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"Dr. Savakis? Thank you for seeing me at the end of your busy day. When Dr. Creer, my doctor in Philadelphia, told me I was pregnant with twins, no one could have been more surprised than I was. You wouldn't know that since my last visit to you before I left Athens, I filed for divorce. It will be final in a few days."
Her fertility doctor shook his balding head. "After such a joyous outcome, what a pity, Mrs. Petralia. I remember how excited you both were to know your allergy problem didn't have to interfere with your ability to conceive. Now that you're pregnant, I'm extremely sorry to hear this news."
No one could be sorrier than she was, but she didn't want to discuss it. "I still need to tell my husband, but it isn't the kind of thing he should hear over the phone. That's why I'm here in Greece for a few days."
"I wanted to pay you a visit to let you know the procedure worked. After all we went through together, naturally I wanted to give you my personal thanks." Her voice caught. "It's been a dream of mine to have a baby. Despite my failed marriage, I'm ecstatic over this pregnancy. Leandros will be thrilled, too. As you know, his first wife died carrying their unborn child, and he lost them both. Without your help, this miracle would never have happened."
She should have gone to Leandros first with the news, but decided that by coming to their doctor to tell him her marriage was over, it would make the divorce more real somehow and help her to face Leandros.
Dr. Savakis eyed her soberly through his bifocals. "I'm glad for you and pleased you phoned to see me. How are you feeling?"
"Since the doctor prescribed pills that help my nausea, I'm much better."
He smiled. "Good. You'll need to take extra care of yourself now."
"I know. I plan to, believe me."
"As long as you're here, I have information that might interest you at some later date."
"What is it?"
"More medical research has been done on your condition. Did your doctor tell you?"
"No. I've only seen him once."
"He'll no doubt discuss this with you during one of your appointments with him."
Kellie thought about all the anguish she'd been through hoping to get pregnant. "It doesn't matter now. I'm going to have my hands full raising my twins."
"Nothing could make me happier in that regard. But you need to keep in mind what I'm telling you for the future. You're only twenty-eight. In time you could find yourself remarried and wanting another child."
She shook her head. "No, Dr. Savakis. That part of my life is over." Though they hadn't been able to make their marriage work, Leandros had spoiled her for other men. He'd been the great love of her life. There would never be another.
"You say that now, but one never knows what the future will bring."
"II appreciate that," she stammered, "but I can't think about anything else except raising my children."
"I understand," he said kindly. "If you have any problems while you're here in Athens, call me. There's a Dr. Hanno on staff here who's an OB and works with high-risk patients. If you're going to be in Greece for any length of time, I'd advise you to call him and make an appointment for a checkup. Tell him I referred you. And don't forget. I'm always at your disposal."
"Thank you, Dr. Savakis. You've been wonderful. I want you to know I'll always be grateful."
Kellie left his office in the medical building attached to the hospital and took a taxi back to the Civitel Olympic Hotel in central Athens. She was exhausted and hungry. Tomorrow morning she'd approach her soon-to-be ex-husband, wherever he happened to be. Her breath caught just thinking about seeing him again. It was better for her mind not to go there.
Once she had dinner in her room, she'd phone her aunt and uncle to let them know she'd arrived safely.
It was after eleven at night when the door connecting Leandros's office with his private secretary's opened. Everyone had gone home six hours go. It was probably one of the security guards, but he still resented the interruption.
He looked up to discover his sister-in-law on her way in with a tray of food in hand.
A scowl broke out on his face. "What are you doing here, Karmela?"
"Mrs. Kostas told me you'd be working through the night to get ready for your mysterious trip. Is it true you're leaving in the morning?"
"That's not your concern."
"I thought you'd like a cup of coffee and some sandwiches to help you stay awake." She put it on his desk.
"You should have gone home with everyone else. I'm not hungry and need total quiet to work through these specs."
"Well, I'm here now." She grabbed a sandwich and sank into one of the chairs near his desk to eat. "Don't be grumpy. I worry about you. So do Mom and Dad. They've tried to get you to come to dinner, but you keep turning them down."
"I've been busy."
"Where are you going on your vacation?"
"I'm family, remember? I like to do things for you."
"You need to lead your own life. I appreciate the coffee, but now you have to go."
She didn't budge. "You shouldn't have married Kellie. She wasn't good enough for you, you know."
His hands curled into fists. Before Kellie had shut the door on him in Philadelphia, she'd expressed the same sentiment to him. He'd been crushed that she would even think such a thing, let alone say it to his face.
But for Karmela to dare speak her mind like this made him furious. She was never one to worry about boundaries. His first wife, Petra, had warned him about it and had asked him to overlook that flaw in her sister.
Unfortunately, tonight Karmela had stepped over a line he couldn't forgive. Something wasn't right with his sister-in-law. He recalled the times Kellie had made a quiet comment about Karmela's familiarity with him. And how many times did you brush it off as unimportant, Petralia?
He fought to control his temper, but it was wearing thin. "You've said enough."
"Ooh. You really are upset." She got up from the chair. "The only reason I came in here was to help you." Tears filled her eyes. "You used to let me when Petra was alive." Only because Petra asked me to be kind to you. "I miss her and know you do, too."
He'd had all he could tolerate. "Leave now!"
"Okay. I'm going."
"Take the tray with you." He kept the coffee.
At the door she turned to him. "How long will you be gone?"
"I have no idea. In any event, it's no one's business but mine."
"Why are you being so hurtful?"
"Why do you continually go where angels fear to tread?" he retorted without looking at her. "Good night. Lock the door on your way out."
Relieved when the sound of her footsteps faded, he got back to work. In the morning he'd call Frato and go over the most important items before he took off. His eyes fastened on the picture of Kellie that sat on his desk. He was living to see his golden-blond wife again. Though they'd both hurt each other, he'd do whatever it took to get her back.
When Kellie awakened the next morning, she was so nervous to see Leandros again, she decided it was a mistake to have come to Athens. The talk with Dr. Savakis had opened up thoughts and feelings she'd been trying to suppress.
Soon after their wedding she'd been diagnosed with a semen allergy, but the doctor had said he saw no reason why they couldn't get pregnant. She and Leandros went to their first artificial insemination appointment with such high hopes. Kellie wanted a baby with him desperately. He was eager for it, too, and had made certain his business matters didn't interfere while they went through the steps necessary for conception to work.
Leandros had been so sweet and tender with her about their situation. Like any happily married couple wanting to start a family, they'd waited for the signs that meant she had conceived. Two months into their marriage, her period came. Leandros had kissed her and loved her out of her disappointment.
"Next month," he'd whispered.
Knowing he was disappointed, too, she'd loved him back with all the energy in her, wanting to show him she wouldn't allow this to dampen her spirits. Once again they went back to the hospital, for another try, only to be disappointed the following month.
So many tries full of expectations, but each waiting period had seemed harder than the last, contributing to the problems that had slowly crept into their marriage. What bittersweet irony that now they were divorcing, she was pregnant.
After she showered and got dressed, she phoned for a breakfast tray. Halfway through her meal she panicked. What she ought to do was go right back to Pennsylvania and phone him when there were thousands of miles between them. But it would be the cowardly thing to do. Her aunt and uncle never said as much, but she knew they'd be disappointed in her if she left it to a phone call.
You have to tell him.
You can't leave it up to anyone else.
Whatever is ultimately decided about the children, he has the right to hear it from you in person.
All the voices speaking in Kellie's head finally drove her to follow through with her agenda.
She asked the front desk to phone for a taxi. In a few minutes she found herself being driven along Kifissias Avenue toward the Petralia Corporation office building in downtown Athens. When it pulled up in front, she paid the driver and got out.
After taking a deep breath, she squared her shoulders and opened the doors, where Giorgios, looking like a well-dressed prizefighter, sat at the security desk near the entry. When he saw her, he shot to his feet in surprise.
Her chocolate-brown eyes fastened on him. He was one of Leandros's bodyguards and fiercely loyal to him. "Good morning, Giorgios. It's nice to see you. Is my husband on the premises?"
"He arrived an hour ago."
The news relieved her, since she hadn't relished the thought of trying to hunt Leandros down. He could have been out of the city doing business right now. Then again, he could have been at his apartment here in Athens, or at his villa on the family estate on Andros.
"If you still want a job with him, you won't let him or Christos know I'm here," she said in fluent Greek.
His expression turned to shock before Kellie walked around his desk to the elevator located behind him. Unless Leandros made a helicopter landing on the roof after his flight from Andros Island, the elevator existed for his exclusive use when he entered or left the building from the street. For convenience sake it opened to the foyer of his private inner sanctum on the top floor. Giorgios had orders to guard it with his life.
She pressed her hand to the glass by the door, wondering if it would still recognize her code. For all she knew, Leandros had deleted it. But no, the door opened. She entered, still feeling Giorgios's stunned gaze on her before it closed.
A little over a month ago she'd left Greece, vowing never to return. But a week ago nausea had driven her to make an appointment with her doctor in Philadelphia. When he told her what was wrong with her, a transformation had taken place inside Kellie. It transcended the anguish and pain of the past year and gave her the spine she needed to face Leandros one more time.
Their divorce would soon be final. She intended for nothing to change in that regard, but since this totally unexpected contingency had arisen, it required an alteration in the documents their two lawyers had drawn up. Twenty-four hours should give Leandros's attorney enough time to take care of the necessary changes.
Kellie was desperate to catch her husband off guard; it was the only way to get through this final ordeal with him. She dreaded it, knew it would hurt, but had no other choice. For that reason she hadn't even told her best friend, Fran Meyers, she was coming.
Fran was now married to Nikolos Angelis, a good friend of Leandros's. They lived here in Athens with Nik's baby niece, Demi, soon-to-be their adopted daughter. If Nik knew of her arrival, he'd have phoned Leandros. Among the legal papers in her purse was evidence of the restraining order she'd placed on Leandros to call off her bodyguard. Yannis had been her shadow for the two years she'd been married to Leandros. But when she'd demanded a divorce, she'd drawn the line at the retired secret service agent following her to the States. Leandros had been forced to comply, with the result that he had no prior knowledge she'd flown to Athens yesterday.
As the elevator carried her skyward, Kellie planned to take care of business as quickly as possible. She knew she'd soon be on her way back home to Philadelphia, where she'd been living with her aunt and uncle for the last month. But that was about to change.
By next week she'd move her aunt and uncle from their small apartment into a lovely four-bedroom brick row home in Parkwood with her. It was a charming residential neighborhood in the far northeast corner of Philadelphia, perfect for children. She'd already put down a deposit. A new life awaited her, but first things first.
When the elevator stopped and the door opened, Kellie took a deep breath and headed through the foyer. She walked past Christos, her husband's chief bodyguard. He started to reach for his phone to warn Leandros, but she put a finger to her lips and smiled. He nodded and sat down again.
A few more steps and she reached the entrance to her husband's private suite, which was also protected by a security code. As CEO of the Petralia Corporation, which built resorts all over Greece, he was one of the most successful businessmen in the country and had been a target for crazies long before Kellie had met him.
She had no idea what she might be interrupting, but that wasn't her concern anymore. It had been on her wedding day, two years ago, when Kellie realized she had an enemy in Karmela Paulos. Karmela was the sister of Petra, Leandros's first wife, who'd been pregnant when she'd died in a plane crash. At Kellie's wedding to Leandros, the beautiful, fashionable Karmela would willingly have scratched Kellie's eyes out if she could have gotten away with it.
Fran had been Kellie's matron of honor and had witnessed the obvious fact that Karmela had hoped to become the next Mrs. Leandros Petralia. But it didn't happen, so his sister-in-law had done the next best thing by becoming indispensable to Leandros, first as a confidante to the grieving widower, who was family, and later as a secretary in his inner office, under Mrs. Kostas. With cunning, Karmela had worked her way to the top floor, where she had daily contact with him.
Combined with the stress Kellie had been under because she couldn't conceive, plus her struggle with feelings of inadequacy, the situation had grown intolerable for her. After much thought and soul-searching, she'd told Leandros she wanted a separation, and had left on a trip with Fran. But because of disastrous circumstances, it came to an abrupt end, with her friend staying in Athens to be with Nik. At that point Kellie had left for Philadelphia.