Marriage-on his terms!
Olivia’s mother needs expensive medical treatment now. What can Olivia do? Approach Nik Cozakis and ask him to reconsider the marriage they abandoned ten years ago, in return for financial help? Nik agrees, but on his terms: he wants a son. Yes, Nik has seized his chance for vengeance!
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‘YOU have ruined your life just as your mother did,’ Spyros Manoulis condemned.
Olympia studied her Greek grandfather with shuttered eyes the colour of sea jade. She was sick with nerves but she had come on a begging mission. If venting his spleen put the older man into a better mood and made him look more sympathetically on her mother’s plight, she could stand the heat of any attack.
Well-built and fit, for all his seventy-plus years, the white-haired older man paced the lounge of his luxurious London hotel suite, his lined features forbidding. ‘Look at you, still single at the age of twenty-seven! No husband, no children,’ he cited grimly. ‘Ten years ago, I opened my home to you and I attempted to do my best for you…’
As he paused for a necessary breath, broad chest expanding, Olympia knew what was coming next. Beneath the mahogany hair she wore confined in a French plait, her pallor became pronounced.
‘And how was my generosity repaid?’ Spyros was working himself up into a rage at the memory. ‘You brought dishonour on the family name. You disgraced me, destroyed your own reputation and offered unforgivable insult to the Cozakis family—’
‘Yes…’ Olympia was desperate enough to own up to murder itself if it calmed her grandfather down and gave her the chance to plead her mother’s cause.
‘Such a marriage as I arranged for you…and very grateful you were to have Nikos Cozakis at the time! You wept when he gave you your betrothal ring. I remember the occasion well!’
Olympia clenched her teeth together: a necessary self-restraint. Hot, cringing humiliation was eating into her self-discipline.
‘Then you threw it all away in a wanton moment of madness,’ Spyros Manoulis ground out with bitter anger. ‘Shamed me, shamed yourself—’
Olympia whispered tautly, ‘Ten years is a long time—’
‘Not long enough to endow me with forgetfulness!’ her grandfather countered harshly. ‘I was curious to see you again. That’s why I agreed to this meeting when you wrote asking for it. But let me tell you now without further waste of time that you will receive no financial assistance from me.’
Olympia reddened. ‘I want nothing for me…but my mother, your daughter—’
Spyros interrupted her before she could mention her mother’s name. ‘Had my foolish daughter raised you to be a decent young woman, according to our Greek traditions, you would never have brought dishonour upon me!’
At that judgmental assurance, Olympia’s heart sank. So her innocent parent was still to suffer for her daughter’s sins. Squaring her slim shoulders, she lifted a chin every bit as determined as his own. ‘Please let me speak freely—’
‘No, I will not hear you!’ Spyros stalked over to the window. ‘I want you to go home and think about what you have lost for you and your mother. Had you married Nik Cozakis—’
‘I’d have castrated him!’ Olympia’s control over her temper slipped as the older man made it clear that their meeting was already at an end.
Her grandfather’s beetling brows rose almost as high as his hairline.
Olympia coloured. ‘I’m sorry—’
‘At least Nik would have taught you to keep a still tongue when a man is speaking to you!’
Olympia sucked in a deep, steadying breath. He was as mad as fire now. She had done nothing but add fuel to the flames. No doubt she ought to have arrived steeped in sackcloth and ashes and hung her head with anguished regret when he referred to her broken engagement.
Spyros Manoulis moved his hand in a gesture of finality. ‘You could only win my forgiveness by marrying Nik.’
Fierce disappointment filled Olympia to overflowing. ‘Why don’t you just throw in climbing Everest too?’
‘I see you get the picture,’ her grandfather said drily.
But there was a little red devil buzzing about now inside Olympia’s head. ‘If I could get him to marry me, would I still come dowered with the Manoulis empire?’
The older man dealt her a thunderous appraisal. ‘What are you suggesting? Get him to marry you? Nikos Cozakis, whom you insulted beyond belief, who could have any young woman he wanted—’
‘Few young women come with as large a dowry as you offered as a sweetener to the deal over me ten years ago.’
Spyros Manoulis was aghast at her bluntness. ‘Have you no shame?’
‘When you tried to flog me off like one of your tankers, I lost my illusions and my sensitivity,’ his granddaughter asserted curtly. ‘You still haven’t answered my question.’
‘But what is the point of a question that crazy?’ The older man flung both hands up in complete exasperation.
‘I’d just like to know.’
‘I would have signed control of Manoulis Industries over to Nik on your wedding day…and I would still gladly do so, were it possible!’ Weary now, his big shoulders slumping, Spyros vented an embittered laugh at what he saw as a total impossibility. ‘My only desire was to pass on the business I spent a lifetime building into capable hands. Was that so much to ask?