Read The greek tycoon's secret heir Online

Authors: Katherine Garbera

The greek tycoon's secret heir (page 3)

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“Now tip your head back,” he said.

He wished he could say that he was in complete control but he wasn’t. He wanted this woman with the kind of passion that shouldn’t have been possible because he didn’t trust her. Yet a part of him did. He trusted this reaction from her.

Her head fell back and their eyes met. He forgot about games and proving anything when he saw that look in her eyes. He lowered his head to hers, intending to stake a claim with his kiss, but when her lips parted under his, he forgot about plans and games.

“Excuse me, sir.”

Christos didn’t take his eyes off Ava. “Not now, Antonio.”

“Mr. Sabina is on the phone and he said it was urgent.”

Damn. He dropped his arms and stepped away from Ava. “I’ll take the call in my study.”

Antonio nodded and left the room. Ava had one arm wrapped around her waist. The fingers of her other hand moved slowly over her lips. “May I come with you?”

He started to say no but then just shrugged. “It’s business so it might be boring.”

“That’s okay. I want to know what you do, try to understand it.”

He couldn’t imagine why that would be something she’d be interested in. He was very aware of her presence behind him as they walked down the hall to his study. She sat in one of the large brown leather guest chairs as he went behind the desk. He picked up the phone.

“What’s up, Tristan?”

“Vincent Perez has been embezzling. I realize that it’s late at night where you are, but we’re going to need to deal with this in the morning.”

“Do you need me back in London?” he asked. The corporate offices for Seconds nightclubs were located there. And maybe some distance and time away from Ava would help him get his head back in the game and away from how tempting she was.

“No. Gui is taking care of pressing charges. He was the closest. But we’re going to have to look at the rest of the finance staff and find a suitable replacement for Vincent. Are you available at nine your time tomorrow?”

Christos palmed his BlackBerry from his pocket and checked his calendar. “Yes.”

“How are things going with the woman?” Tristan asked.

“Good.”

“Good?”

“We’re almost ready to return to Greece, and then I think all the details will straighten out.”

“Ah, is she there with you?”

“Yes.”

“Did I interrupt anything?”

“Au revoir,Tris.”

“I did,” Tristan said, still laughing as Christos disconnected the call.

Ava watched him with those wide blue eyes of hers. “What’s in London?”

He didn’t want to talk business with her, but maybe it was better than the alternative—lifting her out of that chair and into his arms.

“A business venture I have with a couple of friends.” When they’d started Seconds, they’d been twenty and defiant, each refusing to follow in the predestined path his family had outlined for him. Tristan’s family was in publishing on a big scale. And Guillermo—well, Gui’s family were royal and they didn’t approve of owning something so base as a chain of provocative nightclubs.

“I don’t know any of your friends,” she said, quietly.

“Why would you?”

“We were intimate with each other, Christos, shouldn’t we know at least a few of the people who are important in each other’s life?”

He rubbed the back of his neck, wondering if that was why she’d turned to Stavros. Was it because he’d insulated her from everyone else? He didn’t want to dwell on the need he’d had to make her completely his, to become her entire world.

“We were lovers, Ava, little more.”

“Now we are parents and you want us to marry.”

“I believe you want that, too,” he said, unsure where she was going with this. He tried not to think about what she’d said about Theo. He let the boy call himBaba, because to tell him not to would have been awkward, but he didn’t believe he was the boy’s father.

“I can’t be married to a stranger. Not even for Theo’s sake.”

“What do you want from me?”

She pursed her lips as she thought. Always so cautious, this one was. “I want a chance to become friends with you. I don’t know a lot of happily married couples, but the ones I do know…well, they are friends with each other. I think Theo deserves that from us.”

He nodded. It was one of the reasons he’d offered to marry her instead of just taking Theo back to Greece. “That’s amicable to me.”

“You have to stop trying to make everything between us sound like business.”

“Why do I have to do that?”

“Because it makes me want to slap you when you do it.”

“I didn’t realize you have violent tendencies.”

“Only with you, Christos,” she said.

He walked around his desk and leaned against it so that only a few feet of space separated them. “Business is the only way I know how to manage this.”

“Manage what?”

The way he felt about her, but he couldn’t say that. “Marriage.”

“This is a marriage of convenience?”

“It is convenient for both of us,” he said.

She rolled her eyes. “I think we should try to be friends.”

“How do you propose we do this?”

“Have dinner with some of my friends tomorrow night,” she said.

He glanced at his calendar. “I can do an earlier dinner. Perhaps around seven?”

“That’s fine.”

“Who will we be dining with?” he asked, wanting to run a background check on them to ensure they were the right type of people for Ava to be associating with.

“Laurette Jones and her fiancé, Paul Briscoe.” She stared up at him.

“You’re staring again.”

She flushed. “Will we be lovers?”

“We will be married.”

“I can’t be intimate with someone who doesn’t trust me.”

“You were before.”

“I’m different now.”

Yes, she was. There was an inner strength and core to her that the girl she’d been hadn’t had. Before, she’d been a kitten who’d come when called. Now she was a tigress who might come when he called or might turn on him with her claws bared.

And he’d had no idea that the differences in her would make him want her more than ever.

FiveMykonos was exactly as she’d remembered it. Bright, whitewashed buildings seemed to sparkle from the hills over the deep blue Aegean Sea. Theo’s little hand in hers gave her the strength to step off the plane when she saw Ari Theakis waiting for them. Christos’s father had never liked her and the situation with Stavros and Christos hadn’t exactly helped.

To be honest, she’d been intimidated by the man from the first moment she’d met him. He carried himself with the kind of arrogance that could only be honed in confidence and self-security. Even confined to a wheelchair, now, he still exuded that arrogance and power.

That utter self-confidence was something she wanted for Theo, and even if she wasn’t still attracted to Christos she would have accepted his offer of marriage in the hopes that living in his presence and the presence of Ari would somehow rub off on Theo and give him that.

“Come on, Mama.”

“Be careful going down the stairs,” she said.

“I’m not a baby,” he reminded her, bounding down the stairs and stopping in front of Ari.

“What are you waiting for?” Christos asked from behind her.

“Your father doesn’t like me.”

“He doesn’t like many people, it’s not personal.”

“You know what I mean,” she said.

Christos put his hand on her shoulder. “You can’t change his mind about the past, but you can influence how he sees you in the future.”

“You think so?”

“Yes. And he will be grateful to you for giving him a grandson.”

She glanced back at Ari in his wheelchair, an attendant close behind him. Theo was standing in front of him, shuffling his feet around and looking a little nervous.

Ava hurried down the stairs to her son’s side but before she reached him, Ari reached out to Theo and pulled him into his arms.

She stopped for a moment, seeing what Christos had meant just moments ago—the intense love this man had for her son. He hugged Theo tightly to him and buried his face in Theo’s thick black hair.

Ava was touched and turned away to give Ari the privacy he needed to deal with his feelings. Christos slipped his arm around her shoulders. “You okay?”

“Yeah. I forgot Ari was human.”

“What did you think he was?”

“Some kind of demigod,” she said, only half in jest.

“He just thinks he is.”

“It’s about time you got here.” The husky voice had them turning back toward Ari and Theo.

“Patera, it’s good to see you, too,” Christos said, dropping his arm and walking over to his father. Theo stepped back from Ari and came to her side. She glanced at the three males, unable to miss the striking resemblance between them.

“Mr. Theakis, it’s good to see you again.”

“Ms. Monroe, I see you are back.”

She tried to smile, but that wasn’t exactly aWelcome to Mykonos.“Yes I am. Theo and I are very excited to be here.”

“It is good that you brought the boy. He needs to learn to be a proper Theakis.”

He turned his wheelchair around before she could respond and headed toward the limo, attendant hurrying in his wake. Clearly he wasn’t interested in developing any kind of friendship with her. In the past he’d treated her as a servant…which, as the nanny for Althea and Venni, she had been. But she’d hoped…ah, who cared what a cantankerous old man thought.

“Mama, Grandfather said he’s prepared a special room just for me to play in.”

“That will be nice, won’t it?” Ava asked her son, wondering if she was going to find herself, like Nikki Theakis, relegated to the status of an observer in her own child’s life. She shook her head, vowing not to let that happen.

“Yes.” Theo curled his hand around hers, holding it tightly in his grip.

As Christos and his father talked next to the waiting limo, she stooped so she was on Theo’s level. “What’s up?”

“He held me really tight, Mama.”

“He’s just happy to see you.”

“That’s what he said. I’m glad he likes me.”

“Of course he likes you. Everyone likes you.”

“Is everything okay?” Christos asked, striding back from Ari.

“Yes,” she said, standing up.

“Please, come. I have a meeting at the office in a little over an hour. You can ride back to the house with my father.”

“You’re not coming with us?”

“Not right now. I’ll see you both later.”

Ava tried not to feel that she was being abandoned, which was a silly feeling anyway. But she didn’t really know Ari and he didn’t seem to be looking forward to getting to know her better.

Christos lifted Theo in his arms, said something that only the two of them could hear and gave him a hug and kiss. When he set Theo on his feet her son ran over to the limo and climbed into the long black car.

“I’ll see you at dinner.”

She nodded.

He turned to walk away then paused. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“I will be. It’s just…”

“What?”

“I don’t have many fond memories of my last glimpse of this airport. It’s like…” She shook her head. She wasn’t going to tell him that everything was coming back to her. The overwhelming anger and fear. She had been so afraid when she’d realized she was pregnant and on her own.

“Everything’s different this time,” Christos said.

“You’re right. I’m being silly. I think I’m tired from all the traveling.”

“I expect you are,” Christos said. “You have my mobile number?”

“Yes.”

“Call me if you need anything,” he said.

“But your meeting…” she said.

“Today I can make time for you. If I’d planned our arrival better I would have saved the day for you and Theo.”

The chaotic feelings from the past started to melt away as she realized that things really were different this time and Christos was going to be by her side. She’d been alone for so long; it was hard to accept that she wasn’t anymore, especially when what she usually saw of Christos was his back as he walked away.

The room that Ari had prepared for Theo was every child’s dream. It was actually a suite of three rooms, the sleeping quarters sumptuously painted so that it seemed you were in the middle of the Aegean Sea with the bed a big sailboat in the middle. The mural on the wall started with the sunrise, continued around the room to the big bay windows that overlooked the lushly landscaped back garden and then, on the other side of the window, night fell and stars filled the sky.

“This room is…”

“Fitting for the Theakis heir,” Ari said from the doorway.

“Yes it is. Thank you for doing so much for my son.”

“I didn’t do it foryourson, Ms. Monroe, I did it for my heir.”

“Mr. Theakis…”

He went to the adjacent room before she could say anything else. Damn. She hated the way he kept dismissing her.

She followed him into the playroom, which was almost bigger than her entire little house in Florida. Theo stood in the middle of the room just staring at everything. He couldn’t tell where to start first in his play. Finally he just sat down in the middle of the room and looked up at her.

“Mama? Where’s my Rescue Heroes?”

“I’ll get them.”

“While your mother goes to get those things, let me show you this area, Theo. I had a state-of-the-art plasma-screen TV installed for you. Each morning you will watch your lessons in Greek history and the history of the Theakis family.”

Ava paused in the doorway. “Mr. Theakis, we need to talk before you plan out Theo’s days.”

“I’m not planning his days, Ms. Monroe, I’m teaching him to be a proper Theakis. Unfortunately those lessons are ones he’s been lacking.”

Ava glared at the older man. She wanted to say,Whose fault is that, but couldn’t, not in front of Theo.

“We can discuss this later.”

“Check with my secretary and have him put you on my schedule,” Ari said and left the room.

Ava grabbed a pillow off the couch in front of the TV and threw it against the wall. Theo grabbed one and did the same, laughing. She started laughing with her son, feeling some of the tension ease out of her.

“Do you want to watch Greek lessons?”

He shrugged. “I do want to be a good Theakis.”

“You can’t be anything else. Youarea Theakis.”

Theo nodded.

But as the afternoon wore on, she noticed that her son’s playing was different. Each time he did anything, he’d stop and ask her if it was proper Theakis behavior, which made her crazy. She left him playing to try to find Ari, but the older man’s secretary told her that Ari was unavailable…for the next few weeks.

She’d vowed to fight Ari, to ensure that she was in charge of Theo’s upbringing, but how could she when he wouldn’t talk to her? She was stymied, unsure how to deal with Christos’s father.

She didn’t have to, she thought. She and Christos shared responsibility for Theo. She’d give it a few days and if Ari didn’t come around, she go to Christos with her concerns.

Christos rubbed the back of his neck and glanced at the clock. Damn, nine o’clock. Time had slipped away from him as he’d been in meeting after meeting. The last week had been completely crazy with meetings and catching up. Theakis Shipping wasn’t an easy conglomerate to run and Christos’s time was at a premium. He’d called Theo to talk to him before he went to bed but had been unable to get back to the house for dinner.

Theakis Shipping was suffering, thanks to his ignoring it for as long as he had. Everyone seemed to have stopped making decisions when Stavros had died and had been waiting for him to step in. Christos was willing to do just that, but not all in one week.

“We’ll finish this in the morning,” he declared, and the staff nodded and left the conference room. He left the office without glancing back, fighting the urge to get in his Ferrari and drive to the dock where he kept his yacht and then leave Mykonos and Theakis Shipping far behind.

The house was quiet when he entered it. He paused at the landing on the second floor, glancing to the wing on the left where he knew his father had assigned rooms to Theo and Ava. He needed to turn right and go to his quarters.

He scrubbed his hand over his face and forced himself to his rooms. The door leading to his balcony was open and a cool breeze flowed in. He dropped his briefcase on one of the chairs in the sitting area.

As soon as he stepped out onto the balcony he knew that he wasn’t alone.

“Good evening, Ava.”

She turned from the railing. She wore a long, flowing skirt that shifted around her legs with the breeze and a thin summer sweater that hugged the curves of her breasts. “I’ve been waiting for you.”

“Why?” he asked, trying to fight the urge to scoop her up in his arms and carry her into his bedroom.

“I wanted to talk to you.”

“Can it wait until morning?” he asked.

“It could if I thought I’d see you at breakfast.”

He’d been out of the house before dawn every morning since they’d arrived on Mykonos. “My schedule is demanding.”

“I know,” she said. “That’s why I’m here.”

“What’s up?”

“It’s about Theo and your father.”

“Is he too sharp with Theo?”

“No, nothing like that.”

“Then what?”

“He’s just so Greek. He’s trying to make Theo into a miniature version of him. I don’t like it, but he won’t listen to me.”

Christos could well imagine what Ari was teaching his grandson. “Being a Theakis is an important part of Theo’s upbringing.Paterais probably just trying to catch him up on everything he’s missed in the last few years.”

She shook her head. “It’s more than that. Every time Theo does something now, he asks me if he’s living up to the Theakis name. He’s four, Christos. He should be playing, having fun and enjoying life, not worrying about keeping up your family image.”

“It will be your family, too, in a few weeks.”

“I can understand that, but he’s still just a little boy.”

“I’ll talk to my father and tell him to back off.”

“No. I don’t want you to do that.”

“What do you want then?” he asked.

“Some advice on how I can deal with your father. He keeps telling me that I’m not Greek so I can’t understand, and his secretary won’t give me any time on his calendar.”

She sounded so upset and so earnest that he wanted to fix this for her. But he knew the old man wasn’t going to soften in his attitude toward Ava. Even if she’d been a Greek woman, he’d treat her the same way.

“It’s just his way. Don’t let it bother you.”

“I can’t help it. All day long he watches me and everything I do. Then when Theo’s out of the room he tells me all the things I’m doing wrong.”

Christos walked over to her and pulled her into his arms. She nestled against him as though she belonged there. And for the first time that day, he felt a measure of peace. This was what he’d been missing during the long hours at the Theakis Shipping office. And he knew this was a false promise. Ava wasn’t waiting here for him. She’d been waiting for advice. He should drop his arms and move away…except he was wound so tight from wanting her that he’d take whatever he could get.

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