From One Night to Wife (Harlequin Presents Series)

From One Night to Wife (Harlequin Presents Series)

by Rachael Thomas

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Original)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780373133741
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication date: 08/18/2015
Series: Harlequin Presents Series , #3368
Edition description: Original
Pages: 192
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.60(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

I’ve always loved reading romance and am thrilled to now be a Presents author. I live and work on a farm in Wales, a far cry from the glamour of a Presents story, but that makes slipping into my characters’ world all the more appealing. When I’m not writing or working on the farm I enjoy photography and visiting historic castles and grand houses. Visit me at www.rachaelthomas.co.uk

Read an Excerpt

Nucos Lázaro Petrakis stood and glared out at the sparkling sea beyond the offices of Xanthippe Shipping, his self-built empire, but he didn't see any of it. The words he'd just read in a text burned into his mind. And memories of the only woman who had stirred longings for things he could never allow himself to want set his body alight.

We need to talk. Meet me on the beach tonight. Serena.

Serena James had almost got through his defensive wall, affecting him far more than he cared to admit. He'd been glad when the excuse to banish her from his life had presented itself. He hadn't heard from her since that night three months ago. She'd walked away from him without looking back, rousing memories he'd rather have forgotten, but her silence since had been a welcome relief.

He pressed his eyes shut against the image of Serena. She had been hard to forget and, judging by the way his mind raced now, he still hadn't achieved that aim. For weeks his body had longed for hers. He'd been able to see her, smell her and feel her warmth if he closed his eyes, letting his thoughts slip back. But he'd held firm to his resolution of no commitments. He'd pushed her away emotionally and physically, but hadn't been able to sever the thread of attraction completely. It remained like a web spun in the early dawn, keeping them inextricably linked.

On his return to Athens he'd thrown himself fiercely into his work and had gone after the cruise company Adonia with a ruthlessness that had made even his PA look at him in question.

He clenched his jaw against the heated memories of his time with Serena, knowing there could only be one reason for her return to Santorini, the island he'd grown up on. His eyes snapped open and he inhaled deeply. There could be no other explanation.

During the summer she had arrived on the island to research her next article, and the passionate romance they'd shared had culminated in reckless and unprotected sex on the beach. Were there now life-changing repercussions? Consequences he hadn't planned on and most definitely didn't want?

Alarm bells began to ring. Why had she had waited so long? Had she done as he'd feared and used her journalistic background and connections to find out more about him? Anger fizzed through him as he stared broodily at the view. Did Serena know he wasn't the fisherman he'd led her to believe he was simply because it had been easier that way?

Her job as a travel writer wasn't in the league of working for the national tabloids, but that didn't mean she wouldn't use a story if it presented itself. He'd been extra-careful that she didn't find out who he really was, having had enough of press speculation over his business dealings, as well as over his constant succession of female companions.

If he'd known Serena's profession before their first amazing night together he might have been able to walk away, instead of being snared by her innocence and drawn in too deep towards something he'd always resisted.

To his sceptical mind there was only one reason she was here on the island, demanding to see him instead of simply calling. After believing she was different from all the other women he'd dated, she'd proved him wrong. She was here to use his wealth in order to secure her future and it couldn't have come at a worse time. His deal for Adonia Cruise Liners could be lost if her story got out.

He swore aggressively, but the words did not ease the suspicion that filled him. Irritated, he marched from the windows to his desk, stabbing at the buttons on the phone. The calm enquiry of his PA cut through the rage of his emotions and he forced them back under control. How could Serena ruffle his equanimity so spectacularly even when she wasn't in his company?

'Organise my plane. I need to go to Santorini this afternoon.'

The Greek words were fluid and assertive as control flooded through him once more, but his anger towards Serena and the situation didn't abate. Suspicion surfaced again. Why had she chosen now to come back? What did she want?

Did she know he was in the final and delicate negotiation stages of acquiring a cruise company? Expanding his shipping beyond freight and into the world of luxury cruises? It would make him CEO of the biggest shipping company in Greece. He didn't need the added complications she might bring with her. Not now—not ever.

Despite the looming deal, his mind was drawn to back to Serena: vivacious, happy and utterly gorgeous. She'd made him want things he couldn't have. The fact that no other man had ever made love to her—that she'd given him her virginity—had complicated the issue, and he'd forced himself to say goodbye, turning his back on what they'd briefly shared. Because of his past it was impossible to make an emotional commitment—even if he wanted to. Never again would he be that vulnerable.

Nikos took a deep breath and strode to the window, watching as a large cruise liner docked with an ease belying its size. Beyond that several container ships waited on the horizon, but the familiar sense of fulfilment from seeing the reality of his hard work and dreams out at sea didn't come. Nothing before had ever taken the edge off standing at his window and looking at all he'd achieved, but right now his mind was elsewhere, unable to focus on anything other than the memory of the slender redhead who for two weeks had driven him wild with desire.

He could still see her pale face, and the green eyes that had always sparkled with life like the sea beneath the dazzling sun. Her silky hair, as red as autumn leaves, had begged his fingers to slide through it. Each smile had invited his kisses so tantalisingly.

The last words he'd said to her forged forward in his memory—as did the image of her standing on the beach, dusting sand from her clothes, her face flushed from the passion that had engulfed them so spectacularly that evening. He should have had more control, more restraint, but she'd made that impossible. Just holding her in his arms, feeling her curves against his body and her soft lips beneath his, had been too much temptation.

Had that been what she'd intended? He balled his hands into tight fists of frustration, hearing again his words that night, harsh and unyielding, breathing life into the worst scenario as he'd made his position clear.

'If there are consequences of what has just happened you will tell me.'

He'd put stern emphasis on those last words and could still see her face paling beneath his hard gaze. As she'd looked up at him the desire burning in her eyes had slipped away faster than the setting sun. He'd spoken in a stern and uncompromising tone, but with his past snapping at his heels he'd been unable to think rationally, furious that passion had got the better of him, making him break his cardinal rule of always being in control.

He couldn't blame her for running from him that night. He'd been furious at her—but mostly at himself.

Since the day she'd left he'd yearned for her, wanted her in his arms at night, but he had held firm to the resolute silence that had existed between them. As weeks had turned to months he'd hoped his fear of consequences of their night on the beach was unfounded.

Now, three months after that heated night under the stars, she was back. His heart slammed harder in his chest at the implications of her visit. She might have left it too long to tell him, and almost certainly had ulterior motives, but there was only one reason she was back and he had to face the fact.

She was carrying his child.

Serena's heart thumped hard as she waited on the beach, with the day ebbing faster than the tide. Where was Nikos? Would he come?

The rhythmic rush of the waves over the sand did little to calm her.

During her flight from London thoughts of the amazing two weeks they'd spent together had been overshadowed by her accidental discovery of Nikos's true identity only minutes before she'd boarded the plane. The man she'd fallen in love with was far from the humble fisherman he'd described himself as being all those months ago. She'd been sitting in the departure lounge and Nikos's image had flashed across the news app on her phone, with a story speculating on the Greek shipping billionaire's involvement in an aggressive takeover bid.

Nikos was a shipping billionaire?

She'd chosen to fly out to Santorini believing that he had very little money, but that he at least deserved to be given her news in person. Her shocking discovery, moments before she'd boarded her flight, had changed everything. Angry and betrayed, all she wanted now was to upset Nikos's profitable little world and turn it upside down—just as he'd done hers.

As she stood on the beach the bravado she'd built up during the flight threatened to desert her. He would know exactly why she was here, but it didn't make what she had to tell him any easier—whoever he was. He didn't want 'consequences', as he had so nicely put it, and of that she was certain.

The tiny stirrings of hope she'd allowed to grow…that they might have a future together…had been crushed completely. A man like Nikos—a billionaire—would most certainly wash his hands of her.

Instinctively she placed her palm protectively over her stomach and the new life within. What if Nikos didn't come? She'd wanted him to acknowledge that their passionate holiday affair had resulted in pregnancy. Now she wasn't so sure. Did she want a man like that in her life? In her child's life?

How could he have deceived her? She despised liars, having lived in the shadow of lies all her life.

She scoured her memory for that last night on the island. The gentle, loving fisherman she'd fallen in love with had changed drastically, showing a new and unfamiliar side, when he'd realised what might come of their spontaneous lovemaking.

It should have been just a goodbye kiss—one she could keep in her memory when she'd returned to her life in England. She'd known he didn't want more, and had accepted it, wanting to experience love for the first time in the arms of a man who demanded nothing—the man she loved. But they'd both lost control as passion had claimed them, neither caring about anything other than the desire that had raged between them like wildfire, engulfing everything in its path.

A flurry of panic rose up again. She hadn't told anyone yet—not even her family. She couldn't bear to see their reactions, knowing she'd let them down. Her sister knew of her brief romance with Nikos, but she hadn't found the courage to tell her about the baby—not now, with all of Sally's IVF problems.

' Serena.'

She closed her eyes as she heard his voice behind her, deep and heavily accented. She couldn't turn yet. The wretchedness she felt would surely be in her eyes. Either that or her love for him might still shine through, and that was something she just couldn't let him see. Not after the way he'd cut her out of his life because of a mistake in the making, made by both of them.

A mistake. She hated that word. She'd lived with it hanging over her all her life. She was one of those—a mistake that had taken her parents by surprise. Forcing them to reconcile their differences and remain married.

'Serena,' he said again, and touched her arm.

She couldn't avoid the moment any longer. Her breath caught in her throat and somersaulting butterflies took flight in her stomach.

She was more nervous than she'd ever been in her life as she turned to face him, desperate to keep her voice calm. 'I had almost given up on you.'

Was that wobbly whisper really her voice? She must stay strong. Her unbalanced emotions couldn't get the better of her—not now. But as she moved back from his touch she questioned if she could go through with this. Was she doing the right thing? Should she even have come here?

Nikos moved closer to her, forcing her to look up at him, and when she did she could hardly suppress a gasp of surprise. His blue eyes, so uncharacteristic for a Greek man, weren't the colour of a summer sky, as she remembered them, but icy cold. He'd changed. This was a very different man from the one she'd fallen in love with. And it wasn't only the smart clothes he now wore instead of the tatty work jeans she'd always seen him in.

He was still tall, dark haired, with angled features, but each angle looked harsher, and his lips were set in a don't-mess-with-me line of rigidness.

'Sorry I had business to attend to.'

'You look…' She paused as she struggled to find the right word, completely taken aback by his unyielding aura. His deceit, and the enormity of what she was about to announce made small talk almost impossible. The next few minutes would affect the rest of her life and she almost faltered, but bravely pushed on. 'You look very smart—very much the businessman.'

His brows lifted in surprise and she thought she saw a hint of anger in the blue depths of his eyes. There was hardly a trace of the man she'd laughed and loved with for the duration of her holiday three months ago—the man she had given much more than just her heart to. This was the real Nikos.

'I may have been brought up a simple fisherman, but that doesn't mean I have to stay that way.'

The sharpness of his words made her blink, and again she took a step backwards, the sand shifting beneath her feet. She glanced around the now deserted beach in a desperate attempt to avoid that stern glare.

He wasn't making it easy for her. It was obvious from his irritation that he knew why she was here—why she'd sought him out after he'd so cruelly ended their two weeks of romance. He was toying with her, forcing her to tell him.

'Do you know why I'm here?'

She hated the way her words trembled, and resisted the urge to hug her arms about herself in an attempt to protect herself from his anger. Whatever else she did, she had to remain strong.

He didn't take his gaze from her face. She stood firm, refusing to be intimidated as his cold words rose above the rush of the waves.

'You should have done this about two months ago.'

Each matter-of-fact word lacerated her heart, almost annihilating the love for him she'd carried in her heart since she'd left the island. Each carefully spoken word proved she had been nothing more than a convenient amusement.

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From One Night to Wife 1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is rediculous. Couldn't make it part ch 4 because Serrena has NO back bone what so ever. I'm literally raging on the inside bc she's allowing him to push her around.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just no