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Грэхем Линн

The Greek Demands His Heir

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LEO EXTENDED A lean tanned hand with unexpected formality. ‘Leos Zikos. My friends call me Leo.’

Grace touched his fingers in a glancing collision that made her teeth grit at her own ineptitude. But up close, he was so tall, so dark, so strikingly handsome that he unnerved her and given the smallest chance to scamper back down the short flight of stairs without making a fool of herself she would have fled. ‘Grace Donovan,’ she supplied a little gruffly, her heart beating very fast in what felt like her throat as she hurriedly sat down on the seat he indicated and nodding belated recognition of the presence of a second, smaller man.

‘Irish?’ Leo quirked a brow.

‘My mother was but I’m from London.’

Leo asked her what she would like to drink.

‘Something plain and simple. This...’ Grace indicated the glass in her hand with its elaborate green concoction and umbrella with a faint wrinkling of her nose ‘ like a sugar bomb.’

After introducing her to Rahim, Leo informed her that they owned the club. Grace told him that she was a student on holiday with her cousin. A waiter arrived with a tray and champagne was served with a flourish. The first waiter was closely followed by two more, who presented plates of delicate little snacks. Leo asked her what music she would like and within the minute the DJ himself was surging upstairs and standing right in front of her while she told him.

At first Grace was entranced by the heady assault of Leo’s full attention and she sipped and she nibbled, leaning closer to politely listen to the two men discuss the couples-only complex that Rahim wanted to design. By the time the older man had extracted a plan from an inner pocket along with photos of the site and its superb beach, Grace was getting bored and, what was more, by then her favourite song was playing and she scrambled up off her seat to stand at the rail, her feet shifting in time to the throbbing beat of the music.

‘Dance?’ she directed hopefully at Leo, who was welded to the spot by the luscious view of her swaying hips.

He grimaced. ‘I don’t,’ he told her without apology, fighting the swelling at his groin.

‘No problem,’ Grace told him with an easy smile and a glint in her green eyes as she headed back down the stairs to the dance floor. Just for one night, she thought rebelliously, her thoughts still dwelling on Jenna’s humiliating attacks, she was going to be herself, her real self that she never dared to show at home. And that meant that she would do and say what she wanted, rather than maintaining her usual quiet role in which she worked to politely conform and meet other people’s expectations.

Leo was stunned by her departure. There had been no fuss, no drama, just an unobtrusive determination to do as she liked rather than try to please him. She hadn’t flirted or flattered either. His straight brows pleated in frank bewilderment. Women didn’t behave like that around Leo. Even Marina, who liked her own way, tailored herself to a neat fit of his preferences while in his company.

‘I believe you have met a woman with a mind of her own,’ Rahim remarked. ‘And talking about such women, I am married to one and if I am not home soon, I will be unpopular.’

Leo stood at the rail, broad shoulders straight as an axe blade and rigid with tension until he relocated Grace again. He noted that she was dancing just at the edge of the floor and he wondered if she planned to join him again. Or was she expecting him to chase after her? Leo didn’t chase: he had never had to go to that much effort with a woman. Consequently, he should’ve been irritated by her behaviour but he was not and he didn’t understand that.

What was it about her? She had extraordinary eyes, he recalled, as pale and translucent a green as a piece of sea glass he had once picked up off a beach as a boy. And just as the sea fascinated him, she did as well. He was down the stairs before he even knew he was planning to retrieve her.

‘Can’t...’ he informed her with a wry look when she studied him expectantly. ‘No sense of rhythm.’

Leo stood there in front of Grace like a very large statue frozen in place.

Her breath hitched in her throat as she looked up into his exotically dark eyes, noting the luxuriance of his black lashes. He was gorgeous. Did he really need to dance? a little voice enquired wryly inside her head.

‘Anyone can dance,’ Grace told him softly.

He bent his arrogant dark head, his big body still infuriatingly rigid in stance. ‘I don’t do anything that I can’t do superlatively well.’

Grace grinned at that Alpha male excuse and planted her hands on his lean hips. ‘Move,’ she urged him, amused against her will by his frozen stance. ‘Feel the beat...’

The only thing Leo felt as she tugged him to her to demonstrate that elusive rhythm was the punch of lust that almost left him light-headed as he looked down into her laughing sea-glass eyes. Women didn’t ever laugh at Leo. They laughed with him. He shifted his lean hips in response to her guidance, but only to take advantage of the opportunity to yank her closer and line up that teasing, tantalising mouth of hers with his own.

In the space of a heartbeat, Grace travelled from amusement to another place entirely and it was a shockingly unfamiliar place. She had no experience of passion and suddenly there it was, shamelessly smashing down her defences and powered solely by the hungry, scorching demand of his mouth. For a split second she stiffened in shock and then she turned boneless, liquid heat rolling through her veins. His tongue plundered the semi-closed seam of her lips and she parted them for him, head falling back on her shoulders as he took immediate advantage. He plundered the moist, tender interior of her mouth with an acute sense of the rhythm he had denied, sending an electrifying shudder of piercing sexual pleasure travelling through her.

Leo lifted his head, closed a hand firmly over hers and urged her back up the stairs. Grace blinked like a sleepwalker suddenly forced awake, astonishment rising inside her that a man could actually make her feel like that...all shaky and molten and needy, her nipples tight and aching, warmth and dampness gathering between her thighs. Her own response was a revelation to her. Yes, he did kiss superlatively well, she acknowledged dizzily, and didn’t that make him the perfect man for her sexual experiment? Presumably if he was that good at kissing he would be reasonably proficient at the rest of it as well.

‘Another drink?’ Leo proffered the glass and extended the snacks, willing to do just about anything to ensure that he was able to keep his hands off her for long enough to get back in control of his unruly body. Leo did not like to lose control but he was still hard and throbbing almost painfully, his libido all too eager to continue what he had begun. But haste wasn’t cool and Leo was never hasty. He didn’t do one-night stands either, at least not since he was a teenager. But Grace drew him like a bee to a hive of honey.

Grace clasped the champagne flute gratefully in one hand, astounded to realise that her hand was trembling slightly. But then it wasn’t really Leo still having that effect on her, she told herself urgently, it was more probably the distinctly daunting knowledge that she had decided that, given the opportunity, she would make love with the man she was with. She glanced uncertainly up at him, her gaze drinking in the height and slant of his cheekbones, the strong angular jut of his classic nose, the mobile expressiveness of his wide, sculpted mouth. He was absolutely beautiful in the way only a very masculine man could be without the smallest hint of prettiness, although the jury was still out when it came to the ridiculous length of the long curling black lashes framing his remarkable eyes.

‘Are you single?’ she checked a tad abruptly.

‘Yes. Will you spend the night with me?’ Leo murmured sibilantly, his accent underscoring the syllables with a rasping edge. ‘I’ve never wanted a woman as much as I wanted you on that floor.’

His directness disconcerted Grace but pleased her as well because she valued candour. She laughed. ‘It’s all right. You don’t have to say stuff like that. I made up my mind to say yes when you kissed me.’

It would be a completely practical sexual experiment, Grace reasoned nervously, striving to reassure herself about a spontaneous decision that was unusual for her. Here she was far from home and she would never see him again, so there would be no lingering embarrassment, no further meetings, and no lasting connection. She had always believed in calling a spade a spade and the two of them were both after the same thing: a complication-free hook-up. He was as close to perfect for her purposes as it was possible to get.

Relief gripping him at her immediate agreement shorn of any prevarication, Leo closed a powerful arm round her narrow waist and gazed down at her with an intense sense of satisfaction and anticipation.

Her nose turned up a little at the end and there was a scattering of freckles across the bridge but he discovered that he found those flaws endearing rather than noticeable deficiencies. ‘It wasn’t flattery.’

‘If you say so,’ Grace fielded, unconvinced, utterly challenged by the concept that she had sufficient sex appeal to tax the restraint of so sophisticated and good-looking a male. ‘But outside a serious relationship sex is only a recreational pursuit.’

Taken aback by that prosaic comment and struck by an outlook that came remarkably close to his own, Leo elevated an ebony brow. ‘But a most enjoyable one.’

Grace almost hit him with the shocking survey figures on the level of female sexual dysfunction and dissatisfaction in society but decided to keep wannabe-Dr-Grace firmly under restraint. ‘I certainly hope so,’ she said, her face heating at the very thought of what she had already agreed to do with him. She fretted that alcohol could be affecting her judgement although she had only had two drinks and hadn’t finished the first.

But no, she wasn’t drunk, not even tipsy because she always got giggly if she drank too much. Yet in retrospect her agreement to spend the night with him seemed so cold-blooded that she agonised over it for a nerve-racked few minutes of insecurity. Yet wasn’t that attitude more sensible than waiting in the naïve hope that someone would eventually offer her both romance and commitment? She was almost twenty-five years old and she had waited long enough for a man to offer her a picture-book perfect solution to the loneliness she worked hard at hiding from the outside world. It wasn’t going to happen in the foreseeable future and she had to be level-headed about her prospects. Matt was a great study mate and friend but sadly not lover material.

In any case she was an intelligent adult woman and free to do as she liked if she found a suitable attractive partner, she reminded herself stubbornly. By tomorrow she would finally know what sex was all about and at least she wouldn’t have to spend another night trying to stay awake in the reception back at the apartment block. In truth, even the offer of a bed for the night was ridiculously welcome.

Leo traced a strong brown forefinger along her slim freckled arm, lingering on the fine skin of her wrist. Her skin was very soft and satin smooth and much paler than his own. ‘I will please you,’ he insisted.

A slight shiver racked Grace as if, after that kiss, her entire body had become super sensitive to his touch. She badly wanted him to kiss her again and the strength of that craving unsettled her. Never until that moment had she appreciated how powerful sexual hunger could be. Oh, she had read about it, heard about it, talked intellectually about it but all of those stories and assumptions were meaningless when set next to the actual experience. Leo Zikos would be like her personal science project, she told herself soothingly, and in the process of her research she would learn much that she needed to know.

She asked Leo when Rahim had left and for a few minutes they discussed the hotel scheme.

‘You were getting bored,’ Leo commented. ‘I should apologise for that.’

‘Is your business based on nightclubs?’

‘No, this is my only investment in that line. I started out as a corporate trader and built a property empire with my investments. Now I have hotels, mobile phone and transport companies...’ Leo shifted a hand to indicate the breadth of his interests with an elegance of movement that was compelling. ‘I believe very strongly in diversification. My father once went bust because he concentrated all his energies in one field. What are you studying at university?’

‘I’m about to go into my final year.’ Grace responded as if she had misheard his question because she was in no hurry to tell him that she was a medical student. More than one male had backtracked from Grace in the past once they had discovered how clever she was. It was surprising how many men were turned off by her high IQ.

She met his riveting dark eyes and discovered that below the lights they weren’t really dark at all. They were tawny gold and vibrant with power and a tiny shiver of naked awareness snaked down her taut spinal cord.

Leo stared down at her, a brooding quality tightening his lean dark features. He had read about pheromones and he was wondering if it was possible that she put out some strange invisible chemical message that turned him on hard and fast in a way that seemed to make no sense. After all, even if he was reacting like one, he wasn’t a teenager at the mercy of his hormones any more.

He bent his head and the coconut scent of her shampoo filtered appealingly into his nostrils but he wasn’t thinking about that when he looked at her ripe pink mouth. He moved nearer, his breath fanning her cheek. Almost imperceptibly she swayed closer. His arms tautened round her and without the smallest forewarning of what he was about to do he devoured the voluptuous promise of her lips with a passionate intensity that sent arousal roaring through him like an out-of-control fire.

The second kiss was even hotter than the first, Grace acknowledged dizzily, and she’d known it was coming, forewarned by the glitter of his eyes, the tensing of his arms round her and the quickened thump of his heartbeat beneath her palm when she was forced to plant a hand against his shirtfront to retain her balance on the edge of the seat. She had no thought of avoiding that kiss. In fact, excitement was zinging through her as an astonishing surge of awareness travelled through every nerve ending in her body, supersizing her every response.

Leo dragged his mouth from hers with the greatest of difficulty. ‘Let’s go,’ he husked.

She had only been with him a little over an hour, Grace acknowledged in dismay. I’m a slut, I’m a slut, she reflected in mortification. Maybe sometimes sluts have more fun, said another voice inside her head and she almost laughed, registering that she was on a kind of mindless adrenalin high as if she had just reached the top of a ski run. She looked up at him, her gaze skimming over the already familiar lines of his breathtakingly handsome face and her tummy turning over even as heat leapt through her lower body in a disturbing wave of reaction. ‘Go where?’

‘Back to my yacht,’ Leo advanced, urging her to her feet while carefully avoiding the scrutiny of his bodyguards. Making out with an audience was not cool and he had never done it before. What was he? A hot-under-the-collar kid? A dark flush had scored his strong cheekbones.

‘You’re here on a yacht?’ Grace frowned, surprised by the news.

‘I’ve been cruising the Med for the past week.’ Leo walked her down the stairs, but not before one of the men seated at the table across the way cleared their path. When she turned her head she saw the other two falling into step behind them. One of them was talking into one of those security earpieces she had only previously seen worn in films and the men backed into the dancers to impose a barrier around her and Leo and ensure their smooth passage across the crowded dance floor.

‘Are those men bouncers?’ she asked.

‘My security team.’

‘Why do you need a security team?’ Grace enquired nervously.

‘Protection. I’ve had a security presence in my life since childhood,’ Leo confided evenly, as if it was the most normal thing in the world. ‘My mother and her sister were Greek heiresses. Sadly, my aunt was kidnapped and held for ransom as a teenager.’

‘Good grief,’ Grace whispered in the comparative quiet of the club foyer. ‘Was she freed? I mean, did she come home again?’

‘Yes, she came home but she never fully recovered from her ordeal,’ Leo replied grimly.

Grace stiffened, registering that something pretty horrible had happened to his aunt while she was being held and she suppressed a shiver.

‘It makes more sense to guard against such risks,’ Leo declared in a lighter tone as a car drew up by the kerb and one of his guards hastened to open the door for them.

Grace was nonplussed, out of her depth and feeling it. He had to be very rich to feel the need to take such precautions. She was with a man who inhabited a totally different world from her own and she breathed in slow and deep while she wondered if she had made a rather foolish decision.

‘This is a little unnerving for me,’ Grace admitted abruptly, watching one man climb in the front with the driver while the others climbed into the second car behind them.

‘Ignore them...I do,’ Leo asserted, recognising that she was not impressed like most women but instead ill at ease with the trappings of his lifestyle.

On the drive to the marina, her breath feathered in her throat while Leo chatted easily about his recent travels and stroked the back of her hand with a lazy forefinger. The car stopped and the passenger door sprang open. In her high heels, his hand cupping her elbow to steady her, she walked a few steps and stopped dead when Leo stepped into a motorboat and extended his hand to her.

‘I... I... Where’s your boat?’ Grace demanded uneasily.


Grace followed his gesture and further out in the bay saw a ship’s silhouette etched against the moonlit sky. ‘It looks like the Titanic!’ she gasped because it was huge.

‘An unfortunate comparison. I can assure you that Hellenic Lady is seaworthy and safe.’ Leo stepped back onto the marina and bent down to scoop her up into his arms before stepping back into the launch with her.

He had acted so fast Grace hadn’t had a moment to do more than utter a startled squeak of protest. Then he set her down again, settling her into a padded seat by his side. The speedboat was racing across the sea before she could even catch her breath. A night on a yacht, she thought ruefully. Well, that might be fun, she conceded, and fun had been in very short supply since she’d arrived in Marmaris as Jenna’s pretty much unwelcome guest.

‘OK?’ Leo prompted as the launch reached the yacht.

‘I’m fine.’ Grace swallowed back her worries and allowed him to guide her up a gangway.

Leo didn’t know what had come over him. He wasn’t the caveman type but as soon as he had seen her anxious expression he had panicked, deeply unaccustomed at the idea that she might be changing her mind, and he had snatched her off the marina and got her into the launch as fast as he could. Grace Donovan brought out something in him that he didn’t like, something very basic and elemental and essentially...unnerving. Possibly once he figured out what that mystery something was he would feel better about it.

A man in a peaked cap greeted Leo, and Grace didn’t know where to look because she was embarrassed, convinced that their plans for what remained of the night had to be obvious. Leo wafted her away up another staircase and down a corridor. He spread open the heavy carved doors and invited her to precede him.

Her sea-glass eyes widened to their fullest extent, stunned appreciation etched on her lovely face as she slowly executed a circle to take in the full effect of the gorgeous bedroom. Huge windows looked out on the starry sky and the dark rippling water so far below. Leo hit a button and blinds buzzed into place to seal them into privacy. Blinking, she turned, eyes skating hastily over the opulent bed with its perfectly draped oyster silk spread. There were paintings on the walls, honest-to-goodness oil paintings, at least one of which looked sufficiently classic and imposing enough to be an Old Master.

‘Would you like a drink? Something to eat?’ Leo enquired, wondering why he had brought her to the master suite when he usually took his lovers to one of the guest cabins for the night. He had always been a very private man.

‘No, thanks. I’m sorry, I’m a bit out of my depth with all this,’ Grace confessed, hands shifting to shyly indicate the unbelievable luxury of her surroundings.

And yet she looked as if she belonged, Leo thought suddenly, her hair a river of fire across her shoulders, framing her astonishingly vivid little face, light green eyes flickering with uncertainty against a pallor that only made her freckles stand out. She truly was a beauty in a very natural way that was entirely new to a male much more accustomed to women groomed to a high standard of artificial perfection.

‘It’s only money.’

‘Only someone with pots of it would say that,’ Grace quipped, straightening her slim shoulders. ‘We’re from very different backgrounds, Leo.’

‘There are no barriers here.’ Leo stalked closer, surprisingly light and quiet on his feet for so large a male. He reached for her hand and drew her towards him. ‘I wasn’t exaggerating when I told you how much I wanted you, meli mou.’

‘What did you call me?’

‘Meli mou?’ His mouth quirked as he brushed a stray red strand of hair back off her cheekbone. Her hair felt like silk against his fingers and she was much smaller than his women usually were, the top of her head barely reaching his shoulder in spite of her fantastically high heels. Her diminutive stature gave him the oddest protective feeling. ‘It’s Greek for “my honey”.’

‘I’m more tart than sweet,’ Grace warned him.

‘Sugar cloys,’ Leo husked and he wondered if that was the very basic truth that explained his reaction to her. She was independent and outspoken and he had never met anyone quite like her before.

He stroked a finger across the pulse flickering madly at her collarbone and her breath tripped in her throat. ‘You keep touching me...’

His eyes glowed potent gold. ‘I can’t keep my hands off you. Is it a problem?’

Grace’s lashes screened her eyes. She wasn’t used to being touched and he did it with such ease and spontaneity. Her mother had been physically demonstrative, when she had been sober, and their brief time at the commune in Wales had been almost happy. But, after her mother’s death, her uncle’s family had been much more reserved and Grace had received little physical affection from them. ‘No, not a problem,’ she said in a low voice, thinking she had better watch herself with him because somehow he was getting under her skin in a way she had not foreseen.

Thee mou, it is as well because I’m not sure I could stop.’ Leo slid off his jacket and tossed it on a nearby chair, a lean brown hand tugging roughly at the knot on his silk tie and casting it aside.

I’m only with him to have sex, to lose my virginity and gain a little experience, Grace reminded herself doggedly. No other feelings should enter the equation. If she kept it simple and straightforward, she wouldn’t get hurt as her mother had been hurt, putting her future in a man’s hands and learning her mistake too late. She had only been a little girl when she had first found out about her father’s betrayal but the memory of her mother’s pain had lingered.

‘Hey...’ Leo turned her head back to him to stare down into her haunted eyes. ‘Where did you go just now? Bad memories?’

Grace reddened with chagrin. ‘Something like that...’

‘Another man?’ Leo gritted, appalled by the rage that flooded him at the idea that she might be thinking of a lost lover while she was with him.

‘Not that it’s any of your business, but no,’ Grace countered succinctly, lifting her chin. ‘I don’t allow men to screw with my mind.’

‘Only your body?’ Leo breathed, reaching for both her hands to tug her to him.

Her copper lashes lowered and she glanced up at him from beneath their spiralling cover. ‘Only my body. I hope that’s a deal?’

‘We’re talking too much,’ Leo gritted, on fire from that provocative upward glance of hers, scarcely able to credit that she was warning him off wanting anything more than sex. Wasn’t that his line? Hadn’t that always been his line? It made him feel curiously insecure, not a sensation he enjoyed.

His mouth enveloped hers again and the piercingly sweet thrust of his tongue made her shudder, heat surging up from her pelvis, sending fingers of flame to make her nipples tingle and swell.

‘I’m going to undress you very, very slowly...’ Leo asserted, ‘revealing only one tiny piece of you at a time.’

Her tummy performed a somersault, consternation filling her as she wondered if she would be up to that sophisticated challenge.


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