A good Greek wife.
Coldly ruthless and deeply cynical, Apollo Metraxis has made a career of bachelorhood. But when the inheritance of his father’s estate is conditional on a marriage and a child, he is forced to do the unthinkable! Unpolished Pixie Robinson is the world’s worst choice of a wife for Apollo. Yet her family’s mounting debts leave her defenceless and therefore uniquely suitable. But when the wedding night exposes Pixie’s untouched vulnerability, striking a chord in the dark reaches of his heart, Apollo is forced to think again. And that’s before he discovers that she’s carrying not one – but two Metraxis heirs!
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THE MALE VOICES drifted in from the balcony while Holly hovered, waiting uneasily for the right moment to join the conversation. That was a challenge when she knew she was never particularly welcome in Apollo’s radius.
But there wasn’t much she could do about that when she was married to Vito, Apollo’s best friend. Only recently had she come to appreciate just how close the two men were and how often they talked no matter where they were in the world. Friends from a childhood spent at boarding school, they were as close as brothers and Apollo had distrusted Holly from the outset because she was a poor woman marrying a very rich man. Aware of that fact, she had offered to stay home instead of attending the funeral of Apollo’s father but Vito had been shocked at that suggestion.
So far, their visit to the privately owned island of Nexos and the Metraxis compound had been anything but pleasant. The funeral had been massive. Every one of Apollo’s former stepmothers and their children had attended. Earlier today the reading of the will had taken place and Apollo had stormed out in a passion, having learned that he needed a wife to inherit the vast empire he had been running for several years on his ailing father’s behalf. Vito had shared only that bare detail with his wife, clearly uncomfortable at divulging even that much. But as virtually anybody who knew Apollo also knew of his aversion to matrimony, it was obvious that his father’s last will and testament had put him between a rock and a hard place.
‘So, you pick one of your women and marry her,’ Vito breathed, sounding not at all like the loving husband Holly knew and adored. ‘Dio mio, there’s a long enough list. You marry her, stay married as long as you can bear it, and—’
‘And how am I going to get rid of her again?’ Apollo growled. ‘Women cling to me like superglue. How am I going to trust her to keep her mouth shut? If word escapes that it’s a fake marriage, the stepfamilies will go to court and try and take my inheritance off me. If you tell a woman you don’t want her, she’s insulted and she wants revenge.’
‘That’s why you need to hire a wife as if you’re interviewing one for a job. You need a woman with no personal axe to grind. Considering your popularity with the opposite sex and your bad reputation, finding her could be a challenge.’
Reckoning that it was now or never, Holly stepped out onto the terrace. ‘Hiring a wife sounds like the best idea,’ she opined nervously.
Even sheathed in an elegant dark suit, Apollo Metraxis looked every inch the bad boy he was. With shoulder-length black hair, startling green eyes and an elaborate dragon tattoo peeping out of a white shirt cuff, Apollo was volatile, unconventional and arrogant, the direct opposite of Holly’s conservative husband.
‘I don’t believe you were invited to join this conversation,’ Apollo countered very drily.
‘Three heads are better than two,’ Holly parried, forcing herself down stiffly into a seat.
Apollo elevated a sardonic brow. ‘You think so?’
Holly refused to be excluded. ‘Stop dramatising yourself—’
‘Holly!’ Vito interrupted sharply.
‘Well, Apollo can’t help himself. He’s always doing it,’ Holly argued. ‘Not every woman is going to cling to you like superglue!’
‘Name me one who won’t,’ Apollo invited.
Holly blinked and thought very hard because Apollo was universally acknowledged to be a gorgeous, super-wealthy stud and nine out of ten women followed him round a room with hungry eyes. ‘Well, my friend Pixie for a start,’ she pronounced with satisfaction. ‘She can’t stand you and if she can’t, there’s got to be others.’
A very faint flush accentuated Apollo’s supermodel cheekbones.
‘Pixie wouldn’t quite meet the parameters of what is required,’ Vito interposed hastily, meeting his friend’s appalled gaze in a look of mutual understanding because he had not told his wife the exact terms of the will. Ignorant as Holly was of those terms, she could not know how impossible her suggestion was.
Apollo was outraged by the reference to Holly’s friend, Pixie, who was a hairdresser and poor as a peasant. Apollo already knew everything there was to know about Holly and Pixie because he had had the two women thoroughly investigated as soon as Holly appeared out of nowhere to announce that she had given birth to Vito’s son, Angelo. Apollo had been appalled by Pixie’s grubby criminal background and the debts her unsavoury brother had accrued and which she for some strange reason had chosen to take on as her own. Those debts had resulted in her brother’s punishment beating and her attempt to interfere with that had put Pixie in a wheelchair with two broken legs.
Was it any wonder that when her friend had such a bad background he had instinctively distrusted Holly and marvelled at his friend’s eagerness to marry the mother of his child? Indeed Apollo had been waiting on the sidelines ever since for Pixie to try and take advantage of her friendship with Holly by approaching her friend for financial help. To date, however, she had not done so and Apollo had been relieved for he had no desire to interfere again, knowing how much that would be resented. And thanks to his ungenerous attitude at their wedding, Holly already resented Apollo quite enough.
Pixie Robinson, Apollo thought again in wonderment as Vito and Holly retreated indoors to change for dinner. He was unlikely to forget the tiny doll-like blonde in the wheelchair at Vito’s wedding. She had given Apollo nothing but dirty looks throughout the day and had really irritated him. Holly was insane. Of course she was biased, Pixie being her best friend and all that, but even so, could she really imagine Apollo marrying Pixie and them producing an heir together? Apollo almost shuddered before he reminded himself that Holly didn’t know about that most outrageous demand in his father’s will.
He had seriously underestimated the older man, Apollo conceded angrily. Vassilis Metraxis had always had a bee in his bonnet about the continuation of the family name, hence his six marriages and unsuccessful attempts to have another child. At thirty, Apollo was an only child. His father had urged his son to marry many times and Apollo had been blunt and honest about his resolve to remain single and childless. In spite of the depredations of the manipulative, grasping stepmothers and the greedy stepchildren that had come with those marriages, Apollo had always enjoyed a relatively close and loving relationship with his father. For that reason, the terms of Vassilis’s will had come as a very nasty shock.
According to the will, Apollo was to continue running his father’s empire and enjoying his possessions but that state of affairs was guaranteed to continue only for the next five years. Within that period Apollo had to legally marry and produce a child if he wanted to retain his inheritance. If he failed on either count, the Metraxis wealth would be shared out amongst his father’s ex-wives and former stepchildren even though they had all been richly rewarded while his father was still alive.