From Dirt to Diamonds

From Dirt to Diamonds

by Julia James

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781459212091
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication date: 09/01/2011
Series: Harlequin Presents Series , #3014
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 501,776
File size: 427 KB

About the Author

Mills & Boon novels were Julia James’ first “grown up” books she read as a teenager, and she's been reading them ever since. She adores the Mediterranean and the English countryside in all its seasons, and is fascinated by all things historical, from castles to cottages. In between writing she enjoys walking, gardening, needlework and baking “extremely gooey chocolate cakes” and trying to stay fit! Julia lives in England with her family.

Read an Excerpt

Angelos Petrakos eased his broad shoulders in the wide–backed dining chair and reached a long–fingered hand for his wineglass. He took a mouthful of the extremely expensive vintage, savouring it. His glance flicked around the crowded, fashionable Knightsbridge restaurant, momentarily diverted from his host, with whom he was in discussion about a particular joint venture with Petrakos International.

Immediately he was aware of female eyes assessing him.

A mordant look gave a dark glint to his obsidian eyes. How much of their interest was in him and how much in his position as head of a multinational conglomerate with a range of businesses in its highly profitable portfolio?

It was a distinction his widowed father had been incapable of making. So astute in business, in building the Petrakos empire, yet his father had been targeted by one financially predatory female after another, and the youthful Angelos had been repelled by it. He'd hated to see his vulnerable father exploited, lured into loaning them money, making investments in their business affairs, or promoting their careers with his wealth and contacts. Angelos had learnt his lesson well, and so, however alluring the woman, however tempting it was to have an affair with her, he was ruthless in keeping business and pleasure scrupulously separate.

Such self–control could be irksome, but his rule was inflexible and absolute—he never allowed any beautiful and ambitious woman to take advantage of his interest in them. It was simpler and safer that way.

His gaze continued its swift sweep of the restaurant, ignoring the attempts to catch his eye, while his attention remained still attuned to what his host was saying about the complex financial structure of the deal he was proposing. Then, abruptly, his grip on his wineglass tightened. His gaze honed down between the heads of other diners to the far side of the room, to a table set against the opposite wall.

A woman, sitting in profile to him.

He stilled completely. Then slowly, very slowly, he lowered his wineglass to the table. His gaze had not moved an iota. His eyes were hard as steel. For one long, measureless moment he held his gaze immobile. Then, abruptly cutting across whatever his host had been saying, he said, 'Excuse me one moment.' His voice was terse. As hard as his eyes.

He pushed back his chair, getting to his feet, discarding his napkin on the table. Then, with a lithe, powerful tread, he headed across the restaurant.

Towards his target.

Thea lifted her glass, smiling across at her dinner partner, and took a delicate sip of her flavoured mineral water. Even though Giles was enjoying a fine vintage Chablis, she never drank alcohol herself. It was not just empty calories—it was dangerous. For a second so brief she did not register it by time the flicker of a shadow feinted over her skin. Then Giles spoke, dispelling it. 'Thea…'

His voice was tentative. She smiled reassuringly, despite the nerves which ate her inside. Please let him say it… She had worked so hard, so long for this moment, and now what she hungered for so much was almost within her reach.

'Thea—' Giles said again, his voice sounding more determined now.

And again Thea found herself willing him to continue. Please let him say it! Please!

But even as the words begged in her head she saw him pause.

A shadow fell over the table.

It was curious, Angelos found himself thinking with an abstract part of his mind, just how swiftly he had recognised her. It had been, after all, nearly five years. Yet she had been instantly identifiable in the first second his eyes had lighted on her just now. The same abstract portion of his brain felt a flicker of emotion. He dispelled it swiftly.

Of course he had recognised her. He would know her anywhere. There could be no hiding place for her.

Now, as he reached the table she was sitting at, he could just what she had done to herself. It was, he acknowledged, remarkable. His gaze rested on her. Seeing, for the moment, what she wanted the world to see.

A stunningly beautiful female. A woman to catch the breath of any man.

But then she always had been that. But not like this. Not with sleek, pale, perfect hair—styled immaculately, drawn off her face into a sculpted chignon at the nape of her neck—her make–up so subtle that it was as if she were wearing none, the shimmer of pearls at her earlobes, her couture dress the colour of champagne in tailored silk, high–cut, long–sleeved.

Almost, he laughed. Harsh, unhumorous. To see her like this—chic, elegant, soignee… A thousand miles from the way she had once looked. Five long years from that. Five long years in which to create the transformation his outward eye now saw. The illusion.

More than an illusion. A lie.

His shadow fell across her. She turned her head. And in the one microsecond that it took he saw the shock—far more than shock!—detonate in her eyes. Then it was gone. Almost he admired her. Admired her for slamming down the visor over her face, the blankness—the flawless, perfect lack of any sign whatsoever of recognition, of acknowledgement of his identity.

But admiration was not what he felt for her. What he felt for her was—

Something different. Something quite, quite different. Something that had been buried deep for five long years. Crushed like rocks under lava that had once burnt blisteringly hot and which had cooled to impenetrable basalt.

Until this moment. Out of nowhere.

His hand slid inside the silk–lined inner breast pocket of his jacket, withdrawing a card. He flicked it down on to the table in front of her.

'Call me,' he said. His voice was expressionless. His face expressionless.

Then he turned and walked away.

As he did, he reached for his mobile phone, pressing a single number. Instantly it was answered.

'The blonde. I want a full dossier on her when I get back to my suite tonight.' He paused minutely. 'And her swain.'

Then he slid the phone away and rejoined his table. His face was still expressionless.

'My apologies,' he said smoothly to his host. 'You were saying…?'

'Thea? What on earth?' Giles's upper–class accents sounded bemused.

She lifted her eyes from the card. For a moment something seemed to move in her face.

'Angelos Petrakos.' She heard Giles read out the name on the card. It came from a long, long way away. Down an endless corridor of purgatory.

Angelos Petrakos. The name speared through her mind. Five years. Five years—

She could feel shock still detonating through her. Invisible, but explosive. A destructive force she could barely endure. But endure it she must—must. It was essential. Yet she felt as if a shockwave was slamming through her, convulsing her, and all she could do was hang on—hang on with her fingernails—as its force sought to overwhelm her.

In the wake of the shockwave came another devastating force—panic. A scorching, searing heat, screaming up in her chest, suffocating her. With an effort she could scarcely bear, she crushed down the shock, the panic. Regained control. Frail—paper–thin. But there all the same, holding everything down, pinning everything down.

I can do this!

The words, gritted out into the seething maelstrom in her head, were called up from the depths. Familiar words—words that had once been a litany. A litany that had somehow, somehow, got her through. Got her through to where she was now. In control. Safe.

She forced herself to blink, to focus on Giles's face. The face of the man who represented to her everything that she had ever craved, ever hungered for. And he was still there—still sitting opposite her. Still safe for her.

Everything's all right—it's still all right…

Urgently, she crushed down the panic in her throat.

Giles had turned his head to look at the tall figure striding across the restaurant. 'Not the type to bother with good manners,' he said, disapproval open in his voice.

Thea felt a bubble of hysteria bead dangerously in her throat, seeking to break through her rigid, desperate self–control.

Good manners? Good manners from Angelos Petrakos? A man whose last words to me five long bitter years ago had been to call me a—

He mind slammed shut. No! Don't think. Don't remember—not for a single moment!

Giles was talking again. She forced herself to listen, to keep crushed down the storming emotions ravaging inside her with sick, sick terror. To deny, utterly, what had just happened. That Angelos Petrakos—the man who had destroyed her—had just surfaced out of nowhere, nowhere, like a dark, malignant demon.

Panic clawed again in her, its talons like slashing razors.

'Perhaps he wants to engage you,' Giles said, looking back across at her. 'Seems an odd way to go about it, though. Extremely uncivil. Anyway…' his voice changed, sounding awkward, self–conscious suddenly …no need for you to accept any more bookings—well, that is if you— Well, if you—'

He cleared his throat.

'The thing is, Thea,' he resumed, 'what I was going to say before that chap interrupted was—well, would you consider—?'

He broke off again. Inside Thea the claws stopped abruptly. A stillness had formed. She couldn't move. Nor breathe.

For a moment Giles just looked at her—helpless, inarticulate. Then, with a lift of his chin, and in a voice that was suddenly not hesitant or inarticulate, but quiet and simple, he said, 'Would you, my dear Thea, consider doing me the very great honour of marrying me?'

She shut her eyes. Felt behind the lids tears stinging.

And everything that was storming in her brain—the shock, the panic, the terrified clinging of her fingernails to stop herself plunging down, down, down into the engulfing depths that she could feel trying to overwhelm her—suddenly, quite suddenly, ceased.

She opened her eyes. Gratitude streamed through her. Profound and seismic relief.

'Of course I will, Giles,' she answered, her voice soft and choked, the tears shimmering in her eyes like diamonds. Relief flooded through her. A relief so profound it felt like an ocean tide.

She was safe. Safe. For the first time in her life. And nothing, no one, could touch her now.

As the terror and panic drained out of her in the sweet, blessed relief of Giles's proposal, she almost twisted her head to spear her defiance across the room—to slay the one man in the world she had cause to loathe with all her being. But she wouldn't do it. She wouldn't give him the satisfaction of knowing that he even registered in her consciousness. Whatever malign quirk of fate had brought him here tonight, it had allowed him to witness—even if he had no idea it was happening!—a moment of supreme achievement in her life.

A hard sliver of satisfaction darted in her mind. All the shock and the panic she had felt were gone now—completely gone. Unneeded and unnecessary. Instead there was now thin, vicious satisfaction. It was fitting—oh, so fitting!—that he should be here, in the moment of her life's grateful achievement, when he had nearly, so very nearly, destroyed her life.

But I wouldn't let him! I clawed my way back and now I'm here, and I've got everything I've wanted all my life! So go to hell, Angelos Petrakos! Get out of my life and stay out for ever!

Then, casting him away with her damnation, she gazed into Giles's eyes. The eyes of the man she was going to marry.

On the far side of the room Angelos Petrakos's eyes were bladed like knives.

* * *

The rest of the evening passed in a blur for Thea. Gratitude and relief were paramount, but she also knew that there were still grave difficulties ahead of her. She was not—how could she be?—the ideal bride for Giles. But she knew how hard she would work to succeed as his wife—a wife he would never regret marrying, that even his parents would accept as well. She would not let them down. Nor Giles. For what he was giving her was beyond price to her. And she would not risk him regretting it.

And I can do it! I remade myself out of what I was—and I can make myself a suitable wife for Giles! I can!

Resolution surged through her. Giles deserved the very best of her, and she would not stint in her efforts to get it right for him. I'll learn how to do it, she vowed, as she listened to Giles telling her more about Farsdale, the ancestral pile in Yorkshire he would inherit one day.

'Are you sure you want to take it on?' he asked doubtfully. 'It's a bit of a monstrosity, you know!'

She smiled fondly. 'I'll do whatever it takes—I only hope I won't let you down.'

'No!' he answered quickly, taking her hand. She felt warmth go through her. 'You'll never do that! You'll be the most beautiful and wonderful Viscountess we've had in the family!'

Angelos stood, hands curved over the cold metal balustrade of the roof terrace of his London apartment, and gazed out over the river, flowing darkly far below. The darkness of the Thames was shot with gold and scarlet—reflected lights from the buildings either side of its wide expanse. From the penthouse terrace he could see the city stretching far in all directions.

A vast, amorphous conurbation—cities within cities— physically contiguous but socially isolated from each other as if there were stone walls and barbed wire fences between them. The London that he inhabited when he visited the city was the one that had the highest fence around it, the thickest walls, keeping out those who did not qualify for entrance. The London of the rich.

Many wanted to get in—few succeeded. The failure rate was steep, the odds stacked heavily against them. Passports hard to come by.

Money was one passport—the main one. Those whose endeavours made them sufficient money could gain entry. But sometimes money was not essential, not necessary. Sometimes—Angelos's eyes darkened to match the inky water far below—other attributes would do it.

Especially if you were female.

His hands tightened over the balustrade.

The time–honoured method.

That was what she had used.

He exhaled slowly. He gave an impatient hunching of his shoulders. Well, of course she would! What else did she have?

The cynical twist of his mouth deepened. Only now she wanted more than she had wanted once from him. In the years since then her ambitions had soared—as the dossier he'd ordered showed glaringly.

The Hon. Giles Edward St John Brooke—only son of the fifth Viscount Carriston, principal seat Farsdale, Yorkshire. The Hon. Giles has been a regular escort for the subject at a wide variety of social events over the last year. It is a relationship rumoured in the gossip columns to be potentially one of matrimony, but with the speculative impediment that the Viscount and Viscountess might not approve, preferring a more traditional wife for their heir.

The final phrase echoed in Angelos' head. .a more traditional wife. His mouth thinned.

Had they had her investigated, being concerned for their son? If so, they would have found only what his own security team had found.

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From Dirt to Diamonds 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Gailous More than 1 year ago
This is the worst book I have read from this author. Every other books that she has written got a 5 star
rhonda1111RL More than 1 year ago
Its a romance novel. Thea is hoping that Giles was about to ask her to marry him. Her dream that she has worked hard for. Before Giles could get the question out Angelos's came up to their table and rudely gave Thea his card and said, "Call me"Then went back to his table. Giles said how rude and finally got the question out. Thea said,"yes" When Angelos did not recieve the call next day he went to her apartment with his bodyguard, He bullyed his way in and threatened her with the name Kat. Angelos told Thea that unless she broke off with Giles he would tell him all about Kat and her real past. Angelos wanted Thea to come stay with him at his hotel so Giles would believe that she chose Angelos from her past instead of Giles. Angelos's is a greek tycoon who five years ago almost hired Kat to do a modleing job for his company. Angelos never mixed business with pleasure so he dropped Kat from the modleing job so he could persue her. Kat was excited to hear she got the job because she could start getting more work and get a real apartment. She was raised by the state after she turned 18 she found out that her mom was a drug addict was taken from her. Her grandmother was an acholic so state took her mom away and they both paid for their addictions with prostution and did not know the fathers. Kat swore to not be like them so no drugs,sex or drinking. Then Mike came and threatened her that he knew she was getting the job and she had to pay him what ever she got or he would cut her face like he did cut her friend. Mike had been following her around and she had not realized it. Kat was really scared and then she found out that after all she was not hired. So Kat went to Angelos's hotel room to beg for her job back with Mike outside waiting for something. Angelos almost got her to say for job she would have sex with her but told her that she was a whore and he never mixed business with pleasure to get out. He was angry. Kat was furious and scared and saw watch by her and took it to pay Mike. Before Kat got out of hotel cops came and took her to jail. Before Kat was thinking well at least she was safe from Mike now. When other cops were talking about bad accident that killed the motorcycle rider Mike. Kat than told cops that Angelos had given her the watch as payment than changed his mind and gave the cops the watch. So because she had witness that Kat was in the room as a guest of his it was he said she said deal they were not arresting her. Angelos was mad so he got her fired from modeling agency, fired from day job even kicked out of room she rented. He took what little she had away. All Kats hope and dreams. Then She started over as Thea and modeled out of Manchester instead of London and got more refined and learned more social skills and got some success. Almost Married and on her way to be next wife of a Viscount. Then Angelos came back. to take that away. Thea did break with Giles and went with Angelos to switerland but she still did not drink,drugs or sex. Thea tried to ignore Angelos, but they became closer and closer. More misunderstandings till things resolved. I was entertained with it. I was given this ebook in exchange for honest review.
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derma7 More than 1 year ago
I loved this book.The author is definitly a woman. I won't say any more ,read this book!!!
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