine I might think less of you for matching my passion?’

Maddie shot him an unconvinced glance. ‘You don’t? You mean, you treat all women this way?’

Stung on the raw, Giannis dealt her a fulminating appraisal

But it was wasted on Maddie, who had just realised what time it was and groaned in dismay. ‘Oh, my goodness. I’m going to be late for work!’

‘Work?’ Giannis repeated. ‘You work at the weekend as well?’

‘Yes.’ Snatching up her bag and her overall, Maddie hauled open the door. ‘I have to go,’ she told him feverishly.

Giannis strode out on to the landing and watched her lock up. ‘Where do you work?’

‘In the supermarket down the road.’ Maddie hurried down the stairs at a rattling pace.

‘When do you finish?’

Out on the street, Maddie focused wide-eyed on the opulent black limousine with its tinted windows, and on the number of well-dressed men wearing sunglasses hovering watchfully in its vicinity. The instant Giannis appeared behind her all the men went on visible alert. He was protected everywhere he went. He did not live anything like a normal life. They might as well have been creatures from a different planet, she acknowledged painfully.

‘Madeleine?’ Giannis prompted drily.

‘Six—but what’s that got to do with anything?’ A rueful laugh fell from her lips. ‘Guys like you don’t date shopgirls!’

 

An hour after she started work the flowers arrived. A glorious bouquet of old-fashioned buttery yellow and cream roses was brought to her. Nobody had ever sent her flowers before, and at first she thought there had been a mistake. The sight of her own name on the gift envelope convinced her, however, and she opened the card.

 

Personally selected and delivered. See you at six, Giannis.

 

She laughed at that first assurance, and then her face fell. Even had she been tempted she wasn’t free this evening. But he didn’t quit, and she had always admired that in a man. She thought of what he had done for her dying sister and reminded herself that Giannis Petrakos was very far from being all bad. And she was as much to blame as him for their sexual encounter. Was he right? Was she just angry with him because he hadn’t got in touch sooner? She was being torn in two by conflicting promptings, and she felt horribly confused and out of her depth. His arrogance still infuriated her, and she could not shake free of her guilt at having slept with him. Furthermore he was not trying to conceal the fact that only sexual desire drove his continued interest. That was no basis for a relationship—at least not the kind she wanted and needed. So why was she still tempted by him? Why did the gesture of the roses delight her so much?

Half an hour after she got home, Giannis called back for her.

‘I never even asked you how you got my address,’ she muttered awkwardly, drinking in the sight of his lean bronzed features with strained green eyes.

‘Such information is always available for a favour or a price.’

To Maddie, that was yet another unsavoury glimpse of a world and a way of thought foreign to her principles. ‘Look, even if I wanted to, I couldn’t see you tonight,’ she told him hurriedly, keen to bring the conversation to a swift conclusion.

‘How so?’ he incised, level dark golden eyes pinned to her with questioning force.

There was no apology in Maddie’s quiet voice as she explained that she had agreed to sit with her elderly neighbour so that the lady’s daughter, who looked after her mother full-time, could enjoy a rare evening out.

‘How praiseworthy, glikia mou.’ A wry smile of approval curved his wide stubborn mouth. ‘Naturally I’ll organise a qualified carer to stand in for you.’

‘No, you can’t do that. I never said I would see you tonight, and even if I did want to—which I don’t—I wouldn’t consider letting my friends down at the last minute,’ Maddie declared, her chin coming up at a pugnacious angle because she was indignant at his assumption that she would rearrange her life and her responsibilities to suit him.

But she was even more appalled by her spasm of disappointment that it was not possible for her to consider his offer of providing another companion for her neighbour. She no longer knew what she wanted any more.

Giannis released his breath in a slow, sardonic exhalation. ‘Why do you make such a fuss about trivia?’

Maddie was very tense. ‘When I make a promise to someone it’s not trivial. Mrs Evans would be upset if she was left with a stranger. You are being selfish.’

‘Do not insult me again. I will not tolerate it!’ the tall, powerful Greek interposed, with cold, cutting emphasis.

Maddie paled and focused on the beautiful roses she had arranged in a utilitarian plastic bowl. Her emotions were all over the place and her eyes were suddenly stinging like mad. ‘We’re oil and water—’

‘Between the sheets we’re dynamite.’

A red-hot blush crept up her slender throat and she could not trust herself to look at him. ‘You’ll have to leave. I have to go down to Mrs Evans.’

‘Is this a joke? Or are you wondering how far you can push me?’ Giannis demanded with hauteur. ‘I leave London again tomorrow.’

Reluctantly she lifted her head again, and collided with hot, dark golden eyes that made her tummy lurch as if she had gone down in a lift too fast. ‘It’s not a joke.’

With languorous cool he let his fingers feather through her long, rippling coppery curls. The faint brush of his fingertips against her taut temples sent a quiver through her, and a feeling of sensual paralysis swallowed up all her good intentions. He brought his darkly handsome head down, and her hand seemed to rise of its own volition to glance across one smooth olive cheek and move into the luxuriant thickness of his black hair. It was all the encouragement he needed. He took her mouth in a storm of passionate hunger and pinned her back against the wall with his lithe, powerful body.

‘So what’s this?’ he enquired lethally.

‘Madness,’ she mumbled, stretching up on tiptoe to find the heat and hardness of his mouth again in a fruitless attempt to assuage the painful ache low in her belly.

He sank his hands below her curvaceous behind and lifted her, cradling her easily on his lap as he seated himself on the bed. ‘How long have you got?’ he intoned thickly.

She felt surrounded and controlled by him, and it was incredibly sexy. Her bra was tight over her full breasts, the tender nipples swollen and sensitive. While her body felt weak, her heart was racing with anticipation. She pressed her hot brow against a broad shoulder and wondered frantically what was happening to her. She fought to rescue her self-control. Giannis would take her back to bed if she allowed him to. Was she really that besotted with him?

Maddie was shaken by that inner question, and in a sudden movement of denial scrambled off his long, lean thighs with more haste than grace. ‘We mustn’t…No, absolutely not. Not unless we get to know each other better…’ Her voice petered out as a wave of giddiness momentarily left her head swimming.

Giannis sprang upright in an equally abrupt movement, and swung away to stand by the window. He was fully aroused, hotter than hot. Rampant sexual frustration laced the raw sense of disbelief that held him taut. He was not accustomed to suffering that particular discomfort. He could not remember when a woman had last said no to him. The intensity of his desire for her infuriated him. And now she was laying down pre-conditions. Unexpectedly, the fresh taste of that challenge stimulated him. She had backbone and standards. He liked that.

Maddie braced her hand on the table to steady herself. Raw panic threatened to eat her alive because she had never felt so dizzy before. Dizziness was not something she suffered from, so what was causing it? Oh, dear heaven—was it possible that she could be pregnant? How likely was it that she would get symptoms so soon? She scolded herself for overreacting, but the fear she had kept below the surface of her mind for the past few days was now out in the open. Unfortunately it would be another week before she could put that fear to rest.

‘I’ll be in Morocco mid-week. I have a house in the High Atlas mountains. It’s very private and peaceful,’ Giannis advanced levelly. ‘Why don’t you let me fly you out to join me for a couple of days?’

‘Morocco?’ Maddie was astonished by the invitation.

‘You said you wanted to get to know me, glikia mou.’ Giannis drawled, honey-soft. ‘It would be the perfect opportunity.’

In a decisive movement he set down his personal card on the table. ‘The number of my mobile phone—should you want to contact me.’

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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