Lily couldn't believe her luck when she met Rauf Kasabian in the exclusive London bar where she worked and found herself the object of this charming, wealthy Turkish tycoon's affection. But when Rauf witnessed Lily leaving a hotel with another man, his fierce jealousy drove him back to Turkey, with a vow never to see her again.
Two years later, Lily finds Rauf and together they discover that their passion still burns. Even though he has his suspicions about this outstandingly beautiful woman, Rauf decides that she must become his bride...
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A Mediterranean Marriage
By Lynne Graham
Mills & BoonCopyright © 2003 Lynne Graham
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Chapter OneWhen his new investment consultant had finished speaking, Rauf Kasabian gazed out across the Bosphorus strait towards the city of Istanbul, his lean, handsome features grim.
For once, Rauf was impervious to the magical spell cast by his waterside home. The ever-changing play of light and shadow over the shimmering water and the gentle lapping of the tide usually relaxed him. But his bitter memories triumphed over his surroundings and now his anger had been roused as well. So, the Harris family had played ducks and drakes with his money and Lily was flying out to Turkey in person to ask for what? Special treatment? On what grounds? That her family should choose her as messenger had to be the ultimate insult!
In receipt of that bewildering lack of response from a tycoon whose ruthless intolerance for dishonest business practice was legendary, Serhan Mirosh regarded his employer with anxious eyes. Had he himself overreached his powers in taking instant punitive action in the affair? True, the funds involved were mere pocket change to a media mogul as wealthy as Rauf Kasabian, but Serhan took keen pride in his attention to detail. Uncovering the disturbing history of Rauf's unprofitable investment in the small English travel firm concerned had seemed a laudable effort for he hadbeen dismayed that his predecessor should have allowed such flagrant irregularities to continue without intervention.
"That in over two years you should have earned no financial return for your backing is outrageous," Serhan re-capped with measured care, in case he had omitted some salient point in his previous explanation. "In line with the contract you agreed with Douglas Harris, I have demanded the repayment of the original sum invested plus the percentage of profits which you should have received during that period."
"I'm grateful that you have brought this matter to my attention," Rauf asserted with a cool nod of acknowledgement.
Praised, Serhan relaxed and spread speaking hands. "I cannot understand why this Harris woman should now seek a meeting with you but my faxed response to that effect and indeed my refusal on your behalf has been ignored. Yesterday I received a second request for an appointment between the fourth and the fifteenth."
As it was now the second of the month that could only mean that Lily would soon be on Turkish soil, Rauf registered, his lean, lithe, powerful length tautening at that awareness. "The English can be stubborn."
"But such persistence is rude," Serhan lamented. "What is the point of this woman coming here? The time when explanations might have been considered is past. Furthermore, it is her father who owns the firm."
Rauf decided not to add to the other man's confusion with the additional news that Lily Harris was, or had been three years earlier, training as a nursery school teacher. "Leave the file with me and I will deal with it," he instructed. "I would also like to know where Miss Harris is staying."
"In an Aegean coastal resort," Serhan advanced drily, but he was unable to quite conceal his astonishment that Rauf should be prepared to give his personal attention to such an undeserving cause. "Perhaps Miss Harris believes Gumbet is next door to your head office in Istanbul!"
"It's possible." In a mood of rare abstraction, Rauf was studying the file that he had already opened with hard dark golden eyes. "When I knew her, geography wasn't her strong point."
When I knew her? A startled exclamation on his lips at that revealing comment, Serhan thought better of voicing it and departed. At the same time, he wondered how his employer would react to the discovery that Harris Travel had treated the Turkish builders engaged to build villas for them in a dishonest and disgraceful manner.
Some minutes later, Rauf cast aside the file, a cold gleam in his dark gaze, his handsome mouth clenched hard. He was outraged by what he had read: Lily would receive no mercy from him. He remembered her eyes blue as the summer sky telling him that he was the centre of her world. A cynical laugh fell from Rauf's wide, sensual mouth. Yes, he had believed her to be both sincere and innocent. Like countless men before him, in burning to possess one particular woman, he had, momentarily, shelved intelligence and caution. Mercifully, it had only been the weakness of a moment from which he had soon recovered.
But then, long before he had met Lily, Rauf had recognised what had once been his own essential flaw and had tracked it back to its unfortunate source. He had great respect and affection for his mother but she had indoctrinated him with a lot of foolish romantic notions about her own sex that had caused him nothing but grief. But then his naive parent had no concept of the much more basic level at which men and women of Rauf's generation interacted, and regarded his womanising reputation as a source of deep shame.
Whereas Rauf rejoiced in the knowledge that what he had once got wrong, he now always got right. Women passed through his bedroom without causing him any concern that he was taking cruel advantage of their supposedly weaker and more trusting natures. Having shaken off the dangerous misconception that good, old-fashioned lust was love, he enjoyed his male freedom of choice. He would get a kick out of seeing Lily Harris again, he decided. No doubt Lily imagined that her beauty allied with some soppy recollection of their brief relationship might blunt his business acumen and soften his heart towards her: she would soon find out her mistake ...
* * *
Lily came downstairs lugging her case step by step.
Her three nieces, Penny, Gemma and Joy, were playing in the sitting-room and the sound of their giggles brought a smile to her tense mouth. It said a lot for her older sister, Hilary, that her children were able to laugh like that in the wake of events that might have destroyed a less close-knit family. It was only a year since Hilary's husband, Brett, had walked out to move in with her sister's former best friend.
At the time, Brett and Hilary's youngest daughter, Joy, had been undergoing the last phase of her treatment for leukaemia. Mercifully, Lily's four-year-old niece had since made a full recovery but then, right from the moment Joy's condition had been diagnosed, Hilary had refused to contemplate any other possibility. Lily's sister was a great believer in the power of positive thinking and she had needed every atom of that strength to keep up her spirits in the testing times that had followed.
Lily's father, Douglas Harris, had signed over his comfortable detached house to Hilary and Brett lock, stock and barrel soon after their marriage and had continued to live with them. In the divorce settlement, Brett had been awarded half the value of the marital home, which he had never put a penny into either buying or maintaining, and as a result it had had to be sold. Not long after that development, it had emerged that Lily's father's travel agency, Harris Travel, which Brett had until recently continued to manage, was also in trouble. Just a month ago Douglas Harris, Hilary and her little girls had moved into the tiny terraced house that was now their home for the foreseeable future.
"You should have let me help you with that case!" Hilary scolded from the kitchen doorway. She was a tall, slender woman with short light brown hair, but even her ready smile could not conceal the tiredness of her eyes for she ran herself ragged struggling to keep up her many commitments. "We have time for a cup of tea before we leave for the airport. Have you said goodbye to Dad yet?"
"Yes, and once we head off he's going to take the girls down to the park -"
"That's great ... I was beginning to think we needed a tin-opener to prise him out of that bedroom upstairs!" In spite of her look of relief at the news of that planned outing, Hilary's light-hearted response wobbled a little. "Once Dad starts taking an interest in life again, he'll be fine. There's no point looking back to what might have been, is there?"
Excerpted from A Mediterranean Marriage by Lynne Graham Copyright © 2003 by Lynne Graham. Excerpted by permission.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book was wonderful. The plot was interesting and the characters had great chemistry.