Not Just the Greek's Wife(3)

By: Lucy Monroe

There. He could put that in his pipe and smoke it. If he smoked. Which he didn’t. Darn it, her mind was running away with her again.

She consciously reined in her wayward thoughts.

“For your father’s sake.” Ariston’s tone was flat, his mouth drawn in a line that could have been disapproval, or just as easily apathy. “You would do anything for your father.”

A sound of dark humor spilled from Chloe’s lips before she could even think of stifling it.

Seriously? Had Ariston gotten to know her at all during the brief three years of their marriage? She had never once tried to pretend a closeness with her father that did not exist. That had never existed.

She wasn’t the business-minded protégée Rhea was, garnering their father’s attention in a way Chloe could never compete with. Chloe had always been the artsy one, like their mother whose paintings had hung on the walls of their home years after death had taken her from their lives.

“I haven’t seen or spoken to my father in almost two years.” More vehement than she intended, Chloe took a deep breath and let her gaze shift to the original El Greco hanging on the wall behind his desk in its gilt-edged frame.

She had always loved it, but the old masterpiece held no solace for her today.

Her father had sold her into marriage with no care for her feelings. When they’d been ripped asunder, rational or not, she’d laid a good portion of the blame at his door.

She might have been able to forgive him for setting her up for such heartache, but not what came after.

“I find that hard to believe.”

“Really?” She shook her head, finding it difficult to believe even now that Ariston was so ignorant of her feelings, and let their gazes meet again.

His was assessing.

Was it possible that despite the fact she’d never tried to hide it, Ariston simply hadn’t noticed how little interaction she had with her father? The two men had a closer relationship than she’d ever shared with the man who’d fathered her.

She was convinced Ariston knew the other businessman better than she ever would.

“Eber Dioletis only ever deigned to notice my existence when he needed a daughter to fulfill the business contract he thought would save his crumbling empire.” He hadn’t even sounded sorry when he’d informed her over the phone of her then-husband’s actions in having divorce papers drawn up, but then Eber had had his own plans, hadn’t he? “Do you know what he said when I called to tell him I was returning to New York?”

Chloe snapped her mouth shut. She hadn’t meant to ask that, had had no intention of ever sharing that final humiliation with anyone. She’d never even told Rhea.

“What?” Ariston asked, his attention sharpening as if he realized she’d let something slip she didn’t want to.

Hurting and lost after making the only decision she could once she’d found out about Ariston’s plans to divorce her, Chloe had called her father and told him she was on her way home. She’d intended to return to the house she’d grown up in, familiar if not a warm haven of memories.

That hadn’t happened.

Because her father had been and would always be a coldhearted man.

“It doesn’t matter.”

“I must disagree. You brought it up.”

She had.

And unlike her parent, or even Ariston, Chloe was no master prevaricator. “He had another prospect in mind for once the divorce was final.”

Another arranged marriage waiting in the wings, an older businessman worth tens of millions, if not a few billion like her ex-husband. Eber had known the marriage wasn’t going to last beyond its three-year term and had sought to take advantage of that fact.

To this day, she didn’t know how her father had found out about the divorce papers Ariston had drawn up in New York before that final trip to Greece. She only knew that he’d had proof. The morning Ariston had flown to Hong Kong for what was supposed to be a short business trip, Eber had sent Chloe a fax—divorce papers signed by her husband and dated not two weeks before their arrival in Athens.

Though they hadn’t yet been filed, much less served, there was only one interpretation of her husband’s actions and once Chloe had made it, her own decisions at the end of her marriage rose up to torment her with just how naively hopeful she’d been.

“This upset you?” Ariston didn’t look or sound in the least surprised by news of Eber’s backup plan.

Chloe had to wonder if he’d known about it. Those two were peas in a pod, knowing things they shouldn’t when it came to one of their business ventures. And hadn’t her marriage to Ariston been nothing but that?

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