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The Greek Tycoon's Love-Child
By Jacqueline Baird
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTHEODORE KADROS paid the cab driver. It was a warm June evening and he shrugged off his jacket as he walked up to the open front door of the Georgian terraced house in the centre of London Mayfair. It was a small asset in the vast family-owned international property company. The house had been used over the past few years by his sister, Anna, who was currently sharing with three other students from University College London. He had known all of the girls, but one of them, Liz, had left a month ago, and he had yet to meet her replacement.
A wry smile twisted his firm lips. The new girl was obviously not averse to partying. It was Friday night and the place was lit up like a Christmas tree, a party in full swing. He walked into the hall, hooked his jacket on the wall stand, avoided one or two couples in clinches and headed for the living room. The music was loud and the laughter louder. Anna wasn't expecting him until Monday and she was obviously making the most of her last weekend without her older brother breathing down her neck.
The way he felt at the moment, he did not blame her. After five weeks attending to business in South America he had flown into New York yesterday looking forward to spending a long weekend with his girlfriend of the past ten months, Dianne, a high-flying New York lawyer. Tired and in need of relaxation, Theo had arrived only for Dianne to give him the spiel: Where was their relationship going? Couldn't they just curl up and talk for this evening?
After a lot of talk, he had curled up eventually in the guest bedroom ... And it was Theo who'd said 'No' in the morning. He had been six weeks without her and consequently without sex. He was always monogamous as long as a relationship lasted, but, lovely as Dianne was, no way would he let her, or any woman, manipulate him using sex. The sound of wedding bells had been so loud in his head, he hadn't been able to get away fast enough.
"Theo. What are you doing here?" Anna gripped his arm, and looked up at him with shock in her brown eyes. "I wasn't expecting you until Monday."
"Have no fear," he mocked. "Carry on with the party, just make sure you keep your friends out of my suite." His sister Anna, at twenty-one, was perfectly capable of looking after herself, but at his father's insistence he was supposed to be keeping a wary eye on her. Their father was Greek and their mother Greek American and, while his mother was a modern woman, his father put great store on traditional Greek values. This was the reason Theo had been loosely based in London for the past three years and kept a room on the top floor of the house. At the family home in Athens Anna led a much more sheltered life than she did in London.
"Sure thing, bro ... " Anna resumed dancing with her partner.
Theo helped himself to a stiff whisky, and looked around the neon-lit living room ... Not his scene. A glance at his wrist-watch told him it was five minutes to midnight, but unfortunately his body clock was still on American time, and he was not ready to sleep. His hard mouth curled in a cynical smile as he pondered on the vagaries of women. The lovely Dianne in particular.
Dianne had known the score from the beginning. She was a beautiful, intelligent, career-minded lawyer, just the type he liked, and yet within a few months she had been after a wedding ring. But she had picked the wrong man with him. He was a bachelor and intended to stay that way for the foreseeable future.
He glanced around the crowded room. At the end of July Anna would be finished at university. Then the house would be converted into business premises, which had been the original intention when the family firm had bought the place. But when Anna had insisted she wanted to live in student accommodation, their father had flatly refused. This house had been a compromise between father and daughter. Still, looking around now, at the assorted party guests writhing in what looked like a mass fertility dance, Theo could understand his father's point of view.
At the same time he realised he wouldn't mind a writhing body of the female persuasion beneath his own for the night, but he wasn't into one-night stands, and certainly not with his sister's friends. It was a bit too close to home. Turning, he threaded his way through the crowd. A cup of coffee was what he needed, not more whisky, and he made his way to the kitchen.
He pushed open the door and walked in, closing it behind him. Turning, he stopped dead. In all of his twenty-eight years he had never seen anything like her ...
The woman was standing with her back to him, pouring a bottle of some garishly coloured liquid down the sink. Her hair was as black as midnight and flowed in silken waves almost to her waist. An expanse of smooth pale flesh revealed the feminine flare of her hips and a black band that only just passed for a skirt covered high, firm buttocks. And her legs ... Theo drew in a harsh breath and shoved a hand in his trouser pocket; he had not been so quickly or so shockingly aroused since he had been a testosteronefuelled schoolboy. Her legs went on for ever ... long and shapely and as pale as alabaster.
"Well, hello," he drawled throatily. He wasn't faking the huskiness in his tone; her rear view alone took his breath away as he quickly covered the space between them.
Willow dropped the bottle in the sink at the sound of the deep masculine voice and spun around. Her lips parted but no sound came out. Walking towards her was the most beautiful man she had ever seen. Tall and casually dressed in softly pleated cream trousers and a blue buttoned-down shirt, he was big and bronzed and radiated energy like an electrical storm. Straight black hair was cut in a well-groomed, if slightly long, style that gave him a raffish air.
He was every teenage romantic fantasy rolled into one. The slow, intimate curl of his lips as he smiled made her heart race out of control and her stomach flutter in the most alarming way. For a moment time stood still and she was completely disorientated.
She had read about the thunderbolt of love at first sight, but had doubted it existed. Then her eyes met his and she saw her own reflection in the dark liquid depths and knew that it was true. Her eyes widened and a frisson shivered through her body as she thought he saw through to her soul, so intense was the connection.
She heard him speak but her breath locked in her throat and she was incapable of making a response. She simply stared, excitement sizzling through her. She had never felt like this in her life before; it had to be love, she thought impulsively. What else could it be? Later, much later, she would realise her mistake ...
When the woman turned around Theo was shocked. Brilliant blue eyes blazed into his but the eyes were ringed with thick black kohl and even thicker mascara. Garish blue eye-shadow coated her heavy lids and her mouth was a gash of red. Her face, heavily covered in make-up, was a complete contrast to her pale skin tone.
Her shoulders were bare and as pale as her legs. His gaze dropped lower to the soft curve of pert breasts, which were blatantly displayed by her metallic silver bra, and lower still to her flat stomach and the indentation of her navel, which the apology for a skirt she wore could not hide. Then he saw the jewel in her belly button and he gulped. Bad makeup aside, the woman was sex on legs.
"A beautiful girl like you should not be hiding in the kitchen," he said, stopping a foot away. "I am Theo Kadros, Anna's brother, and you are ...?" He paused and held out his hand. He noticed that her eyes were even more incredibly blue close up and he thought they could not possibly be real. But right at that moment he didn't care; it was her body that was driving him crazy. As the pause lengthened she simply stared at him and he added, "Are you staying here now?" Maybe she was the new student.
"Or have I conjured you up in my imagination, a legendary Mycenaean beauty," he teased, "and you can't speak?" He smiled, her fabulous eyes widened and she blinked.
Excerpted from The Greek Tycoon's Love-Child by Jacqueline Baird Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
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