Sale or Return Bride(2)

By: Sarah Morgan

Nothing—nothing—was going to distract her from her reason for being here. He’d ignored her mother’s needs for fifteen years, denied her very existence, but Alesia wasn’t going to let him ignore her. Not any longer. It was time that he remembered what family was supposed to be about.

‘Wipe that expression off your face. You came to me, remember? You’re the one who wants the money.’ Dimitrios’s voice was harsh and heavily accented and Alesia stiffened defensively.

‘For my mother.’

He gave a grunt of contempt. ‘She could have asked me herself if she had any backbone.’

Alesia felt the anger rise inside her again and squashed it down with ruthless determination. She sensed that if she let her emotions rule then he’d show her the door. ‘My mother is very unwell—’

He watched her closely, a nasty smile on his face. ‘And that’s the only reason you’re here, isn’t it? Nothing else would induce you to step over my threshold. You hate me. She’s taught you to hate me.’ He leaned forward. ‘You’re furiously angry and you’re trying to hide it because you don’t want to risk antagonizing me in case I say no. In case I slam the lid of my coffer shut and catch your fingers.’

He threw back his head and laughed, obviously enjoying the situation enormously.

Refusing to believe that anyone could be so totally lacking in conscience, Alesia spread her hands and tried to appeal to his sense of reason. ‘She was your son’s wife—’

‘Don’t remind me.’ The laughter faded and he sat back in his chair watching her without a flicker of remorse or regret. ‘It’s a shame you weren’t a boy. You look as though you’ve inherited his spirit. You even look a little like him, apart from that blonde hair and those blue eyes. You should have had dark hair and dark eyes and if my son hadn’t been seduced by that woman you would have had the pedigree you deserve and you wouldn’t have lived the last fifteen years of your life in exile. All this could have been yours.’

Alesia glanced round the room at ‘all this’. The contrast between her own circumstances and those of her grandfather couldn’t have been more marked. Evidence of his wealth was everywhere, from the ostentatious statues that guarded the entrance of virtually every doorway in his mansion to the enormous fountain that gushed forth in the elaborate courtyard.

Alesia thought of her own home in a rough area of London—a small ground-floor flat which she’d had converted to accommodate her mother’s disability—all that she could afford after she’d paid for the help her mother needed.

Then she thought of her mother and her long struggle for survival. A struggle which this man could have lessened.

She gritted her teeth and doubled the effort required not to walk from the room. ‘I’m perfectly happy with my pedigree,’ she said stiffly, ‘and I love England.’

‘Don’t answer me back!’ He turned on her with an enraged growl and for a moment she tensed, sure that he was going to hit her. ‘If you answer back, he’ll never marry you. You may not look Greek but I want your behaviour to be totally Greek. You will be meek and obedient and you will not venture an opinion on any subject unless asked. Do you hear me?’

Alesia stared at him in disbelief. ‘You’re serious about this? You really think I’m going to marry a Fiorukis?’

Her grandfather gave an ugly smile. ‘If you want the money, then yes. You’ll marry Sebastien Fiorukis and you’ll make sure he doesn’t find out about your infertility. I will make sure that the terms of the deal will tie him to you in marriage until you produce an heir. Seeing as you will never produce an heir, then he will be locked in a childless marriage for ever, unable to extract himself.’ Dimitrios Philipos threw back his head and gave a nasty laugh. ‘The perfect retribution. They always say that revenge is a dish best eaten cold. I’ve waited fifteen years for this moment but it was worth the wait. It’s masterly. You are the tool of my revenge.’

Alesia stared at him in undisguised horror, so shocked by his vindictive plan that she was unable to hide her distaste.

No wonder her mother had warned her that the man was evil. He didn’t have an ounce of compassion in his body.

‘I can’t do that.’ She lifted a hand to her throat. Suddenly she couldn’t breathe. The room was totally airless. ‘You can’t ask me to do that.’

She couldn’t marry Sebastien Fiorukis. He had all the characteristics she despised in a man. To be asked to spend her life with him—