His Reputation Precedes Him - Кэрол Мортимер - She had noticed him before, of course. And recognised him. What woman wouldn’t notice this dark and broodingly handsome man, or recognise him as being one of the wealthy and powerful Greek Lyonedes cousins? Читать онлайн любовный роман

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His Reputation Precedes Him

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«His Reputation Precedes Him» - Кэрол Мортимер

With Markos Lyonedes, there’s no smoke without fire!He’s one of the most talked-about men in New York – and interior designer Eva Grey has heard all the stories. Yes, Markos is powerful, wealthy and unbearably good-looking, but Eva knows that whilst he might make a girl feel special for one searingly hot night, that’s all he’s good for… After her disastrous marriage, he’s just the type of man she should avoid.But when Markos hires Eva to decorate his penthouse it’s too lucrative an opportunity to turn down…and one that shatters Eva’s resolve to stay firmly out of Markos’s bedroom!“Carole Mortimer creates a tension that draws you in from the very first page!” – Victoria, Retired, Belfast
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She had noticed him before, of course. And recognised him. What woman wouldn’t notice this dark and broodingly handsome man, or recognise him as being one of the wealthy and powerful Greek Lyonedes cousins?

His looks didn’t hurt, of course. Eva stood five-eleven in her three-inch heels, but Markos Lyonedes was still several inches taller. Tall enough that he could look down at her with warm and broodingly sensual green eyes.

‘I hope you’ll excuse my coming over and introducing myself?’ He quirked dark, questioning brows over enigmatic green eyes. ‘I’m Markos Lyonedes.’

Even his voice was sexy, Eva acknowledged. Deep and husky, with an undertone of dark and sensual. The sort of voice guaranteed to send a shiver of delight down women’s spines.

Other women’s spines, Eva corrected firmly. Fortunately she was totally immune to conceited men like Markos Lyonedes. Most especially to Markos Lyonedes himself.

‘I know who you are, Mr Lyonedes,’ she said. Just as she knew exactly what he was.

THE LYONEDES LEGACY

Nothing—and no one—

dares to stand in the way of these Greek tycoons

With the strength and allure of Adonis,

these two Greek cousins stand proud

at the head of their empire.

Their Achilles’ heel?

Beautiful women.

In May 2012 DEFYING DRAKON

Drakon Lyonedes is accustomed to

having any beauty he wants, but Gemini Bartholomew

proves a surprising challenge!

This month… HIS REPUTATION PRECEDES HIM

Markos Lyonedes, the charming rogue, conceals

a will of steel every bit as forceful as his cousin’s!

About the Author

CAROLE MORTIMER was born in England, the youngest of three children. She began writing in 1978, and has now written over one hundred and fifty books for Harlequin Mills & Boon®. Carole has six sons: Matthew, Joshua, Timothy, Michael, David and Peter. She says, ‘I’m happily married to Peter senior; we’re best friends as well as lovers, which is probably the best recipe for a successful relationship. We live in a lovely part of England.’

Recent titles by the same author:

DEFYING DRAKON

(The Lyonedes Legacy) THE TALK OF HOLLYWOOD SURRENDER TO THE PAST TAMING THE LAST ST CLAIRE (The Scandalous St Claires)

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

His Reputation Precedes Him

Carole Mortimer



www.millsandboon.co.uk

To absent friends

CHAPTER ONE

‘I thought the meeting earlier with Senator Ashcroft’s aide went well…’

Markos Lyonedes took one last look at the late afternoon New York skyline from the eightieth-floor window of his office before turning to look at his PA, his expression rueful. ‘Yes?’

Gerry gave him a quizzical glance as he stood on the other side of the imposing mahogany desk. ‘Didn’t you?’

Markos moved back into the spacious room. His dark suit was tailored to fit perfectly across muscled shoulders and chest, lean waist and long, powerful legs. He honed that fitness at the moment with early-morning runs in one of New York’s parks. Aged thirty-four, he was a couple of inches over six feet, with dark, slightly over-long hair, and shrewd green eyes set in a swarthily handsome and chiselled face indicative of his Greek heritage.

He gave the other man a steady glance. ‘That depends upon whether Senator Ashcroft would have sent his aide or come himself if Drakon were still in charge of the New York office.’

Just a month ago Markos had been based at the London offices of Lyonedes Enterprises, the company he owned with his cousin Drakon, with a full and busy business and social life, and no thoughts of moving to New York. That was before Drakon had met Gemini, the London-based Englishwoman he was to fall in love with. Drakon and Gemini had become engaged and were married just two short weeks later. The two of them were even now on their honeymoon on the Aegean island owned by the Lyonedes family.

Luckily Markos and Gerry had instantly found a rapport, and Drakon had already expressed his approval of the PA Markos had taken on at the London office, following a rather embarrassing episode for Markos with the young woman who had been his previous PA. Just thinking of the way she had thrown herself at him during the last business trip they’d made together was still enough to make Markos shudder.

‘Drakon had already accepted the Senator’s invitation. He must have forgotten to mention it with all the wedding arrangements,’ Gerry dismissed. ‘Senator Ashcroft obviously wished to make sure that the new head of Lyonedes Enterprises, New York, was aware of the invitation. And he didn’t send just any aide to extend the invitation—he sent his only son!’ Gerry gave a grin. He was a tall, rangy man in his late thirties, with sandy-coloured hair and a pleasant rather than handsome face.

Markos raised dark brows. ‘That’s good?’

Gerry’s smile widened.

‘The Senator is grooming Robert Junior to take over when he retires in a couple of years. And invitations for the event on Saturday evening are being coveted like bars of gold by New York society. My wife would kill to get one. I thought your offhand acceptance of the invitation was pitched about right,’ he added approvingly.

‘It was actually caution on my part—because I wasn’t sure if I was being insulted or not.’ Markos gave a grimace as he sat down behind the desk. ‘I’m afraid American politics remain a complete mystery to me.’

‘All you need to know about most of our politicians is that re-election is their main goal, along with gathering up the necessary finances to run a successful campaign. That’s why the Senator’s schmoozing the New York head of Lyonedes Enterprises. This company employs several thousand New Yorkers, and thousands more all over the world.’ Gerry gave another grin.

‘That’s a pretty strong incentive for the Senator—’ He broke off as a knock sounded on the door before Markos’s executive secretary entered the office.

Lena Holmes was yet another invaluable employee Markos had inherited from his cousin. A woman in her late forties, slightly plump and motherly in her plain dark business suits, she nevertheless succeeded in running Markos’s office with the precision of a sergeantmajor in the English army.

‘Sorry to interrupt, Mr Lyonedes, but I thought I should let you know straight away that Ms Grey has cancelled her five o’clock appointment.’

Again, Lena’s disapproving tone implied.

Evangeline Grey, interior designer extraordinaire—if her reputation was to be believed—and the woman Gerry’s wife had recommended for redesigning the rooms in the penthouse apartment above them, had already cancelled one appointment earlier in the week.

‘What was her excuse this time?’

Lena’s mouth tightened. ‘An emergency appointment with her dentist.’

Markos glanced at the plain gold watch on his wrist and saw that it was already five minutes to the appointed time of five o’clock; if Evangeline Grey had intended being here for their appointment this evening then she should have left her downtown office some time ago, not cancelled five minutes before she was due to arrive.

‘It must have been a very sudden emergency…’

‘I wouldn’t know, Mr Lyonedes.’ Lena expression remained disapproving. ‘She asked if she might reschedule for Monday evening at five o’clock instead.’

‘What did you say?’

‘I told her that I would return her call on Monday morning and let her know if that time was convenient for you,’ Lena reported with satisfaction.

‘And is it?’

‘You currently have no other appointments at that time,’ she conceded.

Markos smiled ruefully. ‘But it won’t hurt to let her think about it over the weekend?’

‘Exactly.’ Lena nodded.

‘Thanks, Lena.’ Markos waited until his secretary had left the office and closed the door firmly behind her before turning to look questioningly at Gerry. ‘That’s the second time Evangeline Grey has cancelled on me in a week.’

The older man turned up his hands. ‘I have absolutely no idea what’s going on there. Kirsty thinks the sun rises and sets on the woman’s interior designs. And I have to admit I thoroughly approve of the innovations she made in our bedroom six months ago…’

Markos quirked mocking brows. ‘Do I want to know what they are?’

‘Probably not, as Kirsty is now four months pregnant!’ Gerry chuckled before sobering. ‘Do you want me to see if she can recommend someone else?’

Lyonedes Tower, both here in New York and in London, had a penthouse apartment occupying the whole of the top floor of the building. Markos had never taken up residence in the apartment in London during the ten years he had been based there, preferring to live away from his place of work—just as Drakon had preferred to own an apartment in Manhattan for the time he had lived and worked in New York: an apartment he and Gemini had decided to keep for the times when they visited.

Having only arrived a week ago, and finding the apartment above this office to be both convenient and spacious, with fantastic views over the skyline of New York, Markos had thought it best to make it his home until he felt more settled. He had decided to call in an interior designer with the intention of having it decorated more to his personal taste. Evangeline Grey was that interior designer.

The apparently elusive Evangeline Grey.

He gave a dismissive shrug of his shoulders. ‘Let’s wait and see what happens on Monday.’

‘Phew, am I glad you said that!’ His PA grinned good-naturedly. ‘I would really hate to disappoint Kirsty. She likes the woman so much that before you even asked for the name of an interior designer she was thinking of trying to arrange a dinner party so that she could get the two of you together,’ he explained at Markos’s questioning glance.

‘If she cancels the next appointment that may be the only way the two of us ever meet!’ Markos leant back in his high-backed leather chair. ‘For some reason the name Evangeline gave me the impression she was an older woman…?’

Gerry shook his head. ‘Late twenties, I think.

‘Really?’ His brows rose. ‘Isn’t that young to have built up the professional reputation she has?’

The other man shrugged. ‘If you haven’t made it in New York by the time you’re thirty then you’re never going to!’

Markos smiled slightly. ‘Is she attractive?’

‘I was always out at work when she came to our apartment, so I’ve never actually met her.’ Gerry frowned. ‘But I’m presuming so, if Kirsty wanted to introduce the two of you.’

Markos gave an appreciative grin. ‘In that case let’s hope that she actually manages to get here on Monday evening!’

Gerry nodded. ‘If only to save me from suffering the brunt of Kirsty’s disappointment! Although there will be plenty of beautiful women for you to meet at the Senator’s party tomorrow evening.’

He gave a weary shake of his head. ‘I think I’ve probably already been introduced to every beautiful woman in New York over the last four days!’

‘You haven’t met Kirsty yet!’

Markos grimaced. ‘Being surrounded by all this love and romance is bringing me out in a rash!’ First Drakon and Gemini, and now Gerry had made no secret of the fact that he was very happily married. ‘As I now unexpectedly have an hour free, why don’t we go through the last of these contracts?’

The elusive Evangeline Grey was already dismissed from Markos’s thoughts as he instead concentrated his attention on the work he wanted to get finished before beginning his weekend.

A weekend which now seemed to include spending his Saturday evening at Senator Ashcroft’s drinks party.

For some reason Markos had felt slightly restless since moving to New York. Of course the two weeks before the wedding had been frenetic, followed by his lethargy after flying to New York only a day later. His arrival had been quickly followed by one meeting after another as Markos introduced himself to the company’s extensive business associates, and there had been a social function of some sort for him to attend every evening as New York society opened their homes and welcomed him to their city in place of his cousin Drakon.

Maybe the change-over had happened so quickly that Markos still felt slightly wrong-footed by the unfamiliarity? This office. The apartment on the penthouse floor above this one. The new people Markos worked with every day, and the others he socialised with every evening.

Whatever the reason for his restlessness, Markos knew that attending yet another party tomorrow evening was the last thing he wanted to do…

Eva had never enjoyed cocktail parties, having been forced to attend far too many of them in the past. She enjoyed those given by US Senators even less. All of the city’s rich and beautiful were filling to capacity the huge reception room at one of New York’s most prestigious hotels. The chatter was loud, the laughter even more so, and the jewels adorning the elegantly clad ladies’ wrists, throats and ears glittered and sparkled in the light given off by the dozen or so crystal chandeliers hanging overhead. At the same time Eva’s senses were being assaulted by the smell of dozens of expensive perfumes filling the air-conditioned room.

But, as her mother had been so fond of saying, ‘What can’t be cured must be endured.’ It had certainly been true with regard to her marriage to Eva’s father…

It was taking all of Eva’s endurance to grit her teeth and get through this cocktail party hosted by none other than visiting Senator Robert Ashcroft. Not because she thought there was a risk of meeting any of her ex-husband’s family—she knew from mutual friends that Jack had taken over the family’s Paris office just over a year ago, and her ex-father-in-law, Jack Senior, didn’t support Senator Ashcroft’s political party. No, there was no possibility of her meeting any of Jack’s family this evening.

Even so, Eva doubted she would have bothered accepting the Senator’s invitation if she hadn’t known how much it would appeal to the man who was her date for this evening. It was exactly the sort of social function Glen enjoyed. Which was fine. It just wasn’t the real reason she had wanted to see him again.

In truth, Eva had no idea how Glen was going to react when she found the opportunity to explain that she had absolutely no intentions of going to bed with him—ever—or with any other man, for that matter. Instead she was thinking of asking him if he would be the sperm donor if she went ahead with the IVF she was considering. A subject so delicate, so personal, was something she felt she had to lead up to slowly, rather than blurting it out at their first—or even second!—meeting.

Senator Ashcroft’s drinks party was turning out to be every bit the crush of people Markos had expected it might be. Most of them were already known to him after this past week of socialising, and a lot of the men wanted to renew their acquaintance with him. Their wives, daughters or girlfriends were making no secret of the fact that they found his dark and brooding looks attractive.

Not that Markos had any complaints about that last part. He had enjoyed a healthy sex life during his years of living and working in London, and he sincerely hoped to continue doing so now that he had moved to New York.

Nevertheless, even surrounded by beautiful women as he was, all seemingly vying for his attention, Markos still noticed the woman in the figure-hugging red gown, standing across the room…

Probably because she stood out from the rest of the ‘beautiful people’ present in as much as she was making no effort to respond to the flattering conversation of the half a dozen men currently surrounding her, but instead seemed totally bored—both by them and by her surroundings.

But it wasn’t just that air of uninterest which had captured Markos’s attention. Nor was it the fact that she was young—probably in her late twenties—and extremely beautiful. Ebony hair cascaded lushly over her shoulders and halfway down her spine, and her eyes were light in colour—possibly grey or blue?—and surrounded by thick dark lashes. Her skin was the colour of pale alabaster, her features delicately lovely, and the fullness of her lips was glossed the same tempting red as that utterly decadent gown. Her only jewellery was a pair of delicate gold filigree earrings which dangled almost to the bareness of her shoulders.

All of that would certainly be enough reason for any man to give her a second glance, but still it wasn’t what had caught and held Markos’s attention, what had caused his body to harden in instant arousal the moment he looked at her.

Every other woman in the room wore masses of expensive jewels at their ears throat, wrists and fingers and, whether tall or short, they were all fashionably slender—a look that wasn’t flattering to some of the younger women, and even less so to most of the older ones. The woman in the fitted red strapless gown wore only those earrings, and her figure was…

There was a word for her type of figure. An old-fashioned word that described her exactly—one that had often been used to describe movie stars of the golden age… Voluptuous! That was it! The tall woman in the red fitted gown was voluptuous. Not fat—her body was too obviously toned for that. She simply had an hourglass figure: curvily, lushly, sexily voluptuous. The sort of body, in fact, that most men preferred but so rarely found in this fashionable age of slender and willowy.

Her shoulders were bare, that expanse of skin the same smooth alabaster as her face, and that wickedly enticing gown enhanced the fullness of breasts that were obviously bare beneath the silky material that swept over her narrow waist before clinging lovingly to the sweet curve of her hips. The material finished a couple of inches above her knees to reveal long and shapely legs, with three-inch heeled red strappy sandals on her elegantly slender feet.

Markos’s breath now caught in his throat as she looked over the top of the heads of the men surrounding her, glancing around the room in obvious uninterest—almost as if she was aware of someone watching her, but had no idea who or why. His earlier impression of her complete boredom with her admirers and her surroundings was confirmed as she repressed a yawn. At the same time as their glances met.

Met and then, as the woman’s gaze shifted slowly back to his, held.

Markos quirked a questioning brow—only to receive a blank stare and then a uninterested shrug in reply, before the woman in the red gown, as Markos was already calling her in his mind, turned away to accept a fresh glass of champagne from one of the men surrounding her, to all intents and purposes as if she had already forgotten Markos’s existence.

While it might be a refreshing change after the past week and this last couple of hours of having women throw themselves before him like sacrificial offerings, this certainly wasn’t the reaction Markos was used to receiving when he showed an interest in a beautiful woman.

As one of the two Greek-born Lyonedes cousins, with business interests worldwide, and wealthy beyond imagining, Markos had never been naïve enough to believe it was his looks alone which attracted women to him. Nor did he believe that every woman he met had to find his height and dark looks attractive.

But still, it irked him that the woman in the figure-hugging red gown—a woman who made him hard just from looking at her!—had dismissed him so easily and completely.

Maybe she was married?

Or engaged?

Or perhaps in a serious relationship?

No, it certainly wasn’t either of the first two; the hand holding the glass of champagne she had just raised to those lush red lips—her left hand—a long and slender hand Markos could all too easily imagine moving caressingly over his much darker skin in a pastime his arousal also approved of as he felt his shaft throb in anticipation!—was as naked of jewellery as her throat and wrists. And if it was the latter then where was the man she was involved with?

If a woman as beautiful as that had belonged to Markos then he certainly wouldn’t have left her alone for a minute, at the mercy of the pack of hyenas currently in for the kill.

If a woman like that belonged to him…?

What the hell?

Markos didn’t do belonging. Or even long-term. And definitely not permanent.

A few days, in some cases a few weeks, of enjoying each other’s company—and bodies—was the limit of any interest he had shown in the women he had been involved with over the past eighteen years.

Liking—yes.

Sex—definitely yes.

Love or belonging—definitely no.

His cousin Drakon—a man who had been even more averse to permanent relationships than Markos until he’d met Gemini a month ago, and fallen so quickly in love with her—might have succumbed to commitment to one woman, but Markos certainly wasn’t interested in doing the same.

He desired the woman in the red gown. He was more than a little annoyed at the ease with which she had dismissed him just now. At the same time as he was aroused and hard just from looking at the way that fitted red gown clung so lovingly to all those voluptuous and below the gown naked curves. It was an arousal Markos knew he would prefer her to satisfy, rather than another woman’s willing body.

It was with that thought in mind that Markos distractedly made his excuses to the women crowded about him before crossing the room towards the woman in the red gown.

.

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