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Here are some extracts from earlier books - The Greek's Ultimate Revenge, Baby of Shame, His Wedding Ring of Revenge, The Italian's Token Wife, Bought by her Latin Lover and The Greek's Virgin Bride. 

 

Available from  www.eharlequin.com,  www.amazon.com and www.amazon.co.uk

 

 

I hope I've whetted your appetite and I hope you enjoy my books when they appear. Do write and tell me! Email me at juliajames@juliajamesromance.com

 

In The Greek's Ultimate Revenge, Nikos Kiriakis is a man with a mission. A mission to seduce! But not for pleasure - to save his sister's marriage. But his plan to detach Janine Fareham from his brother-in-law by seducing her himself backfires when he finds that she is captivating him just as much as he needs to captivate her. Then, just as Nikos decides he's going to do a lot more with Janine than just seduce her - like keep her as his pampered mistress - fate lands a bombshell which changes everything....

 

Read an extract ...

 

The Greek's Ultimate Revenge

 

Nikos Kiriakis has promised his anguished sister that he will get rid of her husband's mistress for her - by seducing her himself! He sets off for his brother-in-law's Greek island resort, where Janine Fareham has been installed in luxury. Just how arduous a task will Nikos find himself faced with?

 

Janine eased herself over onto her stomach and sighed languorously, giving her body to the sun. The hotel was a haven of peace and luxury - the latest addition to Stephanos's hotel empire. Stephanos - it had been amazing, encountering him like that at Heathrow. He'd stopped dead, transfixed by her looks - and promptly swept her off to Greece. A shadow flickered in her face. She just wished he could spend more time with her... but all she could have of him was brief, snatched moments.

 

Nikos stood on the terrace, looking down over the pool. His eyes beneath the dark glasses were hard. So, that was the girl, splayed out on a lounger. The girl who was wrecking his sister's marriage. Emotions warred within him. The first was bitter anger - anger for all his sister's tears! The second was quite different.

 

The girl was, quite simply, delectable. His eyes swept down the exposed length of her. She was lying face down on a sun lounger, blonde hair a pale mane across the pillow, naked apart from a tiny bikini bottom. She looked sun-kissed, soft-limbed and sexy.  Very, very sexy. He began to walk towards her.

 

In her half-dozing state it took a moment for Janine to register that she could hear footsteps. A second later a shadow fell over her.

 

'Kyria Fareham?' A deep, accented voice spoke.

 

 Her eyes flew open and she looked up. A man was standing there - tall and dark, a generation younger than Stephanos. She felt her heartbeat lurch. Eyes veiled by dark glasses bored down on her, surveying her as she lay there, displayed for him. Suddenly she was acutely conscious that she was almost naked - while he was dressed in a formal, immaculately-cut, light-weight business suit. The disparity made her feel vulnerable, exposed.

 

Instinctively she pushed herself up to a sitting position, taking her sarong with her, hurriedly knotting it around her as she stood up. As her eyes focussed on him properly she felt her breath catch. Her lips parted soundlessly, eyes widening. She was looking at the most devastating male she had ever seen in her life...

 

She felt the world shift around her and resettle. As if something had changed for ever.

 

She pushed her hair back over he shoulders, feelng it tumbling warm and heavy down her back, and gazed at the man, lips parted slightly.

 

Theos, thought Nikos, absorbing the sensuous gesutre. She was perfect. Just perfect. The dream image of a sexy blonde. But she wasn't cheap or tarty. Nothing so resistable. She was beautiful - head-turningly so.

 

Desire flashed through him, instant and insistent. For a moment he felt consumed by it, overwhelmed. Then, with deliberate control, he subdued his reaction.

 

It was good that he desired her, it would make his task so much easier. And it was good, too, that she was so obviously reacting to him in turn. His eyes flickered over her again, taking in her parted lips, the heat stealing out over her high cheekbones, the widening of her pupils. Oh, she was sexually aware of him all right....responsive.

 

Vulnerable.

 

There would be no problem seducing her, he knew.

 

Nikos Kyriakis is arrogantly confident he can seduce Janine .... but for Nikos and Janine, seduction is only the first step of a journey that neither of them has the slightest idea they are about to take - a journey that will change their lives for ever. And cost them more than either of them ever thought to pay.

 

Copyright: Julia James, 2004.  Taken from "The Greek's Ultimate Revenge", published November 2004 by Harlequin, Mills and Boon Modern Romance. ISBN 0 263 83785 8. Published as Harlequin Presents, October 2005. ISBN 0373 12497 X

 

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Baby of Shame  

   

Knocked down by a speeding car, hospitalised and ill, impoverished Rhianna Davies is distraught that her little boy, NIcky, has been taken into care. But fear turns to terror - and horror - when Nicky's father arrives at her sickbed. Alexis Petrakis is the last man she ever wants to see, both hating and fearing him.  Alexis gives her every reason to continue to do so - he is furiously unforgiving that the woman he bedded five years ago for a single night - and then threw from his bed in disgust! -  has hidden his child from him. Now he wants his son - even if he has to take Nicky's despised mother with him. But at least he knows that Rhianna's greed for his money will give him power over her - and that Rhianna's former beauty, that had made him so disastrously vulnerable to her wiles, is gone. All that remains between them is hatred and loathing - and their child.  A child that neither warring parent will relinquish, whatever the cost or anguish. 

 

Alexis stared down at the woman lying in the hospital bed, gazing up horrified at him. This couldn't be Rhianna Davies! Being knocked down by a car could not account for the hideous transformation of so exquisite a beauty into this ... this hag! His mouth tightened. He remembered what the social worker had told him.

 

Drugs. Was that what had turned Rhianna Davies from a sexual temptress into this wasted, bone-thin hag? The cruel word stabbed at him. The woman looked so terrible it would beinhuman not to feel pity for her. Yet pity was the last thing she deserved. The very last thing.... He felt the rage well up in his throat again, as it had ever since he'd looked down into the stricken face of his son in foster care. Any child, any, deserved a mother better than this! On top of everything that he already knew her to be - the kind of slut who traded her body for financial gain - she was worse still. Irresponsible. feckless, leaivng a four-year old on his own while she slept off her despicable addiction.... And that such a female was mother to his son! A son she had deliberately, calculatingly hidden from him, kept him ignorant of! No torment was good enough for such a woman! Yet thanks to the custody laws for illegitimate children, he was forced - forced! - to deal softly with her - Rhianna Davies held the key to his son. He had to find a way of turning it. He would need his most honed negotiation skills - and his seething emotions must be set ruthlesslly aside. Regaining control, Alexis. let his eyes rest on her appalled expression.

 

'Why are you here?' Her voice was thin, strained. He could hear the tension in it. Inside him, his emotions snarled like wolves in a cage. 

 

'You don't know?' 

 

Her face tightened, with a wary expression in her eyes.

 

'How should I?' Her evasiveness enraged him. She dared to lie there and try and play games with him while his son was abandoned to foster care? He subdued his rage again. Instead he simply said a single word.

 

'Nicky.'

 

His son's name fell into the silence, into the yawning gulf between them. He watched her face as he said his son's name. It froze. Completely.  His veiled eyes went on looking down at her expresionlessly. Dismay was etching visibly through her every haggard feature. Anger bit at him again. So, he'd been right - she hadn't wanted him to know about his son, wanted to bide her time, keeping him from him until she could get the best deal on him. The best price for him.... 

 

Rhianna could only stare sickly, frozen, the air solidfying in her aching luntgs. She couldn't move, couldn't breathe. Oh God, he knew about Nicky. He knew. She could feel panic start to rise in her breast, like a clawing beast. Her nails clenched into her palms, she was reeling, punch-drunk. Her mind had gone numb, completley numb. All she could feel was the horror ballooning inside her that Alexis Petrakis - the man she had most cause to hate in all the world - knew about Nicky's existence......

 

Can Rhianna and Alexis ever have reason not to loathe each other? And surely, for their sake of their son, they must find a way of hiding their loathing for each other. Is any healing, at all, possible between them? As for love, that can only be an impossibility - their hatred is all devouring.

 

But does it have to be?

 

Copyright: Julia James, 2005.  Taken from "Baby of Shame",  published December 2005 by Harlequin, Mills and Boon Modern Romance. ISBN 0 263 18756-x. Published as Harlequin Presents, February 2006. ISBN 0373 12518 6.

 

 

 

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HIS WEDDING RING OF REVENGE (July 2005) is a tormented, twisted tale of two people scarred by the past - their parents' and their own. Can they ever break free and discover what their true feelings about each other really are? Which will prove stronger - love or hate?
 
 

                             

Rachel Vaile is haunted by the past - and the future. Her mother is dying, and Rachel will do anything to ease her final days. Even marry a man she has every reason to hate more than anyone else in the world.

 

Because Vito Farneste is the man who seduced her - heartlessly and calculatingly - simply to wound the woman he hated more than anyone in the world.

 

His father's hated mistress. Rachel's mother.

 

Now Rachel wants to force Vito to marry her, so that her dying mother can have the joy of seeing her daughter a Farneste Bride - as she herself never was.

 

But will offering Vito back the famed Farneste Emeralds - purloined by Rachel's mother - be enough to persuade him to marry her? Or does Vito want to get a lot, lot more back from Rachel than the family heirloom?

 

His Wedding Ring of Revenge

 

Seven years since she parted from him, her youthful heart shredded by his callous cruelty, Rachel is facing Vito Farneste once more. But this time she is here purely to do business with him - whatever it costs her, she must leave her emotions out of it.

 

.... He was exactly the same. Seven years had not altered him. He was, as he would remain all his days, the most beautiful man she had ever seen.

 

Beauty, Rachel thought absently. Such a strange word to apply to a man. Yet it was the only one that fitted Vito Farneste. The sable hair - the superbly chiselled face, the high, sculpted cheekbones, the fine line of his nose, the edged plane of his jaw. And his mouth. Perfect, like an angel's. But not an angel of light. An angel of sin. Temptation made visible.

 

He leant back in his black leather chair, perfectly still. One hand rested on the surface of the ebony desk. Against that blackness it seemed pale, yet its olive hue was dark agasint the pristine white of his cuff, the golden gleam of his watch. The other hand rested on the leather arm of his chair, elbow crooked slightly, long fingers splayed, motionless. He did not get to his feet. Eyes surveyed her, dark and expressionless, with lashes so long that they lay on his cheek. Impassive. Dispassionate.

 

"So, you've finally decided to cash in your last asset." The voice was harsh, and flat. The Italian accent unsoftened.

 

His eyes went on surveying her, completely without expression.

 

Rachel's shoulders pulled back with a minute, almost invisible straightening. Her gaze rested on his blank, impassive face, no trace of emotion, none whatsoever, in her eyes.

 

"There are conditions," she began.

 

Vito held him self still. Every fibre, every muscle in his body was under total control. It was essential.

 

Rachel Vaile - crawling out of the woodwork after seven years. Although in an outfit like that she wouldn't be soiling her knees or laddering her stockings by crawling anywhere. His eyes took in every detail. The hair, the suit, the nails, the accessories. He ran up a price tag for the total look. FIve hundred pounds? Easily - another few hundred for the shoes and handbag.

 

Where was she getting the mony from? The answer knifed through his head, making the question obsolete. Other men.

Well - he eased the sudden, inexplicable tensing of his shoulders as the answer formed in his mind - she certainly had the right genes for it. A family profession - living off rich men.

 

Not that she needed the family link to trade on. Her looks had matured since he had last seen her when she was eighteen, and she was, he thought dispassionately, at the very peak of her physical appeal now. And she certainly knew how to package herself - the racehorse leanness, the ash-blonde fall of hair, those wide, haunting eyes and the tender mouth...

 

No! A blade sliced down over Vito's mind. Her looks had nothing to do with him. Nothing about Rachel Vaile had anything to do with him. They never had and they never would. Only one thing about Rachel Vaile was of any concern to him. The price she was intending to exact for what had been stolen from him by her whore of a mother.

 

The Farneste Emeralds - given to every Farneste bride on her wedding day. Given to his mother on her wedding day.

 

And then seized from his dying father by his thieving mistress.

 

Sitting back in his chair, that total, icy control slicing through him, he allowed the sweep of his lashes to lower minutely over his eyes.

 

"And your price is - ?"

 

There was contempt in his voice. He didn't bother to hide it.

 

Did something move in her face? He couldn't tell. But when she answered it was in the same cool, composed tone as she had first spoken with.

 

"I didn't say 'price'. I said 'conditions'."

 

Rage spurted through him. He subdued it. Right now, it had no place.

 

"Conditions?" he said expressionlessly. "By this you mean exemption from prosecution for theft."

 

She shook her head, unfazed by the accusation. He knew why - his lawyers had warned him that his dead father's mistress would claim the emeralds had been a gift ....and the publicity of a trial would have crucified his mother.

 

Well, he was prepared to buy them back. It was galling, and it was bitter, but he would do it. He had known that the offer would be made eventually -  all he would have to do was wait. And now the waiting was over. Rachel Vaile, the envoy of the woman who had tormented his mother's married life, was here to cash in her last asset. What price would she try and exact from him? What 'conditions'?

 

"Well?" he demanded. His eyes bored into hers.

 

Rachel felt them do so as if they were a physical force, drilling through her. She took a breath - quick and sharp and shallow. She must do it now - say what she had come here to say. Make the deal she had to make - for her mother's sake.  And the price she herself would have to pay - in humliiation, in anguish -  did not matter. Could not matter.

 

She spoke.

 

"It's very simple," she told Vito Farneste, whom once she had loved, and whom now she hated and feared beyond all men. "I want you to marry me."

 

For a second there was total and absolute silence. Then, like the lash of a whip, he started to laugh. It cut the flesh from her bones, flayed the skin from her body. Scornful, contemptuous laughter. She watched the head thrown back, his mouth widen, indenting lines from his nose to the edges of his lips.

 

Then he cut the laughter short.

 

With dark, poisonous venom in his voice, he leant forward.

 

"In your dreams," he sneered.

 

Will Rachel get Vito to agree to her d
+eal, and if she does, will it be so he can get back the Farneste Emeralds? Or is he after something quite, quite diferent, when he finally puts His Wedding Ring of Revenge on her finger?

 

Copyright: Julia James, 2005.  Taken from "His Wedding Ring of Revenge", published July 2005 by Harlequin, Mills and Boon UK Modern Romance (ISBN 0 263 84160)  and Harlequin Presents (ISBN 0 373 12476 7).


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In The Italian's Token Wife, the hero, Rafaello di Viscenti is a cool Latin lover with a hot taste in beautiful women and fast Ferraris - and right now he urgently needs a wife to safeguard his inheritance. But can he really bring himself to marry a drab, downtrodden single mother with a fatherless baby, who works as a cleaner and has no looks at all? And has poor Magda the slightest chance of anything more than hopelessly yearning after a man who takes her breath away - but thinks less of her than the dirt beneath his feet?

 

 

The Italian's Token Wife

 

Drab, downtrodden drudge, single-mum Magda works as a cleaner in a luxury block of flats, where Italian millionaire Rafaello di Viscenti has his London apartment. Rafaello is seething with fury - his father has given him an ultimatum: 'Marry by your thirtieth birthday or I'll sell the family company out from under your feet!' Rafaello knows his father intends him to choose his vain, scheming cousin Lucia, and is determined to outmanoeuvre him - and punish him for trying to manipulate his life. He's planning a bride that will shock his aristocratic father to the core.

 

But when blonde bimbo Amanda tries to get more money off him for marrying him, Rafaello dumps her flat.....


 

'And just what do you think you're going to do for a precious bride, huh?' Amanda's voice was taunting and vicious.

Rafaello didn't even bother to turn round.

'I'm going to marry the first woman I see,' he answered  silkily, and was gone.

**

Magda flexed her tired fingers and set to work in the marble-walled bathroom, wishing she didn't feel like death warmed up. Benji had been awake for two hours in the night, but at least, she paused in rubbing at the gleaming porcelain with her cleaning sponge, he was asleep now, lolling in his baby carrier in the apartment's hallway. A frown furrowed her brow. She wasn't going to be able to keep going with this cleaning job for much longer, she knew, now that Benji was toddling - but what kind of job could you do with a toddler in tow? A smile softened her tired face. Benji - the light of her life, the joy of her heart. Her dearest, dearest son. He was worth everything, everything to her, and there was nothing she would not do for his sake.

**

Rafaello strode angrily down the open-tread staircase that led down to the reception level of the duplex apartment. Damn Amanda for trying to hold him to ransom and damn his father for putting him in this impossible position in the first place! A born bimbo, with hair longer than her skirts and nothing between her ears except vanity and avarice, Amanda would have been the perfect bride to parade in front of his father, a fitting punishment for him. And now he had to find another bride to infuriate his father and wipe the smirk off his cousin Lucia's face - and he only had a couple of weeks before his thirtieth birthday to find her. He reached the bottom of the staircase, a closed, brooding look on his face - and stopped dead.

There was a baby asleep in the middle of the hallway.

**

Magda reached for her bottle of toilet freshener and flicked it open ready to squirt into the bowl.

'What are you doing here?'

The deep, displeased voice made her jump out of her skin. She swivelled round on her knees and stared up, horrified, at the man looking down at her, quite plainly furious. Clumsily she scrambled to her feet.

'The hall is no place for a baby,' he informed her. A child should be at home - the girl was clearly irresponsible!

'I'm very sorry, sir,' Magda replied meekly - he was obviously the apartment owner and he was furious to find Benji there.

She made for the door and he stood aside to let her pass. It was uncomfortable passing him so close. He was so immaculately attired, and she had just spent several hours cleaning - she felt dirty and sweaty. She scooped up Benji hurriedly.

'Wait!' The order was imperative, and Magda halted, Benji a heavy weight on her arm.

The man was looking at her. Staring at her. Magda froze, like an antelope realising a leopard had appeared.

Rafaello let his gaze rest on the girl. She was slightly built, drab in the extreme, with hair the colour of mud and unmemorable features. She smelt of cleaning fluids. There was a smut of dirt on her cheek. She looked about twenty or so.

His eyes glanced at the baby, still fast asleep. A baby was good - very good. So was the rest of her. His eyes flckered over her again, taking in the full drabness of her appearance, and he thought he could see her wince. His mind was telling him he was completely mad, thinking what he was thinking, but he was thinking it all the same.

'I have a business proposition to put to you,' he said....

 

Rafaello only wants a wife to thwart his father, and poor, drab Magda knows that a man so breathtakingly gorgeous could only look on her with revulsion. She knows it's hopeless to dream of ever being anything more than The Italian's Token Wife. Surely dreams can't come true...
 

 

Copyright: Julia James, 2003.  Taken from "The Italian's Token Wife", published February 2004 by Harlequin, Mills and Boon Modern Romance. ISBN 0 263 83717 3

Bought by her Latin Lover


Debt-burdened Rosalind Foster has rashly agreed to 'baby-sit' her friend Sable's wealthy, but dubious protector, Yuri, at the casino of Cesar Montarez. But not only is Rosalind mortified to be taken for one of Yuri's trashy 'girls' by Cesar, but when Yuri makes i
t clear he wants Rosalind to come back for some skinny-dipping in his hot-tub, she does a frantic runner. Walking home in stockinged feet, late at night in Southern Spain, in evening dress, she is suddenly fearful when a car pulls up in front of her.....

 

She kept on walking. Don't stop, keep walking, she told herself. If he talks to you, don't stop. Keep walking. Even so, she felt her fingers clutch at the shoes in her hand. She could use them as a weapon if needs be. She felt herself tense. A man was getting out of the car. She caught the impression of height, and a tuxedo. The car, she realised, glancing covertly was a flash sports job - the flashiest of the flash.

'Senorita?'

The man's voice was low. And familiar.

Rosalind glanced sideways, uanble to stop herself. She halted.

It was the man from the casino. The man who had come up to Yuri and had made her breath catch with his stunning good looks. And who had dismissed her as a tart...

And who was now addressing her on a deserted pavement three miles from town at one in the morning. Danger prickled at her.

'Do you need a lift?'

'No, thank you,' she said in clipped tones, and went on walking.

He fell into step beside her and placed an hand on her arm, halting her.

'Take you hand off me or I'll wrap my heels round your head!' Rosalind bit out.

He let go instantly, spreading his hands wide. 'There is no need for alarm,' he said. 'If you are simply going into town then I'll drive you.'

'Why?' she demanded challengingly.

As she looked at him full on she felt her stomach lurch. Dear God, but he was devasting! Even in the dim light the planes of his face made her breath catch. What the hell made him so good-looking? Handsome men were ten a penny here, but this one... this one pulled at her in a way that had never happened to her before.

'Well, let's just say it would not do the casino any favours if your raped and murdered body were found tomorrow....'

Rosalind stiffened. 'How do you know I was at the casino?'

The man gave a slight shrug of his elegant shoulders. 'I recognise you. Tell me, ' his voice sharpened suddenly. 'Why did you not leave with the others?'

Rosalind shuddered, knowing how close she had come to real danger. If she'd been stupid enough to go back with Yuri and his friends...

Fingers brushed along her bare back.

'They were not to your taste, senorita?'

The Spaniard's voice was low. It did extraordinary things to her insides. So did the casual brush of his fingertips along her skin.

Then, like a rush, caution lashed back. 'Get your hands off me!'

She stepped away, holding her shoes in front of her protectively. 'Look, Mr Flash Casino House Detective, whoever you are, just leave me alone! I'm tired, I'm fed up and I'm a long way from home!'

His mouth tightened. 'You'll be safer with me than out here on your own -'

Rosalind glanced balefully at the low-slung beast of a car.

'OK, so you've borrowed your boss's car and you want to show it off. Fine.'

On a sudden resolve - after all, surely she was safe enough with the casino's house detective? - she yanked open the door and climbed in, sinking into the luxuriously soft leather seat.

As the man came around the long bonnet, dropped into the driver's seat and gunned the powerful engine, Rosalind stared doggedly ahead, refusing to look at him. Yet she could see from the corner of her eye the way his lean, tanned hand curved over the gearstick. His fingers were long, with white nails, beautifully manicured. The cuff of his dress shirt gleamed palely against the olive darkness of his skin and the blackness of his tuxedo jacket. She found herself wanting to look at him properly, but refused to do so. He was giving her a lift. That was all.

'A word of advice, senorita. Gangsters are dangerous company to keep -'

Rosalind stared as if he were mad. 'Gangsters? Yuri isn't a gangster!'

He gave a shrug. 'You don't like the term? Tough. I make a point of knowing everyone who comes into my casino.'

She frowned. 'Your casino?'

'Indeed,' he assented smoothly.

Cesar waited for the flash in her eyes as he revealed he was a rich man. But all she said was, 'I thought you were the house detective - that you'd just borrowed the car.'

'No. It's mine.' He paused minutely. 'Do you like it?'

'It's very nice,' said Rosalind politely. She knew men and their cars were a serious item, and took offence if you did not admire them.

A laugh broke from Cesar. This stunning looking woman who had caught his eye for all the wrong reasons back in the casino might be dressed like a putana in that trashy evening dress, and she might be the kind of woman who kept company with gangsters, but there was something about her total lack of interest in a car costing over two hundred thousand euros that was incredibly refreshing.

And incredibly unexpected.

A girl like this, who practically had a sign over her head saying 'Sexually available if paid' should be drooling over him now she knew how rich he was.

So why wasn't she? And did she really not realise she'd been hanging around with a bunch of gangsters? And why had she walked out on them?

Maybe, he thought, finding the idea suddenly very, very enticing, just maybe, that meant he could allow himself to respond to the deep, powerful impulse that his libido was urging him on to.

Maybe, just maybe, her could pursue her for himself.

Starting right now.

Tonight?

 

Will Rosalind succumb to Cesar's seductive charms - and what will happen when he finds out about her past?

 

Copyright: Julia James, 2004.  Taken from "Bought by her Latin Lover", published August 2004 by Harlequin Presents. ISBN 0 263 83756 4

 

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The Greek's Virgin Bride

 

 

Andrea is the illegitimate granddaughter of a Greek billionaire, but she has no cause to love him after the way he treated her mother. Yet when Yiorgos Coustakis summons her to Greece, she discovers he's lined up a husband for her - and it's the fabulously attractive rich businessman Nikos Vassilis. But does Nikos want her - or just the merger with Coustakis Industries? Andrea doesn't care - she's come to Greece with an agenda of her own, and falling for Nikos Vassilis is not it. But will marriage to him change her mind?

 

 

Prologue:

 

    "You want me to do what?" Nikos Vassilis stared at the old man seated at the desk.

    Yiorgos Coustakis looked back with a level gaze. At seventy-eight he was still a formidable figure of a man. His eyes were still as piercing as they had been when he was young. They were the eyes of a man who knew the price of everything. Especially human souls.

    'You heard me.' His voice was unemotional. 'Marry my granddaughter and you can go ahead with the merger.'

    'Maybe,' replied the younger man slowly, 'I just didn't believe you.'

    A twisted smile pulled at Yiorgos Coustakis's mouth. 'You should,' he advised. 'It's the only deal on the table. And a deal, after all,' he said, 'is what you've flown four thousand miles for, ne?'

    His visitor kept his hard, handsome face expressionless. Revealing anything in front of Old Man Coustakis was a major error in any kind of negotation with him. If it had been anyone else phoning him in the middle of the night in Manhattan to summon him to Athens, he'd have got short shrift - Nikos had had Esme Vandersee with him in bed, and sleeping was not what they'd been doing. But Yiorgos Coustakis had attractions that even the spectacular Esme, queen of the catwalk, could not compete with. The Coustakis empire was a prize worth forgoing any woman for.

    But was it a prize worth marrying a woman for? A woman he'd never laid eyes on?

    Nikos shifted his gaze out through the plate glass window. Athens lay below - crowded, polluted, unique, the cradle of Western civilisation. He knew it as a child knew its parent. He has been raised on its streets, toughened in its alleyways. He'd clawed his way up from them, pushing poverty behind him deal by nerve-racking deal, until now, at thirty four, it was as if he had never been that unwanted, fatherless boy running wild in the alleways. The journey had been long, and tough, but he had made it - and the fruits of his triumph were sweet indeed.

    Now he stood poised at the edge of his greatest triumph - getting hold of the mighty Coustakis Industries. But at what price? An unknown bride....

    'Well?' Yiorgos prompted him.

    'I'll think about it,' returned Nikos. His voice was cool. He turned to go.

    'Walk out the door and the deal is off. Permanently. You sign now or not at all.'

    Nikos stopped. He rested his eyes on the man seated at the desk. He wasn't bluffing. Everyone knew Old Man Coustakis never bluffed.

    Nikos's slate-grey eyes - a legacy from his unknown father - met with Coustakis' black ones. For a long, timeless moment they held. Then slowly, unflinchingly, Nikos Vassilis walked back to the desk, picked up the gold pen Yiorgos Coustakis silently handed him, and signed the document lying there.

   Without a word, he set down the pen and walked out.

 

Copyright: Julia James, 2003.  Taken from "The Greek's Virgin Bride", published March 2004 by Harlequin Presents.

 ISBN 0 263 83756 4

 

 

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Julia James - Romance Writer
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