Read The greek tycoon's secret heir Online

Authors: Katherine Garbera

The greek tycoon's secret heir (page 5)

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“Yes, it was.”

“Nothing happened between Gui and myself,” she said again.

“I know.”

“You trust me?” she asked.

“I trust that nothing happened between the two of you.”

She swallowed hard, wanting to let it go.

“Because you trust your friend.”

“What does it matter?”

“It matters to me.”

“Why? We’re here together. We are getting married.”

That was exactly why it mattered so much to her. And she was so afraid that she was making Christos out to be this great love of her life in her mind. When the reality was…just another lie that she was telling herself.

“Because wearegetting married.”

He tucked her head closer to him, resting his chin on top of her head. “Ava, you are so complicated.”

“So are you,” she said. She had no idea what he really wanted from her.

“Why are you home?” she asked at last. She missed him during the day, although she was really trying to find a way to stand on her own. But right now she just closed her eyes and sank deeper into his arms.

“Theo asked me to come,” he said, stroking her back.

“He misses you when you’re gone.”

“I miss him, too.”

She tipped her head back and saw the sincerity in his obsidian eyes. “Even though you aren’t sure he’s your son.”

“He’s a Theakis and I do love him.”

Though she’d wanted to hear him say that he believed Theo was his son, she didn’t push. “I’m glad for that. I couldn’t stay here if you didn’t treat him right.”

“Yet you’ll stay here and let my father treat you poorly?”

“That’s not fair. Your father is hard to deal with.”

“I know. Do you want to live somewhere else?”

“What do you mean, not at the compound?”

He shrugged. “I’ve taken you away from the life you knew. I want this place to be your home.”

Though it wasn’t yet home, a physical place that she felt comfortable in, she didn’t want to disrupt Theo’s life with another move so soon. “I don’t mind living here. Your father and I just have to sort things out. And I’ve talked to Theo’s school about volunteering there. I think I can make this work….”

“Don’t let him run you off,” Christos said, and she had a feeling he was talking about way more than the wedding.

“I won’t. I’m not going to let you do that to me, either.”

“Good.”

She smiled. “We’d better head down to lunch. Theo’s probably already eaten but he’ll expect to see you.”

She tried to rise but he tugged her back into his arms.

“Yes?”

“I know you wouldn’t betray me with Gui.”

She caught her breath as the words sank in. Was he saying he trusted her? Or was this just an olive branch? A tentative offering that they could use to build a life together.

She leaned down and kissed him. She wanted to tell him with words all she felt about him, but words were something that Christos didn’t trust from her. Actions, on the other hand, might be just what she needed to convince him that she was a woman worthy of being a Theakis bride.

NineHis wedding day dawned cloudy and rainy. Not exactly a good omen, but then he’d never put much stock in things like fate. He controlled what happened around him with an iron fist and his own stubborn determination. Besides, the ceremony wasn’t until dusk and after a lifetime of watching the seas he knew that the skies would clear long before the ceremony started.

Too bad women weren’t easier to predict. Or, to be more specific, Ava. His focus had narrowed completely to her. His body was whacked out from wanting her so much. His emotions were a mess and he was caught somewhere between wanting to disappear into a job that could consume his life and walking away from being a Theakis to take Theo and Ava to some unnamed island.

He adjusted the tie at his throat, trying not to look at his reflection in the mirror. Ava had made a million and one small changes to her own life and he was well aware that he’d made none. He’d stood above her, superior in the knowledge that she’d betrayed him and should make amends. But now, coming to know her as he was, he suspected…

“Ready for the big day?” Tristan said, entering the room. He had a bottle of champagne in one hand and three glasses in the other. Gui was right behind him with a small digital camera.

“Ready as I’ll ever be,” Christos said. “I never thought I’d marry.”

“It’s not too late to change your mind,” Guillermo said. Gui was a confirmed bachelor who’d even tried to talk Tristan out of marrying his long-time love, Cecile.

“Yes, it is,” Tristan added. He put the glasses on the small table in the corner of the room and then opened the champagne. “You should know better than to suggest he could cancel, Gui. Ava would be devastated and I think that Ari would probably have a heart attack.”

“Better never to get married than to have to end it later,” Gui said. “You have to agree with that, Tris. Did you have doubts before you married Cecile?”

Tristan turned away and in his posture Christos saw the lingering pain of emptiness left by Cecile’s death. “No. I didn’t have any doubts. I knew that she was the one woman for me.”

Christos put his hand on his friend’s shoulder and squeezed. He wished sometimes that his emotions were as powerful as Tristan’s had been. But since Ava had come back into his life he’d been struggling to contain his emotions, working on not letting the possessiveness and jealousy that were always near the surface swamp him.

Gui raised one eyebrow at him. “What about you?”

He had no idea what he felt for Ava, only knew that she was his and he wanted the world to know it. “I’m not backing out. I’ve given my word.”

“And the word of a Theakis is unbreakable,” Theo said dancing into the room. He looked so cute in his tuxedo, like a Mini Me, Christos thought. Looking at the boy, he realized that this was his chance to make up for all the things he’d screwed up. With Theo he could make himself a better person.

“That’s right, Theo.”

“Baba, you look very handsome, just like Mama thought you would.”

“How do you know that?”

“I heard her tell Maria.”

Gui laughed. “You shouldn’t eavesdrop, Theo. That’s not polite.”

“I didn’t mean to.”

Christos ruffled the boy’s hair as Antonio entered the room carrying more champagne glasses. Antonio was dressed in a tuxedo and would also be serving as one of Christos’s groomsmen.

“I think that this time it was okay,” Christos said to Theo.

“I’m sure it was,” Tristan said. “Let’s have a toast to yourbaba, Theo.”

Tristan poured champagne into each of the glasses. Ari entered in time to claim a glass. Seeing his formerly robust father in the wheelchair suddenly gave Christos pause. He struggled to see past the chair and most days was successful—the old man was so cantankerous that it was hard to pity him—but, today, when Stavros’s absence was so palpable, it was harder.

Tristan made some kind of toast and Christos raised his glass and took a sip, but he couldn’t stop looking at his father. He felt Theo’s small hand in his grip and glanced down.

“I don’t like this. Can I have something else to toast with?”

“It’s not a proper toast if you don’t do it with champagne,” Tristan said. Being a Frenchman he had always believed that wine in all its forms was the only thing one should drink. “It’s an acquired taste, Theo. All true gentleman enjoy it.”

“It took me a while to get used to the taste as well.”

“I will get some sparkling water for Theo.” Antonio left the room.

“When did you get used to it,Baba?”

He shrugged. “Over time I think. Not being born French it may have taken me longer than Tristan.”

“Touché,” Tristan said with a mocking nod in his direction.

“Your father was born something better than French,” Ari said.

“Greek?” Theo asked.

“No, a Theakis,” Ari said. Christos met his father’s gaze and for this one moment they were on the same page.

He glanced at Theo and wondered if he’d be happier knowing that the boy was really his son. The doubts were still there, but didn’t change the way he felt for Theo. And today, he was happy to be a Theakis groom going to his bride. Happy to be the son of Ari. Happy that for once he and his father both wanted the same thing.

He pushed his doubts about Ava’s past fidelity out of his mind, just for today.

Ava had never been one of those girls who’d had big dreams of her wedding day, mainly because she’d always known her father wouldn’t pay for her to marry any man. But this was something out of a fantasy.

Once Christos had told her to take control of the wedding, she’d decided to do just that. She’d combed the society pages for wedding details so she’d have an idea of what the Theakis family were used to and then used her two weeks to plan an event that wouldn’t embarrass them.

The end result was a ceremony and reception that she felt confident people would be talking about for a long time to come. Butshestill felt like a fraud. She felt as though the entire ceremony was one big lie. She put her head down in her hands.

“Don’t do that, Ava, you’ll smear your makeup,” Laurette said. As promised, Christos had flown her and Paul in from Florida to help Ava prepare for the wedding, and Laurette was serving as her maid of honor.

“What am I doing?” she asked.

“Getting married to your very handsome Prince Charming,” Sheri Donnelly said. Sheri worked for Tristan and had agreed to be in the wedding party as a favor to him. Guillermo’s youngest sister, Augustina, was also serving as a bridesmaid. Augustina was sixteen and so beautiful that Ava had a hard time looking at her. She was also sweet and very shy.

“Prince Charming? Only if Prince Charming was arrogant and bossy,” Ava said. Christos was definitely the only man for her, but she had to wonder sometimes why she’d fallen for such an opinionated man.

“There’s no accounting for taste,” Laurette said, fluffing her short blond hair. Laurette was the one woman in the world whom Ava actually felt comfortable with.

“Very funny,” Ava said, finally smiling.

Sheri shook her head. “I’m in the same boat. In love with a guy I shouldn’t be in love with.”

“Tristan?” Ava asked. Though Sheri was dressed in a gown the same as the other bridesmaids’ she still looked…well, plain. She blended into the background and was easy to ignore. But she was spunky, and Ava had noticed that the other woman was different when she was around Tristan.

Sheri flushed and looked away. “God, please tell me it isn’t that obvious.”

So glad to have someone else’s problems to deal with instead of her own, Ava walked over to Sheri, putting her arm around the other woman’s shoulders. “Only to someone in the same position.”

“We’re not in the same position. Christos is marrying you and he watches you with an intensity that makes it clear that he wants you.”

“Wanting is not the same thing as loving. Christos is marrying me because…I don’t know why he’s marrying me. I think I’m making a horrible mistake.”

Augustina left the mirror where she was fixing her lipstick. “Passion is never a mistake, Ava. That’s how love starts.”

“Who told you that?” Ava asked the younger woman.

She shrugged her delicate shoulder. “I’m Spanish. We know about passion.”

She ruined her sophisticated moment by giggling after she said it. “Actually, Guillermo told me that.”

“I can believe it,” Ava said.

Augustina offered to help Sheri with her makeup and the two women moved to another corner of the room.

“Are you sure about this?” Laurette asked. “There’s still time to call it off.”

No, there wasn’t. She wanted to marry Christos, had wanted to from the very first time she’d made love with him over five years ago. And though she’d never had any childhood dreams of a wedding, as soon as she’d held him in her arms, she’d had dreams of a marriage. Of having Christos as her husband.

“I’m not sure, but I can’t call it off.”

“Are you still worried about Theo?”

“No. Christos is a great father and I believe that if I said I couldn’t stay here, he’d find a way to work something out between us. I’m not marrying him because I have to.”

Laurette hugged her close. “Good. I like him. I think he’s good for you.”

“Ha, he’s bossy.”

“So are you. You need a man who will take care of you.”

She wondered sometimes if that wasn’t part of the appeal of Christos. He was so different from every other man she knew.

“It’s almost time,” Maria said, entering the room. She held a small wrapped box in one hand. Theo was behind her, looking adorable in his tux.

“Mama, I just had a champagne toast withBabaand I didn’t like it.”

“That’s okay.”

“The photographer is going to come in here in a minute to start taking photos,” Maria said. “Theo, come over here and let me comb your hair.” She turned to Ava. “This is for you.”

She handed her the gift-wrapped box and then stepped away. Ava glanced down at the card, which simply stated her name in Christos’s bold handwriting.

“I’ll give you a minute to yourself,” Laurette said, and joined Augustina and Sheri.

She unwrapped the box slowly. It was made of hardwood and inlaid with gold. The design on the top of the box was the Theakis family seal, something she’d seen many times over the last few weeks.

She opened the box and the fresh scent of cedar assailed her. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply. Then she opened them and looked inside. There was an embossed notecard. She lifted it out and read it quickly.

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