Not Just the Greek's Wife(4)

By: Lucy Monroe

She’d tried to convince herself otherwise toward the end, but ultimately she’d been proven spectacularly wrong.

“Yes,” she bit out, unable to believe even Ariston could have thought otherwise.

But then, he’d never known her as she knew him. He hadn’t made the effort to do so because he’d never loved her as she loved him.

Needing some distance, even if it was contrived, she dipped her head and took a sip of her coffee. “My father said his business associate was looking for the right trophy wife. It wouldn’t even matter that I hadn’t managed to get pregnant during my three years of marriage to you, since he already had three full-grown children.”

“He believed you incapable of conception?” Ariston asked carefully.

“Yes.” She hadn’t told anyone, even her sister, about using birth control, though Rhea had been the one to suggest it in the beginning.

Rhea had believed the idea of becoming a mother immediately was why Chloe had balked at the idea of being married in a business deal. Her sister had spoken to her privately about taking measures to give herself some time before taking on the responsibility of children.

Eber would have been furious if he’d known—either about the conversation, or that Chloe had ultimately decided to act on her sister’s advice. For her own best interests, something her father cared nothing about.

“And his plans for you to marry again came as an unwelcome surprise to you?” Ariston asked as if checking his facts.

“I already told you that.”

Ariston’s expression turned thoughtful. “He was disappointed by the results of our deal and was making the best of it.”

“I’m not surprised you would see it that way. You probably would have agreed with him about the divorce settlement.”

But she hadn’t and in this one instance, her will had prevailed.

“I’m sorry?”

“He thought I should sign the check over to him. He said it was the least I could do for the company after you ended up with a big chunk of stock and he didn’t get a billionaire son-in-law out of the deal anymore.” Her voice bled not only some bitterness, but pain and she made a concentrated effort to pull her emotions back in check as she sipped her coffee.

Ariston made a sound as if she’d finally shocked him. “You didn’t sign the check over, though. If you had, you couldn’t have financed your new life on the West Coast.”

“No. During that phone conversation, I accepted that my father sees me as nothing more than an asset to exploit,” she admitted. “And I was done being treated like a bargaining chip. I wanted nothing to do with him or his company ever again.”

Chloe had hung up on her father and that conversation was the last time they’d spoken.

For as much as Eber’s indifference during her childhood had hurt, that knowledge hurt even more, adding more pain than she could handle to her already devastated soul.

Chloe had just lost the love of her life, even if it had ultimately been her decision, and her father’s only concern had been adding to the financial coffers of Dioletis Industries. Again.

She hadn’t been surprised at all to discover that Eber now expected Rhea to sacrifice her happiness to the altar of Dioletis Industries. Chloe was here to make sure that didn’t happen.

Her own marriage had been a bust, but Rhea’s could be saved. If her sister could get out from under the burden of a failing empire and their father’s expectations.

It wasn’t just Rhea who had asked Chloe for help either. Rhea’s husband, Samuel, had come to Chloe, desperate to save his marriage but equally certain there was only one chance to do it. A chance he wasn’t sure Rhea would take even if it was offered.

Samuel wanted his wife back from the grasping jaws of Dioletis Industries. He wanted a family, something Rhea had said she wanted as well … before she’d been forced to take over chairmanship of the company.

Now Rhea was too busy trying to run a failing company to see the cost to her personal life and Chloe knew that without intervention, her beloved sister could turn out way too much like their father. And not even realize it.

“You never expressed discontent with your lot while we were married … at least not verbally.” Ariston interrupted her thoughts in a precise New York drawl that showed none of his Greek heritage.

Her gaze flew back up to his. “Why would I have told you how I felt about being used as a bargaining chip in a business deal?”

It wasn’t his problem and the truth was, she’d been almost certain it wouldn’t matter to him.

Besides, in the beginning, she’d considered they were in a similar boat—her father pushing her into marriage for the sake of the company, Ariston’s grandfather pushing for him to settle down with a nice Greek girl.