One night to change everything
CEO Arion Pantelides is always in controlbut for one night he gave in to oblivion with a stunning stranger. Yet his passion is quickly matched by fury when Arionprizing honesty above all elsediscovers the woman who came undone in his arms has only recently been widowed .
Perla Lowell's marriage was a painful sham, so nowpenniless and aloneshe refuses to let this dark-hearted Greek intimidate her. But when Arion offers Perla a chance to prove herself, she'll show him she has nothing to hide! Until she discovers she's pregnant with his child .
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What the Greek Can't Resist
By Maya Blake
Harlequin Enterprises LimitedCopyright © 2014 Harlequin Enterprises Limited
All rights reserved.
The car park was as quiet as she'd hoped it would be. Inside her trusted Mini's soothing cocoon, Perla Lowell bit the tip of her pen and searched fruitlessly for the right words.
Four lines. Four paltry lines in two hours were all she'd managed to come up with. She swallowed her despair. Three short days from now she'd have to stand up in front of friends and family and make a speech ...
And she had no words.
No, scratch that. She had words. But none rang true. Because the truth ... No, she couldn't ... wouldn't subject anyone to the truth. Her whole life for the past three years had been a colossal lie. Was it any wonder her hands shook every time she tried to write? That her heart pounded with self-loathing for the lies she had to perpetuate for the sake of appearances?
But how could she do anything else? How could she repay kindness with humiliation? Because doing or saying anything else other than what was expected would bring devastation that she couldn't live with.
Anger mingled with despair. With a vicious twist she ripped the paper in two. The cathartic sound echoed through the car and spilled out into the night air. As if loosening the stranglehold she'd exercised on her emotions for longer than she cared to remember, the tears she'd been unable to shed so far now pierced through her tightened chest into her throat.
Her fingers gained a life of their own. Two halves of paper became four, then eight. She ripped again and again, until the sheet spilled through her hands in little wisps of illegible confetti. She upended her hands and watched the mess strewn all over the passenger seat. With a jagged groan, she buried her face in her hands, expecting finally, finally, to shed a tear.
The tears never came. They remained locked inside, as they had been for the last two weeks, taunting her, punishing her for daring to wish for them when deep down she knew to cry would be shamefully, deeply disingenuous.
Because, deep inside, she felt ... relieved. At a time when she should've been devastated, she felt a shameful lightening of being!
Slowly, she dropped her hands and stared through the windscreen. Her vision cleared and she focused on the palatial Georgian structure in front of her.
Despite its recent multi-million-pound revamp, Macdonald Hall had retained its quintessential old English charm, along with its exclusive membership-by-invitation-only Macdonald Club, and the extensive gold standard golf course that lay beyond the imposing façade.
The centuries-old establishment's only nod to the common man was the cocktail bar, which was open to the public from seven until midnight.
Perla sucked in a deep breath and glanced down at the ripped paper. Guilt bit deep as she acknowledged how good it'd felt to let go. Just this once, to not hold herself back, to not watch her every word or smile when she felt like cursing her fate. To be normal ...
The feeling wouldn't last, of course. There was still tomorrow to get through and the next day, and the next.
Dark anguish had her reaching for her bag.
She was far enough away from home not to be recognised here. It was, after all, why she'd driven for over an hour to find a quiet spot to compose the hard-to-find words.
Granted, her journey had been futile so far. But she wasn't ready to return home yet; wasn't ready to face the cloying compassionate gestures and well-meaning, concerned but probing looks.
Her gaze refocused on Macdonald Hall.
One drink. Then she'd drive back home and start again tomorrow.
Opening her bag, she searched for the small brush to run it through her hair in an attempt to tame the unruly curls. When her fingers touched the tube of lipstick, she nearly dismissed it.
Scarlet wasn't really her colour, and normally she wouldn't even glance at one that described itself as Do Me Red; she only had the sample lipstick because it'd come free with a book purchase. She would never dare to wear anything so bold. So daring. Even on other women, she found the colour too sensual, too look-at-my-mouth.
Fingers trembling, she uncapped the tube, angled the rear-view mirror and carefully applied the lipstick. The unexpected result—the wanton, blatantly sultry image that stared back at her—had her rummaging through her bag for a tissue to reverse the damage. When she came up empty, she paused. Her gaze slowly slid back to the mirror.
Her heart hammered.
Was it so bad? Just for tonight, would it be so bad to look, to feel like someone else other than Perla Lowell, complete fraud? To forget the pain and unrelenting humiliation she'd suffered for the last three years, if only for a few minutes?
Before she could change her mind, she fumbled for the door handle and stepped out of her car into the cool night air. Her party days might be long behind her but even she knew her simple black sleeveless dress and low black pumps were appropriate for a cocktail bar on a quiet Tuesday night.
And if it wasn't, the worst that could happen was she would be asked to leave. And right now, being thrown out of an exclusive cocktail bar where no one knew who she was would be a walk in the park compared to the monumental farce she had to go through.
A smartly dressed concierge greeted her and directed her through a parquet-floored, oak-panelled hallway to a set of old-fashioned double doors with the words Bar fashioned in burnished gold plate above them.
Another similarly dressed man opened the door and tipped his cap to her.
Feeling seriously out of her depth, Perla took fleeting note of the discreetly expensive wood and brocade décor before her eyes zeroed in on the long, low-slung bar. Seriously intimidating rows of drinks were displayed on a revolving carousel and, behind the bar, a bartender twirled a sterling silver set of cocktail shakers while chatting to a young couple.
For a split second, Perla considered turning on her heel and marching straight back out. She forced herself to take a step and another until she reached the unoccupied end of the bar. She'd come this far ... Sucking in another sustaining breath, she slid onto the stool and placed her handbag on the counter.
'What's a fine girl like you doing in a place like this?'
The cheese-tastic line startled a strained laugh out of her as she turned towards the voice.
'That's better. For a second there, I thought someone had died in here and I hadn't been told,' the bartender's white smile, no doubt tailor-made to drive hormonal girls wild, widened as his gaze traced her face in blatant appraisal. 'You're the second person to walk in here tonight looking like you're a fully paid-up member of the doom-and-gloom brigade.'
In another lifetime, Perla would've found his boyish, perfectly groomed looks charming. Unfortunately, she existed in this lifetime, and she'd learnt to her cost that the outside rarely matched the inside.
She willed her smile in place and folded her hands on top of her purse. 'I ...I'd like a drink, please.'
'Sure thing.' He leaned in closer and his eyes dropped to her mouth. 'What's your poison?'
Her gaze darted to the cocktails on display. She had no clue what any of them were. The last time she'd been in a bar like this, the drink in fashion had been Amaretto Sour. She wanted to ask for a Cosmopolitan but wasn't even sure if that was still in vogue these days.
She gritted her teeth again and contemplated walking out. Sheer stubbornness made her stay on the stool. She'd been pushed around enough; endured enough. For far too long she'd allowed someone else to call the shots, to dictate the way she lived her life.
No more. Granted, the scarlet lipstick had been a bad idea—it was clear it drew far too much unwanted attention to her mouth—but Perla refused to let that stand in the way of this one small bolstering move.
Squaring her shoulders, she indicated a dark red drink with lots of sunny umbrellas sticking out of it. 'I'll have that one.'
He followed her gaze and frowned. 'The Pomegranate Martini?'
'Yes. What's wrong with it?' she asked when he continued to frown.
'It's a bit ... well, lame.'
Her lips firmed. 'I'll take it anyway.'
'Come on, let me—'
'Give the lady what she wants,' a low, dark drawl sounded behind her right shoulder. The smooth but unmistakable cadence in the masculine voice spelled a foreign accent, possibly Mediterranean, that caused a shiver to dance down Perla's spine.
She froze in her seat, her back stiffening as sensation skittered over her skin.
The bartender visibly paled before nodding quickly and sidling off to prepare her cocktail.
Perla felt his silent presence behind her, a palpable force field that bore down and surrounded her with unmistakable power. Her mind shrieked with danger, but for the life of her she couldn't move. Her hand tightened over the strap of her handbag, her fingers plucking frantically at the beads that decorated the dark satin exterior.
'Turn around,' came the low command.
Her back stiffened some more. Another man who wanted to push her buttons. 'Look, I just want to be left alone—'
'Turn around, if you please,' he instructed again in that low, growly voice.
Not please but if you please. The slightly old-fashioned turn of phrase piqued her curiosity. Coupled with the dark rumble of his voice, Perla was seriously tempted to do as he asked.
But not enough to give in. She remained facing forward.
'I just saved you from becoming the potential target of a chancer with delusions of swagger. The least you can do is turn around and talk to me.'
Despite her stomach flipping again at the impact of his voice, Perla's lips tightened. 'I didn't want nor need your help ... and I don't really want to talk to anyone so ...'
She glanced towards the bartender with the intention of cancelling her order. The long drive here ... the inspired words she'd hoped to write ... the idea of a quick drink ... the courage-lending scarlet lipstick—probably that most of all—had all been an unmitigated disaster. Again she felt pain tighten her chest and fought to keep her emotions under strict control.
Behind her, the man who thought he was her saviour stood in imposing, stifling silence. She knew he was there because his scent lingered in her nostrils—intriguingly spicy, masculine and raw—and she could hear his firm, steady breathing. Again an alien sensation skittered over her skin. The urge to look over her shoulder scythed through her but she refused the urge. She'd failed herself in so many things. Perla refused to fail at this one thing.
Lifting her hand, she tried to catch the bartender's attention but his gaze was focused behind her ... on the man whose presence, even without her knowing who he was or her having seen him, spelled power with a capital P.
She watched in stunned silence as the bartender nodded in answer to a silent command, rounded the counter with her drink and headed towards a dark corner of the bar.
Outraged, Perla finally turned to find the man—tall, dark-haired and incredibly broad-shouldered—retreating to the table where her drink had been placed along with another, presumably his.
Pure anger spiked through her. Her heels landed on the polished wood floor and she was marching over to him before she fully registered her intention. 'What the hell do you think you're—?'
He turned to face her and the words dried in Perla's throat.
Gorgeous. Astoundingly. Gorgeous. The description lit up like a neon sign in her head—bright, bold, insistent. And so unbelievably real, Perla could only stare in astonishment. Even as she took in the sheer vitality of his olive skin, the lethal bone structure that made up his striking features and the tinge of grey in his hair and designer stubble—her personal, stupidly debilitating weakness—she knew she should never have turned around; never have followed him.
She should've heeded her instinct and walked straight out.
Dear Lord, hadn't she learned from her mistake? She gave a slight shake of her head and tried to step back. She had no business being here; no business staring at a man the way she was staring at this stranger. If anyone found out ...
Her feet wouldn't comply.
Deep hazel eyes bored into hers, then slowly traced her body from head to toe and back again. Perla found herself holding her breath, her fingers once again working frantically over the beads on her handbag.
The breathtaking stranger's gaze paused at her hair. 'Is that colour real?' he rasped in that knee-weakening, pulse-stroking voice.
'That shade of red. Is it real?' he demanded.
A little bit of her entrancement receded. 'Of course it's real. Why would I dye—?' She stopped as it occurred to her then that he didn't know her and therefore wouldn't know that the last thing she concerned herself with was vanity in the form of artificial hair colour. There was no one to please or pander to and she was too busy surviving to think about frivolous things such as what colour to dye her hair. 'It's real, okay? Now will you explain what you're playing at? That's my drink you've just commandeered.'
'Your manners seemed to have deserted you. I'm merely redressing the situation.' He pulled out a chair. 'Please sit down.'
Lifting an eyebrow, she remained standing. With a shrug, he remained standing too. She blew out an irritated breath. 'My manners haven't deserted me. You stepped in and took over a situation I had under control. What did you think, that the bartender would've vaulted over the counter and assaulted me in plain sight of the other customers?' she snapped.
He broke his fascination with her hair and dropped his gaze to capture hers. 'What other customers?' he asked.
'The couple over there—' She broke off as she looked around. The young couple were gone. Aside from a waiter who was clearing a few other tables, only the tall stranger and bartender remained in the bar. As she watched, the waiter walked through a set of swinging doors and disappeared.
She swallowed. 'This is a reputable place. Things like that don't happen here.'
'And what exactly do you base that statistic on? Are you a frequent visitor?'
She flushed. 'No, of course not. And I'm not naive. I just. I just think—'
'That predators in Savile Row suits are less vicious than those in hoodies?' His smile didn't reach his eyes.
'No, that's not what I meant. I came here for a quiet drink.' Her gaze dropped to the bold and garish-looking cocktail standing next to his dark-coloured spirit.
This was fast getting out of hand, and she needed to think about getting back. Or she would have more explaining to do.
He indicated the chair one more time. 'You can still have it. And you needn't worry about making conversation. We can sit here and not ... talk.'
His words piqued her curiosity. Or maybe she just wanted a distraction from the pain and chaos that awaited her the moment she left this place.
She forced herself to look at him—really look past the surface hurt-your-eyes gorgeousness of the man—past the powerful shoulders underneath the impeccable suit and loosened silk tie. His hair was slightly ruffled, as if he'd shoved a hand through it once or twice.
The brackets around his mouth were deeply grooved and when she chanced another look into his eyes, what Perla glimpsed made her heart hammer.
In that instant she knew he wasn't here to prey on unsuspecting or vulnerable women. That wasn't to say women would be safe from the sensual aura and sheer charisma that oozed from him. Far from it.
Excerpted from What the Greek Can't Resist by Maya Blake. Copyright © 2014 Harlequin Enterprises Limited. Excerpted by permission of Harlequin Enterprises Limited.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A passionate read. A neat storyline with a little twist: Young beautiful innocent virgin meets sexy handsome Alpha Greek and decides to have a one night fling only to discover that he is someone she can't forget. He comes storming back into her life over finding out she is a widow of one of his employees....and a scandal is brewing or is it? A well-written read and an interesting plot from this author kept it from following that same old standard HP book. A very enjoyable book.
Loved the book
Such a great story - loved the chemistry between Arion and Perla.
Enjoyable quick read. Nice writing style delivers an entertaining romantic interlude about happy, sad, funny and arrogance, sexy and commonplace folks facing love and life as it comes. Enjoyable enough to read the entire series by Maya Blake.
Where is everybody?
My name is bumblebee. I need cabin leaders for each cabin. There will be 10 cabins.each has one god for theme.ask me to join at res 4
Im 13 do dance gymnastics and b ball i love lebran i look like zendaya i love coler green and i love drake and the vamps also im not single but i might be