The Greek tycoon’s unsuitable bride…
Maddie idolized Giannis Petrakos, who had lavished money on the charity that had cared for Maddie’s twin sister and was sinfully gorgeous. Now Maddie has a lowly job at Petrakos industries. Soon Giannis demanded she be his mistress, for as long as he wanted her. Because when Giannis finally married he wanted a wife more suited to his wealth and class…
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IN THE best of moods, and ready for her second day temping at Petrakos Industries, Maddie bounced on to the bathroom scales and stilled to look hopefully down at the gauge. She winced at the reading. Possibly it hadn’t been a good idea to jump on them. She got off again. Shedding her nightdress and her watch, she reset the weighing machine and stepped on as lightly as possible. Disappointingly, the weight was identical.
‘You can’t keep body and soul together on that salad stuff,’ old Mrs Evans who lived on the ground floor had opined, when Maddie had joined her and her daughter for a delicious three-course Sunday lunch, complete with all the trimmings, just a couple of days earlier.
Perhaps the ‘salad stuff’ would have been safer? Or possibly the bar of chocolate she had eaten on the way home from the supermarket the night before had been an over-indulgence too far? Could extra weight go on that fast? In truth, the long hours she worked just to pay the rent raised her healthy appetite to starvation proportions, and she still did not earn enough to eat well. Her despondent green eyes travelled across the expanse of her full-breasted, generous-hipped reflection. Generous mouth tightening, she looped impatient fingers through her torrent of long red hair, then anchored it back with a clip and got dressed at speed.
The black jeans and white blouse had a closer fit than she liked over her opulent curves, and she frowned. When a fire had broken out at her last address she had lost almost everything she possessed. Although she was trying to build up a new wardrobe by buying from charity shops, it wasn’t easy on a low income. As she turned away from the mirror her attention fell on the photo of her late sister by her bed, and she scolded herself for being so precious about her appearance when she was lucky to have her health.
‘Look on the bright side,’ had been her grandmother’s most constant refrain while she was growing up.
‘Every cloud has a silver lining,’ her grandfather had often chipped in with determination.
Yet Maddie and her grandparents had known a lot of heartbreak in their lives. Suzy, Maddie’s beloved twin, had been diagnosed with leukaemia soon after the girls’ eighth birthday. The stress of coping with Suzy’s illness had destroyed their parents’ marriage. Their paternal grandparents had taken charge, supporting Suzy through her gruelling treatment, her period of remission, and finally the last stages of her life. And ultimately it had been Suzy’s fierce determination to get the most out of the time she’d had left that had taught Maddie the importance of hanging on to a cheerful outlook.
As she waited at the bus stop Maddie was struggling to subdue a juvenile tingle of excitement while she wondered if this would be the day she caught a glimpse of the legendary Giannis Petrakos again. Honestly, when she thought about him she felt more like a schoolgirl than a twenty-three-year-old grown-up! It was embarrassing to recall that she had once cherished a newspaper photo of the startlingly handsome Greek shipping tycoon. But she had been a teenager, and she’d developed a hopeless crush on him.
Petrakos Industries was a towering contemporary office block in the City of London. Maddie had never worked anywhere quite so imposing before, and the standards demanded of the staff were equally high. Even though she was only a temp, and generally entrusted with only menial tasks, her lack of qualifications had produced frowns on her first day. As always, she tried to compensate by being very hardworking and enthusiastic. She would have done just about anything to get a permanent job with such a company, because a decent salary would make a big difference to her life.
‘Another five hundred jobs are being moved to Eastern Europe to cut costs,’ a female voice lamented outside the room where Maddie was engaged in inputting onto a computer database. ‘The press will go mental over it—’
‘Petrakos Industries is in the top three most successful companies in the world,’ male tones chipped in reprovingly. ‘Giannis Petrakos may be a ruthless bastard, but he’s invincible in business. Don’t forget that his shark-like instincts are likely to deliver us an even bigger bonus this year.’
‘Do you ever think about anything other than money?’ the woman censured. ‘Petrakos is a super-wealthy guy with about as much human emotion as a piece of granite.