Greek's Last Redemption

By: Caitlin Crews
CHAPTER ONE

THEO TSOUKATOS SCOWLED when his office door swung open despite the fact he’d given strict orders that he wasn’t to be disturbed. He expected his orders to be followed—and they usually were, because no one who worked for him enjoyed the consequences when they were not.

He was becoming more like his widely feared father by the day, he thought grimly. Which he could tolerate as long as that was only true here, in the business sphere. God help him if he ever acted like his father in his personal life.

Never, he vowed, as he had since he was a child. I will never let that happen.

“I trust the building is on fire?” he asked his secretary icily as she marched inside, because it could only be a crisis that brought her in here against his instructions, surely. He glowered at her. “Or is about to be?”

“Not as far as I’m aware,” she retorted, appearing utterly unperturbed by his aggressive tone. Mrs. Papadopoulos, who reminded him of his hatchet-faced, steely-haired and pursed-mouthed aunt and acted about as enamored of Theo as Aunt Despina always had been, was meant to keep him from distractions rather than cause them. “But it’s early yet.”

Theo sighed his impatience. He was in the middle of compiling the rest of his notes on fuel efficiency and trim optimization strategies for the meeting that he’d be running in his father’s stead today, now that wily old Demetrious Tsoukatos was focusing more on his mounting medical issues than on the family business. He glanced out the wall of windows surrounding him and saw all of Athens arrayed at his feet, the sprawling commotion and hectic madness of the greatest city in Greece serving as a reminder, the way it always did.

That all that rose must fall—before rising again, stronger than before.

That was the unspoken Tsoukatos family creed. It was the story of Theo’s own life, certainly. It was built into every inch of the proud Tsoukatos tower, where Theo now sat. Just like the steel girders themselves that made the building an imposing physical testament to his shipping magnate father’s searing vision and ruthless success in the face of all obstacles, from sworn enemies to the faltering economy.

These days, the tower stood as a marker of Theo’s own growing reputation as a fearless risk taker and out-of-the-box thinker in a business cluttered by those who played it safe straight into bankruptcy. That wasn’t going to happen to the Tsoukatos fleet. Theo might have acted the spoiled heir apparent for most of his twenties, but in the past four years he’d dedicated himself to proving he was every bit as formidable and intimidating as the old man himself.

It turned out he was good at this. As if ruthless power really did run in his veins the way his father had always assured him it did. Or should.

And he’d decided he could emulate his father here, in the boardroom, where that kind of ruthlessness was a positive thing. Theo’s own personal life might have been a mess, such as it was, but not for the same reasons Demetrious’s had been. I may not be happy, he often told himself fiercely, but at least I’m not a liar, a cheater or a hypocrite.

He was surrounded by too many who couldn’t say the same.

Theo aimed his most ferocious glare at Mrs. Papadopoulos as she came to a sharp stop on the other side of his wide desk. She eyed him right back with her special brand of mild judgment and automatic condemnation, which, perversely, he quite enjoyed. The woman was his own, personal version of the proverbial hair shirt and Theo was nothing if not the kind of man who liked to keep his sins as close as possible to his skin.

“It’s your wife,” Mrs. Papadopoulos said crisply, speaking of his sins, and Theo stopped enjoying himself. With a great thud that he was momentarily worried was actually audible.

His wife.

Holly.

Theo was so used to that flare of dark rage, that thunderbolt of pure fury, that he told himself he hardly noticed it any longer as it careened through him, setting off a string of secondary explosions. It had been almost four whole years since he’d laid eyes on his errant wife. Almost four years since they’d been in the same room, or even in the same country. Four years since he’d last touched her, tasted her, lost himself in her—which he never would again, he reminded himself coldly, as it was, not coincidentally, also four years since he’d discovered the truth about her. And the mockery she’d made of their marriage.

You did not discover the truth about her, he reminded himself darkly. Pointedly. She presented her confession to you, as if on a silver platter...

But God help him, he couldn’t let himself go down that dark path. Not today. Not here, in his place of business, where he had become renowned for his icy calm under any and all forms of pressure. Not anymore.

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