Their vows have been broken, yet neither is prepared for what this tempestuous reunion will bring…
Tally Spencer is an ordinary girl with no experience of relationships; Sander Volakis is an impossibly rich and handsome Greek entrepreneur. What could they have in common? Little – except an overwhelming sexual attraction. But within weeks Sander finds himself betrayed into exchanging vows with Tally. Just when they think their hasty marriage is finished, Tally and Sander are drawn back together, and the passion between them is just as strong… However Sander has dark reasons for wanting his wife in his bed again – and Tally also has a terrible secret…
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‘WHEN will your divorce from Volakis be final?’ Robert Miller asked casually.
Suspecting that his question was anything but casual, Tally stiffened. Her bright green eyes wary, she averted her head, light glancing over the smooth coil of hair at the nape of her neck and picking out its natural streaks of brighter orange as she leafed through a fabric sample book. ‘In a couple of months…’
‘It feels like it’s been going on for ever,’ Robert complained, his impatience with the situation unconcealed. ‘I’m getting tired of the fact that everyone assumes we’re only friends—’
‘We are friends and you’re my business partner,’ Tally responded lightly, knowing that he wanted more but not at all sure, even yet, that she would ever be able to give it to him.
It was only a year since Sander, the loss of their child and the sad debris of their failed marriage had broken Tally’s heart into tiny shattered pieces. The last thing she wanted in her life was the stress of a man with expectations she couldn’t fulfil. It was fun to meet Robert for casual dinner dates and occasionally accompany him to more formal events but she wasn’t ready for a full-on relationship at present. She valued his friendship and his business guidance and support, but she had yet to feel any desire to take matters to a more intimate level. Sander, she reflected painfully, seemed to have killed those feelings stone dead.
Yet at six feet tall with dark hair and bright blue eyes, Robert was a very attractive man and a successful software designer with his own company. Nine months earlier, Robert had given Tally her first major project when he’d engaged her to make over the interior of his London Docklands apartment. Thanks to the publicity garnered by that job, Tally’s brand new interiors firm had expanded rapidly to cope with a steady influx of keen clients. Although business was good, Tally had still found it impossible in the depressed economic climate to get a bank to invest in the future of Tallulah Design. Times were hard for newly self-employed people and when Robert offered her the finance she’d needed to set up her office in upmarket premises and hire extra staff, she had been very grateful. For the past six months Robert had acted as a supportive silent partner.
Sadly, an unpleasant surprise was in store for Tally that afternoon when her assistant, Belle, told her she had a confidential call on hold for her. ‘I’ve been advised that the house you shared with Mr Volakis in France is about to be sold,’ her solicitor told her. ‘I’ve also been informed that if you want anything from the house you will need to go there and collect it.’
Thoroughly taken aback by that news, Tally grimaced and thanked the older man for passing on the information. She tried not to think about the house she had loved being sold, but it was no use; she had stamped her personality and style on the rambling property and she had once been very happy there. Knowing that it would soon belong to someone else filled her with a tide of regret. She had not been prepared for Sander to sell the house, though she could not have explained why. Would it have been a comfort to picture him there with some other woman? Absolutely not. Indeed she shivered at that offensive image and hurriedly suppressed it. When so many more important things had been lost, it would be ridiculous to bemoan the loss of bricks and mortar and memories of more contented times.
Even so, divorcing Sander was proving to be an ongoing challenge, Tally conceded ruefully as she checked her diary to work out if she could make a trip to France that very weekend and get the matter over and done with. Their divorce could certainly not be labelled a civilised break-up. Had Sander so desired, he could easily have had her belongings shipped back to the UK for her to sort out; but he had made not one single helpful gesture since their separation. He had not seen her; in fact he had, at one point, flatly refused to speak to her and had cut her out as though she had never been a part of his life.
Was that because she had walked out on him? Get over it, Sander, Tally thought angrily. If anything, she was proud of the fact that she’d had the courage to break free of a marriage that was making both of them unhappy. Since then she had read that, statistically speaking, marriages very rarely survived the death of a child. Driving home to her apartment, Tally had to blink back a hot surge of tears and suppress the distressing recollections threatening to tear her apart. She had got over the worst of the anger, the self-pity and the bitterness; but, without warning, grief could still roll in over her like a suffocating blanket and it would be hours until she could function normally again.
Sander, however, had not suffered from that problem. Grief had not immobilised Sander in any way. During the wretched months when Tally’s life had fallen apart and she had sunk into depression, Sander had contrived to rebuild Volakis Shipping into a lean, mean, fighting machine of a booming business and had won lucrative new transportation contracts with Asian factories. At a conservative estimate Sander had quadrupled his financial worth during that contentious period of their lives. Yet Tally, determined to stand on her own financial feet as her mother had never contrived to do, had refused to accept a penny from her husband once they had parted.