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At Angelos Zouvelekis's command, café waitress Chantal will play the part of his bride-to-be. He will shower her with exquisite jewels and silks...and she will repay him in kind!
He wants his recompense in the bedroom! Angelos worships Chantal's body, although he thinks she's a devious gold digger. But his arrogance is shattered when he discovers Chantal is a virgin....
Angelos bought this innocent, and now he intends to keep her—whatever the cost!
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USA Today bestselling author Sarah Morgan writes contemporary romance and women's fiction. Her trademark humour and warmth have gained her fans across the globe and three RITA® Awards from the Romance Writers of America. Sarah lives with her family near London, England, where the rain frequently keeps her trapped in her office. Visit her at www.sarahmorgan.comExcerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
'I've found her, Angelos. And she's a goddess.'
Hearing the sound of his father's voice, Angelos Zouvelekis interrupted his conversation with the Greek ambassador to France and turned. 'Found who?' The fact that his father had made an effort to come tonight was a good sign. A few months ago he had been a broken man, unwilling to leave his isolated villa after his second painful divorce in six years.
'The perfect woman for you.' His father shook his head in disbelief, but the corners of his eyes crinkled as he smiled. 'Sometimes I wonder if you're really my son. This place is full of gorgeous, beautiful women and what do you do? You talk to boring men in suits. Where did I go wrong with you?'
Seeing the surprise in the ambassador's eyes, Angelos smoothly excused himself and drew his father to one side. 'For me, tonight is about business. I hold this ball every year. The purpose is to part the rich and famous from their money.'
'Business, business, business.'Visibly exasperated, his father raised his hands in despair. 'Does business keep you warm at night? Does it cook you dinner? Does it raise your children? Always with you it is business, Angelos, and already you are a billionaire! You have enough money! You don't need any more money! What you need is a good woman!'
Several heads turned in their direction, but Angelos simply laughed. 'Tonight I'm not making money. I'm giving it away. And you're shocking everyone. Behave yourself,'he said mildly, 'or I'll tell Security to remove you from the building.' But it had been such a long time since his father had summoned sufficient energy to nag him about marriage that he felt nothing but relief. 'And I don't need you to find me a woman.'
'Why? Do you find one on your own? No, you don't. Not a proper one. You spend your time with women who would not make suitable wives.'
'That's why I pick them,' Angelos murmured, but his father frowned his disapproval, dismissing his comment with another wave of his hand.
'I know who you pick! The whole world knows who you pick, Angelos, because the stories are in every newspaper. One week it is a Savannah, the next it is a Gisella—never the same woman for more than a few weeks, and always they are thin, thin, thin.' His Greek accent thickening his words, Costas Zouvelekis made a disparaging noise. 'How can you be happy with a woman who doesn't enjoy her food? Does a woman like that cook for you? No. Does she enjoy life? No, of course not. How can a woman enjoy life when she is starving hungry? The women you pick have the legs and the hair, and they are like athletes in the bedroom, but would they care for your children? No. Would they—?'
'I don't need a woman to cook. I have staff for that purpose.' Angelos wondered briefly whether inviting his father to this particular function might have been a mistake after all. 'And I don't have any children for a woman to care for.'
His father gave a snort of exasperation. 'I know you don't, and I want you to have children. That is the point I am making! You are thirty-four years old and how many times have you been married? None. I am sixty-three and how many times have I been married? Three. It is time you started catching up, Angelos. Make me a grandfather!'
'Ariadne has already made you a grandfather twice.'
'That's different. She's my daughter and you are my son. I want to hold the sons of my son in my arms.'
'I'll get married when I find the right woman, not before.' Angelos drew his father onto the balcony that circled the ballroom and refrained from pointing out that his father's last two attempts at marriage had created emotional and financial devastation.
There was no way he was making that mistake.
'You won't find the right woman by dating the wrong ones! And what are we doing in Paris? Why can't you hold this ball in Athens? What is wrong with Athens?'
'The world is bigger than Greece.'Angelos suppressed a yawn as the conversation shifted onto another familiar topic. 'I conduct business all over the globe.'
'And I never understand why! Did I have to leave Greece to make my first million? No!' Costas peered into the ballroom. 'Where has she gone? I can't see her.'
Angelos raised his eyebrows in question. 'Who are you looking for?'
'The goddess with the body. She was perfect. And now she has disappeared. She was all eyes and curves and soft-looking. Now, that girl would make a good mother. I can imagine her with your children snuggled on her lap and a moussaka cooling on your table.'
Angelos glanced at his father with amusement. 'I suggest you don't tell her that. These days it is heresy to make that sort of comment to a woman. They invariably have rather different aspirations.'
'The women you pick have different aspirations.' His father's voice was fierce as he searched the room with his eyes. 'Believe me, this one was built to be a mother. If you don't want her, then I might be interested myself.'
All trace of amusement left him, and Angelos inhaled sharply.
'Not again!' Didn't his father ever learn? 'Promise me that this time you'll just take her to bed. Don't marry her,' he advised, taking a glass of orange juice from a passing waiter and swapping it for the glass of champagne in his father's hand.
'You only think about bed and sex, but I have more respect for women than that.'
'You need to develop a more cynical approach to the opposite sex,' Angelos advised. 'What respect did Tara show you when she left you after six months, taking with her enough money to keep her going for life?'
His father's knuckles whitened as he gripped the stem of the glass. 'We both made a mistake.'
Mistake? Angelos ground his teeth. He was sure that as far as Tara was concerned the marriage had been a resounding success. She was now an extremely rich young woman.
His father deflated before his eyes, his vulnerability exposed. 'She was very mixed up. She didn't know what she wanted.'
'She knew exactly what she wanted—' Angelos broke off, trapped between the option of upsetting his father still further by highlighting the ruthless efficiency of Tara's campaign, or of letting the subject drop and risking the possibility that, even after two such divorces, his trusting father still hadn't learned the lessons that needed to be learned.
Costas sighed. 'A relationship should be about love and caring.'
Angelos winced at this sentimental and dangerous observation and made a mental note to instruct his security team to screen all women showing the slightest interest in his father in order to protect him from further unscrupulous individuals. 'Didn't your last two marriages teach you anything about women?'
'Yes. They taught me that you can't trust a thin one.' Costas regained some of his spirit. 'They want to be size zero—but why is it called that? Because they are zero use to anyone! They are too thin and hungry to live the life a woman is supposed to live. Next time I marry she will be a proper shape.'
'After everything that has happened over the past six years, you still believe that love exists?'
His father's face fell. 'I was in love with your mother for forty years. Of course I believe that love exists.'
Cursing himself for his lack of tact, Angelos put a hand on his father's shoulder. 'You should stop trying to replace her,' he said roughly. 'What you had was rare.' So rare that he'd given up hope of finding it himself. And he wasn't willing to risk settling for anything less.
'I will find it again.'
Not before it had cost the family a fortune in divorce settlements and mental anguish.
Frustrated by his father's misguided optimism about the female sex, Angelos ran a hand over the back of his neck. 'Stay single. It's less complicated.'
'I'm not staying single. I hate being single. It isn't natural for a man to be single. And you shouldn't be single, either.'
Seeing that his father was about to launch into another lecture in favour of the curvaceous woman, Angelos decided that the conversation had gone on long enough. 'You don't need to worry about me. I'm seeing a woman.' It wasn't the relationship that his father was hoping for, but he didn't need to know that.
His father scowled at him suspiciously. 'Is she a proper shape?'
'She is a perfect shape,' Angelos drawled, thinking of the A list Hollywood actress who had spent two extremely exciting nights in his bed the week before. Would he be seeing her again? Possibly. She had the legs and the hair and she was definitely an athlete in the bedroom. Was he interested in marrying her? Absolutely not. They would bore each other to death within a month, let alone a lifetime.
But hope was already lighting his father's eyes. 'And when will I meet her? You never introduce me to your girlfriends.'
With good reason. Introducing a woman to his father would deliver the exact message he was so careful never to send. 'When a woman is important to me, you will meet her,' Angelos said smoothly. 'And now I want to introduce you to Nicole. She's my Director of Public Affairs here in Paris, and she definitely loves food. I know you'll have plenty to say to one another.'He guided his father towards the reliable Nicole, made the necessary introductions, and then turned back to the ballroom to continue networking.
And stopped dead, his attention caught by the woman directly in front of him.
She walked as though she owned the place, with a gentle swing of her hips and a faint smile on her glossy mouth, as if something or someone had amused her. Her blonde hair was piled on her head and her vivid red dress provided a dazzling splash of colour amidst the predictable boring black. She looked like an exotic rainforest bird let loose among a flock of crows.
Instantly forgetting the Hollywood actress, Angelos watched her for a moment and then gave a slow, satisfied smile of his own. His father would be pleased on two counts, he thought, as he moved purposefully towards the unknown woman. Firstly because he was about to stop thinking about business and turn his attentions to the purs...
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