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Only the Brave

Demetriou Demands His Child(2)

By: Kate Hewitt

‘As beautiful as you look,’ Talos continued, ‘you need something more.’ He withdrew a small velvet box from the pocket of his tuxedo jacket. ‘This is for a woman full grown, ready for a husband.’

‘A husband...’ Iolanthe didn’t want to think about that. She knew she would have to marry a man of her father’s choosing at some point, but tonight she wanted to think of adventure. And yes, maybe a little of romance, but not marriage. Not duty.

‘Open it,’ Talos commanded, and all worries flew from her head as she flipped the lid of the box and gazed in admiration at the diamond teardrop earrings nestled within. ‘They’re beautiful.’ She’d never had any jewellery of her own; she’d never needed any, living a secluded life in her father’s villa in the country.

‘There’s more.’ From another pocket Talos withdrew a matching necklace with three exquisite teardrop-shaped diamonds. ‘This was your mother’s. She wore it on our wedding day.’

Iolanthe took the necklace reverently, her fingers smoothing over the polished stones as she imagined her mother once touching them in a similar way. ‘Thank you, Papa,’ she whispered, tears choking her voice. He’d never given her anything like this before, never shown her so much affection.

‘I was just waiting for the right moment to give them to you.’ Talos cleared his throat, uncomfortable with her obvious emotion. ‘It is not every day a young woman attends her first ball. She must be outfitted properly.’

Iolanthe put the earrings in and then turned so her back was to her father. ‘Will you fasten the necklace?’

‘Of course.’ Her father did the clasp and then rested his hands lightly on his daughter’s shoulders. ‘Lukas will accompany you tonight, and keep you safe. Make sure you show him the proper attention.’

Iolanthe had met Lukas, her father’s Head of Tech, a few times, and the thought of spending the entire evening with such a stuffed shirt made her insides wither in disappointment. ‘I thought you would accompany me.’

‘I have business to attend to. Balls such as these are times to network, not just socialise.’ He stepped back, his expression stern once more. ‘Lukas is an appropriate companion for you. I am allowing you to attend your first ball because you are old enough, and it is time you had a husband. Lukas would be a suitable choice.’

Lukas? She couldn’t imagine anything worse. Yet Iolanthe recognised the hard line of her father’s mouth, the flat black of his eyes. She could not argue with him now. Wordlessly she nodded even as a spark of rebellion lit her soul. This was her first ball, perhaps even her only ball, and she had no intention of spending the entire evening, much less the rest of her life, with dull-as-ditchwater Lukas Callos.

* * *

Alekos Demetriou stepped into the ballroom, light from the many crystal chandeliers glancing off diamond-spangled women and black-jacketed men. The best of Athens’ society had gathered tonight for the city’s first social event of the season, and this time Alekos had been included. A year ago his name would not have been on the exclusive guest list; no one had even known it. But now, after years of setbacks he could hardly bear to think about, he was finally starting to make his way and establish both his business and his name. He had every right to be here, rubbing elbows with the rich and entitled, and he intended to enjoy the privilege to the full.

Plucking a glass of champagne from one of the circulating trays, Alekos narrowed his eyes as he looked around the room, searching, as he always was, for the jovial face of his enemy. Talos Petrakis, the man who had taken everything from him, and done it with a smile on his face, presenting to the world the false front of a benevolent businessman, a genial entrepreneur.

Just the thought of Petrakis made Alekos’s insides clench as bitterness surged through him, corroding the remaining fragments of his soul. In those first years after Petrakis’s betrayal he’d fought against the overwhelming emotion, the fury and despair and hurt he’d felt at the older man’s devious actions. Then he’d realised that he could channel that emotion, use it for his own good. For the last four years he’d forged those toxic feelings in a furnace of determination, turning them into a steely, unrelenting drive to succeed. And it had worked.

He was finally reaching a point where he could actually consider how to enact revenge on the man who had stolen everything from him. Coming face-to-face with Petrakis after four long years would be the first step. Unfortunately, he couldn’t see the man anywhere.

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