The Greek's Christmas Bride - Линн Грэхем - Читать онлайн любовный роман

В женской библиотеке Мир Женщины кроме возможности читать онлайн также можно скачать любовный роман - The Greek's Christmas Bride - Линн Грэхем бесплатно.

Правообладателям | Топ-100 любовных романов

The Greek's Christmas Bride - Линн Грэхем - Читать любовный роман онлайн в женской библиотеке LadyLib.Net
The Greek's Christmas Bride - Линн Грэхем - Скачать любовный роман в женской библиотеке LadyLib.Net

Грэхем Линн

The Greek's Christmas Bride

Читать онлайн
Предыдущая страница Следующая страница

2 Страница

‘MORNING, HECTOR,’ PIXIE mumbled as she woke up with a tousled bundle of terrier plastered to her ribs.

Smothering a yawn, she steeled herself to get up and out. She got out of bed to head to the bathroom she shared with the other tenants on the same floor before returning washed and dressed to snap a leash on Hector’s faded red collar and take her pet out for his morning walk.

Hector trotted along the road, little round eyes reflecting anxiety. He flinched when he noticed another dog across the street. Hector was scared of just about everything life threw at him. People, other animals, traffic and loud noises all made the whites of his eyes gleam with an edge of panic. Calm and untroubled the rest of the time, he was very quiet and had never been known to bark.

‘Probably learned not to as a puppy,’ the vet next door to the hair salon had opined when Pixie had asked. ‘He’s scared of attracting attention to himself in any way. Abuse does that to an animal. But in spite of his injuries he’s young and healthy and should have a long life ahead of him.’

Pixie still marvelled at the fact that regardless of her own problems she had chosen to adopt Hector. But then, Pixie had triumphed over adversity many times in life and so had the little terrier. Hector had repaid her generosity a thousand times over. He comforted her and warmed her heart with his shy little ways and eccentricities. He had filled some of the giant hole that had opened up in Pixie’s world when Holly and Angelo had moved to Italy.

She had lost her best friend to marriage and motherhood but their friendship had been more damaged by the secrets Pixie had been forced to keep. There was no way she could tell Holly about her brother Patrick’s gambling debts without Holly offering to settle those debts for them. Holly was very generous but Patrick was not Holly or Vito’s responsibility, he was Pixie’s and had been since the day of their mother’s death.

‘Promise me you’ll look after your little brother,’ Margery Robinson had pleaded. ‘Always do your best for Patrick, Pixie. He’s a gentle soul and he’s the only family you have left.’

But looking after Patrick had been near impossible when the siblings had invariably ended up living in different foster homes. During the important teenaged years, Pixie had only met up with her brother a handful of times and until she’d finished training and achieved independence her bond with her kid brother had been limited by time, distance and a shortage of money. Once she was working she had tried to change all that by regularly visiting Patrick in London.

Initially Patrick had done well. He was an electrician working for a big construction firm. He had found a girlfriend and settled down. But he had also got involved in high-stake card games and had lost a lot of money to a very dangerous man. Pixie had duly cut down her own expenses, moving out of the comfortable terraced house she had once shared with Holly into a much cheaper bedsit. Every week she sent as much money as she could afford to Patrick to help him pay off his debts but as interest was added that debt just seemed to be getting bigger and if he missed a payment he would be beaten up...or worse. Pixie genuinely feared that her brother’s debts would get him killed.

Pixie still came out in a cold sweat remembering the night the debt collectors had arrived when she had been visiting her brother. Two big brutish men had come to the door of Patrick’s flat to demand money. Threatening to kill him, they had beaten him up when he was unable to pay his dues. Attempting to intervene in the ensuing struggle, Pixie had fallen down the stairs and broken both her legs. The consequences of that accident had been horrendous because Pixie had been unable to work and had been forced to claim benefits during her recovery. Now, six months on, she was just beginning to get back to normal but unhappily there seemed to be no light gleaming at the end of the tunnel because Patrick’s debt situation seemed insurmountable and his life was still definitely at risk. The man he owed wasn’t the type to wait indefinitely for settlement. He would want his pound of flesh or he would want to make an example of her brother to intimidate his other debtors.

Settling Hector into his basket, Pixie set off down the street to the hair salon. She missed her car but selling Clementine had been her first sacrifice because she had no real need for personal transport in the small Devon town where she could walk most places. She would return home to take Hector out for a walk during her lunch break and grab a sandwich at the same time.

Entering the salon, she exchanged greetings with her co-workers and her boss, Sally. After hurriedly stowing her bag in her staff locker she caught a glimpse of herself in a mirror and winced. It had been a while since she had looked her best. When had she got so boring? She was only twenty-three years old.

Unfortunately cutting costs had entailed wearing her clothes for longer and her jeans and black top had seen better days. She had good skin and didn’t wear much make-up but she always wore loads of grey eyeliner because black liner was too stark against the blonde hair that fell simply to just below her shoulders. She had left behind her more adventurous days of playing with different styles and colours because she had soon come to appreciate that most of her clients had conservative tastes and were nervous of a hairdresser who had done anything eye-catching to her own hair.

She cleaned up after her third client had departed. She regretted the reality that yet another junior had walked out, leaving the stylists to deal with answering the phone, washing hair and sweeping up. She checked the appointment book for her next booking and, unusually, she didn’t recognise the name. It was a guy though and she was surprised he hadn’t asked for the only male stylist in the salon. And then, without the smallest warning, Apollo Metraxis walked in and as every female jaw literally dropped in wonderment and silence spread like the plague he strode up to Pixie and announced, ‘I’m your twelve o’clock appointment.’

Pixie gaped at him, not quite sure it could actually be him in the flesh. ‘What the heck are you doing here? Has something happened to Holly or Vito?’ she demanded apprehensively.

‘I need a trim,’ Apollo announced levelly, perfectly comfortable with the fact that he was the cynosure of every eye in the place. Clad in a black biker jacket, tight jeans and boots, he seemed impossibly tall as he towered over her, bright green eyes strikingly noticeable in his lean bronzed face.

‘Holly? Vito? Angelo?’ Pixie pressed with staccato effect, her attention glued to his broad chest and the tee shirt plastered to his six-pack abs.

‘As far as I know they’re all well,’ Apollo retorted impatiently.

But that still didn’t explain what a Greek billionaire was doing walking into a high-street hair salon in a small country town where as far as she was aware he knew nobody. And she couldn’t be counted because he had never spoken to her, never even so much as glanced at her on the day of Holly’s wedding. The memory rankled because she was only human, whether she liked it or not. After trying to ruin Holly’s wedding for her by making an embarrassing speech in his role of best man, he had royally ignored Pixie as if she was beneath his lofty notice.

‘I’m afraid I have another appointment.’

‘That’s me. John Smith? Didn’t you smell a rat?’ he mocked.

In actuality the only thing Pixie could smell that close to Apollo was Apollo and the alluring scent of some no doubt very expensive citrusy designer cologne.

‘Let me take your jacket,’ she said jerkily, struggling to regain her composure and behave normally.

He shrugged it off, more powerful muscles bunching and flexing with his every movement. He exposed the bare arm with the intricate dragon tattoo that had made her stare at her friend’s wedding. Then she hurriedly turned away and hung the heavy leather jacket on the coat stand beside the reception desk.

‘Come over to the sinks,’ Pixie urged, alarmingly short of breath at the prospect of laying actual hands on him.

Apollo stared down at her. She was even smaller than he had expected, barely reaching his chest and very delicate in build. He had seen boards with more curves. But she had amazing eyes, a light grey that glittered like stolen starlight in her expressive face. She had an undistinguished button nose and a full rosebud mouth while her flawless skin had the translucent glow of the finest porcelain. She was much more natural than the women he was accustomed to. Definitely no breast enhancements, no fake tan and even her mouth appeared to be all her own.

As he sat down Pixie whisked a cape round him and then a towel, determined not to be intimidated by him. ‘So, what on earth are you doing here?’

‘You’ll never guess,’ Apollo intoned, tilting his head back for her.

Pixie ran the water while noting that he had the most magnificent head of hair. Layers and layers of luxuriant blue-black glossy strands. His mocking response tightened her mouth and frustration gripped her. ‘When did you last see our mutual friends?’ she asked instead.

‘At my father’s funeral last week,’ Apollo advanced.

Pixie stiffened. ‘I’m sorry for your loss,’ she said immediately.

‘Why should you be sorry?’ Apollo asked with unsettling derision. ‘You didn’t know him and you don’t know me.’

Her teeth gritted at that scornful dismissal as she shampooed his hair. ‘It’s just what people say to show sympathy.’

‘Are you sympathetic?’

Pixie was tempted to drench him with the shower head she was using. Her teeth ground together even tighter. ‘I’m sympathetic to anyone who’s lost a family member.

‘He was dying for a long time,’ Apollo admitted flatly. ‘It wasn’t unexpected.’

His outrageously long fringe of black lashes flicked down over his striking eyes and she got on with her job on automatic pilot while her mind seethed with questions. What did he want with her? Was it foolish of her to think that his descent on the place where she worked had to relate to her personally? Yet how could it relate to her? Outside her ties to Holly and Vito, there was no possible connection.

‘Tell me about you,’ Apollo invited, disconcerting her.

‘Why would I?’

‘Because I asked...because it’s polite?’ he prompted, his posh British upper-class accent smooth as glass.

‘Let’s talk about you instead,’ she suggested. ‘What are you doing in England?’

‘A little business, a little socialising. Visiting friends,’ he responded carelessly.

She applied conditioner and embarked on a head massage with tautly nervous fingers. A second after she began she realised she had not asked him if he wanted one but she kept going all the same, desperate to take charge of the encounter and keep busy.

Apollo relaxed while lazily wondering if she did any other kind of massage. The file hadn’t shed much light on her sex life or her habits but then two broken legs had kept her close to home for months. As her slender fingers moved rhythmically across his skull he pictured her administering to him buck naked and the sudden tightening at his groin warned him to give it a rest.

Irritated by the effect she was having on his highly tense body, Apollo thought about how much he needed sex to wind down. His last liaison had ended before his father’s funeral and he had not been with anyone since then. Unlike Vito, Apollo never went without sex. A couple of weeks was a very long time for him. Had he found Pixie unattractive, he would’ve backed off straight away; however that wasn’t the case. But—Diavole!—she was teeny, tiny as a doll and he was a big guy in every way. She rinsed his hair and towelled him dry while he thought about her hands on his body and that ripe bee-stung mouth taking him to climax. It was a relief to move and settle down in another chair.

‘What do you want done?’ she asked him after she had combed his hair.

He almost told her because he was all revved up and ready to go and he had never before reacted to a woman with such unsophisticated schoolboyish enthusiasm. ‘A trim...but leave it long,’ he warned her while he wondered what the secret of her attraction was.

Novelty value? He was tall and he generally went for tall, curvy blondes. But possibly he had got bored with a steady diet of women so similar they had become almost interchangeable. Vito had raved about how down-to-earth and unspoilt Holly was but Apollo was a great deal less high flown in his expectations. If Pixie pleased him in bed, he would count her a prize. If she got pregnant quickly he would treat her like a princess. If she gave him a child, she would live like a lottery winner. Apollo believed in only rewarding results.

Of course, she might turn him down. A woman had never turned him down before but he knew there had to be a first time and it was not as though he were in the habit of asking women to have a child with him. And if he spilled all to Pixie then he would be vulnerable because she might choose to share his secrets with the media for a handsome price and that would scupper his plans. So, however she reacted, he would be stuck having to pay her to keep quiet and that reality and the risk involved annoyed him.

Momentarily, Pixie stepped away to right the swaying coat stand, knocked off balance by an elderly woman. In the mirror, Apollo watched as Pixie bent down to pick up and hang the coats that had fallen and he was riveted by a glimpse of her curvy little rump before she straightened and returned to his side.

Her scissors went snip-snip. She was confident with what she did and every so often her fingers would smooth through his hair in a gesture almost like a caress. He glanced at her from below his lashes, wondering if it was a come-on, but her heart-shaped face was intent on her task, her eyes veiled, her mouth a tense line. It didn’t stop Apollo imagining those touchy-feely hands roaming freely over him. In fact the more he thought about that, the hotter he got.

When she wielded the drier over him, Apollo tried to take it off her. He usually dried his own hair and then damped it down again to make it presentable but Pixie swore she would do nothing fancy and withheld the drier, determined to personally tame his messy mane.

Until she had had the experience of cutting Apollo’s hair it had never crossed Pixie’s mind that her job could be an unsettlingly intimate one. But touching Apollo’s surprisingly silky hair disturbed her, making her aware of him on a level she was very uncomfortable with. He smelled so damned good she wanted to sniff him in like an intoxicating draught of sunshine. Wide shoulders flexed as he settled back in the chair and she sucked in a slow steadying breath. She had never been so on edge with a customer in her life. Her nipples were tight inside her bra and she felt embarrassingly damp between her thighs.

No, she absolutely was not attracted to Apollo. It was simply that he made her very nervous. The guy was a literal celebrity, an international playboy adored by the media for his jet-set womanising lifestyle. Any normal woman would feel overwhelmed by his sudden appearance. It was like having a lion walk into the room, she reflected wildly. You couldn’t stop staring, you couldn’t do less than admire his animal beauty and magnificence but not far underneath lurked a ferocious fear of what he might do next.

Apollo sprang upright and Pixie hastened to retrieve his jacket and hand it to him. He stilled at the reception desk and dug inside it while she waited for him to pay. He frowned, black brows pleating, and stared at her. ‘My wallet’s gone,’ he told her.

‘Oh, dear...’ Pixie muttered blankly.

His green eyes narrowed to shards of emerald cutting glass ready to draw blood. ‘Did you take it?’

‘Did I take your wallet?’ In the wake of that echo of an answer, Pixie’s mouth dropped open in shock because her brain was telling her that he could not possibly have accused her of stealing from him.

‘You’re the only person who touched my jacket,’ Apollo condemned loud enough to turn heads nearby. ‘Give it back and I’ll take no action.’

‘You’ve got to be out of your mind to think that I would steal from you!’ Pixie exclaimed, stricken, as her boss, Sally, came rushing across the salon.

‘I want the police called,’ he informed the older woman grimly.

The dizziness of shock engulfed Pixie and she turned pale as death. She couldn’t credit that Apollo was accusing her of theft in public. In fact her first thought was insane because she found herself wondering if he had come to the salon deliberately to set her up for such an accusation. All he had to do would be to leave his wallet behind and then accuse her of stealing from him. And who would believe her word against the word of someone of his wealth and importance?

Her stomach heaved and with a muffled groan she fled to the cloakroom to lose her breakfast. Apollo was subjecting her to her worst possible nightmare. Pixie had always had a pronounced horror of theft and dishonesty. Her father had been a serial burglar, in and out of prison all his life. Her mother had been a professional shoplifter, who stole to order. If Pixie had stumbled across a purse lying on the ground she would have walked past it, too terrified to pick it up and hand it in in case someone accused her of trying to steal it. It was a hangover from her shame-filled childhood and she had never yet contrived to overcome her greatest fear.


Получить полную версию книги можно по ссылке - Здесь

Предыдущая страница Следующая страница

Ваши комментарии
к роману The Greek's Christmas Bride - Линн Грэхем

Комментарии к роману "The Greek's Christmas Bride - Линн Грэхем" отсутствуют

Ваше имя


Введите сумму чисел с картинки