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Грэхем Линн

Sold For The Greek's Heir

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LUCY WAS RIVEN with extreme guilt by the time she finally climbed on the bus that would take her down to the marina.

She had had to lie to Iola simply to get out. She had pretended that she was joining a couple of the other waitresses for a few drinks. To weigh down her conscience even more, Iola had been delighted to believe that her stepdaughter was finally going out and about. Her stepmother had hovered helpfully, urging her to put on make-up and wear the pretty white sundress that Iola had bought for her a few weeks earlier. But how could Lucy have admitted that she was heading out to meet Bella’s father? After all, she had already lied on that subject by declaring that she had no way of getting in touch with the man who had fathered her daughter. Kreon and Iola had averted their eyes in dismay and embarrassment at that claim, clearly assuming that she did not know the man’s name.

Indeed, one lie only led to more lies, Lucy conceded shamefacedly, annoyed that she had found it impossible to be more honest. But Kreon would raise the roof if he discovered that Jax was Bella’s father and she didn’t want to put Kreon in the potential firing line of Antonakos displeasure.

And why was she off to meet Jax when she had sworn she would not do so?

Obviously she was thinking about her daughter’s needs, wondering if there was any chance that Jax could have changed his outlook on children and could possibly be willing to embrace the news that he was a parent. It was definitely her duty to check out that possibility and finally tell him that he had a child, she told herself staunchly even while her heart hammered and her breath caught in her throat at the prospect of seeing Jax again.

You’re pathetic, she scolded herself angrily as she marched past crowded bars, ignoring the men who called out to her. He’s a very good-looking guy and of course you still notice that but that’s all, leave it there. You are not a silly impulsive teenager any more, she coached herself, you know what he is and what he’s like and you know better.

Jax lounged outside the bar with Zenas close by, the rest of his security detail settled within hailing distance. He didn’t know why he had come until he saw Lucy, her dress flowing and dancing round her slender knees, the pristine white lighting up below the street lights, her strawberry-blonde ringlets a vivid fall round her narrow shoulders. And then he knew why he had come and he hated that surge of absolute primal lust, raw distaste flaming through him even as his jeans became uncomfortably tight. A wave of male heads slowly turned to check her out as she passed by. Jax gritted his even white teeth at that familiar display.

‘The waitress...really?’ Zenas teased from the shadows.

‘I need to have this conversation in private,’ Jax warned his old school friend quietly, relieved that Zenas had only joined the team the year before and had no idea of his prior acquaintance with Lucy.

Zenas strolled obediently across the street and plonked himself down on a bench. Jax lifted his newspaper, refusing to continue watching Lucy walk towards him, perturbed by the level of his own interest. He would get answers from her, satisfy his curiosity and leave. There would be nothing more personal and absolutely no sex.

Lucy saw Jax outside the bar, arrogant dark head bent, the bold cut of his chiselled profile golden beneath the lights, his black hair still long enough to tousle in the light breeze. And her heart bounced inside her like a rubber ball because she was helplessly reliving the excitement he had always induced in her. There were flutters in her tummy, crazy tingles pinching the tips of her breasts taut and a dangerous hot, liquid awareness pulsing into being between her legs. Just as quickly her entire body felt overheated and she was seriously embarrassed for herself.

As she took a seat Jax glanced up at her from below his ridiculously long lashes, crescents of uncompromising green running assessingly across her flushed face. ‘At least you’re on time for once... I assume you hurried.’

Lucy blinked and bit down on her tongue hard. Her poor timekeeping had always infuriated Jax because he hated being kept waiting and never, ever understood how time could sometimes run away from her. He had always contended that being late was rude and indefensible. But then Jax, who was relentlessly practical and full of ferocious initiative in tough scenarios, had probably never had a weakness for daydreaming.

Daydreaming, however, had always been Lucy’s escape from challenging experiences. When she didn’t fit in at the many different schools she had attended she had floated away on a fluffy cloud inside her own mind. When life was especially difficult, fantasies had become her consolation and she would dream of a world in which she had love and security and happiness.

In the smouldering silence that had now fallen, Lucy forced herself out of her abstraction and registered that Jax was watching her with impatient green eyes as if he had guessed that she had momentarily drifted away with the fairies. In receipt of that aggravated look, she felt her mouth run dry as a bone. In desperation she spun his newspaper round, her attention falling on a recent custody case that had attracted a lot of media coverage. ‘Oh, my goodness...’ she muttered as she slowly traced the headline with a fingertip while she carefully translated it.

‘The father got the kid? How could they take a child away from his mother?’

Jax shrugged an uninterested shoulder as he signalled the waiter. ‘Why not? Life has moved on. Fathers are now equal to mothers—’

‘Yes, but—’

‘Read it and you’ll see why the family court reached that decision,’ Jax said drily.

‘I can’t read Greek well enough yet,’ she admitted grudgingly.

‘The father is willing to work at home to be with the child while the mother would be leaving him in a nursery all day. Why are we talking about this anyway?’ Jax demanded impatiently.

‘It’s an interesting case,’ Lucy proffered stiffly. ‘The mother’s a paramedic who doesn’t have the option of working at home.’

‘While the father wants his child and what’s best for his child, which is as it should be,’ Jax interposed as a bottle of wine and glasses arrived at the table.

A cold skitter of fear pierced Lucy’s tense body as a glass of wine appeared in front of her. ‘Is that how you would feel?’

‘We’re not talking about me. I won’t be fathering any children,’ Jax declared with a cynical twist of his expressive mouth. ‘Don’t need the hassle or the responsibility. But if I did have a child I certainly wouldn’t sit back and allow a woman to take my child away from fact that is the very last thing I would do.’

A quiver of sheer fright rippled down Lucy’s taut spine as she reached for her wine. That risk, that particular fear of losing her child, had never once crossed her mind as a possibility. And why hadn’t it? Jax might not want children but he was a very possessive guy. What was his was very much his, not to be shared or touched or even looked at by anyone else. Once he had treated Lucy like that, enraging her with his determination to own her body and soul and control her every move. Suppose she told him about Bella and he felt the same way about his daughter?

Sobered by that fear, Lucy decided there and then to continue keeping Bella a secret until she had, at least, taken legal advice. In fact maybe the legal route would be the best way to go when it came to breaking that news, she thought cravenly. It would be more impersonal and less likely to lead to confrontation and bad feeling. Just at that moment Lucy could not face telling Jax that he was the father of her child and that because of his behaviour after their breakup she had had no way of telling him that she was pregnant. That was not her fault, she reminded herself. That was unquestionably his fault.

‘When did you move to Athens?’ Jax prompted.

‘Six months ago... I was struggling to make ends meet in London,’ she confided, almost rolling her eyes at that severe understatement before taking several fortifying swallows of wine.

‘When we talked in Spain, you had no plans to track your father down,’ he reminded her with a frown. ‘You thought he had deserted your mother and you said—’

‘I was wrong. When I needed help, my father came through for me,’ Lucy admitted. ‘Why did you ask me to meet you?’

Jax watched her sip at the wine, one little finger rubbing back and forth over the stem of the glass, her lush mouth rosy and moist. Like a sex-starved adolescent, he remembered the feel of her mouth, the flick of her teasing little tongue and he went rigid.

‘Jax?’ she pressed, setting down the glass.

Lean, dark features taut, Jax topped up the wine. He had tried to teach her about wine once: how to select it, savour it, how to truly taste it, and she was still knocking it back as if it were cheap plonk. That had been another lesson that had inexplicably ended up between the sheets. But then nothing had ever gone to plan with Lucy. His self-discipline had vanished. When he had taken her shopping he had taken her in the changing cubicle up against the wall, stifling her frantic cries with his hand. Yes, she had definitely earned that red dress he had later seen her wearing while she gave her body to another man.

‘Why?’ Lucy prompted in growing frustration at his brooding silence.

Jax inclined his head to Zenas and spoke to him soft and low when he approached. ‘We’ll go somewhere more private—’

Lucy collided with smouldering green eyes like highly polished emeralds and stiffened in instant rejection of that idea. ‘No.

‘I don’t know what I was thinking of. This is not the place to talk.’ Or fight, Jax reflected, in no doubt that angry words were likely to be exchanged when he challenged her.

Lucy gulped down more wine in an effort to steady herself and think carefully before she spoke. ‘I don’t want to go anywhere else with you,’ she argued.

‘Don’t lie,’ Jax advised in the driest of tones. ‘I could have you on your back in five minutes if that’s what I wanted...but it’s not.’

A tide of outraged colour slowly dappled Lucy’s creamy skin as she gazed back at him, aghast at his crudity. ‘I can’t believe you said that.’

Jax shrugged again, a knowing look in his stunning eyes. ‘It’s only what we’re both thinking about.’

Lucy bristled like a cat stroked the wrong way and threw her shoulders back. ‘No, it’s not. Speak for yourself.’

‘I fell for the virgin ploy once. Don’t push your luck, koukla mou,’ Jax advised as he thrust back his chair and began to rise. ‘Born-again virgins push the wrong buttons with me.’

‘Don’t call me that... I’m not anyone’s doll!’ Lucy protested, aware of the meaning of those words because her father used them around Bella.

‘Don’t push your luck, Tinker Bell,’ Jax stabbed instead.

And the sound of that once familiar pet name hurt like the unexpected swipe of a knife across tender skin. It turned her pale because it took her back to a place she didn’t want to go, to a period when she had fondly believed herself to be loved and safe and cherished. But it had all been a lie and a seriously cruel lie at that. It hurt even more that she had adored that lie and longed for it to last for ever and ever, just like in the fairy tales.


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