All the billionaire wants for Christmas is…a wife!
Greek tycoon Leo is a businessman, not a family man. Yet becoming guardian to his orphaned nieces and nephews leads him to make the ultimate sacrifice―finding a wife! And kind-hearted Letty is the perfect bride for the job. Letty can’t let her family fall into financial ruin. A convenient Christmas wedding to Leo is the ideal solution! Until their paper-only arrangement is scorched by the heat of their unanticipated passion! Which awakens innocent Letty to the inescapable truth: she wants more from Leo than she signed up for…
LEO ROMANOS, BILLIONAIRE shipping heir, woke up at dawn with four children in his enormous bed.
He had freaked out the first time it had happened, bought pyjamas for the first time ever and hired a twenty-four-hour, round-the-clock rota of nannies.
But the nanny rota wasn’t working. His late sister’s traumatised kids still got out of bed in the middle of the night and slunk into his, and they brought the babies as well.
It was a wonder that he wasn’t traumatised, Leo reflected in wonderment. Five-year-old Popi had ten-month-old Theon tucked in her arms, and three-year-old Sybella had two-year-old Cosmo clasped next to her. His nephews and nieces weren’t happy, weren’t secure—in spite of all his efforts to make a home for them.
And for their benefit alone Leo was willing, finally, to make the ultimate sacrifice. He would take a wife prepared to be a mother to his four inherited children.
His father and stepmother had refused to take charge of their grandkids and had signed over their guardianship to Leo, his stepmother insisting that his father was too old for the task. And, in truth, Leo hadn’t appreciated the extent of the challenge he was taking on.
He had assumed that the nannies would enable him to return to his normal life: workaholic hours followed by the occasional party or dinner, and regular visits to his very sexy mistress. Only somehow it wasn’t working out that way. Leo’s wonderfully smooth and self-indulgent life had gone to hell when his five-year-old niece had sobbed as if her heart was breaking because he’d said he wouldn’t be home for dinner.
Guilt and more guilt had dogged him in spades ever since.
The children needed more than he was capable of giving them—which meant he had to step up, take a wife, and give the kids a mother who would do all the things he didn’t want to do and keep them happy while allowing him an uninterrupted night of sleep.
He suppressed a groan, knowing exactly where he would head to find that wife. Six years ago he had been offered a bride from the Livas family—a practical dynastic marriage which would have ended the competition between the two shipping companies, amalgamated them and made him the heir to both empires. The alliance had offered him an enormous profit and tremendous prospects and the proposed bride had been a beauty…
But even so he had hesitated. Leo had loved his freedom and still did, and the potential bride had hinted at a dangerous desire for his fidelity and he had baulked at that tripwire and backed off fast.
Leo had been raised in the belief that marriage was for business, property and heirs, all that sort of legal stuff. There was no room in marriage for the adventurous sex and variety which Leo considered to be an absolute essential of life, so he had stepped back. But four troubled, needy children crawling into his bed made him far less exacting in his expectations. As far as he knew, Elexis Livas was still on the market and suddenly he was willing to consider a deal…
Isidore Livas met him in his Athens office, a very traditional setting, far removed from Leo’s very contemporary place of business in the City of London. He was quick to inform Leo that his daughter, Elexis, was on the brink of an engagement and no longer available. Leo suppressed a sigh, not of disappointment because his current mistress was considerably sexier than Elexis; however, he had warmed to the concept of marrying her because she was vaguely familiar to him.
‘However, I have a granddaughter,’ Isidore admitted grudgingly, surprising Leo with that information. ‘As I’m sure you’re aware, my son went off the rails…’
Leo nodded, for the world and his wife were aware that Julian Livas, product of his father’s first marriage, had taken to drugs and drink and manic bad behaviour from an early age. He had died in his twenties from his excesses. Isidore had Elexis later in life, with his second wife.
‘Two months ago, I learned to my surprise that Julian did have a child with a woman in London. He didn’t marry the woman concerned, so my grandchild was born out of wedlock,’ Isidore revealed with old-fashioned distaste. ‘Letty is twenty-four and single. You can still become my heir if you take her as a bride… I have no one else, Leo. Elexis’s chosen husband is a television presenter with no interest in taking over my business, and I would very much like to retire.’
‘And this… Letty?’ Leo questioned with a frown, for he considered it an ugly name.
The older man grimaced. ‘You couldn’t compare her to Elexis. She’s plain and plump but she’d marry you like a shot because she needs money for her family.’
‘Plain and plump’ didn’t exactly thrill Leo either. He mightn’t want a wife for entertainment in the bedroom but, understandably, he wanted a presentable woman. His black brows drew together in complete puzzlement. ‘Why aren’t you helping her family?’
The expression on Isidore’s thin face shuttered. ‘She approached me for help but, as far as I’m concerned, if my son wasn’t prepared to marry her mother, I shouldn’t be expected to provide for their child, now that the girl’s an adult.’
‘And yet you’re willing to make this girl your heiress,’ Leo remarked wryly.
‘If she marries you. That’s different. She has Livas blood in her veins and I will accept her then. But she’s lowborn,’ Isidore murmured broodingly.
‘She doesn’t speak Greek. She has not been raised with our traditions and you may not find that palatable. She works as a care assistant in a home for the elderly.’
Leo’s brain could not even encompass the concept of a wife who worked in so humble a capacity. Born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth to a family who had enjoyed wealth for generations, he had no experience whatsoever of what it was like to be born poor. ‘In your opinion is your granddaughter likely to be the maternal type?’
‘If you can judge her by the way she fights and argues in favour of her siblings’ welfare, I would say so…’