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Christakis's Rebellious Wife

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«Christakis's Rebellious Wife» - Линн Грэхем

Nine months to save their marriage!Nik Christakis was once her Prince Charming – the indecently rich and devilishly handsome tycoon who took Betsy away from her life as a waitress and did the unimaginable: made her his wife! But married life wasn’t the fantasy she’d envisaged.Now, as her hand hovers over the divorce papers, Betsy sees something in her husband’s eyes…a glimmer of the man she first fell in love with. But when their encounter ends in reckless passion Betsy is left with a very unexpected consequence that will for ever tie her to the man that she was determined to forget!Discover more at
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Nine months to save their marriage!

Nik Christakis had once been her Prince Charming, the indecently rich and devilishly handsome tycoon who took Betsy away from her life as a waitress and did the unimaginable—made her his wife! But married life wasn’t the fantasy she’d envisioned.

Now, as her hand hovers over the divorce papers, Betsy sees something in her husband’s eyes…a glimmer of the man she first fell in love with. But when this encounter ends in reckless passion, Betsy is left with two very unexpected consequences that will forever tie her to the man she was determined to forget!

‘I gather you want to talk.’

Nik spun back to her with the liquid grace of movement that had always caught her eye and frowned at her, black brows drawn down, wide, sensual mouth twisting in dismissal.

‘No. I don’t want to talk,’ he told Betsy abruptly, before he tossed back the finger of Scotch whisky he had poured neat and set down the empty glass again.

‘Then why—?’ she began in confusion.

‘Se thelo…I want you,’ he heard himself admit, before he was even aware that the words were on his tongue.

So Nik—so explosively unpredictable, Betsy reasoned abstractedly, colour rushing into her cheeks as a hot wave of awareness engulfed her. Jewel-bright eyes assailed hers in an almost physical collision, and something low and intimate in her body clenched hard. Her legs turned so weak she wasn’t convinced they were still there to hold her up, but she was held in stasis by the intensity of his narrowed green gaze.

‘And you want me,’ he told her thickly.


Three tenets to live by: money, power and the ruthless pursuit of passion!

Cristo Ravelli, Nik Christakis and Zarif al-Rastani know better than most the double-edged sword of their inheritance. Watching their father move from one wife to another, leaving their mothers devastated in his wake, has hardened each of these men against the lure of love.

But, despite their best efforts to live by the principles of money, power and passion, they find themselves entangled with three women who challenge the one thing they’ve protected all these years…

Their hearts!

Read Cristo’s story in:


June 2014

Read Nik’s story in:


July 2014

And read Zarif’s story in:


August 2014!

Christakis’s Rebellious Wife

Lynne Graham

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:


(The Legacies of Powerful Men) THE DIMITRAKOS PROPOSITION CHALLENGING DANTE (A Bride for a Billionaire) THE BILLIONAIRE'S TROPHY (A Bride for a Billionaire)

Did you know these are also available as eBooks? Visit

To my daughter Rachel with warm appreciation for all her support.













‘A DIVORCE CAN be civilised,’ Cristo Ravelli pronounced in a tone of studious tact.

Nik Christakis almost vented a derisive laugh at such a statement from the brother barely two months his senior. In reality only genuine respect for his sibling kept his cutting tongue silent. After all, what could Cristo possibly know about the blood and mayhem of a bitter divorce? Cristo was a newly and very happily married man without that experience...or that of many other unpleasant life events, in Nik’s considered opinion. As a result, Cristo was as solid and straight as a ruler; he had no corners, no twists, no hidden places. He had no more concept of Nik’s infinitely more complex and darker life experience than a dinosaur catapulted into a fairy story full of fluffy wings and magic.

‘I know you’re probably wondering where I get the nerve to offer advice,’ Cristo remarked shrewdly. ‘But you and Betsy did once have a good relationship and ratcheting down the current tension and cooling the aggro would be healthier for both of you—’

‘Then you should be delighted to hear that Betsy and I are having a face-to-face meeting tomorrow in the presence of our lawyers in an effort to iron out a settlement,’ Nik growled, his lean, darkly handsome features grim and hard.

‘It’s only money, Nik, and... Dio mio...’ Cristo sighed, thinking wryly of the vast business empire that his workaholic tycoon brother had built from the ground up ‘ have plenty of it—’

Nik ground his perfect white teeth together, his unusually light green eyes flashing bright with barely restrained fury. ‘That’s not the point!’ he cut in harshly. ‘Betsy’s trying to take me to the cleaners and steal half of everything I have—’

‘I can’t explain why she’s making such excessive demands. I would’ve sworn she didn’t have a mercenary bone in her body,’ Cristo fielded uncomfortably. ‘Have you tried to talk to her, Nik?’

Nik frowned darkly. ‘Why would I try to talk to her?’ he asked in astonishment at a suggestion that clearly struck him as insane. ‘She threw me out of our home, started a divorce and is currently trying to rip me off to the tune of billions!’

‘She did have some excuse for throwing you out,’ Cristo reminded his sibling in a rueful undertone.

In answer, Nik compressed his lips. He had his own very firm ideas about exactly why his marriage had imploded. He had married a woman who said she didn’t want children and then she had changed her mind. It was true that he had chosen to withhold certain very private information from her in the aftermath of that revelation but he had understandably assumed that her change of heart was a whim or at best hormonal, an urge that might hopefully fade as quickly as it had first arrived.

‘It was my house,’ Nik responded flatly.

‘So now you’re planning to take Lavender Hall off her as well as the dog,’ Cristo breathed heavily.

‘Gizmo was also mine.’ Nik glanced at the disputed dog, returned to his care two months earlier and still a study of deep doggy depression. Gizmo slumped by the window, an array of squeaky toys lying around him untouched, his short muzzle resting mournfully on shaggy paws. The animal had the best of everything that money could buy but, in spite of Nik’s every effort to the contrary, the wretched mutt continued to pine for Betsy.

‘Have you any idea how devastated she was when you took the dog off her?’ Cristo enquired.

‘The three pages of tear-stained care instructions that came with him did provide a hint,’ Nik breathed sardonically. ‘She was more worried about the dog than she ever was about me—’

‘Less than a year ago, Betsy adored you!’ Cristo shot back at his brother in condemnation of that unfeeling response.

And he had liked being adored, Nik acknowledged; he had liked it very much indeed. When adoration had turned to violent hatred and questions he couldn’t answer he had had no appetite whatsoever for the new regime. Questions he could have answered had he been forced to do so, he qualified inwardly, but he could not have stood to see the look of pity or horror on her face should he have told her the truth. Some truths a man was entitled to keep private; some were simply too appalling to share.

‘I mean...’ Cristo hesitated. ‘When you encouraged me to talk to Betsy, to become her friend after you split, I thought it was because you loved her and wanted her back and hoped to use me as an intermediary—’

Nik’s devastatingly handsome face clenched hard. ‘I didn’t love her. I’ve never loved anyone,’ he admitted coldly. ‘I liked her, trusted her. She was a good homemaker—’

‘A...homemaker?’ Cristo was staggered by that description because it was such an old-fashioned term and there was nothing even remotely old-fashioned about Nik and his brand of contemporary cool.

‘A good homemaker,’ Nik repeated steadily, guessing that Cristo, who had always had a decent home, could not comprehend the draw of such a talent in a woman. ‘But my trust in her was misplaced and obviously I don’t want her back.’

‘Are you absolutely certain of that?’ Cristo pressed.

‘Ne...yes,’ Nik confirmed in Greek, his response instantaneous. He might not be divorced as yet but he had already moved on. After all, Betsy had always been an eccentric choice of bride for a Greek billionaire but she had appeared during a troubled period in his life and she belonged to that phase, most assuredly not to the new start and more promising future he now envisaged. In the space of the six months that had passed since their marriage broke down, Nik had changed and he was very proud of that change. He had shed his dysfunctional past, travelled from being a male with more excess baggage than a jumbo jet to a faster-moving, far more efficient version of himself. The very last thing he intended to do now was repeat past mistakes. And Betsy had been a serious mistake.

* * *

No matter how hard Betsy tried to hide it, she was so much on edge in the company of her polished legal team while they waited in the elegant conference room that a sudden noise would have seen her plastered to the ceiling.

Her nervous tension was understandable. After all, it had been six months since she had last seen Nik, six months during which her already broken heart had been repeatedly stamped on and then what little remained torn to pieces. He had refused to see her or make any explanation for his extraordinary behaviour. In the space of a moment she had travelled from being a happily married woman trying for her first baby to a betrayed, bitterly hurt and confused wife.

She had thrown Nik out but he had essentially abandoned her. After his heartless deception, the force of his counter-attack had almost destroyed her and he had walked away without a backward glance. He had reacted as if three years of marriage, and what she had honestly assumed was happiness, meant absolutely nothing to him. Too late had it occurred to her that she had married a man who had never said he loved her, who had said in fact that he didn’t believe in love and who at all times and on all occasions had made his business affairs, rather than her, the top priority in his life.

So, after that shattering betrayal of trust and his very final rejection, it was hardly a surprise that she was finally hitting back. And she knew this course of action would take his feelings towards her from apparent indifference to actively hating her. And she didn’t care; no, she definitely didn’t care what Nikolos Christakis thought of her any more. Love had died when she was finally forced to acknowledge the degradingly low value he had set on her and their marriage, and she supposed that what she was now engaged in was a rather pathetic attempt at hitting back to punish him for the heartbreak he had callously inflicted.

Revenge. It was not a pretty or feminine word but it was also the very last thing a manipulative and cunning business shark like Nik Christakis would expect from his once submissive and soon-to-be ex-wife. He hadn’t cared about her but he did care about his precious money. There was no greater goal in Nik’s life than the ruthless pursuit of profit and the clever conservation of that vast store of personal wealth. Betsy knew that if she could significantly dent Nik in the wallet department, if in no other way, she would finally draw blood. After all, it had taken her outrageous claim of half of everything he possessed to persuade Nik into an actual face-to-face meeting with her again. Self-evidently money mattered to Nik more than she or their marriage had ever mattered.

Footsteps sounded in the corridor outside and Betsy stiffened. The door handle made a slight noise but the door stayed shut and she froze, her heart leaping into her mouth.

‘Let us do the talking,’ her legal representative, Stewart Annersley, reminded her afresh.

He might as easily have said that Betsy was out of her league in such company but she already knew that, could barely credit that she had spent three entire years in Nik’s world of rarefied wealth and yet contrived to remain easily shocked and gullible. What did that say about her? Was she stupid? A poor reader of people and their motivations? She had been distraught when Nik had taken Gizmo from her. The little dog had been her only comfort and even though Nik was by no means a doggy-orientated male, he had still insisted on taking the animal back. Why?

Betsy believed it was because Nik was the ultimate control freak. Evidently, what was his stayed his, unless it was a discarded wife. His most recent attack had been to go after the house that he had never liked but that she loved. Why? Certainly he owned it and he had paid for the restoration, yet he had only bought the property to please her. Or had he? Had he simply seen Lavender Hall as a promising investment? More and more Betsy doubted the assumptions she had once made about what motivated Nik.

Without warning, the door sprang open and framed Nik’s very tall, well-built body. Her heart hammered madly for a split second and then felt as though it had stopped beating altogether because for a long timeless moment she couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t speak, couldn’t even blink. He radiated raw sexual charisma.

His extraordinarily light eyes glittered like gleaming emeralds in his lean, darkly beautiful face, startlingly noticeable eyes and shockingly astute. A thousand memories threatened to consume her—from the recollection of their disastrous first date to their idyllic honeymoon and the lonely challenge of her life once reality had set in—and she fought them off fiercely. He wasn’t going to do this to her again, she swore with inner vehemence. He wasn’t going to break her nerve again.

She lifted her chin, squared her stiff shoulders and stared back at him while carefully blanking him out because she could not face direct eye contact. Yet in the back of her mind she was still plunged into sudden agony by his presence, wondering how this had happened to them, how the man she had once adored could have become her worst enemy. Where had she gone wrong? What had she done to make him treat her with such hostility and unkindness?

And even while paranoia and self-pity threatened to overwhelm Betsy for a dangerous instant, it was Nik’s voice she heard inside her head. ‘Stop with the persecution complex and the blame game,’ he had once told her. ‘Not everything’s your fault. You’re not being punished for some sin in this world or the next. The bad stuff is simply what life throws at you...’

Nik scanned Betsy with compulsive intensity. Had she shrunk? She had never been very big in either height or size—indeed she barely weighed a hundred pounds soaking wet. Surrounded by her legal posse she was utterly overshadowed. She had definitely lost weight. He wondered if she was eating properly, an old protective instinct kicking in, instantly stamped down on hard and consigned to the back of his mind as inappropriate. It was none of his business any more, equally none of his business that her lawyer, Annersley, was leaning far too close to her, appreciative eyes pinned to Betsy’s delicate profile as if she were a prize up for grabs. And of course, endowed with even a tithe of what Nik was worth, Betsy would be very much a trophy for some scheming male to snatch up in the future.

That idea didn’t bother Nik, no, it didn’t bother him at all, he told himself fiercely, sliding with a degree of unnecessary force into the chair spun out for him by his own team. Naturally there would be other men in Betsy’s future; she was a beauty. His attention skimmed over her pale profile. She had always reminded him of a spun-glass figurine, fragile in every proportion, the sort of woman a man wanted to protect and cherish. And where had that chivalrous attitude, shown only to her, taken him? he asked himself cynically. On the road to the divorce court and a poorer future like a thousand other foolish men. ‘I want a baby,’ she had said, all tearful blue eyes and trembling lips, breaking their premarital agreement, trying to selfishly, wilfully rewrite history... And she hadn’t even noticed that the bottom had fallen out of his world the moment she spoke.

Obviously, Betsy would have that much-desired baby with another man now. Without warning, Nik’s stomach lurched. He gulped down the cup of hot black coffee offered to him and burnt his mouth. Betsy was trying to rob him blind just as his gigolo father, Gaetano, had once tried to rob Nik’s mother, Helena. Helena Christakis, however, had been too clever to be conned by Gaetano Ravelli, and Nik’s IQ left his mother’s at the starting stakes.

More to the point, he didn’t give a damn about Betsy now. Like an alcoholic he was taking the cure and the cure was seeing her again and feeling nothing. And there she was: tiny, exquisitely provocative in every detail from her cloak of silky pale blonde hair and porcelain skin to the luscious pout of her naturally pink lips. Hard jawline squaring, he searched out her flaws and underlined them in his head: the bump in her nose, the faint scattering of freckles, the ridiculous lack of height and the very modest curves. On a physical level she was very far from being perfect... What the hell had he ever seen in her?

Without warning Betsy glanced up, soft feathery lashes lifting to reveal eyes the colour of the deepest ocean, and instantaneous lust gripped Nik in an iron fist, punching through him so fast that his big, powerful body tensed, his muscles pulling defensively taut while the hungry swelling at his groin tightened the sleek fit of his tailored trousers. His response shocked him and it took a great deal to shock Nik. Indeed, the consternation that followed made sweat break out on his upper lip before he turned colder than snow, utilising every fibre of his single-minded character to crush his unwelcome response to her. Obviously, he reasoned grimly, his momentary arousal was nothing more complex than the knee-jerk reaction of an old habit around a sexually familiar woman.

Betsy stared fixedly at the table while the legal formalities got under way. Nik was at the far end, distant enough to be visually ignored, but every strand of her being was working against her will to turn her neck in that direction to snatch a glance at him. It had been so long, so agonisingly long since she had had the simple luxury of looking at him. Some instinct she could not suppress lifted her head up and for one explosive split second of time she collided with Nik’s stunning green eyes, eyes that were positively startling in that lean, dark, devastatingly handsome face of his.

Suddenly she couldn’t breathe or move again and the most primitive responses controlled her. Molten heat surged at the core of her and she literally felt her breasts stir inside her bra, her nipples prickling and straining into swollen buds. A welter of erotic images assailed her and burning colour drove off her pallor. Later it would hurt that Nik had the power to look away first but in the instant that disconnection occurred she was merely grateful to be set free of that terrible awareness and craving again. How could he still do that to her? How could she still feel the power of his scorching sexual attraction?

After all, Nik had put her through hell. He had stayed silent when he should have spoken up. He had even allowed her to go through the horrendous humiliation of discovering the truth that had made a mockery of their marriage from the lips of one of his brothers.

‘You will regret this...’ Nik had warned her forbiddingly the day she had thrown him out, but her sole regret then had been that she had not found out what he had been hiding from her sooner.

In retrospect she knew she had behaved like a madwoman that day. Temporary insanity had gripped her from the minute her whole world came crashing down around her. She had screamed, she had shouted, she had cursed and he had stood there like a granite rock battered by stormy seas—essentially untouched by her anger, her tears and her pleas for an explanation. In fact he had said nothing beyond the quiet, unemotional admission that what she had learned about him from his younger brother Zarif was indeed the truth: Nik had had a vasectomy at the age of twenty-two and there was absolutely no possibility of him ever having a child with her. But Nik had excluded Betsy from that secret and, unforgivably, he had allowed her to break her heart trying and failing to get pregnant for months on end. Why hadn’t he just told her the truth? ‘Why?’ she had demanded again and again, and he had stared back at her in resolute brooding silence, refusing to explain his behaviour.

Marisa Glover, the celebrated divorce lawyer by Nik’s side, studied Betsy with cool blue eyes and quite casually asked her why she believed that a woman who had been a penniless, dyslexic waitress before her marriage and had not worked since should have a legal claim on half her husband’s estate.

‘Let’s face have no children to support,’ the icy blonde beauty reminded the table at large.

All of a sudden, Betsy was bone-white and reeling from the stream of virtual body blows landing on her with the devastating efficiency of bombs, her skin squeezing tight over her bones in horror. Nik had told them; he had told them she was dyslexic and mortification drenched her like icy water thrown in her face. As for the reminder that she had no children, that was an even more cruel strike considering that Nik had comprehensively and deviously denied her what she had so desperately wanted.

Her lawyer stepped in to steer the topic in a more practical direction.

Nik scrutinised Betsy’s pale, taut profile, the anxious flicker of her lashes, the tightness of her lips, and knew she was hurt, humiliated and still recoiling from Marisa’s opening salvo. Marisa was the best divorce lawyer in London and an unashamed barracuda and Nik always employed the best. But now his perfect white teeth were gritted, brown fingers clenching into a fist against a long, powerful thigh. Had Betsy expected him to play nice? Had she thought anything could still be sacred, that anything could remain a secret in their divorce? Could she still be that innocent?

He was still waiting for her legal team to attack, for they certainly had the ammunition. It went without saying that he did not want the curious facts of his hush-hush vasectomy aired in an open court. That was private, considerably more so in his opinion than the dyslexia she was so ashamed of suffering from. Even so the shaken look of pain and betrayal etched in her tightly controlled but oh, so expressive face got to him whether he liked it or not and distaste and impatience rose in Nik for degrading Betsy in front of witnesses.

Annersley was currently engaged in reminding Marisa that Nik had refused to allow Betsy to work during their marriage, implying that Nik was a dinosaur and a bully of no mean order but doing so in the politest of terms. Marisa was pointing out that Betsy lacked the education required to gain anything other than the most menial of jobs and that a man of Nik’s social status could hardly be expected to tolerate a wife taking an unskilled, humble position.

Something suddenly snapped Nik’s hold on his volatile temper. Without even thinking about what he was doing, he ground his hands down on the edge of the conference table and sprang upright with an abruptness that startled everybody present. Lean, strong face hawklike, he growled, ‘Diavelos...enough! This ends here. Marisa, you are well aware that Betsy single-handedly runs her own business at Lavender Hall—’

‘Well, yes, but—’

‘We are finished here for now,’ he ground out with harsh finality. ‘I will discuss this no further—’

‘But nothing’s been agreed,’ Annersley complained.

Betsy stole a grudging glance at Nik, scarcely able to credit that he had brought the humiliating session to so swift a halt. Surely he could not have done that for her benefit? She refused to believe that; he had to have some clever ulterior motive. She felt wounded and degraded after having her dyslexia thrown in her face, not to mention the reminder that she had never completed her education to an acceptable level. It infuriated her that she could blame Nik for that last reality, for Nik had complained so bitterly when she was attending evening classes to study for her A levels that she had eventually given them up. Nik might have travelled the globe constantly during their marriage, but when he was at home he had made it very, very clear to her that he always expected her to be there. And she had finally given way to his selfish protests, naively believing that he was admitting to needing her and secretly gratified that the male who did not tell her he loved her could not bear to find her missing or unavailable.

‘There will be another meeting,’ Nik decreed, striding to the door without another glance in Betsy’s direction.

* * *

Betsy got off the train and walked to her car.

She was angry with herself, as angry as she was ashamed that she had reacted to Nik on so basic a level, responding to his lethal sexual attraction like a silly young girl without self-knowledge or defences. She wanted to feel nothing, absolutely nothing around Nik. After all, nothing was what he deserved. Cristo’s wife, Belle, had told Betsy that she should be dating again and that she would not get past her experience with Nik until she did. Unfortunately the last thing Betsy needed after the heart-rending grief of her marriage breakdown was another man to worry about. Men were very high maintenance; Nik had taught her that.

Her troubled thoughts were already whisking her back in time. When she had first met Nik Christakis she had been working as a waitress at a little bistro across the road from his office.

She had enjoyed her job. ‘If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well,’ her late grandmother had told her when she was a child, and the truth of that homely maxim had never let Betsy down. She refused to let the fact that a job was humble or low paid colour her attitude, but she had always known that had her grandmother survived she would have been very disappointed by Betsy’s lack of educational achievement. Her loving gran had taught her that with extra time and specialised tutoring she could overcome her dyslexia and that it was not an excuse for low expectations in life. That awareness in mind, she had chosen her job to fit the fact that she was studying several nights a week at evening class to get her A levels. Oh, she’d had big plans back then for a more promising future.

In those days it had never occurred to her that a man could come between her and her wits. She was twenty-one and boys had come and gone, but nobody special, nobody capable of engaging her heart or tempting her body. When she had first seen Nik, he had been sitting at one of her tables in the spring sunshine: a stunningly beautiful male sheathed in a black cashmere overcoat, light green eyes framed by impossibly long, lush black lashes, zapping her with instant tingling awareness as he ordered coffee. She hadn’t noticed that Cristo was with him that first time, hadn’t even registered the presence of plain-suited men by the wall, hovering with the protectiveness of bodyguards. As always Nik had commanded full centre stage. Her heart had beat so fast it had felt as if it were in her throat and she had feared its crazy acceleration would choke her.

When he had ordered a second coffee, she had left a complimentary biscuit on the table but he had handed it back to her. ‘I don’t touch sugar...ever,’ he had told her softly, his foreign accent purring along the syllables with disturbing sexiness.

‘Wish I could say the same,’ Betsy had breezed back, popping the biscuit in her pocket for later. She had always been hungry, free meals or snacks not having been part of her employment terms. ‘But I still have to bring you the biscuit with your coffee. It’s management policy.’

‘Wasteful,’ he had pronounced with a sardonic curve to his handsome mouth. ‘But you look like you could use the calories.’

‘I’m just skinny. I’ve always been skinny,’ Betsy had parried, dimly conscious of his companion’s frowning, silent scrutiny.

‘Cute skinny,’ Nik had countered, whipping his keen gaze over her slender proportions, sending colour flying like a banner into her cheeks. ‘Very, very cute.’

And she had rushed away to get that second coffee, wondering what on earth was wrong with her. He hadn’t been the first customer to try to flirt with her and she had usually taken it in her stride as simple banter, infinitely preferring that approach to that of the occasional creeps who had let their hands stray if she’d got too close. It hadn’t occurred to her that he might have actually meant anything by his remarks. After all, she had noticed his fancy coat and the sleek dark suit he had worn beneath it and already categorised him as some high-flying city-executive type and, as such, completely out of her league.

The next time she had served him he had offered her the biscuit first and she had flushed and said hurriedly, ‘No, thanks. My boss told me we’re not allowed to eat the biscuits because it looks bad.’

‘Really?’ Nik had quirked a black brow. ‘Maybe I should have a word with him—’

‘No, please don’t say anything,’ Betsy had urged in harried retreat with her tray.

‘If it worries you that much I won’t. My name’s Nik, by the way,’ he had responded casually.

A tin of incredibly expensive fancy biscuits had been delivered to her at work that afternoon, the gift card signed with a slashed ‘Nik’. Betsy had been more embarrassed than pleased, particularly when her boss, Mark, had noted the delivery, asked her if the gift was from a customer and frowned in disapproval when she had confirmed it. When she had thanked Nik for the gift he had shrugged it off as if it was too unimportant to mention.

Nik had come in every Tuesday after that, settling down to chat in a foreign language to Cristo while constantly fielding calls on his mobile phone. Just seeing him had thrilled her and meeting his eyes had electrified her all over, sending heat laced with weird chills racing through her body in an uncontrollable surge. It had not escaped her notice that he watched her as well and that he left her ridiculously large tips that swelled the staff collection box as never before.

‘Be careful around that guy,’ Mark had warned her one morning. ‘I’ve only just realised who he is. He’s Nik Christakis and he owns the office block opposite—NCI, Nik Christakis Industries. And guess what? In his no-doubt vast portfolio of businesses he already has a large chain of coffee shops and I wouldn’t like to get on the wrong side of him.’

‘He owns the building over there?’ Betsy had gasped.

‘Haven’t you ever noticed his bodyguards?’ Mark had rolled his eyes at her lack of observation. ‘He has to be an extraordinarily wealthy man to need security and you do have to wonder why he’s slumming here with us.’

Betsy had felt foolish for not appreciating that Nik was as much a fish out of water in the bistro as snow in July. She had looked him up online and learned that he was Greek and that Cristo was his half-brother. She’d also discovered that Nik had grown up in a very different world from her own. Embarrassed by the adolescent daydreams she had been weaving round him until that point, she had become more circumspect in her behaviour when he was around.

‘No smile for me?’ Nik had queried on his next visit, catching her fingers in his to halt her and sharply disconcerting her with that move. ‘Is something wrong?’

Azure eyes wide, she had reddened. ‘No, nothing’s wrong. We’re just very busy and I’m a bit distracted.’

‘Have dinner with me tomorrow night,’ Nik had drawled without warning.

Jolted by the invitation, and scarcely believing that he was serious, Betsy had jerkily retrieved her fingers and clutched at her tray. ‘Sorry, I can’t. I’ve got a class—’

‘The next night you’re free,’ Nik had interposed smoothly.

‘We’ve got nothing in common,’ she had protested.

‘But I want you because you’re different,’ Nik had informed her huskily, making her drop her eyes in shock at that blunt admission and shiver as though her insides were being subjected to a force-ten gale.

‘It wouldn’t work,’ she had argued in a low voice.

‘If I say it will work, it will work. When?’ Nik had pressed mercilessly.

‘Er...Friday,’ she had admitted in the suffocating silence, horrendously aware of his brother’s incredulous scrutiny. ‘I’m free Friday night.’

‘I’ll pick you up at half eight,’ Nik had responded calmly and asked for her address.

As she had moved away to serve another customer she had heard Cristo arguing with his brother and she had just known it was about her and that Nik’s sibling could not credit that his brother had invited a waitress out on a date.

Nik had steamrollered over her objections and she should have seen the writing on the wall then. Nik didn’t quit until he got what he wanted. He was relentless, unstoppable and stubborn as a mule.


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