Read The greek tycoon's secret heir Online

Authors: Katherine Garbera

The greek tycoon's secret heir (page 4)

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He came into her room and handed her one of the mugs. She tried to pat down her hair, which was probably flat on one side and sticking straight out on the other. She took a sip of the coffee and tried to play it cool.

“What’s this about a boat?”

Christos leaned against the dresser in the corner and sipped his coffee. “After our conversation last night, I decided to take the day off and invite you both to join me on my yacht.”

“I thought we were going on a boat,” Theo said.

“A yacht is a name for a big boat.”

“Oh. How big?”

“Big enough,” Christos said. “Would you like to join us, Ava?”

“Yes. I’d like that.”

“Good. We’ll get out of your hair and wait for you downstairs.”

Theo gave her a sloppy kiss and a hug and ran out the door. Christos paused in the doorway.

“Are you sure about this? Taking a day off work?”

“You said something last night that made sense.”

“Only one thing?” she asked. Actually she was surprised anything she’d said made sense. She’d been flying blind, driven by emotion, and that never boded well for making sense.

“Well, the not-sleeping-together thing is insane.”

She flushed. “Depends on your point of view.”

“I’m going to change yours on that topic. But I was referring to when you said that you couldn’t build a relationship by yourself.”

“I’m glad you were listening,” she said.

He put his coffee mug down on the dresser and walked back to the bed. He sat down next to her, his lean hip pressing against her body.

“I always listen,” he said.

“I hope so,” she said. She’d pinned her hopes for a happy future on the fact that one day he’d really hear her say that she hadn’t betrayed him and believe her.

He traced his finger along the line of the sheet where she had it clutched to her chest. “What are you sleeping in?”

She shook her head. “I think we’ll leave that to your imagination.”

He fingered the cap sleeve of her shirt. “I think we shouldn’t. I’m picturing you naked.”

“Clearly I’m not.”

“Pity.”

“Sometimes Theo gets scared at night and sleeps with me.”

He ran his finger down the edge of the scoop neck of her pajama top. “What scares him?”

She struggled to keep focused on the conversation and not the feel of his finger moving over her skin. “Different things. He can’t always recall.”

“Do you always soothe him?”

“Yes. We pray and I sing to him.”

“That’s one of the things I admire about you,” he said.

“What?”

“The way you mother Theo. You’re very good with him.”

When he’d first been born, she’d been surprised at how much she loved her son. Having him had added a dimension to her life that she’d never realized was missing. He gave her someone to love and on whom to pour all the caring she’d hidden away for years.

“He’s easy to love.”

“Yes, he is,” Christos said. He leaned toward her and she lifted herself up to him. “Are you sure about this no-sex rule?”

She shook her head.

“Baba, come on. She’ll take all day to get ready if you don’t leave her room.”

Christos dropped a quick kiss on her lips and stood, picking up his coffee mug on the way out of the room. As the door closed behind the two Theakis males, Ava pulled the covers over her head and tried not to let her heart believe that today was the start of a new life with Christos and Theo.

SevenChristos eyed his father as the old man maneuvered his wheelchair down the stone ramp leading to the garages. Theo, dancing around him with all that energy, gave Christos something to focus on, but he couldn’t turn his mind away from the fact that his father was heading his way. Absently he noted the watergun in Theo’s hand.

The conversation last night with Ava still played in his mind. Hell, everything from last night was vivid, especially the way she’d moved against him. The way her soft skin had felt pressed to his.

“Baba?”

“Yes, Theo.”

“Is Grandfather coming with us?”

“I didn’t invite him,” Christos said under his breath, but then his father wasn’t really one to wait to be asked. “Why don’t you go ask him?” Christos suggested.

Theo ran toward Ari, and Christos went back to packing the things they’d need for a day on the boat. He’d slept little the night before. Once Ava had left his rooms he’d gone to the study and worked all night so that taking the day off wouldn’t be a problem.

He didn’t exactly hate his new life, but he wasn’t sure it was his yet. And Ava’s conversation last night had driven home to him the fact that it was past time for him to start figuring out what this new life was going to be.

“You have a call at the main house,” Ari said as he came into the garage.

“From whom?”

“Tristan. He said he needed to speak to you this morning. He’s on his mobile.”

Theo was standing at the back of Ari’s wheelchair. He held his water gun in one hand at the ready and scanned the lawn. Christos knew that the boy was pretending to be a bodyguard. He’d played this game with Theo a few days ago.

“Is it safe for you to leave your grandfather and come to the house with me?”

“No, sir. I’d better stay here.”

Christos ruffled the boy’s hair as he strode past him back toward the main house. Antonio was waiting in the foyer with Christos’s BlackBerry.

“Your father insisted on going after you.”

“No problem. Did you have a chance to talk to Tristan?”

“No. But he left you a voice mail and a fax is coming through in the study. Do you want me to call Captain Platakis and tell him that you will be delayed?”

“Not yet,” Christos said. He didn’t want to break his plans with Theo and Ava.

Christos went down the hall into his study and glanced at the fax coming through. More embezzlement business. He dialed Tristan’s number.

“Sabina here.”

“Tris, it’s me.”

“Sorry. I’m a bit distracted. We’re on a charter flight to Mykonos.”

“Why?”

“Need your signature on a few documents.”

“The ones that you faxed?”

“Yes. They are the formal charges we’re filing against Vincent. I’ve also sent you the résumés of the three candidates we’re considering promoting.”

Christos pulled the pages from the machine and started scanning them. “You and Gui make the choice.”

“So it’s started.”

“What?”

“You’re not going to be an active partner in Seconds now that you’re running the shipping line.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. I have plans for the day that I can’t set aside. If this can wait until evening…”

“What plans?”

“Plans.”

“The kind that involve a woman?”

He didn’t answer, but that didn’t stop Tris.

“From your silence, it sounds serious. Which is why we are coming to you.”

“Tristan, I don’t interfere in your love life,” Christos said.

“I don’t have one that lasts more than one night.”

“Exactly. Leave me be.”

“We just want to meet her. You knew we were coming.”

“I’m not going to be on the island today,” Christos said.

“We’ll find you.”

“Somehow I thought you would. I’ll leave Antonio at the Theakis compound, he’ll prepare your regular quarters.”

“Where does Ava stay?”

“In the main house with Theo.”

“How is the boy? Is he your son?”

Christos was starting to wonder if Theo was really his son. Christos knew he should just ignore Ava’s wishes and have the DNA test conducted, but he wanted…he wanted a chance at something more than the kind of marriage of convenience most of his colleagues had.

Tristan had married for love and against his family’s wishes, and for a few brief years had been the happiest man that Christos had ever known. Then his wife had passed away, a victim of cancer.

“What was it like?” he asked.

“What was what like?”

“Being married to Cecile.”

Tristan cleared his throat and didn’t answer for a moment. “Heaven. Is that what you’re searching for?”

“I don’t know that I am, but I want a chance at that.”

Tristan cleared his throat again. “I hope you find it. With Ava and Theo. You deserve that kind of happiness.”

Christos recognized sadness and resignation in Tristan’s voice. “You can have it again.”

“No, I can’t. It was a once-in-a-lifetime love. The kind that makes your soul burn brightly.”

Tristan rang off and Christos sank down in the leather executive chair, thinking of the tears in Ava’s eyes last night, tears that made him believe that she, too, wanted that kind of once-in-a-lifetime happiness with him.

Ava wasn’t sure what to expect when she got downstairs, but seeing her son playing with Ari wasn’t it. Theo jumped off Ari’s wheelchair when he saw her and ran to the open trunk of a Jaguar convertible, one of Christos’s many cars. He’d given her the keys to a Rolls-Royce.

Theo grabbed a second water gun and brought it to her. She pushed her sunglasses up on top of her head. She hoped that Theo would suggest she be the bad guy. She certainly wouldn’t mind dousing Ari with water.

“You can be the back-up detail.”

“Thanks, sweetie,” she said, dropping a kiss on Theo’s head and accepting the weapon from him. “Where’s yourbaba?”

“He had to take a call up at the main house,” Ari said, giving her outfit the once over. “Are you sure that’s what you should be wearing?”

She glanced down at her shorts and halter-style tank top. “We’re going out on a boat.”

“I know, but Christos may see some associates at the marina for lunch. You don’t want to look like a tacky American.”

She’d bought this outfit at Ann Taylor, the epitome of conservative American dress. She knew she didn’t look tacky, but Ari made her want to defend her clothing. And she wasn’t going to, because she’d learned the hard way that winning any argument with Ari was next to impossible.

“Babaisn’t working today,” Theo said.

“Business always comes first with Theakis men.”

Ava smiled sweetly at the older man. “One of the things I’ve always liked about Christos is that he makes his own decisions.”

“My son is stubborn, but also very loyal.”

That was true. Christos’s loyalty to Stavros had been one of the things that had driven the two of them apart. “He wants to be a good father to Theo.”

“Mama, I think you need to stand behind that tree over there. The bad guys will be coming up from the garden.”

She tossed her bag in the front seat of the convertible and got into position. Ari got to her as no one else could. She suspected it was partly because she didn’t feel that she was good enough for Christos. Living here at the Theakis compound brought home how different her life had been from Christos’s.

“Mama?”

“Yes?”

“I hear someone coming.”

She did, too. The footfalls were heavy on the stone walkway. She hoped it wasn’t Antonio. The poor man had been doused with water a lot in the past week.

She heard the whirring of the motor on Ari’s wheelchair and then Theo’s small hand on her back. “When I give you the signal, we’ll attack.”

She nodded at her son. A shadow of a man was visible around the side of the large tree trunk and Theo nudged her with his elbow. She jumped out on one side while Theo covered their target from the other. They both fired at the same time, dousing not Antonio, but Christos.

“Baba, we got you!”

Christos grabbed his chest and staggered backward. Water dripped from his torso and face. Theo raced forward and pulled a piece of rope from his pocket. He took Christos’s wrists in his hands.

“Mama, help me,” he said.

Ava dropped her weapon and reached for Christos’s wrists, which was when everything got a little crazy. Christos bent and picked up her gun with one hand and brought the other arm around her waist, holding her to his body. He held up the water gun to her face.

“Back away or the hostage gets it.”

Theo put up his hands, still holding his gun and took two steps back before he dropped into position and fired at Christos. Christos doused her with a shot of water to the face before turning his attention to Theo. Both of them raced down the path toward the garage and Ava stood there chuckling.

“I don’t know what’s gotten into him,” Ari said.

“He’s having fun.”

“Fun has never been his problem.”

“Whatishis problem?” she asked.

Ari shrugged and pulled a pair of sunglasses from his pocket. He turned the wheelchair toward the house and she realized that he was going to just roll away as if they weren’t having a conversation.

“For someone who places so much emphasis on manners, you are very rude.”

He stopped his chair and glanced over his shoulder at her. “Are you talking to me?”

“Do you see anyone else?”

“I don’t like your American attitude.”

She could name several things about Ari she didn’t like. “I don’t care for your Greek-male arrogance.”

“Good.”

He started back toward the house and she shook her head, watching him go. This was what she’d been trying to explain to Christos last night. The disdain that his father held for her made her days long and difficult. To his credit, Ari did seem to adore Theo and gave the boy a lot of attention.

She walked back toward the garage, noticing that both Christos and Theo had disappeared. She had a feeling that she was going to get attacked guerilla-warfare style. And she needed that distraction, because she felt out of her element here. Something that Ari always induced in her.

She’d given birth to his grandchild, but apparently that wasn’t enough for the older man to cut her any slack. She wondered if he knew the truth of what had happened in the past or just the tabloid version of everything that had transpired between her and Christos and Stavros. As observant as Ari was, she couldn’t imagine he would have missed the fact that Stavros had been having an affair and that it wasn’t with her.

She heard a rustling behind her a split second before she was hit in the back with an icy spray of water. She turned on her assailants, scooping her son up in her arms and wresting the squirt gun from him. She hit Christos in the face with the spray and then turned and ran for the car.

Theo’s laughter filled the air and she felt something ease in her soul. No matter how much Ari might disapprove of her, this was exactly where she belonged. Christos captured them both, wrapping his arms around her from behind. She felt his warm body press against her. She tipped her head back on his shoulder.

“What did my father say to you?” he asked.

“Nothing important. Can you still take us out on your yacht?”

“Yes,” he said. She could tell he wanted to ask her more questions, but she shook her head and set Theo down.

“Let’s go!” Theo said, climbing into the car and fastening his seatbelt.

Christos tried to keep his mind on driving to the marina and off the wet shirt that clung to Ava’s curves but it was hard…and that wasn’t the only thing in that condition.

His mobile phone rang and he ignored it. He’d had it with his interfering father, friends and business associates. He needed this clear, bright, sunshiny day for himself and his family. Ava wrapped her arm around her waist and shivered a little as the breeze blew through the car. Keeping his eyes on the road, Christos reached behind him into the bag she’d stowed in the back seat and pulled out her sweater.

“Thanks,” she said when he handed it to her. “Did you take care of all your business this morning?”

“Business?” he asked, wondering how she knew about it.

She shrugged. “Ari said you had a call. And last night you mentioned that there was a lot of stuff on your plate at work.”

“Stuff? Is that what you think I do?” he teased. He didn’t want to talk about business today or think about the heavy load he’d have to deal with tomorrow. Each day there was a new complication at the office. For just today, he wanted to feel…free. The way he used to when Stavros was still the one charged with carrying on the Theakis traditions.

“Meetings, conference calls, I don’t know. What do you do?”

“Stuff,” he said, unable to stop smiling over at her.

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