to mix business and pleasure. While sailing the Mediterranean
aboard the luxurious Alexandra's Dream, she's to convince
businessman Theo Catomeris to re-sign his shore excursion
company with Liberty Line. Theo's long-estranged father has put
her up to this assignment, but an undeniable attraction between
Trish and Theo is distracting her from the business at hand.
Theo's success and happiness on the island of Corfu suggest that
he's a man with blueprints to good fortune, but absentee parents
have made it difficult for him to get close to anyone. Having
discovered that his father has purchased the cruise line he used
to work with, Theo is more than reluctant to trust a relationship
with him. But will meeting Trish give him a new perspective on
building a future and resolving his past?
About the Author
Since selling her first story to Harlequin Books in 1999, Cindy has been forced to juggle her love of reading with her passion for creating stories of her own. But it's worth it. Writing for Harlequin Special Edition is a dream come true.
Read an Excerpt
TRISH MELROSE FELT like a hooker. Or maybe a college student at the end of a bar crawl
It wasn't even one o'clock in the afternoon and here she was sitting in a taverna with a carafe of Greek wine on the table in front of her.
Okay, so maybe she didn't look like a lady of the evening. Her skirt brushed her knees and the linen shell beneath her suit jacket didn't show a bit of cleavage. And, as far as the coed thing, the fine lines at the edge of her eyes weren't usually found on a college girl's face.
But that didn't change the fact that for the past thirty minutes she'd been sitting in the small café in Corfu Town, sipping the same glass of wine and plastering a smile on her face whenever the tiny bells above the door jingled a new arrival. With unabashed interest she'd checked out every man who walked through the door.
She only prayed Theo Catomeris wouldn't keep her waiting much longer.
As the owner of a growing company in Miami that arranged shore excursions for cruise ships, Trish loved everything about her job except the games.
While arriving late was a common way to show power, in this case it was totally unnecessary. Theo Catomeris had to know that he was the one in control.
If he said yes to her very generous offer, billionaire Elias Stamos would be appeased and Trish would retain her firm's contract with Liberty Line.
Unfortunately if he said no
Trish's fingers tightened around the wineglass. She didn't want to think about what would happen if she failed.
There was so much at stake. If she lost the Liberty contract she'd have to lay off or cut back the hours of at least one of her two employees. Who would it be? Twyla, the single mother who gave 110 percent every day? Or James, whose wife didn't work and who'd just bought his first house in anticipation of the baby due next month? Her company, Excursion Plus, was more than just a business. She and her employees worked hard but they also had fun. And they all cared about each other. She couldn't let them down.
Maybe if she groveled
She stopped the thought before it could go any further, appalled it had even crossed her mind. Trish Melrose didn't grovel. Had never groveled. Would never grovel.
She would do her best to convince Mr. Catomeris that it would be in hisand his wildlife foundation'sbest interest to continue to do business with Liberty Line. She'd make the points she'd rehearsed calmly and rationally.
The offer she had for him was a win-win. If he renewed his contract with Liberty Line for excursion servicesthe same services he'd been providing to Liberty passengers prior to the cruise line's buyout by Argosy Cruises, Trish would make a hefty donation to his pet project, a foundation to help the wild horses of Kefalonia.
In actuality the money for the donation would come from Elias Stamos, the owner of Argosy Cruises and now Liberty Line. But the Greek billionaire insisted she leave his name out of the offer. As far as Theo Catomeris was concerned, Trish's company would be the one making the donation. She'd asked several times why the subterfuge was necessary but had never gotten a straight answer.
When she'd seen she was getting nowhere, Trish had checked out the legalities with her attorney and discovered doing it the way Mr. Stamos required was perfectly legal. Only then had she finally agreed to do it his way.
Now all she needed to do was convince Catomeris to sign.
If he ever showed up, that is. What if he'd forgotten?
That seemed unlikely considering she'd confirmed the meeting by e-mail just yesterday.
Did I mix up the time?
It couldn't be that. When Alexandra's Dream had docked off the small Greek island this morning, Trish had made sure her watch was on local time. She'd double-checked her notes for the location and had arrived at the small taverna on the edge of the Esplanade at precisely twelve-fifteen well ahead of their twelve-thirty appointment.
The arched colonnade lined with cafés at the edge of the vast main plaza and park had practically begged to be explored. But today wasn't about shopping and sightseeing. The meeting with Theo Catomeris was her priority.
Trish had already discussed this issue with him once. Shortly after she'd learned he hadn't signed the new agreement with Liberty, she'd e-mailed him, assuming the contract had gotten lost in the mail or on his desk. His response had been brief and to the point. Not interested.
She'd immediately started looking for other vendors. But Stamos had insisted on Theo Catomeris. So Trish had tried again. She'd followed up the e-mail refusal with a call. The connection hadn't been good but there'd been no misunderstanding the response. Catomeris had made it more than clear he wasn't interested in working with the new owner of the cruise line.
Mr. Stamos hadn't been happy with the news but he'd given Trish one more chance. She would join one of his cruises, and when the ship docked in Corfu, she would meet with Catomeris and make her plea in person.
The action seemed extremepersonally she would have just replaced Catomerisbut Elias Stamos was the client and it was his call.
"You no like the food?"
Trish looked up to find the proprietress's anxious gaze fixed on the nearly full plate and glass in front of Trish.
Menka was short and nearly as round as she was tall. Her long hair, more silver than black, pulled back from her face in a fat bun. Trish guessed her to be somewhere in her late seventies.
Trish offered her a reassuring smile. She'd always had a soft spot in her heart for older people and Menka clearly went out of her way to make her customers comfortable. Though the woman's English was far from flawless, she was easily understood. In fact, when Trish had first arrived, they'd spent several minutes bonding over discussions of Miami, where Menka had relatives.
"I like the food very much." To illustrate the point and further reassure the woman, Trish took a sip of wine and popped a piece of feta into her mouth.
She must have been convincing because Menka patted her on the shoulder and moved on to the next table.
Glancing around the café, now half-filled with diners, Trish was suddenly happy that Catomeris had chosen this place to meet instead of one of the upscale restaurants or European bistros surrounding it.
The small, family-owned taverna had a warm, homey feel that had instantly put her at ease. Intricately tatted lace topped the oil cloth covering the tables, and the lamps scattered throughout the dining area gave the café's interior a golden glow. It was almost like meeting in a favorite friend's living room.
The bells heralding another new customer pulled Trish from her reverie. She shifted her gaze to the doorway just in time to see Menka wrap her arms around a broad-shouldered man.
With his dark curly hair, aquiline nose and classic cheekbones, the man standing just inside the doorway could have posed for the Greek statue on the cover of the travel guide nestled in Trish's purse. Not only that, but he was in the age range of the man Trish had come to meet.
Trish straightened in her seat, her senses on high alert. Could this be Theo Catomeris?
He glanced around the room. When he saw Trish, she offered him a smile. Instead of returning the friendly gesture, he turned and spoke to the proprietress again. Menka shook her head and pointed to Trish, obviously reiterating that she was the only American in the room, or perhaps the only one waiting for someone.
As he started across the taverna, Trish took the opportunity to study him. Like her, he was dressed for business. Anticipation quickened Trish's pulse. Since starting in the cruise industry fifteen years ago, she has discovered her ability to exhibit a cool confidence under pressure had served her well. After becoming her own boss five years ago, she'd been successful in contracting with most major cruise lines to provide excursion services to their guests.
Not to say it hadn't been challenging. Every day other companies sprang up promising to do what she did only better, faster, cheaper. In the highly competitive travel industry, she'd had to develop nerves of steel. But this wasn't just another industry executive she was dealing with, this was a man whose decision could cause her to lose a significant percentage of her current business.
Apparently determined to make her wait, the man stopped at several tables, taking time to laugh and talk with other patrons. Customers called out in Greek to him or raised a hand in greeting. Trish decided the fact that most of the people here knew him probably wasn't all that surprising considering the size of Corfu Town.
Finally he stood tableside. Trish rose to her feet and extended her hand. "Theo Catomeris?"
"Mrs. Melrose." A slight smile touched his lips and he gave her hand a brief shake. "It's a pleasure to finally meet you."
His English was perfect with only the barest hint of an accent.
"Please," she said, taking his hand. "Call me Trish." A tingle raced up her arm when her palm met his large callused one in a firm grip. Up close his brown hair reminded her of strong coffee, so dark it could almost be black. But the hint of gray at his temples told her he wasn't as young as she'd first thought. In fact, he was probably a little older than her own thirty-seven years.
Still, he was a magnificent forty. A man in his prime. She could practically feel the waves of testosterone rolling off him.
"You may call me Theo," he said politely, pushing in her chair as she took her seat.
Out of the corner of her eye, Trish saw a few people staring and realized she and Theo had become the main attraction in the small café.
"Have you had lunch?" she asked when he took the seat opposite her.
Mentioning food or the weather was always a good conversation starter. But Theo didn't have a chance to respond because the proprietress chose that moment to deliver a bottle of ouzo to the table along with ice and water. The older woman's cheeks might have been a road map of wrinkles, but her dark eyes still had a youthful flare and a healthy dose of curiosity.
"This woman is a friend, Theo?" the woman asked, her hands fluttering in the air like tiny wrens.
"Mrs. Melrose and I have done business together in the past," Theo said smoothly. "She and I have some work-related concerns to discuss."
Theo went on to introduce the proprietress as his grandmother, Menka Catomeris. He also casually mentioned that his grandfather, Tommy, was in the kitchen cooking.
After a few seconds of polite conversation, the woman bustled off to take care of other diners. But not before giving Theo another hug and making him promise to stop in back and see his grandfather before he left.
Trish felt a pang of envy. It was obvious the threesome had a warm, loving relationship.
"You're lucky to be so close to your grandparents," Trish said, her tone sounding wistful even to her ears. It had been her dream to have her daughter, Cassidy, grow up surrounded by family. But her ex-husband's parents were too busy with their own lives to spend much time with the child and Trish's parents lived in Nebraska.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Single mom Trish Melrose knows the stakes as she waits in a Corfu Town in Greece bar to discus business with Theo Catomeris. Her small Miami based company Excursion Plus will have to cut loyal hard working staff if Elias Stamos does not renew her contract with his Liberty Line he will only do so if his estranged son Theo renews his shore excursion contract with his dad¿s firm. Although instantly attracted to Trish, Theo says no even to her offer of a donation to his foundation to protect wild horses. Still he agrees to meet his two half-sisters on the cruise liner Alexandra's Dream and finds his desire for Theo growing she reciprocates even as she worries how her daughter Cassidy will react to a man in her life. As they fall in love, it is not just Greece or Florida at stake, it is her hiding the truth behind the donation as that was the other stipulation Elias demanded of her when he gave her the money to do so. --- THE TYCOON'S SON is a warm contemporary international romance starring a too sweet female and a hunk who does not trust in non contract relationships as his parents deserted him when he was young. Theo and Trish make an interesting pairing because she struggles with ethics as her deal with Elias bothers her even before falling love, but to not do so means firing good people who deserves better. Her actions validate his belief that love is a con game. Fans will enjoy cruising the Mediterranean with this couple whose chance at more than a short fling is slim. --- Harriet Klausner