Sale or Return Bride(5)

By: Sarah Morgan

‘That’s what concerns me,’ Sebastien drawled softly. ‘Dimitrios Philipos is not renowned for his generous offers.’

‘He is offering a considerable inducement to marry the girl.’

‘I’d need a considerable inducement to agree to marry a woman that I haven’t ever laid eyes on,’ Sebastien said tightly, his razor-sharp brain working quickly.

Why would Philipos be offering him the company?

And why would he want him to marry his granddaughter?

His father looked at him wearily. ‘It’s time to put aside suspicion and learn to trust. Philipos started that business with my father and then took it from him. He claims that he regrets the past and wants to put it right before he dies.’

Sebastien stilled, his mind racing ahead, asking one key question. Why? ‘And you believe him?’

His father shrugged. ‘Our lawyers are in possession of a draft agreement as we speak. What reason do I have not to believe him?’

‘Perhaps because Dimitrios Philipos is an evil megalomaniac who only ever acts in his own interests,’ Sebastien said caustically, wrenching the silk tie away from his neck and dropping it over the nearest chair. He felt the tension rise inside him. Suddenly the stakes were high and he felt the familiar rush of adrenalin. The higher the stakes the more satisfaction was to be gained by playing. ‘Do I really need to remind you of his sins towards our family?’

‘He’s an old man. Perhaps he’s repenting.’

Sebastien threw back his head and laughed but his dark eyes glittered dangerously. ‘Repent? The old bastard wouldn’t know the meaning of the word. I’m almost tempted to go along with the idea just to see what game he’s playing this time.’ Sebastien undid the top two buttons of his shirt and gestured to one of his discreetly hovering staff to bring drinks. The heat in Athens in July was punishing. ‘So why can’t the granddaughter find her own husband? Philipos certainly keeps her existence quiet. No one ever sees or hears of her. Is she just ugly or does she have some vile disease that would be passed on to my offspring?’

‘They would be her offspring too,’ his father pointed out, ‘and you haven’t managed to find a wife.’

‘I haven’t been looking for a wife,’ Sebastien said silkily, ‘and I certainly don’t need one hand-picked by my greatest enemy.’

The thought almost had him laughing. There was little doubt in his mind that the Philipos heiress must have some very unfortunate traits or she would have been married long before now.

‘I’m sure she’s a lovely girl,’ his father muttered and Sebastien lifted a dark eyebrow in mockery.

‘On the contrary, I am expecting her to have two heads and no personality. If she were lovely then Philipos wouldn’t hide her away and the press would have tracked her the way they track me. She is, after all, an extremely wealthy young woman.’

‘The press track you because you give them plenty to write about,’ his father said dryly, ‘whereas the Philipos heiress has been in England.’

‘And England has the most intrusive tabloid press of all,’ Sebastien murmured, a frown touching his handsome features. ‘Which makes the situation even more interesting. If they have left her alone then she undoubtedly has two heads and no personality.’

His father sighed in exasperation. ‘Evidently she leads a discreet life. Unlike you. The girl went to an English boarding school. Her mother was English, if you remember.’

‘Of course I remember.’ Sebastien drained his glass, vivid memories clouding his brain. ‘I also remember that she was killed when our boat exploded. Along with her husband, who was Dimitrios Philipos’s only son.’ Memories flickered across his brain…A child, limp and lifeless in his arms as he dragged her to the surface of the water; chaos, blood, people screaming… Sebastien gritted his teeth. ‘She lost both her parents and Philipos blames us for their deaths. And now he wants me to marry his granddaughter?’ He lifted an eyebrow, his expression sardonic. ‘Given her genealogy, I will have to sleep with a dagger under my pillow. I’m amazed that you accept the suggestion with such equanimity.’

‘We too lost family in that explosion,’ his father said heavily. ‘And time has passed. Enough time. He’s an old man.’

‘He’s an evil man.’

‘We were not responsible for his son’s death. Perhaps time has given him the opportunity to reflect and he realizes that now.’ Leandros ran his fingers over his brow, visibly disturbed by the memories of that terrible time. ‘He wants her to have a Greek husband. He wants his line rebuilt.’