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'I thought the meeting earlier with Senator Ashcroft's aide went well
Markos Lyonedes took one last look at the late afternoon New York skyline from the eightieth-floor window of his office before turning to look at his PA, his expression rueful. 'Yes?'
Gerry gave him a quizzical glance as he stood on the other side of the imposing mahogany desk. 'Didn't you?'
Markos moved back into the spacious room. His dark suit was tailored to fit perfectly across muscled shoulders and chest, lean waist and long, powerful legs. He honed that fitness at the moment with early-morning runs in one of New York's parks. Aged thirty-four, he was a couple of inches over six feet, with dark, slightly over-long hair, and shrewd green eyes set in a swarthily handsome and chiselled face indicative of his Greek heritage.
He gave the other man a steady glance. 'That depends upon whether Senator Ashcroft would have sent his aide or come himself if Drakon were still in charge of the New York office.'
Just a month ago Markos had been based at the London offices of Lyonedes Enterprises, the company he owned with his cousin Drakon, with a full and busy business and social life, and no thoughts of moving to New York. That was before Drakon had met Gemini, the London-based Englishwoman he was to fall in love with. Drakon and Gemini had become engaged and were married just two short weeks later. The two of them were even now on their honeymoon on the Aegean island owned by the Lyonedes family.
Luckily Markos and Gerry had instantly found a rapport, and Drakon had already expressed his approval of the PA Markos had taken on at the London office, following a rather embarrassing episode for Markos with the young woman who had been his previous PA. Just thinking of the way she had thrown herself at him during the last business trip they'd made together was still enough to make Markos shudder.
'Drakon had already accepted the Senator's invitation. He must have forgotten to mention it with all the wedding arrangements,' Gerry dismissed. 'Senator Ashcroft obviously wished to make sure that the new head of Lyonedes Enterprises, New York, was aware of the invitation. And he didn't send just any aide to extend the invitationhe sent his only son!' Gerry gave a grin. He was a tall, rangy man in his late thirties, with sandy-coloured hair and a pleasant rather than handsome face.
Markos raised dark brows. 'That's good?'
Gerry's smile widened. 'The Senator is grooming Robert Junior to take over when he retires in a couple of years. And invitations for the event on Saturday evening are being coveted like bars of gold by New York society. My wife would kill to get one. I thought your offhand acceptance of the invitation was pitched about right,' he added approvingly.
'It was actually caution on my partbecause I wasn't sure if I was being insulted or not.' Markos gave a grimace as he sat down behind the desk. 'I'm afraid American politics remain a complete mystery to me.'
'All you need to know about most of our politicians is that re-election is their main goal, along with gathering up the necessary finances to run a successful campaign. That's why the Senator's schmoozing the New York head of Lyonedes Enterprises. This company employs several thousand New Yorkers, and thousands more all over the world.' Gerry gave another grin.
'That's a pretty strong incentive for the Senator' He broke off as a knock sounded on the door before Markos's executive secretary entered the office.
Lena Holmes was yet another invaluable employee Markos had inherited from his cousin. A woman in her late forties, slightly plump and motherly in her plain dark business suits, she nevertheless succeeded in running Markos's office with the precision of a sergeant-major in the English army.
'Sorry to interrupt, Mr Lyonedes, but I thought I should let you know straight away that Ms Grey has cancelled her five o'clock appointment.'
Again, Lena's disapproving tone implied.
Evangeline Grey, interior designer extraordinaireif her reputation was to be believedand the woman Gerry's wife had recommended for redesigning the rooms in the penthouse apartment above them, had already cancelled one appointment earlier in the week.
'What was her excuse this time?'
Lena's mouth tightened. 'An emergency appointment with her dentist.'
Markos glanced at the plain gold watch on his wrist and saw that it was already five minutes to the appointed time of five o'clock; if Evangeline Grey had intended being here for their appointment this evening then she should have left her downtown office some time ago, not cancelled five minutes before she was due to arrive.
'It must have been a very sudden emergency.'
'I wouldn't know, Mr Lyonedes.' Lena expression remained disapproving. 'She asked if she might reschedule for Monday evening at five o'clock instead.'
'What did you say?'
'I told her that I would return her call on Monday morning and let her know if that time was convenient for you,' Lena reported with satisfaction.
'And is it?'
'You currently have no other appointments at that time,' she conceded.
Markos smiled ruefully. 'But it won't hurt to let her think about it over the weekend?'
'Exactly.' Lena nodded.
'Thanks, Lena.' Markos waited until his secretary had left the office and closed the door firmly behind her before turning to look questioningly at Gerry. 'That's the second time Evangeline Grey has cancelled on me in a week.'
The older man turned up his hands. 'I have absolutely no idea what's going on there. Kirsty thinks the sun rises and sets on the woman's interior designs. And I have to admit I thoroughly approve of the innovations she made in our bedroom six months ago.'
Markos quirked mocking brows. 'Do I want to know what they are?'
'Probably not, as Kirsty is now four months pregnant!' Gerry chuckled before sobering. 'Do you want me to see if she can recommend someone else?'
Lyonedes Tower, both here in New York and in London, had a penthouse apartment occupying the whole of the top floor of the building. Markos had never taken up residence in the apartment in London during the ten years he had been based there, preferring to live away from his place of workjust as Drakon had preferred to own an apartment in Manhattan for the time he had lived and worked in New York: an apartment he and Gemini had decided to keep for the times when they visited.
Having only arrived a week ago, and finding the apartment above this office to be both convenient and spacious, with fantastic views over the skyline of New York, Markos had thought it best to make it his home until he felt more settled. He had decided to call in an interior designer with the intention of having it decorated more to his personal taste. Evangeline Grey was that interior designer.
The apparently elusive Evangeline Grey.
He gave a dismissive shrug of his shoulders. 'Let's wait and see what happens on Monday.'
'Phew, am I glad you said that!' His PA grinned good-naturedly. 'I would really hate to disappoint Kirsty. She likes the woman so much that before you even asked for the name of an interior designer she was thinking of trying to arrange a dinner party so that she could get the two of you together,' he explained at Markos's questioning glance.
'If she cancels the next appointment that may be the only way the two of us ever meet!' Markos leant back in his high-backed leather chair. 'For some reason the name Evangeline gave me the impression she was an older woman.?'
Gerry shook his head. 'Late twenties, I think.'
'Really?' His brows rose. 'Isn't that young to have built up the professional reputation she has?'
The other man shrugged. 'If you haven't made it in New York by the time you're thirty then you're never going to!'
Markos smiled slightly. 'Is she attractive?'
'I was always out at work when she came to our apartment, so I've never actually met her.' Gerry frowned. 'But I'm presuming so, if Kirsty wanted to introduce the two of you.'
Markos gave an appreciative grin. 'In that case let's hope that she actually manages to get here on Monday evening!'
Gerry nodded. 'If only to save me from suffering the brunt of Kirsty's disappointment! Although there will be plenty of beautiful women for you to meet at the Senator's party tomorrow evening.'
He gave a weary shake of his head. 'I think I've probably already been introduced to every beautiful woman in New York over the last four days!'
'You haven't met Kirsty yet!'
Markos grimaced. 'Being surrounded by all this love and romance is bringing me out in a rash!' First Drakon and Gemini, and now Gerry had made no secret of the fact that he was very happily married. 'As I now unexpectedly have an hour free, why don't we go through the last of these contracts?'
The elusive Evangeline Grey was already dismissed from Markos's thoughts as he instead concentrated his attention on the work he wanted to get finished before beginning his weekend.
A weekend which now seemed to include spending his Saturday evening at Senator Ashcroft's drinks party.
For some reason Markos had felt slightly restless since moving to New York. Of course the two weeks before the wedding had been frenetic, followed by his lethargy after flying to New York only a day later. His arrival had been quickly followed by one meeting after another as Markos introduced himself to the company's extensive business associates, and there had been a social function of some sort for him to attend every evening as New York society opened their homes and welcomed him to their city in place of his cousin Drakon.
Maybe the change-over had happened so quickly that Markos still felt slightly wrong-footed by the un-familiarity? This office. The apartment on the penthouse floor above this one. The new people Markos worked with every day, and the others he socialised with every evening.
Whatever the reason for his restlessness, Markos knew that attending yet another party tomorrow evening was the last thing he wanted to do.