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A Passionate Surrender
By Helen Bianchin
Harlequin Enterprises LimitedCopyright © 2002 Harlequin Enterprises Limited
All right reserved.
Chapter One"Cristos." The husky imprecation held an angry silkiness as Luc Dimitriades tossed the faxed report down onto his desk.
Detailed surveillance of his wife's movements during the past nine days revealed few surprises, although one caused his eyes to narrow with contemplative suspicion.
Reflex action had him reaching for his cellphone and keying in a series of digits.
"Put me through to Marc Andreas," he instructed curtly as soon as the receptionist picked up.
"Doctor has a patient with him."
"It's urgent," he said without compunction, and identified himself. "He'll take the call."
Minutes later he had official confirmation, and his expression hardened as he reached for the inter-office phone.
Clear, concise instructions set his plan in motion, and after replacing the receiver he stood to his feet and crossed to the large plate-glass window.
The city and harbour spread out before him in splendid panorama. Sparkling blue sea, tall office buildings in varying height and design of concrete, steel and glass. Expensive two-and three-level mansions nestled between trees and shrubbery on a carved-out rock-face overlooking the inner harbour.
Small craft moored in safe anchorage dotting inlets and coves. The bustlingwater-cats and ferries vying with a huge tanker being guided by tugboats into berth. The familiar arch of Sydney's bridge, the distinctive architecture of the opera house.
It was a familiar sight. Yet today he didn't register the view. Nor the expensive furnishings, the genuine art gracing the walls of his luxurious office.
There was no pleasure of the scene evident in his broad, chiselled features, little emotion in his dark brooding gaze as he lapsed into reflective thought.
A brief marriage in his early twenties to his childhood sweetheart had ended tragically with Emma's accidental death mere months after their wedding. Grief-stricken, he'd thrown himself into work, putting in long hours and achieving untold success in the business arena.
Remarriage wasn't on his agenda. He'd loved and lost, and didn't want to lose his heart again. For the past ten years he'd enjoyed a few selective relationships ... no commitments, no empty words promising permanence.
Until Ana. The daughter of one of his executives, she'd often partnered her widowed father to various functions. She was attractive, in her mid-twenties, intelligent and she possessed a delightful sense of humour.
What was more, she wasn't in awe of him, his status or his wealth.
They'd dated a few months, enjoyed each other in bed, and for the first time since Emma's death there was an awareness of his own mortality, his accumulated wealth ... the need to share his life with one woman, have children with her, forge a future together.
Who better than Ana in the role of his wife? He cared for her, she was eminently suitable, and he could provide her with an enviable lifestyle.
The wedding had been a low-key affair attended by immediate family, followed by a few weeks in Hawaii, after which they settled easily into day-today life.
A year on, the only blight on the horizon was Celine Moore, an ex-mistress, very recently divorced and hell-bent on causing mischief.
Luc's mouth tightened into a grim line as he recalled the few occasions when Celine had deliberately orchestrated a compromising situation. Incidents he'd dealt with with skilled diplomacy and the warning to desist. Something Celine refused to heed, and her persistence became an issue Ana found difficult to condone.
Less than two weeks ago an argument over breakfast had ended badly, and he'd arrived home that evening to discover Ana had packed a bag and taken a flight to the Gold Coast.
The note she'd left him declared a need for a few days away to think things through.
Except a few days had become nine, and the latter thirty-six hours of which had resulted in unreturned calls from voice-mail and text messages left on her cellphone.
Her father, upon confrontation, swore she wasn't answering his messages either, and he had every reason not to lie.
Rebekah, her younger sister and business partner, also disavowed any knowledge of Ana's whereabouts, other than to cite a holiday resort on the Gold Coast, from which enquiries revealed Ana had checked out within a few days of registering.
Hence Luc had no hesitation in engaging the services of a private detective, whose verbal updates were now detailed in a faxed report.
Ana's actions merely confirmed Luc's suspicions. A newly leased apartment and employment weren't conducive to a temporary break.
However, he could deal with that, and numerous scenarios of just how he'd deal with it occupied his mind. Foremost of which was the intention to haul her over his shoulder and bring her home.
Something, he decided grimly, he should have done within a day or two of her leaving, instead of allowing her the distance, time and space she'd vowed so desperately to need. Yet she'd done the unexpected by attempting to cover her tracks ... without success.
Surely she couldn't believe he'd let her separation bid drag on for long?
The inter-office phone rang, and he crossed to the desk to take the call.
"The pilot is on standby, and your car is out front." Smooth efficiency came with a high-priced salary. "Petros will have a bag packed by the time you reach the house."
"Thanks." An hour later Luc boarded the private jet, sank into one of four plush armchairs, and prepared for takeoff.
Excerpted from A Passionate Surrender by Helen Bianchin Copyright © 2002 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.