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Greek Escape: The Dimitrakos Proposition / The Virgin's Choice / Bought for Her Baby

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WITH A GASP of irritation, Tabby removed Amber from his awkward hold and pressed her close. ‘Skin-to-skin contact is important,’ she demonstrated, kissing Amber’s hot brow.

‘I’m not doing the kissing stuff either,’ Acheron breathed witheringly.

‘Then smooth her hair, rub her back, make her feel secure in other ways,’ Tabby advised ruefully. ‘Stop being so resistant to my suggestions.’

‘And how do you suggest I do that? With a personality transplant?’ Acheron derided. ‘I’m no good with kids. I have no experience of that sort of affection.’

‘It’s never too late to learn,’ Tabby told him with determination, settling Amber carefully back into his arms. ‘Hold her closer, pet her. And please don’t tell me you have no experience of petting women.’

‘I don’t pet them. I have sex with them. This is not an appropriate conversation to have around a child!’ Acheron bit out in exasperation.

Picking up on his annoyance, Amber whimpered. He spread his fingers across her back in an uneasy rubbing motion.

‘Bring her closer,’ Tabby urged, approaching him to tuck the baby into the curve of his shoulder. ‘She’s not going to bite.’

Acheron could never recall feeling quite so tense or uncomfortable. He knew what she wanted from him but he didn’t want to do it. Then he thought of DT Industries, which would be one hundred per cent his only after the wedding, and he held the baby against him, deeming it a sacrifice worthy of such a result.

‘And talk to her,’ Tabby suggested.

‘What about?’ Acheron demanded with perfect seriousness, freezing as the baby nestled close of its own volition, disconcerted by the alien warmth and weight of her as she dug little hands into the flesh of his shoulder.

‘Stocks and shares if you like. It doesn’t matter at this age. It’s the sound and tone of your voice that matters,’ Tabby explained.

Acheron mumbled a Greek nursery rhyme.

‘And if you walk around the room with her, it might make you feel more relaxed.’

Acheron gritted his teeth and started to tell the baby exactly what he thought of Tabby in Greek, careful to keep the antagonism out of his voice. Amber looked up at him with big trusting brown eyes, and he marvelled at her ability to award that amount of trust to a complete stranger. If the baby could try, he could as well even if it did stick in his throat to be listening to Tabby’s instructions and following them. She maddened him, he acknowledged grimly, gently rubbing Amber’s back as he talked. The baby slowly rested its head down on his shoulder.

‘Give her to me,’ Tabby murmured. ‘She’s going back to sleep.’

‘And so ends lesson one,’ Acheron mocked as she settled Amber back into the cot and covered her again. Only it was not the child he was watching but Tabby. The pale grey silk glimmered in the dull light from the corridor, splaying across her thighs, outlining the plump little curves of her derriere as she bent over the cot rail, prominent nipples visible against the flimsy fabric as she straightened again.

Acheron was hard as a rock by the time he completed that far from fleeting appraisal. ‘You might want to cover up more around me,’ he commented. ‘Or is this a come-on?’

Her violet eyes flew wide as she faltered at the doorway, and she flashed him an incredulous glance back over a narrow shoulder. ‘Do you think you’re irresistible or something?’

Acheron strode over to the doorway. ‘You can’t be that innocent. Men are fairly predictable when there is so much bare skin on display.’

‘I am not on display,’ Tabby countered furiously, crossing her arms defensively over her lightly clad length, sharply disconcerted by the idea that he could see her body beneath the nightie. ‘When I came in I had no idea you would be in here.’

Acheron closed a hand around her wrist and tugged her into the corridor, shutting the door behind him. ‘I like what I see,’ he informed her softly.

Tabby stared up at him with fulminating force, noting the dark shadow of stubble outlining his stubborn jaw line and how that overnight growth enhanced his sheer masculinity. ‘But I’m not offering myself.’

‘No?’ Acheron dipped his handsome head and nibbled at the corner of her inviting mouth, invading with his tongue as soon as she parted her succulent lips.

Without further ado, he hauled her up against him, hands weaving across her slender back and then sliding up to glance over the taut peaks of her breasts in a caress that made her shiver.

That single kiss had unholy pulling power. Tabby bargained with herself to continue it. One second, just one second more to feel the hungry plunge of his tongue that raised a riot of damp heat low in her body and then his hands, dear heaven, his hands skimming, brushing the tender tips of her breasts before cupping her urgently sensitive flesh. ‘No,’ she told him shakily.

‘No?’ Wine-dark eyes glittered down at her, and her swollen mouth ran dry because she wanted another kiss, wanted the wildness she experienced beneath his skilled hands, wanted more with a ferocity that terrified her. Long fingers splayed to her spine, tipping her into revealing contact with the erection that his jeans could not conceal. ‘We could have fun for an hour or two.’

‘Do I strike you as that easy?’ Tabby prompted tightly, outraged by the tone of his proposition. Did he think she was flattered by the idea of being his entertainment for a couple of hours? A quick and easy sexual convenience because there was no more appealing prospect available?

His stunning eyes narrowed. ‘I don’t make judgements like that about women. I’m not sexist. I enjoy sex. I’m sure you do as well.’

‘You’re wrong,’ she began heatedly, thinking he was little different from the men who, having bought her a drink, had assumed that they were entitled to her body and could not comprehend her reluctance. Sex as a leisure-time pursuit was not her style.

‘If you haven’t enjoyed sex before then you’ve been with the wrong men,’ Acheron assured her silkily, running a caressing finger along the ripe curve of her lower lip, and the breath feathered deliciously in her throat, a ripple of treacherous, unwelcome response quivering through her slender length.

‘You’re a class act in the persuasion stakes,’ Tabby told him very drily, stepping back out of reach, fighting the unexpected chill of separation from the allure of his warm, vital body. ‘But it’s wasted on me—though I’m a virgin, I’m well aware that a man will tell you practically anything to get you into bed.’

‘’ Ash echoed in an astonished undertone, disbelief clenching his taut dark features. ‘Seriously? Or is that a hook to pull me in deeper?’

Tabby slowly shook her head and then surrendered to laugh out loud. ‘You are so suspicious of women it’s not real. I don’t want to pull you into anything. In fact, I think it would be a very bad idea for us to get that involved.’

‘I wasn’t thinking of involvement...I was thinking of sex,’ Acheron traded smoothly. ‘A simple exchange of pleasure.’

Tabby noted the way he even had to separate involvement from the act of sex and registered that he was positively phobic when it came to the concept of commitment. He did not want her to misunderstand what was on offer: a bodily exchange of pleasure, nothing more, no strings whatsoever. ‘Goodnight,’ she said gruffly, turning on her heel.

‘A virgin...seriously?’ Acheron breathed in her wake, the dark deep richness of his accented drawl vibrating through her in the stillness of the silent apartment.

Tabby turned her head slowly back to him. ‘Seriously.’

Acheron frowned, dark brows drawing together, and stared at her, his eyes gleaming golden with curiosity and fascination in the overhead lights. ‘But why?’

‘I’ve never wanted to.’ Until now, a little voice piped up in her brain, for that passionate kiss and the carnal caress of his well-shaped hands had roused more hunger in Tabby than she had ever felt in her life. A fierce physical hunger that she sensed could easily get out of hand.

‘You wanted me, hara mou...’ Acheron murmured with assurance as she walked away from him, blonde hair streaming down her back like a pale flowing river highlighting the curve of her bottom.

Tabby knew she should say nothing, but she couldn’t resist the little devil inside herself that he provoked and she turned her head again, succumbing to temptation to murmur softly, ‘But obviously.

..not enough.’

That crack might have affected some men like a challenge, Acheron mused broodingly as he strode back to his room for a cold shower, but he was not one of those men because logic had always ruled his libido. If he slept with her it would clearly get messy, and he hated messy relationships and didn’t tolerate them for longer than it took to delete such women’s numbers from his phone.

He reminded himself of the dire consequences of his last reckless encounter, and it was even worse that Tabby was still a virgin. He found that hard to credit but could not see any advantage in her telling such a lie. A woman who was still a virgin at twenty-five had to have very high expectations of her first lover for why else would she have waited so long? He would not be that man, would never fit that framework or meet the demands she would make. He had been warned and from now on he would keep his distance....

* * *

Tabby screened a yawn and settled Amber down on the rug at her feet. So far, it had been a very boring morning. Acheron’s lawyer, Stevos, had arrived with a bundle of documents, which had been painstakingly filled in, and now he was engaged in explaining the pre-nuptial contract to her clause by painful clause. Naturally Acheron wanted to protect his wealth, and discussing the terms of divorce before they even got as far as the wedding would have been depressing had she been in love with him, but she wasn’t in love with him and couldn’t have cared less about his money.

‘But I don’t need anything like that amount of cash to live on after the divorce,’ Tabby protested worriedly. ‘I know how to live well on a small budget and even a quarter of that amount would be more than generous.’

‘You’re supposed to be out for all you can get,’ Acheron chipped in helpfully from his restive stance by the window. ‘Sign the contract and forget about it. Once you’ve lived in my world for a while, you’ll find your tastes have changed and that you want more.’

Tabby slung him a look of resentment. ‘I only want Amber out of this arrangement. I’m not going to turn into a greedy, grasping manipulator overnight either!’

‘Mr Dimitrakos simply wants you and the child to enjoy a secure and comfortable future,’ the lawyer interposed soothingly.

‘No, Mr Dimitrakos wants to buy my loyalty and my loyalty is not for sale!’ Tabby replied with spirit. ‘I very much appreciate what he is doing to help me keep Amber in my life and the very last thing I will do is take advantage of his generosity in any way. Please accept that.’

‘Sign,’ Acheron slotted with raw impatience. ‘This nonsense has taken up enough of my morning.’

‘You mustn’t forget to be present at the visit from the social worker this afternoon,’ Stevos reminded him doggedly.

Stevos planted another document in front of Tabby when she had signed the first. ‘It’s a standard confidentiality agreement, which will prevent you from talking about the terms of your marriage to anyone outside this office.’

‘That it’s a big fat fake has to stay a secret,’ Acheron interposed bluntly.

Suppressing a sigh, Tabby signed and then glanced up to watch Acheron as he talked to his lawyer in Greek. He was wearing a dark grey suit with a very subtle pinstripe and a purple shirt and he looked...absolutely amazing, as if he had stepped live out of a glossy magazine shoot. Sleek, sophisticated and breathtakingly handsome, he instantly commanded her gaze whenever he came within sight. There was no harm in looking at him and appreciating the view, she told herself ruefully. He was like a beautiful painting she could admire without needing to own, particularly as any woman with ideas of ownership where Acheron Dimitrakos was concerned was, in Tabby’s opinion, in for a very rough ride.

They had shared the breakfast table in his dining room earlier that morning but the table was literally all they had shared. He had read his newspaper while she tended to Amber and munched toast, struggling to eat as quietly as a mouse in a cat’s presence. It had proved neither sociable nor relaxed and she had already decided to eat her meals in the kitchen from now on.

‘One of my assistants is going to take you shopping now for a wedding dress,’ Acheron divulged as Tabby bent to lift Amber off the rug before she got her little hands on his shoelaces. ‘And we will have to engage a nanny to take care of Amber when we’re busy.’

Tabby straightened. ‘I don’t want a wedding dress...or a nanny.’

Scorching dark eyes assailed hers. ‘Did I ask for your opinion?’

‘No, but you’re getting it, no extra charge.’

‘A wedding dress is not negotiable.’

‘Nothing’s negotiable with you!’

Dark eyes flared sensual gold. ‘If you were willing to try a little harder to please, you might be surprised,’ he murmured huskily.

He was thinking about sex again: she knew it by the look in his eyes and the husky tone of his voice. Colour burned up hotly over her cheekbones as she dealt him a quelling glance.

‘I’ll be honest about this—I don’t want to waste a wedding dress on a phony marriage. It just seems wrong,’ Tabby admitted, lifting her chin. ‘I want to save the white wedding dress for the day I do it for real.’

‘Tough,’ Acheron responded obstinately, moving closer. ‘This may be a rush wedding but I want it to look as normal as possible and few women choose to get married without frills.’

Amber held out her arms to him and smiled.

‘Cuddle her,’ Tabby instructed, dumping the little girl into his startled arms. ‘Practice makes perfect and, just as I have to look convincing at the wedding, you have to look convincing as an adoptive father-to-be this afternoon.’

Amber yanked at Acheron’s silk tie with gusto and an appreciative grin suddenly slashed his mouth, shocking both his companions. ‘Amber really doesn’t give a damn about anything but attention and what amuses her in the moment.’

‘A baby’s needs are simple,’ Tabby agreed wryly, striving not to react to that intensely charismatic smile of his, which made her want to smile back like a dream-struck idiot. Just looking at him, amusement falling from his features, she felt slightly light-headed and her tummy hollowed as if she were travelling downhill at breathtaking speed on a roller coaster. ‘The nanny?’

‘A necessity when you will have other calls on your time,’ Acheron pronounced. ‘Be practical.’

Tabby breathed in deep, reluctant to argue with him when the social services interview was to take place within a few hours. She took Amber back into her arms and strapped her into her buggy where the little girl screwed up her face and complained vehemently.

‘She knows what she wants,’ Acheron remarked. ‘You will need to be firm as she gets older.’


‘And you might find it a challenge to wear that wedding dress for real for some man when you already have a child in tow,’ Acheron delivered with lethal cool. ‘I don’t date single parents.’

‘Tell me something that surprises me,’ Tabby urged witheringly. ‘You’re too selfish, too concerned about protecting your own comfort level.’

‘I just respect my limitations.’

‘Nonsense. You can’t stand the idea of having to consider someone else’s needs before your own,’ Tabby traded.

‘So, what am I doing now in marrying you?’ Acheron demanded curtly.

‘You’re righting the wrong you committed a couple of months ago when you refused to be Amber’s guardian and no doubt that makes you feel so unselfish and perfect you think you’re one hell of a guy!’

Listening to that exchange, Stevos was staring in shock at Tabby and her colour was high when she released the brake on the buggy and wheeled it out of the door.

Acheron’s PA, Sharma, greeted her in the outer office and took her straight out to a limo for the shopping trip. Tabby was surprised to be taken to an exclusive and very fashionable wedding boutique rather than a department store, but appreciated that with the time available it would be a challenge to come up with a sophisticated dress that fitted the bill. While Sharma played with Amber, Tabby tried on gowns, finally selecting the least fussy available and choosing the accessories suggested by the attentive proprietor. That achieved, she returned to Acheron’s apartment and rang Jack to tell him that she was getting married and to invite him to the civil ceremony the following day.

‘Is this a joke?’ Jack asked.

‘No. It is kind of sudden but I know exactly what I’m doing. Acheron wants to adopt Amber with me.’

‘You’ve kept this very quiet. How long have you been seeing him for?’ Jack enquired ruefully.

‘A while. I didn’t know it was going to turn serious or I’d have mentioned it sooner,’ Tabby fibbed, wishing she could just have told the truth.

‘It’ll solve all your problems,’ Jack pronounced with satisfaction. ‘I’ve been really worried about you and Amber.’

* * *

Acheron turned up just in time for the interview with the social worker and swiftly proved a dab hand at twisting the truth, contriving to make it sound as if they had known each other far longer than they had. The older woman was so palpably impressed by Acheron and his incredible apartment that she asked few searching questions.

An hour later Tabby was feeding Amber and stealing bites from her own meal in the kitchen when Acheron appeared in the doorway, his expression thunderous. He swept up the highchair with Amber in it and turned on his heel.

‘What on earth are you doing?’ Tabby cried, racing after him.

Acheron set the chair down at one end of the dining table. ‘We eat in here together. You do not eat in the kitchen like a member of my staff. That will not support the impression of a normal married couple.’

‘I shouldn’t think any of your staff could care less where we eat!’ Tabby replied.

‘But you need to be more cautious about appearances,’ Acheron spelled out the warning grimly. ‘Any one of my staff could sell a story to the tabloids and blow a massive hole in our pretence of being a couple.’

Tabby fell still. ‘I never thought of that. Can’t you trust your employees?’

‘Most of them but there’s always a rotten apple somewhere in the barrel,’ Acheron answered with cynical cool.

Tabby nodded and returned to the kitchen to fetch her meal. He thought of every pitfall from every possible angle and it shook her that he had evidently already suffered that kind of betrayal from someone close to him. It was little wonder that he continually expected the worst from people, she reflected ruefully.

‘Why were you eating in the kitchen?’ he enquired as she settled at the table.

‘I know you like your own space,’ Tabby said quickly.

‘You’re not comfortable eating with me. I noticed that in the restaurant the first night,’ Acheron commented, resting level dark eyes on her rising colour. ‘You’ll have to get over that.’

‘Yes, but it was a strain that first night,’ Tabby admitted, grudgingly opting for honesty. ‘I couldn’t read the menu because my French isn’t up to it. I didn’t even know which cutlery to use.’

A stab of remorse pierced Acheron. It had not even occurred to him that she might feel out of her depth at his favourite restaurant. ‘Cutlery isn’t important, hara mou—’

‘Believe me, it is when you don’t know which utensil to use.’

‘In future, ask.’ Acheron compressed his wide, sensual mouth, irritated that he had been so inconsiderate of the differences between them. ‘I’m not...sensitive. I won’t pick up on things like that unless you warn me. By the way, Sharma has engaged last night’s nanny to work for us. I’ve also secured permission for us to take Amber abroad.’

‘Abroad?’ Tabby exclaimed. ‘What are you talking about?’

‘We’re heading to Italy after the wedding. I have a house there. It will be easier to keep up the newly married act without an audience of friends and acquaintances looking on,’ Acheron pointed out with irreproachable practicality.

* * *

Tabby woke early the next morning. Well, it was her wedding day even though it bore no resemblance to the very special event she had once dreamt the occasion would be. For a start, Sonia would not be there to play bridesmaid as the two women had always assumed she would, and momentarily Tabby’s eyes stung with tears because sometimes the pain of losing her best friend felt like a wound that would never heal. She reminded herself that she still had Jack, but Jack was a man of few words and his girlfriend, Emma, was uneasy about his friendship with Tabby. As a result Tabby kept contact with Jack to the minimum. With a sigh, she rolled out of bed to go and tend to Amber and get dressed.

The nanny, Melinda, was in Amber’s bedroom. Tabby had forgotten about the nanny, forgotten that she was no longer the only person available to care for the little girl, and Amber was already bathed, dressed and fed. A little pang of regret assailed Tabby because she had always enjoyed giving Amber her first peaceful feed of the day. But Sonia’s daughter still greeted her with uninhibited love and affection, and Tabby buried her nose in the little girl’s sweet-smelling hair and breathed deep, reminding herself why she was marrying Acheron and meeting his every demand. Amber was worth almost any sacrifice, she conceded feelingly.

The ceremony was to be held at an exclusive castle hotel, and Tabby was amazed at how much it had been possible to arrange at such speed. Then she reminded herself that Acheron’s wealth would have ensured special attention and she scolded herself for being so naive.

Sharma had arranged for a hairstylist and a make-up artist to attend her at the apartment, and Tabby hoped that their professional skill would give her at least a hint of the glossy sophistication that Acheron’s female companions usually exuded. As quick as she thought that, she wondered why his opinion should matter to her. Was it simply a matter of pride?

Sharma helped lace Tabby into her dress while the stylist adjusted the short flirty veil attached to the circlet of fresh flowers attached to Tabby’s hair.

‘With those flowers on your head you look like the Queen of Summer...’ Sharma burbled enthusiastically. ‘Mr Dimitrakos will be blown away.’

It dawned on Tabby for the first time that she was dealing with someone who thought she was about to attend a genuine wedding and she flushed with discomfiture, quite certain that the last thing Acheron would be was ‘blown away’.

‘And watching the boss go to so much trouble to get married in such a hurry is so romantic,’ Sharma continued. ‘I used to think he was, cold, no offence intended...and then I saw him with the baby and realised how wrong I was. Of course fatherhood does change a man...’

And Tabby registered that Sharma had, not unnaturally, added two and two to make five in her assumption that Acheron was Amber’s father. ‘Actually, Amber is the daughter of my late best friend and Acheron’s cousin,’ she explained, deeming it wiser to put the other woman right on that score.

* * *

Grim-faced, Acheron paced while he awaited the arrival of the bridal car. He was very tense. It might be a fake wedding but with the arrival of his stepmother, Ianthe, and two of her adult children along with several good friends, it felt unnervingly real and he was already fed up with making polite conversation and pretending to be a happy bridegroom. Unhappily, a wedding without guests would not have been a very convincing affair, he reminded himself impatiently, and at least the woman whose attendance would have been least welcome had failed to show up. Stationed by the window of the function room adorned with flowers for the ceremony, he watched as a limousine embellished with white ribbons that fluttered in the breeze drew up at the hotel entrance.

Tabby stepped out in a sleek bell of rustling white fabric and petticoats, little shoulders bare, her veil and glorious streamers of golden-blonde hair blowing back from her oval face. Acheron’s expressive mouth hardened even more, a nerve pulling taut at the corner of his lips. She looked as dainty and delicate as a doll and utterly ravishing, he noted in exasperation, cursing his all-too-male response to so feminine and alluring an image. Tabby didn’t just clean up well, in Stevos’s parlance; she cleaned up spectacular, Acheron conceded wryly, only absently registering the emergence of the new nanny clutching Amber, who was looking similarly festive in a candy-pink dress and matching hairband.

Tabby was guided straight into the ceremony where music was already playing. Her apprehensive glance took in the sea of faces and then lodged on Acheron and stayed there as if padlocked. Whoosh! She could feel all her defences being sucked away by the pure power of his compelling presence. He stared back at her, making no pretence of looking forward to the registrar, his stunning dark eyes golden and bright as sunlight in his lean face and so gorgeous he made something low in her body clench tight like a fist. Knees a tad wobbly, she walked down the short aisle between the seated guests and stilled by his side, the words of the brief ceremony washing over her while she frantically reminded herself that finding Acheron attractive was a one-way trip to disaster and not to be risked lest it should somehow threaten Amber’s future as well.

He slid a ring onto her finger and she did the same for him. Afterwards, he retained his grip on her hand, ignoring her attempt to tug gently free, and suddenly there was a crowd of people round them murmuring congratulations, and introductions were being made.

His stepmother was a decorative blonde with a shrill voice and she had a son and a daughter by her side, both of whom seemed rather in awe of Acheron, which gave Tabby the impression that he had never been a true part of his father’s family. Jack appeared with his girlfriend, Emma, and the other woman was friendlier than Tabby had ever seen her. Tabby chatted at length to Jack and turned only to find Acheron studying her, his handsome mouth compressed.

‘Who was that?’

‘Jack’s an old friend and the only person I invited,’ she proclaimed defensively.

‘How much did you tell him?’ Acheron enquired grimly.

‘I told him nothing,’ Tabby responded, wondering what his problem was. ‘He thinks this is all for real.’

Drinks were being poured and toasts made by the time a tall, curvy brunette in a sapphire-blue suit swept into the room without warning.

Someone close to Tabby vented a groan. The brunette marched up to them like a woman on a mission and shot an outraged look at Acheron’s stepmother, Ianthe. ‘Mother, how could you take part in this insane charade when it goes against my interests?’ she demanded loudly. ‘I should have been the bride here today!’

‘Let’s not go there, Kasma,’ her brother, Simeon, advised sheepishly. ‘We’re here to celebrate Ash’s wedding, and I know you don’t want to spoil the day by creating a scene.’

‘Don’t I?’ Kasma struck an attitude, furious dark eyes glittering bright. She was a very beautiful woman with a great figure, a perfect face and a torrent of long dark hair, Tabby noted in a daze of agitation. ‘Tell me, what has she got that I haven’t, Acheron?’ she demanded in a fierce tone of accusation.

Amber was starting to cry and Tabby took the opportunity to step out of the drama to join Melinda, the nanny, at the back of the room. After all, family squabbles and bitter ex-lovers were none of her business. Had Acheron had an affair with his stepsister? By the looks of it, it had been a rash move to utilise his charisma within the family circle, and she could understand why he had said on the first day that they met at his office that he had no family. His late father’s family spoke to Acheron as politely as the strangers they so clearly were. Evidently he had never lived with them, which made her wonder who he had lived with when he was younger because Tabby was convinced she remembered his very famous mother’s death being announced on television while she herself was still only a child.

Tabby took Amber into the baby-changing room, thinking that the histrionic Kasma would, with a little luck, be gone by the time she returned to sit down to a late and much-needed lunch.

But she was to have no such luck. No sooner had she finished undressing Amber than the door opened to frame Kasma’s lush shape. ‘Is that child Ash’s?’ she asked drily.

Tabby changed Amber, who was squirming like mad and craning her neck to look at the visitor. ‘No.’

‘I didn’t think so,’ Kasma said snidely. ‘Ash has never been the daddy type.’

Exasperation kindling, Tabby straightened her shoulders and turned her head. ‘Look, I don’t know you and I’m busy here—’

‘You know why Ash married you, don’t you?’ the brunette continued thinly. ‘I should have been Ash’s bride. No one understands him as well as I do. Unfortunately for all three of us, he’s too stubborn and proud to accept being forced to do what he should have done long ago.’

‘I don’t need to know what you’re talking about,’ Tabby told her uncomfortably. ‘It’s really none of my business.’

‘How can you say that when by marrying Ash you’re winning him a fortune?’ Kasma demanded resentfully, her mother’s vocal shrillness feeding into her sharp tone. ‘According to the terms of his father’s will if he stayed single until the end of the year he would lose half of his company to my family! And, of course, anyone who knows how Ash feels about his company would know that he would do virtually anything to protect it...even marry a totally unsuitable nobody from nowhere to maintain the status quo!’


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