The Greek Tycoon's Unexpected Wife

By: Annie West
CHAPTER ONE


STAVROS DENAKIS surveyed the crowd spilling out from his villa and permitted himself a single satisfied smile.

The engagement party was perfect. As planned.

It was a superb evening for a celebration. The black velvet of the Aegean sky shone with a lustrous net of stars and a light breeze tempered the heat.

The murmurs and laughter of delighted guests rose above a discreet background of live music. The crates of iced vintage champagne emptied almost as quickly as they were supplied.

Unerringly Stavros located his father’s wheelchair on the flagged terrace nearest the house. The old man wore a rare smile as he chatted with one of his cronies. Even from this distance his renewed vigour was obvious.

Yes. Stavros had made the right decision with tonight’s announcement.

Dispassionately he watched Angela walk down the wide stairs to the second terrace, drawing attention even among the crowd of wealthy, beautiful people. She was poised and elegant, wearing with apparent nonchalance the collar of diamonds he’d given her. There was just enough sway in those sleekly rounded hips to hold a sensual promise. For the right man.

The perfect fiancée.

She joined a cluster of guests who were neither relatives nor close friends. They were business associates.

Angela understood the value of these new associates to his latest expansion. Not indispensable to him: no one was that. But useful, worth time and effort. Already she was charming the group with her beauty and attentive interest.

She had just the right blend of wit and good looks. Of intelligence and sensuality. Of spirit and acquiescence to his wishes.

She would make the perfect wife for the CEO of Denakis International.

‘Kyrie Denakis.’

He swung round to see his head of security approaching.

Stavros registered mild annoyance. There must have been yet another attempted press intrusion. A major one this time, for Petros to bother him with it now.

For weeks his staff had repelled attempts by the paparazzi to find a way into tonight’s celebration. It had even been necessary to enforce a blanket no-fly zone over the island to ensure privacy.

‘Is there a problem?’

A ripple of expression crossed Petros’ features, a fleeting look of unease. That in itself was unique. Immediately Stavros stiffened, alert to the fact that something was most definitely wrong.

‘We have a…situation, kyrie.’

He nodded. That much was obvious.

‘A young woman has arrived.’

What had she done? Broken her neck attempting to scale the perimeter wall? Half-drowned herself trying to swim ashore unseen? Whatever her actions, the results were serious judging by the almost-expression on Petros’ dour features.

‘And?’

‘She is demanding to see you.’

For an instant Stavros felt his eyes widen in astonishment. That anyone should demand to see him. Or that his well-trained staff should not be able to escort a lone female off his premises, no matter how demanding she was. Either eventuality was extraordinary.

His curiosity grew. ‘Who is she?’

‘She refuses to give her name, kyrie.’

Stavros raised an eyebrow. ‘And yet her presence here bothers you? She isn’t Press?’ Intriguing.

‘She says not. No Press card. Not the right attitude either.’

Stavros forbore to query that. His staff were professionals, they knew their business.

‘And…?’ Of course there was more.

‘And she says it’s urgent she sees you, speaks with you privately.’

If he made time for every crank, competitor or journalist who wanted to see him, Stavros would never have privacy. Or time to run the most exclusive fine jewellery enterprise in the world.

The House of Denakis had a generations’ old reputation for magnificent artistic creations, avidly acquired by the wealthiest of the international élite. Its pieces were worn by royalty, if they could afford it. It set the standard to which other houses aspired. Managing it required not only dedication, flair and outstanding business acumen, but also ruthless single-mindedness.

He curbed his impatience as Petros pulled out a palm-sized portable monitor and handed it over. The screen showed a young woman sitting on a straight-backed chair in a bare room. Her back was to the camera but Stavros could see she wore the ubiquitous modern uniform of jeans and a T-shirt. She was slim. Dark hair pinned up on the back of her head.

Her posture caught his attention. She sat straight and alert in her hard seat. But it wasn’t nerves that made her sit so. She didn’t project an aura of apprehension. Instead her bearing seemed almost regal.

He frowned at her air of confidence. Who was she to be so sure of herself after trespassing onto his property? For a moment something about her nagged at his subconscious. Could he know her? Have met her perhaps?

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