A Deal at the Altar - Линн Грэхем - MARRIAGE BY COMMAND Читать онлайн любовный роман

В женской библиотеке Мир Женщины кроме возможности читать онлайн также можно скачать любовный роман - A Deal at the Altar - Линн Грэхем бесплатно.

Правообладателям | Топ-100 любовных романов

A Deal at the Altar - Линн Грэхем - Читать любовный роман онлайн в женской библиотеке LadyLib.Net
A Deal at the Altar - Линн Грэхем - Скачать любовный роман в женской библиотеке LadyLib.Net

Грэхем Линн

A Deal at the Altar

Читать онлайн

Аннотация к роману
«A Deal at the Altar» - Линн Грэхем

Her indecent proposal! Having pulled himself up from the streets of Athens, Sergios Demonides thought he had seen it all. Then Beatriz Blake walked into his office and asked him for a marriage of convenience! Independent, proud and unadorned, Beatriz is a far cry from the usual glamorous women who grace his bed.But Sergios doesn’t need another trophy – he needs a mother for his late cousin’s children. The overlooked Blake heiress and the ruthless billionaire strike a deal. But she doesn’t read the small print – that sees them sharing a bed!
Следующая страница


‘Sergios shook his arrogant dark head. ‘Think outside the box, Beatriz. I’m trying to make a deal with you. As you’re not in business, I’ll explain—I give you what you want so that you give me what I want. It’s that simple.’

‘Except when it’s my body on the table,’ Bee replied in a tone of gentle irony. ‘My body is not going to figure as any part of a deal with you or anybody else. We agreed that this would be a marriage in name only, that there would be no sex, and I want to stick to that.’

‘That is not the message your body is giving me, latria mou,’ Sergios drawled softly.


Three sisters wedlocked to the world’s most powerful billionaires

A brand-new trilogy from bestselling author Lynne Graham!

The Blake heiresses have lived so long under the harsh

rule of their father’s iron fist, even the shackles of an

arranged marriage seem like a reprieve—at first!

But they go from the frying pan into the fire!

For their convenient husbands are men of the world—

international, experienced,

and oh-so-devastatingly sexy!


Zara’s very public engagement

is hijacked by vengeful Italian billionaire

Vitale Roccanti. The scandal they’ve created

means there’s no way left but down—the aisle!

Read Roccanti’s Marriage Revenge in March 2012


Bee is worth her weight in gold to Greek tycoon

Sergios Demonides. But he needs her maternal skills

rather than a trophy wife.

Read A Deal at the Altar in April 2012


And the series concludes with Tawny’s story

A Vow of Obligation in May 2012

About the Author

LYNNE GRAHAM was born in Northern Ireland and has been a keen Mills & Boon® reader since her teens. She is very happily married, with an understanding husband who has learned to cook since she started to write! Her five children keep her on her toes. She has a very large dog, which knocks everything over, a very small terrier, which barks a lot, and two cats. When time allows, Lynne is a keen gardener.

Recent titles by the same author:


(Marriage by Command) JEWEL IN HIS CROWN BRIDE FOR REAL (The Volakis Vow) THE MARRIAGE BETRAYAL (The Volakis Vow)

Did you know these are also available as eBooks? Visit www.millsandboon.co.uk

A Deal

at the Altar

Lynne Graham



‘WHAT do I want to do about the Royale hotel group?’ The speaker, a very tall and well-built Greek male with blue-black hair, raised an ebony brow and gave a sardonic laugh. ‘Let’s allow Blake to sweat for the moment …’

‘Yes, sir.’ Thomas Morrow, the British executive who had asked the question at the behest of his colleagues, was conscious of the nervous perspiration on his brow. One-on-one encounters with his powerhouse employer, one of the richest men in the world, were rare and he was keen not to say anything that might be deemed stupid or naive.

Everybody knew that Sergios Demonides did not suffer fools gladly. Unfortunately, priding himself on being a maverick, the Greek billionaire did not feel the need to explain the objectives behind his business decisions either, which could make life challenging for his executive team. Not so long ago the acquisition of the Royale hotel group at any price had seemed to be the goal and there was even a strong rumour that Sergios might be planning to marry the exquisite Zara Blake, the daughter of the man who owned the hotel chain. But after Zara had been pictured in the media in the arms of an Italian banker that rumour had died and Sergios’s curious staff had not noticed their boss exhibiting the smallest sign of annoyance over the development.

‘I took the original offer to Blake off the table. The price will come down now,’ Sergios pointed out lazily, brilliant black eyes glittering at that prospect for more than anything else in life he liked to drive a hard bargain.

Purchasing the Royale group at an inflated price would have gone very much against the grain with him, but a couple of months ago Sergios had been prepared to do it and jump through virtually any hoop just to make that deal. Why? His beloved grandfather, Nectarios, who had started his legendary business empire at the helm of the very first Royale hotel in London, had been seriously ill at the time. But, mercifully, Nectarios was a tough old buzzard, Sergios thought fondly, and pioneering heart surgery in the USA had powered his recovery. Sergios now thought that the hotel chain would make a timely little surprise for his grandfather’s eightieth birthday, but he no longer had any intention of paying over the odds for the gift.

As for the wife he had almost acquired as part of the deal, Sergios was relieved that fate had prevented him from making that mistake. Zara Blake, after all, had shown herself up as a beautiful little tart with neither honour nor decency. On the other hand her maternal instincts would have come in very useful where his children were concerned, he conceded grudgingly. Had it not been for the fact that his cousin’s premature death had left Sergios responsible for his three young children, Sergios would not even have considered taking a second wife.

His handsome face hardened. One catastrophe in that department had been quite sufficient for Sergios. For the sake of those children, however, he had been prepared to bite the bullet and remarry. It would have been a marriage of convenience though, a public sham to gain a mother for the children and assuage his conscience. He knew nothing about kids and had never wanted any of his own but he knew his cousin’s children were unhappy and that piqued his pride and his sense of honour.

‘So, we’re waiting for Blake to make the next move,’ Thomas guessed, breaking the silence.

‘And it won’t be long.

He’s over-extended and under-funded with very few options left,’ Sergios commented with growling satisfaction.

‘You’re a primary school teacher and good with young kids,’ Monty Blake pointed out, seemingly impervious to his eldest daughter’s expression of frank astonishment as she stood in his wood-panelled office. ‘You’d make the perfect wife for Demonides—’

‘No, stop right there!’ Bee lifted a hand to physically emphasise that demand, her green eyes bright with disbelief as she used her other hand to push the heavy fall of chestnut-brown hair off her damp brow. Now she knew that her surprise and disquiet that her father should have asked her to come and see him were not unfounded. ‘This is me, not Zara, you’re talking to and I have no desire to marry an oversexed billionaire who needs some little woman at home to look after his kids—’

‘Those kids are not his,’ the older man broke in to remind her, as though that should make a difference to her. ‘His cousin’s death made him their guardian. By all accounts he didn’t either want or welcome the responsibility—’

At that information, Bee’s delicately rounded face only tightened with increased annoyance. She had plenty of experience with men who could not be bothered with children, not least with the man standing in front of her making sexist pronouncements. He might have persuaded her naive younger sister, Zara, to consider a marriage of convenience with the Greek shipping magnate, but Bee was far less impressionable and considerably more suspicious.

She had never sought her father’s approval, which was just as well because as she was a mere daughter it had never been on offer to her. She was not afraid to admit that she didn’t like or respect the older man, who had taken no interest in her as she grew up. He had also badly damaged her self-esteem at sixteen when he advised her that she needed to go on a diet and dye her hair a lighter colour. Monty Blake’s image of female perfection was unashamedly blonde and skinny, while Bee was brunette and resolutely curvy. She focused on the desk photograph of her stepmother, Ingrid, a glamorous former Swedish model, blonde and thin as a rail.

‘I’m sorry, I’m not interested, Dad,’ Bee told him squarely, belatedly noticing that he wore an undeniable look of tiredness and strain. Perhaps he had come up with that outrageous suggestion that she marry Sergios Demonides because he was stressed out with business worries, she reasoned uncertainly.

‘Well, you’d better get interested,’ Monty Blake retorted sharply. ‘Your mother and you lead a nice life. If the Royale hotel group crashes so that Demonides can pick it up for a song, the fallout won’t only affect me and your stepmother but all my dependants …’

Bee tensed at that doom-laden forecast. ‘What are you saying?’

‘You know very well what I’m saying,’ he countered impatiently. ‘You’re not as stupid as your sister—’

‘Zara is not—’

‘I’ll come straight to the point. I’ve always been very generous to you and your mother …’

Uncomfortable with that subject though she was, Bee also liked to be fair. ‘Yes, you have been,’ she was willing to acknowledge.

It was not the moment to say that she had always thought his generosity towards her mother might be better described as ‘conscience’ money. Emilia, Bee’s Spanish mother, had been Monty’s first wife. In the wake of a serious car accident, Emilia had emerged from hospital as a paraplegic in a wheelchair. Bee had been four years old at the time and her mother had quickly realised that her young, ambitious husband was repulsed by her handicap. With quiet dignity, Emilia had accepted the inevitable and agreed to a separation. In gratitude for the fact that she had returned his freedom without a fuss, Monty had bought Emilia and her daughter a detached house in a modern estate, which he had then had specially adapted to her mother’s needs. He had also always paid for the services of a carer to ensure that Bee was not burdened with round-the-clock responsibility for her mother. While the need to help out at home had necessarily restricted Bee’s social life from a young age, she was painfully aware that only her father’s financial support had made it possible for her to attend university, train as a teacher and actually take up the career that she loved.

‘I’m afraid that unless you do what I’m asking you to do the gravy train of my benevolence stops here and now,’ Monty Blake declared harshly. ‘I own your mother’s house. It’s in my name and I can sell it any time I choose.’

Bee turned pale at that frank warning, shock winging through her because this was not a side of her father that she had ever come up against before. ‘Why would you do something so dreadful to Mum?’

‘Why should I care now?’ Monty demanded curtly. ‘I married your mother over twenty years ago and I’ve looked after her ever since. Most people would agree that I’ve more than paid my dues to a woman I was only married to for five years.’

‘You know how much Mum and I appreciate everything that you have done for her,’ Bee responded, her pride stung by the need to show that humility in the face of his obnoxious threatening behaviour.

‘If you want my generosity to continue it will cost you,’ the older man spelt out bluntly. ‘I need Sergios Demonides to buy my hotels at the right price. And he was willing to do that until Zara blew him off and married that Italian instead—’

‘Zara’s deliriously happy with Vitale Roccanti,’ Bee murmured tautly in her half-sister’s defence. ‘I don’t see how I could possibly persuade a big tough businessman like Demonides to buy your hotels at a preferential price.’

‘Well, let’s face it, you don’t have Zara’s looks,’ her father conceded witheringly. ‘But as I understand it all Demonides wants is a mother for those kids he’s been landed with and you’d make a damned sight better mother for them than Zara ever would have done—your sister can barely read! I bet he didn’t know that when he agreed to marry her.’

Stiff with distaste at the cruelty of his comments about her sister, who suffered from dyslexia, Bee studied him coolly. ‘I’m sure a man as rich and powerful as Sergios Demonides could find any number of women willing to marry him and play mummy to those kids. As you’ve correctly pointed out I’m not the ornamental type so I can’t understand why you imagine he might be interested in me.’

Monty Blake released a scornful laugh. ‘Because I know what he wants—Zara told me.

He wants a woman who knows her place—’

‘Well, then, he definitely doesn’t want me,’ Bee slotted in drily, her eyes flaring at that outdated expression that assumed female inferiority. ‘And Zara’s feistier than you seem to appreciate. I think he would have had problems with her too.’

‘But you’re the clever one who could give him exactly what he wants. You’re much more practical than Zara ever was because you’ve never had it too easy—’

‘Dad …?’ Bee cut in, spreading her hands in a silencing motion. ‘Why are we even having this insane conversation? I’ve only met Sergios Demonides once in my life and he barely looked at me.’

She swallowed back the unnecessary comment that the only part of her the Greek tycoon had noticed had appeared to be her chest.

‘I want you to go to him and offer him a deal—the same deal he made with Zara. A marriage where he gets to do as he likes and buys my hotels at the agreed figure—’

Me … go to him with a proposal of marriage?’ Bee echoed in ringing disbelief. ‘I’ve never heard anything so ridiculous in my life! The man would think I was a lunatic!’

Monty Blake surveyed her steadily. ‘I believe you’re clever enough to be convincing. If you can persuade him that you could be a perfect wife and mother for those little orphans you’re that something extra that could put this deal back on the table for me. I need this sale and I need it now or everything I’ve worked for all my life is going to tumble down like a pack of cards. And with it will go your mother’s security—’

‘Don’t threaten Mum like that.’

‘But it’s not an empty threat.’ Monty shot his daughter an embittered look. ‘The bank’s threatening to pull the plug on my loans. My hotel chain is on the edge of disaster and right now that devil, Demonides, is playing a waiting game. I can’t afford to wait. If I go down you and your mother will lose everything too,’ he reminded her doggedly. ‘Think about it and imagine it—no specially adapted house, day-to-day responsibility for Emilia, no life of your own any more …’

‘Don’t!’ Bee exclaimed, disgusted by his coercive methods. ‘I think you have to be off your head to think that Sergios Demonides would even consider marrying someone like me.’

‘Perhaps I am but we’re not going to know until you make the approach, are we?’

‘You’re crazy!’ his daughter protested vehemently, aghast at what he was demanding of her.

Her father stabbed a finger in the air. ‘I’ll have a For Sale sign erected outside your mother’s house this week if you don’t at least go and see him.’

‘I couldn’t … I just couldn’t!’ Bee gasped, appalled by his persistence. ‘Please don’t do this to Mum.’

‘I’ve made a reasonable request, Bee. I’m in a very tight corner. Why, after enjoying all my years of expensive support and education, shouldn’t you try to help?’

‘Oh, puh-lease,’ Bee responded with helpless scorn at that smooth and inaccurate résumé of his behaviour as a parent. ‘Demanding that I approach a Greek billionaire and ask him to marry me is a reasonable request? On what planet and in what culture would that be reasonable?’

‘Tell him you’ll take those kids off his hands and allow him to continue enjoying his freedom and I think you’re in with a good chance,’ the older man replied stubbornly.

‘And what happens when I humiliate myself and he turns me down?’

‘You’ll have to pray that he says yes,’ Monty Blake answered, refusing to give an inch in his desperation. ‘After all, it is the only way that your mother’s life is likely to continue as comfortably as it has done for years.’

‘Newsflash, Dad. Life in a wheelchair is not comfortable,’ his daughter flung at him bitterly.

‘And life without my financial security blanket is likely to be even less comfortable,’ he sliced back, determined to have the last word.

Minutes later, having failed to change her father’s mind in any way, Bee left the hotel and caught the bus home to the house she still shared with her mother. She was cooking supper when her mother’s care assistant, Beryl, brought Emilia back from a trip to the library. Wheeling into the kitchen, Emilia beamed at her daughter. ‘I found a Catherine Cookson I haven’t read!’

‘I won’t be able to get you off to sleep tonight now.’ Looking down into her mother’s worn face, aged and lined beyond her years by illness and suffering, Bee could have wept at the older woman’s continuing determination to celebrate the smallest things in life. Emilia had lost so much in that accident but she never ever complained.

When she had settled her mother for the night, Bee sat down to mark homework books for her class of seven-year-olds. Her mind, however, refused to stay on the task. She could not stop thinking about what her father had told her. He had threatened her but he had also told her a truth that had ripped away her sense of security. After all, she had naively taken her father’s continuing financial success for granted and assumed that he would always be in a position to ensure that her mother had no money worries.

Being Bee, she had to consider the worst-case scenario. If her mother lost her house and garden it would undoubtedly break her heart. The house had been modified for a disabled occupant so that Emilia could move easily within its walls. Zara had even designed raised flower beds for the back garden, which her mother could work at on good days. If the house was sold Bee had a salary and would naturally be able to rent an apartment but as she would not be able to afford a full-time carer for her mother any more she would have to give up work to look after her and would thus lose that salary. Monty Blake might cover the bills but there had never been a surplus or indeed a legal agreement that he provide financial support and Emilia had no savings. Without his assistance the two women would have to live on welfare benefits and all the little extras and outings that lightened and lifted her mother’s difficult life would no longer be affordable. It was a gloomy outlook that appalled Bee, who had always been very protective of the older woman.

Indeed when she thought about Emilia losing even the little things that she cherished the prospect of proposing marriage to a very intimidating Greek tycoon became almost acceptable. So what if she made a fool of herself? Well, there was no ‘if’ about it, she would make a colossal fool of herself and he might well dine out on the story for years! He had seemed to her as exactly the sort of guy likely to enjoy other people’s misfortunes.

Not that he hadn’t enjoyed misfortunes of his own, Bee was willing to grudgingly concede. When her sister had planned to marry Sergios, Bee had researched him on the Internet and she had disliked most of what she had discovered. Sergios had only become a Demonides when he was a teenager with a string of petty crimes to his name. He had grown up fighting for survival in one of the roughest areas of Athens. At twenty-one he had married a beautiful Greek heiress and barely three years later he had buried her when she died carrying their unborn child. Yes, Sergios Demonides might be filthy rich and successful, but his personal life was generally a disaster zone.

Those facts aside, however, he also had a name for being an out-and-out seven-letter-word in business and with women. Popular report said that he was extremely intelligent and astute but that he was also famously arrogant, ruthless and cold, the sort of guy who, as a husband, would have given her sensitive sister Zara and her cute pet rabbit, Fluffy, nightmares. Fortunately Bee did not consider herself sensitive. Growing up without a father and forced to become an adult long before her time as she learned to cope with her mother’s disability and dependence, Bee had forged a tougher shell.

At the age of twenty-four, Bee already knew that men were rarely attracted to that protective shell or the unadorned conservative wrapping that surrounded it. She wasn’t pretty or feminine and the boys she had dated as she grew up had, with only one exception, been friends rather than lovers. She had never learned to flirt or play girlie games and thought that perhaps she was just too sensible. She had, however, for a blissful few months been deeply in love and desperately hurt when the relationship fell apart over the extent of her responsibility for her disabled mother. And while she couldn’t have cared less about her appearance, she was clever and passing so many exams with distinction and continually winning prizes did, she had learned to her cost, scare off the opposite sex.

The men she met also tended to be put off when Bee spoke her mind even if it meant treading on toes. She hated injustice or cruelty in any form. She didn’t do that fragile-little-woman thing her stepmother, Ingrid, was for ever flattering her father with. It was hardly surprising that even Zara, the sister she loved, had grown up with a healthy dose of that same fatal man-pleasing gene. Only her youngest sister, Tawny, born of her father’s affair with his secretary, resembled Bee in that line. Bee had never known what it was to feel helpless until she found herself actually making an appointment to see Sergios Demonides … such a crazy idea, such a very pointless exercise.

Forty-eight hours after Bee won the tussle with her pride and made the appointment, Sergios’s PA asked him if he was willing to see Monty Blake’s daughter, Beatriz. Unexpectedly Sergios had instant recall of the brunette’s furious grass-green eyes and magnificent breasts. A dinner in tiresome company had been rendered almost bearable by his enticing view of that gravity-defying bosom, although she had not appreciated the attention. But why the hell would Blake’s elder daughter want to speak to him? Did she work with her father? Was she hoping to act as the older man’s negotiator? He snapped his long brown fingers to bring an aide to his side and requested an immediate background report on Beatriz before granting her an appointment the next day.

The following afternoon, dressed in a grey trouser suit, which she usually reserved for interviews but which she was convinced gave her much-needed dignity, Bee waited in the reception area of the elegant stainless-steel and glass building that housed the London headquarters of SD Shipping. That Sergios had used his own initials to stamp his vast business empire with his powerful personality didn’t surprise Bee at all. Her heart rate increased at the prospect that loomed ahead of her.

‘Mr Demonides will see you now, Miss Blake,’ the attractive receptionist informed her with a practised smile that Bee could not match.

Without warning Bee was feeling sick with nerves. She was too intelligent not to contemplate the embarrassment awaiting her without inwardly cringing. She was quick to remind herself that the Greek billionaire was just a big hulking brute with too much money and an inability to ignore a low neck on a woman’s dress. She reddened, recalling the evening gown with the plunge neckline that she had borrowed from a friend for that stupid meal. While his appraisal had made Bee blush like a furnace and had reminded her why she usually covered up those particular attributes, she had been stunned by his apparent indifference to her beautiful sister, Zara.

When Beatriz Blake came through the door of Sergios’s office with a firm step in her sensible shoes, he instantly recognised that he was not about to be treated to any form of charm offensive. Her boxy colourless trouser suit did nothing for her womanly curves. Her rich brown hair was dragged back from her face and she wore not a scrap of make-up. To a man accustomed to highly groomed women her lackadaisical attitude towards making a good impression struck him as almost rude.

‘I’m a very busy man, Beatriz. I don’t know what you’re doing here but I expect you to keep it brief,’ he told her impatiently.

For a split second Sergios Demonides towered over Bee like a giant building casting a long tall shadow and she took a harried step back, feeling crowded by his sheer size and proximity. She had forgotten how big and commanding he was, from his great height to his broad shoulders and long powerful legs. He was also, much though it irritated her to admit it, a staggeringly handsome man with luxuriant blue-black hair and sculpted sun-darkened features. The sleek unmistakeable assurance of great wealth oozed from the discreet gleam of his thin gold watch and cufflinks to the spotless white of his shirt and the classy tailoring of his dark business suit.

She collided with eyes the colour of burnished bronze that had the impact of a sledgehammer and cut off her breathing at its source. It was as if nerves were squeezing her throat tight and her heart started hammering again.

‘My father asked me to see you on his behalf,’ she began, annoyed by the breathlessness making her voice sound low and weak.

‘You’re a primary school teacher. What could you possibly have to say that I would want to hear?’ Sergios asked with brutal frankness.

‘I think you’ll be surprised …’ Bee compressed her lips, her voice gathering strength as reluctant amusement briefly struck her. ‘Well, I know you’ll be surprised.’

Surprises were rare and even less welcome in Sergios’s life. He was a control freak and knew it and had not the smallest urge to change.

‘A little while back you were planning to marry my sister, Zara.’

‘It wouldn’t have worked,’ Sergios responded flatly.

Bee breathed in deep and slow while her white-knuckled hands gripped the handles of her bag. ‘Zara told me exactly what you wanted out of marriage.’

While wondering where the strange dialogue could possibly be leading, Sergios tried not to grit his teeth visibly. ‘That was most indiscreet of her.’

Discomfiture sent colour flaming into Bee’s cheeks, accentuating the deep green of her eyes. ‘I’m just going to put my cards on the table and get to the point.’

Sergios rested back against the edge of his polished contemporary desk and surveyed her in a manner that was uniquely discouraging, ‘I’m waiting,’ he said when she hesitated.

His impatient silence hummed like bubbling water ready to boil over.

Beneath her jacket, Bee breathed in so deep her bosom swelled and almost popped the buttons on her fitted blouse and for a split second Sergios dropped his narrowed gaze there as the fabric pulled taut over that full swell, whose bounty he still vividly recalled.

‘My father utilised a certain amount of pressure to persuade me to come and see you,’ she admitted uncomfortably. ‘I told him it was crazy but here I am.’

‘Yes, here … you … are,’ Sergios framed in a tone of yawning boredom. ‘Still struggling to come to the point.’

‘Dad wanted me to offer myself in Zara’s place.’ Bee squeezed out that admission and watched raw incredulity laced with astonished hauteur flare in his face while hot pink embarrassment surged into hers. ‘I know, I told you it was crazy but he wants that hotel deal and he thinks that a suitable wife added into the mix could make a difference.’

‘Suitable? You’re certainly not in the usual run of women who aspire to marry me.’ Sergios delivered that opinion bluntly.

And it was true. Beatriz Blake was downright plain in comparison to the gorgeous women who pursued him wherever he went, desperate to attract his attention and get their greedy hands on, if not the ultimate prize of a wedding ring, some token of his wealth. But somewhere deep in his mind at that instant a memory was stirring.

‘Homely women make the best wives,’ his grandfather had once contended. ‘Your grandmother was unselfish, loyal and caring. I couldn’t have asked for a better wife. My home was kept like a palace, my children were loved, and my word was law. She never gave me a second of concern. Think well before you marry a beauty, who demands more and gives a lot less.’

Having paled at that unnecessary reminder of her limitations, Bee made a fast recovery and lifted her chin. ‘Obviously I’m not blonde and beautiful but I’m convinced that I would be a more appropriate choice than Zara ever was for the position.’

A kind of involuntary fascination at the level of her nerve was holding Sergios taut. His straight black brows drew together in a frown. ‘You speak as though the role of being my wife would be a job.’

‘Isn’t it?’ Bee came back at him boldly with that challenge. ‘From what I understand you only want to marry to have a mother for your late cousin’s children and I could devote myself to their care full-time, something Zara would never have been willing to do. I also—’

‘Be silent for a moment,’ Sergios interrupted, studying her with frowning attention. ‘What kind of pressure did your father put on you to get you to come here and spout this nonsense?’

Bee went rigid before she tossed her head back in sudden defiance, wondering why she should keep her father’s coercion a secret. Her pride demanded that she be honest. ‘I have a severely disabled mother and if the sale of the Royale hotel chain falls through my father has threatened to sell our home and stop paying for Mum’s care assistant. I’m not dependent on him but Mum is and I don’t want to see her suffer. Her life is challenging enough.’

‘I’m sure it is.’ Sergios was unwillingly impressed by her motivation. Evidently Monty Blake was crueller within his family circle than Sergios would ever have guessed. Even Nectarios, his grandfather and one of the most ruthless men Sergios had ever met, would have drawn the line at menacing a disabled ex-wife. As for Beatriz, he could respect her honesty and her family loyalty, traits that said a lot about the kind of woman she was. She wasn’t here for his enviable lifestyle or his money, she was here because she didn’t have a choice. That was not a flattering truth but Sergios loathed flattery, having long since recognised that few people saw past his immense wealth and power to the man behind it all.

‘So, tell me why you believe that you would make a better wife than your sister?’ Sergios urged, determined to satisfy his curiosity and intrigued by her attitude towards marriage. A wife as an employee? It was a new take on the traditional role that appealed to him. A businessman to the core, he was quick to see the advantages of such an arrangement. A paid wife would be more likely to respect his boundaries while still making the effort to please him, he reasoned thoughtfully. There could be little room for messy human emotion and misunderstanding in such a practical agreement.

‘I would be less demanding. I’m self-sufficient, sensible.

I probably wouldn’t cost you very much either as I’m not very interested in my appearance,’ Bee pointed out, her full pink mouth folding as if vanity could be considered a vice. ‘I’m also very good with kids.’

‘What would you do with a six-year-old boy painting pictures on the walls?’

Bee frowned. ‘Talk to him.’

‘But he doesn’t talk back. His little brother keeps on trying to cling to me and the toddler just stares into space,’ Sergios told her in a driven undertone, his concern and incomprehension of such behaviour patent. ‘Why am I telling you that?’

Surprised by his candour, Bee reckoned it was a sign that the children’s problems were very much on his mind ‘You thought I might have an answer for you?’

With a warning knock the door opened and someone addressed him in what she assumed to be Greek. He gave a brief answer and returned his attention to Bee. Something about that assessing look made her stiffen. ‘I’ll think over your proposition,’ he drawled softly, startling her. ‘But be warned, I’m not easy to please.’

‘I knew that the first time I looked at you,’ Bee countered, taking in the sardonic glitter of his eyes, the hard, uncompromising bone structure and that stubborn sensual mouth. It was very much the face of a tough guy, resistant to any counsel but his own.

‘Next you’ll be telling me you can read my fortune from my palm,’ Sergios retorted with mocking cool.

Bee walked out of his office in a daze. He had said he would consider her proposition. Had that only been a polite lie? Somehow she didn’t think he would have given her empty words. But if he was seriously considering her as a wife, where did that leave her? Fathoms deep in shock? For since Bee had automatically assumed that Sergios Demonides would turn her down she had not, at any stage, actually considered the possibility of becoming his wife …


Получить полную версию книги можно по ссылке - Здесь

Следующая страница

Ваши комментарии
к роману A Deal at the Altar - Линн Грэхем

Комментарии к роману "A Deal at the Altar - Линн Грэхем" отсутствуют

Ваше имя


Введите сумму чисел с картинки