The Marriage Mistake.
Leah’s marriage to powerful Greek businessman Nik Andreakis was an empty sham, and she was determined to get a divorce. But Nik didn’t want one. In the circumstances, Leah found that totally unbelievable. Why would he want to hand on to a wife he’d been blackmailed into marrying! Liah’s lonely wedding night had set the pattern for the past five years, but now she couldn’t sleep for wondering what motivated her husband. Why, all of a sudden, was he making advances to her when he had ignored her for so long?
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WITH A FLEETING glance over her shoulder, Leah hurried down the steps and into the wine bar. It was dark and crowded with lunchtime drinkers. She couldn’t see Paul. She wasn’t tall enough to see past the clumps of business-suited men standing around. A nervous tremor shot through her as she burrowed through the male clusters. She was so terrified of being seen, recognised. It was a relief to espy Paul’s golden head in a far corner.
He stood up as she approached, tall, sophisticated and very attractive, and her heart swelled with pride. ‘You’re late,’ he complained.
‘Sorry, I couldn’t get away.’ Short of breath, Leah dropped down on to a seat and couldn’t help spinning another glance around in fearful search of a familiar face.
‘Stop that. You’re on the wrong side of town to be seen.’
Leah bent her silver-blonde head, her face flushed and taut. ‘That man in the corner is staring at me!’
‘Most men stare at beautiful women…and you are exquisitely beautiful, my love,’ Paul murmured in a low, intimate tone, reaching for her slender-boned hand. ‘It gives me a real kick watching every male head turn when you walk by.’
‘Does it?’ Still unaccustomed to his compliments, Leah looked up at him with a shy uncertainty that was oddly at variance with her designer suit. Her flawless face between the wings of her sleekly swept up silver-blonde hair was rapt, her sapphire-blue eyes bright as the jewels in her ears.
‘Why don’t we go back to my apartment?’ Paul ran a finger along her full lower lip and smiled smoothly as her skin heated.
Leah stiffened. ‘I can’t…not yet; you know how I feel,’ she muttered in a stifled voice. Fear sprung up inside her as his handsome face turned hard and cold.
‘And you know how I feel, Mrs Andreakis. Bloody frustrated, if you must know!’
Leah went white. ‘Paul, please…’
‘For all I know, you’re just playing a little game with me while your husband’s out of town.’
Pain and distress filled her eyes. ‘I love you…’
‘Then when are you going to tell him you want a divorce?’ Paul demanded.
If possible, Leah went even paler, a hunted look tightening her exquisite features. ‘Soon… I just have to pick the right moment.’
‘Considering that on average he only sleeps one night a month under the same roof as you, I could still be sitting here this time next year. Maybe you’re in love with the bastard— ‘
‘How could I be?’ She bent her head, her hands clenching tightly together. ‘You know we don’t have a normal marriage.’
‘And wouldn’t the tabloids just love to get a load of that!’ Paul sniggered.
‘I don’t think that’s funny, Paul.’
‘Well, the only thing that keeps me going is the knowledge that I may not be your lover, but he isn’t either. And you’ve got to admit that that’s a real mystery. Look at you,’ Paul mused. ‘The virgin bride five years down the road and yet he’s rarely seen in public without some beautiful bimbo clinging to his arm. Maybe he’s a closet gay.’
Her sensitive stomach curdled. She must have been mad to tell Paul the truth about her marriage. Not, of course, that he would do anything with it.
She trusted him absolutely but she was aware that she had been dangerously indiscreet in her need to soothe his jealousy of Nik. Nik… The very blood in her veins went cold when she faced up to what she still had ahead of her.
‘Don’t talk about him like that,’ she urged tightly.
‘You think the table is bugged? You’re scared stiff of him, aren’t you? I don’t think you’re ever going to pick up the courage to tell him you want your freedom. I think I’m wasting my time— ‘
‘No…no, never,’ Leah whispered frantically, the thought of losing him filling her with panic. She just couldn’t go back to what her life had been for the past five years. Empty, without focus, boring. Before Paul, every day had stretched endlessly in front of her. She didn’t have a social life. She didn’t have friends. She was watched everywhere she went. The door of her prison had slammed shut on her wedding-day and she had been so dumb, so naïve, she hadn’t even realised it until she’d tried to move beyond the bars.
‘Then when?’ he pressed moodily.
‘Soon…I promise you.’
‘I don’t see why you can’t just move out bag and baggage. It’s not as though you don’t have all the evidence you need to divorce him. Adultery is not about to go out of fashion with Nik Andreakis around.’
‘I have to do it right, Paul. Don’t you see that I owe him that?’