The Greek Tycoon's Revenge, страница 1
“You agree to be my mistress for one year, exclusively mine,” he emphasized.
She understood, all right. One year in his bed; it was blackmail, pure and simple. Well, maybe not so pure…
“At the end of that time, I will give you the evidence of the fraud and cancel your debt,” Marcus went on.
“I would prefer to pay back the money my mother stole.” Eloise accented the word. “Not me,” she added forcibly. She was not admitting a guilt she was not responsible for.
“That is not an option.” But Marcus had to give her points for trying. She looked so defiant, her green eyes blazing, and infinitely desirable.
They’re the men who have everything—except a bride…
Wealth, power, charm—what else could a heart-stoppingly handsome tycoon need? In the GREEK TYCOONS miniseries you have already been introduced to some gorgeous Greek multimillionaires who are in need of wives.
Now it’s the turn of favorite Presents® author Jacqueline Baird with her passion-filled romance THE GREEK TYCOON’S REVENGE.
Where Marcus Kouvaris demands that Eloise become his mistress for a year…
THE GREEK TYCOON’S REVENGE
‘I’M NOT even going to get to first base, am I, honey?’
Eloise’s luscious lips parted over even white teeth in a stunning smile, her green eyes sparkling with amusement. ‘No, Ted. You’re not.’ She shook her head, her red-gold hair swaying gently around her slender shoulders, and not being able to stop herself, she laughed out loud at the exaggerated woebegone expression on her companion’s face.
‘I knew it. When your luck is out, it’s out,’ Ted Charlton stated in his deep American drawl. ‘But what the hell? Eloise you’re a great companion, and we can still talk—more than I could ever do with my ex-wife, that’s for sure.’
Ted had told her over the meal that he was in the process of getting divorced for the third time as his wife had run off with a younger man, and Eloise felt sorry for him. Probably about fifty, he was no Adonis, but his personality and wit more than made up for his homely appearance.
‘You certainly can,’ Eloise teased him. ‘I think I know your life story from high school.’
‘Heaven forbid—I am boring you.’
Bravely she reached out and placed her hand on his arm. ‘No truly, you’ve led such a fascinating life. I hope I have even half as much fun.’
‘A beautiful talented girl like you, the world is your oyster. It gives the old ego a boost simply to be seen out with you, and if I can help you in any way I can, I will.’
It wasn’t a cast-iron contract to invest in KHE, the jewellery design company she shared with her two friends, Katy and her husband Harry, but it was almost as good as, Eloise thought happily.
‘That’s very kind of you.’ She beamed at her companion. She had never dined with a prospective investor in her life, and she would not have been doing it now, except Katy—who was seven and a half months pregnant—had not been feeling well. Harry, who looked after the business side of things, wanted to stay at home with his wife, but had arranged a dinner with Ted Charlton, and so Eloise had been railroaded into taking his place.
‘Not kind; it’s just common sense. You and your friends really have something; in a few years I can see KHE jewellery boutiques in every capital in the world.’
Eloise laughed out loud. ‘Now you’re exaggerating.’ She was glad she had taken Harry’s place; the evening was a success and the relief was enormous, both business-wise and personally…
She hadn’t wanted to come. Dinner dates and dancing were not her scene. The flimsy top she was wearing was not hers, but Katy’s. Eloise’s preference was for casual trousers and baggy shirts, but surprisingly Ted Charlton had somehow put her at her ease, and she was amazed to realise she was actually enjoying herself.
‘Maybe,’ Ted said, rising to his feet. ‘But how about you to take a chance on my old bones and dance with me? We can leave the business details until tomorrow, with your astute Harry around to dot the i’s and cross the t’s.’
For a split second she hesitated; then, rising to her feet, Eloise took his outstretched hand. ‘Sure thing, Ted,’ she said in an appalling attempt at an American accent and they were both laughing as they moved around the small dance floor in each other’s arms.
Marcus Kouvaris leant back against the bar, a glass of whisky in his hand, and slid his other hand into the pocket of his trousers. The stunningly attractive blonde at his side immediately slipped her arm through his, allowing her small breasts to press against him. He flicked her a knowing, sensuous smile. They both knew where the evening would end—in bed… Nadine was a top model and a more experienced sexual athlete he had yet to meet: and he needed the relief. Marcus took a sip of his whisky and frowned.
He’d spent a great deal of the past twelve months at his villa on the Greek island of Rykos, keeping a protective eye on his Aunt Christine, his late mother’s sister, and her daughter Stella, who had their permanent home there. He’d been trying to give them the comfort and support they needed after the tragic death of their husband and father, Theo Toumbis, in a car crash. Unfortunately it had seriously curtailed his sex life, and celibacy was not his style.
He was in London for a few days on private business. But he intended to bed the very willing Nadine every night, though he was far too wary a male to let her know that. Marcus took another swallow of the amber nectar, glanced idly around the room, and stilled.
It could have been a couple of frozen peas rubbing against his arm for all the effect Nadine’s breasts had on him. His teeth clenched and his dark eyes narrowed in angry recognition on the couple seated at the table on the other side of the dance floor. The man he dismissed with a fleeting glance. But the female…the female was Eloise…innocent, virginal Eloise, who blushed when a man so much as looked at her!
As Marcus watched, he saw the girl lean forward and place a hand on the much older man’s arm, and smile up at her companion.
Marcus’s firm lips curved in a hard cynical smile; it confirmed what his informant had told him. Eloise was certainly her mother’s daughter…the mother who had conned his Uncle Theo out of a great deal of money with Eloise’s assistance. The reason Marcus was in London was to gain recompense for his aunt and cousin.
The money was not important to him with his wealth; supporting his aunt and cousin didn’t even dent his finances. But it was a matter of principle. Nobody stole from him or his family and walked away free.
On a more personal level he harboured a nagging doubt that Eloise had played him for a sucker with her professed virginity. He’d respected her innocence and restrained himself to some light kisses the last time they met, only to have her disappear without a word. Nobody made a fool of Marcus Kouvaris and got away with it…
His dark eyes narrowed on the object of his thoughts. Eloise, if anything, was even more beautiful than she had been at nineteen, and when she rose to her feet his dark eyes trailed over her in a blatant male appreciation. Her upper body was clad in a gold camisole that revealed the creamy mounds of her breasts, before slipping into the waistband of a long black crepe skirt, demure in its slightly flared style until she moved. Then an enticing length of leg was exposed by the subtle slit in one side. A gold belt heightened the whole elegant
He felt an instant stirring in his groin and it had nothing to do with the woman he was with. His dark eyes narrowed angrily. Dammit! But Eloise was some woman. The epitome of femininity, she moved with an instinctive grace, and when she smiled her incredible green eyes glowed, and further highlighted the pale, almost translucent skin that contrasted so stunningly with the fiery red hair.
Five years! Instinctively the hand in his pocket curved into a fist, his fingers tingling. He could remember as if it were yesterday the silken softness of her skin, the feel of her in his arms, and his body hardened further. He tore his gaze away from Eloise and looked at her companion. He recognised the man from the financial papers. Ted Charlton, a wealthy American entrepreneur who had recently parted from his wife.
A thunderous frown creased his smooth brow. Marcus had intended giving Eloise the benefit of the doubt; she had been very young and probably under her mother’s influence. The report lying on the desk in his penthouse suite stated that KHE was a small but successful jewellery design company with a lot of potential. Reading it, Marcus had no doubt KHE was the same company his Uncle Theo had thought he was investing in, Eloise by Design. It was the same business plan and one of the same partners that had signed the contract with Theo five years ago. Eloise Baker! Even so, Marcus had been prepared to negotiate the repayment of Theo’s investment from profits in a businesslike manner. But seeing Eloise dancing and laughing with the older man filled him with such fury, he changed his mind.
Marcus Kouvaris had never suffered from jealousy in his life and consequently did not recognise the emotion. But suddenly he was wishing he hadn’t dismissed the investigator he had hired to find Eloise quite so finally over the telephone. The man had called him in Greece a couple of weeks ago, and said he had found Eloise, who turned out not to be Chloe’s sister, but her daughter. He’d given Eloise’s address in London and the name of her company. Marcus had asked if Eloise was guilty of any other frauds, and the detective had drawled she was as pure as the driven snow, with a rather nasty laugh at the end of it.
When the detective had asked if he should forward the personal file he had on Eloise, Marcus had told him to bin it. He only needed Eloise’s address. He couldn’t admit even to himself, he didn’t like the idea of reading a list of her lovers.
Now he decided it was time to do some investigation of his own into the elegant Eloise, and he smiled with malice as he watched the pair.
Held comfortably in the arms of her companion, Eloise glanced around. The supper club, in the heart of London’s Mayfair, was the latest in place to dine. The food and service were superb, the lighting discreet, the women beautiful, and the men wealthy. She gave a contented sigh as Ted led her expertly around the small dance floor. She had conquered a personal fear, and unless she was very much mistaken Ted Charlton was going to invest in their company.
‘Don’t look now,’ Ted said softly, close to her ear. ‘But there’s a man standing by the bar who’s been watching you like a hawk for the past few minutes, and is now looking daggers at me.’
Of course Eloise did look. Immediately her green eyes clashed across the crowded room with narrowed black. For a long moment she was incapable of looking away. Her heart made a crazy leap in her chest. ‘Oh,’ she gasped, and stumbled.
Marcus tilted his arrogant head back, and arched one perfectly formed brow apparently in query, then slowly allowed his gaze to roam over her slender body with studied masculine appraisal, before returning to her face, his eyes widening in supposedly surprised recognition. His expressive features relaxed; a slow sensual smile parted his firm lips as he lifted his glass towards Eloise in acknowledgement of her presence.
Ted’s arm tightened protectively around her waist, just as the music stopped. ‘You know him?’ he asked as he turned her away from the stranger and led her back to the table.
‘You could say that.’ Eloise picked up her champagne glass, with a hand that shook, and drained it before replacing it on the table. She tried to smile but her composure had taken a heck of a jolt. ‘I met him in Greece on holiday years ago, but I haven’t seen him since.’
‘A holiday romance?’ Ted prompted.
‘Yes.’ She sighed. ‘I suppose it was.’ She hadn’t thought so at the time. She’d thought he was the love of her life. He was the first man Eloise had ever had a crush on—the only man, she silently admitted. They had met thrice, and then he had to leave suddenly to visit his ailing father, and she’d returned to England, and had never heard from him again. Perhaps it was just as well, as when her mother had explained Marcus Kouvaris was a financial wizard who had made a fortune from the technology boom and, unlike some, had hung on to it, and made more, Eloise knew he was well out of her reach.
‘Eloise. It is Eloise Baker?’ The deep, slightly accented voice was instantly recognisable, and slowly she lifted her head.
Eloise could feel the colour rise in her cheeks as involuntarily her green eyes flickered over his tall, broad-shouldered frame. Older, but he was still as incredibly attractive as ever. Thick black hair, olive-toned skin, with perfectly symmetrical features, a firm jaw and a smile guaranteed to make any woman melt…
‘Eloise, yes,’ she confirmed with a tentative smile. ‘But Smith, not Baker,’ she corrected him without thinking. At least he had remembered her first name, if not her second; that was some consolation given he was notorious for the number of women he dated.
‘Smith, of course, but it has been a long time,’ Marcus said smoothly. Without realising it Eloise had admitted she’d lied. His gaze swept over her, her eyes were the green of the finest emeralds. Her cheeks were streaked with a becoming shade of pink, innocence personified.
Marcus’s belly knotted. He couldn’t recall ever being this angry with anyone in his life, and it took all his formidable willpower to stop himself dragging her by the glorious red hair from her seat and throttling her with it. But instead, using all his considerable charm, he added, ‘Though you don’t look a day older, and if it is possible even more beautiful than you were at nineteen.’
Eloise could feel her face burning even brighter at his open flattery. ‘Thank-you,’ she mumbled and, tearing her gaze away from his dark compelling eyes, she finally noticed the blonde hanging on his arm.
‘Allow me to introduce my friend,’ Marcus said coolly, catching the direction of her gaze. ‘Nadine, this is Eloise, an old friend of mine, and her companion…’ Marcus turned his attention to the older man watching the exchange with astute blue eyes. ‘Ted Charlton, I believe. We haven’t been introduced but—’ and he mentioned some financial article, and the two men shook hands.
Eloise took the slender limp hand Nadine offered her, and wasn’t surprised at the other woman’s cold smile. If Eloise had been on a date with Marcus, she would not have wanted company either. She could still remember how he had affected her five years ago and how heart-broken she had been when her mother insisted they had to leave the villa on Rykos before Marcus had returned to the island.
Eloise had left a note with her address in England for Marcus with the maid. She had lived in hope for over a year that he would contact her again, but then circumstances changed her attitude and she stopped wondering and waiting for him; she had bigger things to worry about.
‘Join us for a drink.’ Ted made the conventional offer.
‘Some other time, perhaps,’ Nadine cut in before Marcus could speak and, linking her arm firmly through the tall Greek’s, she smiled. ‘Your friends have already eaten, Marcus, and I am starving. You did promise me dinner.’ She pouted, her long red fingernails stroking down the sleeve of his jacket. ‘For starters,’ she purred.
Eloise suppressed a grimace of distaste at Nadine’s obvious seduction technique.
‘Nadine, darling, I’m sure you can wait a while.’ He smiled at his girlfriend, but the tone of his voice warned her not to argue.
Seats were pulled
‘To old friends.’ Marcus raised his glass and looked directly at Eloise. Her eyes met and fused with his and for a moment she was transported back in time to a Greek island, and her heart raced again as it had then, the first time they’d met.
‘And hopefully new ones,’ Marcus continued, addressing Ted.
They all touched glasses, and Eloise took a hasty swallow of the sparkling liquid. She was shocked at the rush of awareness simply being in Marcus’s company had aroused in her. She had thought herself over him long ago, and she was grateful for Nadine’s timely contribution to the sudden silence.
‘Marcus and I have known each other for almost two years and he has never mentioned you. So when did you meet him?’ Nadine demanded, her gimlet eyes fixed on Eloise.
‘I was on holiday with my m…sister, Chloe,’ she stammered, feeling the colour rise in her face. ‘We had rented a villa on the island of Rykos in Greece. Chloe was a friend of Marcus’s Uncle Theo, who was the developer and had built the villa along with five others. When we held a pool party Theo brought Marcus along to the party and we…’
Marcus almost snorted in disgust. ‘How is your sister?’ he cut in abruptly. The detective he had hired had taken almost a year to unravel Chloe Baker’s various names, before discovering the woman had never had a sister but a daughter with the name of Smith. Probably the most common surname in the English language…
Eloise glanced across the table at Marcus. Hooded dark eyes hard as steel stared back at her. Did he know she’d lied all those years ago? But her mother had insisted she called her Chloe, and pretend to be sisters. At thirty-six, Chloe was not going to admit to having a grown-up daughter, and Eloise had agreed. Or was he frightened she would tell his girlfriend all the details of their brief romance? He must really care for Nadine.