The Greek Ruleby Aleka Nakis
Ambitious and beautiful Athena Lakis has one simple rule: No romance with a Greek. In theory, this tenet should be easy to keep. After all, reaching for her life long dream to own and operate a prestigious hotel on prime seaside property in Greece, she has her hands full. The major hurdle being her drop-dead gorgeous competition: Greek tycoon Alexandros Strintzaris. Alexandros has his sights set on more than just a real estate deal. He wants Athena, and he always gets what he wants. When he discovers she is the one outbidding him on the resort, will he feel the same? From a Naples ballroom, to the exotic island of Santorini, Alexandros and Athena learn when it comes to affairs of the heart, there are always exceptions to the rule.
A charming cast of secondary characters fill the book, giving the reader the flavor of Greek culture.
- CreateSpace Publishing
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.52(d)
Read an Excerpt
Athena Lakis had less than two months to learn from the best hotelier in the world. Then if everything went as planned, she wouldn't be working for someone else; she'd be doing all this for herself. It wasn't that she didn't enjoy her job. She loved it. But Athena had always dreamed of running her own empire. Now she sat opposite the man who'd agreed to make it all possible: her boss, Lucas Giardetti.
The Naples Children Charity Ball was Athena's last big project under her current position. She'd worked hard to make the event a huge success for Giardetti Worldwide Hospitality. It was the least she could do in appreciation for the opportunity they had given her. Tonight was the cherry on the whipped cream, and she wanted everything to go just right.
But as she approached the finish line, a stick poked between her rotating spokes and threatened to distract her from her goal. She froze when that very stick, in the guise of the most striking man she'd ever seen, entered her peripheral vision. Her abdomen tightened, her heart raced, and she had to work very hard to her keep breathing steady as he walked across the hotel lounge, maneuvering around the antique tables in her direction. She didn't need the disturbance of this Adonis male three hours before the fundraising ball began.
Everything was falling into place. The florist had delivered the proper shade of pink freesias, even if it had taken him three tries. She didn't care if the season for freesias in Naples was finishing, only the pink freesias would do. The 1969 Vintage Dom was now at the perfect temperature, even if upon delivery it had been two degrees too warm. They weren't spending that kind of money to drinkwarm champagne. And the maitre d'hotel had reassigned the waiter who didn't own an iron to a different function, even if she had hesitated to make the request. She didn't want the young man to lose his job. She simply didn't want him serving guests while wearing wrinkled attire.
No, this night was too important for anything to be off by a single degree. The sponsors of the Naples Children Charity appreciated the worthiness of the cause, but they also expected pampering for their great generosity.
Making a conscious effort not to look beyond the dossier she reviewed with Luca, she attempted to continue with her final report. "The guests will arrive from the south entrance between eight and nine. Cocktails will begin with--"
"Hello, my friend." Luca rose to greet the man commanding Athena's attention. Standing a handsome six-foot-two, Luca was not a small man, but the obvious confidence and physical appearance of the tall, broad stranger with the dark eyes and bright smile dwarfed her employer. "What a pleasure you could make it to Naples for the ball. It must be at least three months since we sat together for anything other than business. We have some catching up to do."
"My thoughts exactly," drawled the sexy stranger in an accent that was undeniably familiar to her. He did not wait for an introduction. Rather he took Athena's hand and gently raised it to his lips. His warm breath caressed her skin, sending a parade of tingles through her body. "I can see why you choose to work such long hours."
There was playful recognition in his eyes. He must know her, or know of her. She was curiously aware of the familiarity in his tone, but she could not remember him. Who was this man who sucked every bit of air from the lounge?
She mentally searched the evening's guest list, but the shape of his eyes and the set of his jaw did it. She knew who he was.
Drop dead gorgeous competition!
Not only was he bidding against her dream, he was soon to be related to her best friend.
Dumbfounded, she stared at her best friend's future brother-in-law and the head of Strintzaris Enterprises. She'd had no idea her boss kept the competition as a close friend.
Shifting in her seat, she waited for him to say something about the property they were both fighting for in Crete. DDGC sat atop the Strintzaris mega-empire, while she hid within the coattails of Luca Giardetti's name.
Luca smiled and made the introduction. "Alexandros Strintzaris, this is Athena Lakis. Miss Lakis chairs the consulting committee responsible for the symposium."
"I'm very pleased to finally meet you, Athena."
"Likewise." Trying unsuccessfully to retrieve her burning hand, she broadened her smile.
"Athena is a great force within Giardetti. She doesn't climb the rungs on the corporate ladder, she jumps over them."
"Ah, but what a pleasure it would be to lure her to Strintzaris Enterprises. Then, she would be our force."
Alexandros raised his eyebrows to the other man in a fun challenge and laughed. Then he turned his dark eyes in Athena's direction, and his gaze stroked every inch of her body before he spoke.
"I will have to find an offer you can't refuse. We already have ties that bind us, and now I look forward to exploring new options that will keep us connected."
The cryptic message swirled in her mind as she explored the possibilities of new options. Would these options be professional, personal, or very personal?
No, she couldn't let her mind wander into a territory where he had the upper hand. Alexandros was smooth, like a panther in disguise. And Athena hated herself for being attracted to an arrogant Greek. Even worse, to the man who'd just up the ante on her dream property and was raising the resort almost out of her reach. She needed to remain detached and professional.
"It will be a cold day beneath us before I let such an asset come your way." Luca offered comedic relief, and she attempted a nonchalant smile.
"Duly noted," Alexandros said, allowing Athena to retrieve her hand while looking from her to Luca. "I have one more industry question before we settle down to enjoy the evening."
"Anything, my friend," Luca said.
"Why the sudden interest in Greece? Not that Strintzaris minds the competition, but Giardetti's play for the property in Crete surprised me."
Holding her breath, Athena wondered how Alexandros would react to the truth. Her gaze skirted toward her boss, who didn't reveal anything more than required. Luca simply shrugged.
"We both know it has a certain appeal, good potential, and the timing is right. Now come, let's catch up." The Italian indicated a seat, inviting his friend to join them for a drink. "I'd love to put business aside for an hour or so."
Sitting back in the leather antique wing chair, Alexandros placed one long leg across his opposite knee, drawing a slight glance from Athena. This was a man very comfortable in his own skin. Warm, sun-drenched skin covered with the world's best clothing.
"My staff assures me the symposium is a great success. They are looking forward to tonight's closing festivities. And of course, I could not have missed the fundraiser you hold so dear, Luca."
Shifting in her seat, Athena interjected in a pleasant and professional voice. "We are happy to hear that, Mr. Strintzaris. Your staff is delightful, but your generosity will be the most effective tonight. The Naples Children's Charity is a worthy cause, and the funds raised this evening will be allocated toward a home for children waiting to be adopted by loving families."
"Undoubtedly, a worthy cause. I look forward to contributing in any way needed. In any way," he emphasized, causing the flame deep inside her to flare up.
When he turned back to his friend, Athena tucked a strand of hair behind her ear with uncertain hands. She couldn't decide what to make of the powerful Alexandros Strintzaris. Known for being a ruthless businessman, he was now friendly and supportive despite the recent clash of interests in the Cretan property. Alexandros' next question confused her further.
"Luca, where are we with the monetary situation? Will we need Strintzaris Enterprises to fund half the project?"
"No, no, we will save your name and influence for a different time," said Luca. "Between us, tonight will exceed the amount necessary for the home. We'll surpass our projected goals. Miss Lakis has single handedly secured the most generous donations from our industry." He awarded her a proud smile. "It seems that no one is able to refuse or minimize her requests."
"I know I never could," Alexandros added.
It was her turn to raise a mocking eyebrow and smile. "Duly noted. Now if you gentlemen will excuse me, I have a ball to attend."
Both men stood as she left the lounge.
Alexandros watched Athena's departing form, loving the way her tight suit skirt swayed with each step. His friend's hand on his shoulder guided him to sit, and Alexandros turned his attention back to Lucas.
"Something you care to discuss?" Lucas asked. "Perhaps our magnificent Miss Lakis?"
"No. I know who Miss Lakis is. I just didn't know how much more I'd like to know her." He blew out his breath with a low whistle. Letting his hands express deeper feelings, Alexandros gestured in a repetitive circular pattern while he spoke. "She is rather intriguing."
"Don't let her pretty face fool you. She's a remarkable and shrewd businessperson."
"I don't doubt that, but I was speaking more on a personal level. She has close ties to my family, yet she does not bother to contact me about a donation. I would have doubled any request she made." Alexandros motioned to the waiter for drinks.
"Give her more credit. Besides, she knew you'd be here tonight if it were necessary. Don't feel cheated. Your eyes will have their fill of her at the ball. She organized a very successful event this week, and you know that I am not very easy to please."
Luca looked directly at Alexandros and leaned forward, placing his elbow on his knees. "To answer your next question, our relationship is strictly professional."
"I know," Alexandros said, nodding his head confidently.
"And how could you be sure your sources are correct? Are your ties that strong?"
"They are," he replied as he leveled a focused gaze his friend's way. "Now stop trying to make me dance to your tune, and tell me what you have been doing with yourself. How is that lovely young bride you keep locked away at a Boston university?"
Meet the Author
Aleka invites her readers to grab a glass, pull up a chair, and let the romance roll.
Born in Athens, Greece and raised in the States, she has straddled the Atlantic, with a foot on each continent and a heart that has wings to fly between the two.
She loves to travel and does so with every excuse available. Aleka claims that blending her life passions of story telling, travel, and exotic cultures, and doing it for a living, is a dream come true. She couldn't ask for a better job!
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