Main A Mediterranean Marriage - Blackmailed by diamonds, Bound by marriage

A Mediterranean Marriage - Blackmailed by diamonds, Bound by marriage

0 / 0
How much do you like this book?
What’s the quality of the file?
Download the book for quality assessment
What’s the quality of the downloaded files?
PDF, 1.60 MB
Download (pdf, 1.60 MB)

You may be interested in Powered by Rec2Me


Most frequently terms


You can write a book review and share your experiences. Other readers will always be interested in your opinion of the books you've read. Whether you've loved the book or not, if you give your honest and detailed thoughts then people will find new books that are right for them.

Bought for the Marriage

LIT , 344 KB
0 / 0

The Forced Bride

PDF, 2.40 MB
0 / 0
A Mediterranean Marriage
Sarah Morgan
Shackled by diamonds...
The Brandizi Diamond has been in the Kyriacou family for
generations. So when it comes into Angelina Littlewood's
possession, Nikos Kyriacou must get the jewel back. But Angie has
her own reasons for keeping it--and for wanting to teach arrogant
Greek Nikos a lesson!
What better way than to agree to marriage? But then Angie
discovers what being Nikos's wife entails.... He has one demand:
he's her husband and she'll share his bed!

THE UNMISTAKABLE SOUND of footsteps echoed around the
ancient stone stairs that led to the basement of the museum.
Angie Littlewood glanced up from the notes she was making,
distracted by the unexpected disturbance. Upstairs the museum
was heaving with visitors but down here in the bowels of the old
listed building there was an almost reverential silence, a silence
created by thick stone walls and the academic purpose of the
researchers and scientists who worked behind the scenes.
Angie felt a flicker of surprise as she saw Helen Knightly appear in
the doorway. As Museum Curator, Helen was usually fully
occupied upstairs with the public at this time of day and Angie’s
surprise turned to consternation as she saw the distressed
expression on her colleague’s face.
‘Are you all right, Helen? Is something the matter?’
‘I don’t know how to tell you this, dear.’ Helen’s face was slightly
paler than usual and Angie’s heart took an uncomfortable dive as
her mind raced ahead, anticipating the problem.
Obviously it was something to do with her mother. Gaynor
Littlewood had been so traumatized by the events of the last six
months that Angie was sometimes afraid to leave her alone in the

‘What’s happened?’
‘There’s someone upstairs asking to see you.’
With an inward sigh, Angie carefully replaced the piece of ancient
pottery she’d been examining and rose to her feet, still holding her
pen. ‘If it’s my mother again, then I apologise,’ she said huskily,
adjusting her;  glasses and her white coat as she walked towards
the curator. ‘She’s found the last six months very hard and I do
keep explaining that she can’t just turn up here unannounced’
‘It’s not your mother.’ The curator gave a nervous cough, a gesture
that did nothing to ease Angie’s growing feeling of unease.
If it wasn’t her mother then it had to be a funding issue. Research
posts were always precarious and money was always in short
supply. She felt a sudden stab of panic. How would they manage
without the money from her job? Angie opened her mouth to
prompt the other woman but the heavy tread of male footsteps
on the stairs distracted her.
She glanced towards the door as a man strolled into the room
without waiting for either invitation or introduction.
For a brief moment Angie stared at him, her attention caught by
the strength and perfection of his coldly handsome face. He
resembled one of the legendary Greek gods, she thought, her
mind wandering as she studied the perfect bone structure, the
masculine jaw and the hard, athletic physique. All the Greek myths

she’d ever read rushed through her head and for an extremely
unsettling moment she imagined him stripped to the waist,
bronzed muscles glistening with the sweat of physical exertion as
he did battle with the Minotaur or some other threatening
creature while some hapless female lay in chains on the floor
waiting to be rescued.
‘Dr Littlewood? Angie!’ Helen’s tone was sharp enough to disturb
Angie’s vision and she gave herself a mental shake, reminding
herself that sponsors didn’t expect archaeologists to be dreamy.
And this man was obviously someone extremely important. He
had an unmistakable air of command and authority and her eyes
slid to the two men who had planted themselves in the doorway
behind him. Their manner was respectful and watchful, and added
to her feeling that the man was hugely influential; he was probably
considering making an extremely large donation to the museum.
Although she would rather be left in peace to do her research, she
was only too aware that posts such as hers existed only because
certain organisations or individuals were financially generous.
Clearly Helen Knightly was expecting her to fly the flag and make
a good impression so she pushed down her natural shyness,
ignored her deep-rooted belief that men as glamorous and
sophisticated as this one never looked twice at women like her,
and stepped forward.
It didn’t matter that she wasn’t beautiful or elegant, she told
herself firmly. She’d graduated top of her year from Oxford
University. She spoke five languages fluently, including Latin and

Greek, and her academic record was excellent. If he was
interested in funding a position at the museum, then those were
the qualities that would interest him.
‘I’m very pleased to meet you.’ Still holding the pen, Angie
stretched out a hand and heard Helen make a distressed sound.
‘Angie, this isn’t—I mean, I should probably introduce you,’ she
began, but the man stepped forward and took the hand that Angie
had extended.
‘You are Miss Littlewood?’ The voice was strong and faintly
accented. The grip of his strong bronzed fingers matched the
power of his physique. Which god did he most closely resemble?
Apollo? Ares? Angie felt her mind drift again until she heard
Helen’s voice in the background.
‘This is Nikos Kyriacou, Angie, the President of Kyriacou
A Greek name? Given the comparisons she’d been making, Angie
almost smiled and then Helen’s words and the urgent emphasis of
her tone finally registered.
Nikos Kyriacou.
The name hung in the air like a deep, dark threat and then reality
exploded in Angie’s head and she snatched her hand away from his
and took an involuntary step backwards, the shock so great that
the pen she was holding clattered to the floor.

She’d never heard of Kyriacou Investments but she’d heard of
Nikos Kyriacou. For the last six months his name had been on her
mother’s lips as she’d sobbed herself to sleep each night.
Clearly aware of the sudden escalation of tension in the room,
Helen cleared her throat again and gestured towards the door.
‘Perhaps we should all’
‘Leave us.’ His dark, brooding gaze fixed on Angie. Nikos Kyriacou
issued the command without a flicker of hesitation or the faintest
concession towards manners or protocol. ‘I want to talk to Miss
Littlewood alone.’
‘It’s fine, Helen.’ Angie spoke the words with difficulty. It was far
from fine. Already she could feel her knees shaking. She didn’t
want to be left on her own with this man. The fact that he was
rude came as no surprise. She’d already deduced that he was a
man devoid of human decency—a man with no morals or ethics.
Now she knew which Greek god he most closely resembled. Ares,
she thought to herself. The god of war. Cold and handsome but
bringing death and destruction.
Her slim shoulders straightened as she braced herself for conflict.
This wasn’t the time to be pathetic. She owed it to her family to
stand up to him. The problem was, she hated conflict. Hadn’t her
sister continually mocked her because Angie always chose the
peaceful route? The only argument that interested her was an

academic one. All she really wanted was to be left in peace with
her research.
But that wasn’t an option.
Staring at him now, she decided that he was every bit as cold and
intimidating as his reputation suggested and suddenly all she
wanted to do was run. But then she remembered her sister as a
child, so blonde and perfect, always smiling. And she remembered
her mother’s limp, sobbing form—remembered all the things she’d
resolved to say to Nikos Kyriacou if she ever met him face to face.
Why should she be afraid of being alone with him? What could he
do to her family that he hadn’t already done?
His dark, disturbing gaze remained fixed on her face as he waited
for the echo of Helen’s footsteps to recede.
He had nerve, she had to give him that. To be able to look her in
the eye and not appear to feel even the slightest shred of
Only when he was sure that Helen Knightly had moved out of
earshot did he speak. ‘First, I wish to offer my condolences on the
death of your sister.’
His directness shocked her almost as much as the hypocrisy of his
statement. The words might have meant more had they been
spoken with the slightest softening of the voice but his tone was

hard. The coldness injected into that statement somehow turned
sympathy to insult.
She inhaled sharply and pain lanced through her body. ‘Your
condolences?’ Her mouth was so dry she could barely speak the
words. ‘Next time you’re offering your condolences, at least try
and look as though you mean it. In the circumstances, your
sympathy is rather out of place, don’t you think? In fact, I think you
have a complete nerve coming here and offering “condolences”
after what you did!’ It was the first time she’d ever spoken to
anyone in such a way and she reached out a hand and held on to
the table, needing the support.
A frown touched his proud, handsome face, as if he were
unaccustomed to being questioned or criticised. ‘Your sister’s
death at my villa was extremely unfortunate, but’
‘Extremely unfortunate?’ She, who never raised her voice, who
always preferred logic and reasoned argument to mindless
aggression, raised it now. A vision of her sister flew into her mind.
The sister she’d never be able to hug and laugh with again.
‘Unfortunate? Is that how you justify it to yourself, Mr. Kyriacou? Is
that how you appease your conscience? How you manage to sleep
at night…’
Something dangerous flared in those dark eyes. ‘I have no trouble
sleeping at night.’

She was suddenly aware of her pounding heartbeat and the
dampness of her palms. An instinctive urge of violent aggression
swarmed through her and she must have betrayed that urge in
some way because the two men in the doorway suddenly stepped
forward, ready to intervene.
Angie realised that she’d actually forgotten their presence. ‘Who
are they?’
‘My security team.’ Nikos Kyriacou dismissed them with an
impatient gesture and they melted into the background, leaving
Angie alone with the one man in the world she would have
preferred never to meet in person.
‘I can understand why a man like you would need a security team
if you treat everyone the way you treated my sister! Clearly you
have no conscience!’ She placed both hands on her desk. It was
that or punch him hard. ‘My sister died in a fall from your balcony
and you’re standing there telling me that your conscience is clear?’
Fine lines of tension appeared around his hard, sculpted mouth.
‘There was a full police investigation and a post mortem. The
verdict was accidental death.’ His flat, factual statement held not a
trace of emotion and her anger rose to dangerous levels. She’d
had no idea that she was capable of feeling such undiluted fury. It
was because she hadn’t been given the chance to express her
feelings, she told herself. She’d been so busy caring for her mother.
It was only at night when she was given the chance to stop and

think and then her head was crowded with thoughts of her sister.
Her little sister. The person she’d loved most in the world.
Tears stung her eyes and she blinked them away. ‘Accidental death.
Of course. What else?’ She couldn’t keep the sarcasm out of her
voice. ‘You’re a very important person, are you not, Mr. Kyriacou?’
His powerful body stilled. ‘I’m not sure what you’re implying, Miss
Littlewood, but I should warn you to be careful.’
There was something in his tone that made her shiver although
she didn’t understand exactly what because he still hadn’t raised
his voice or displayed anything other than the utmost control.
She remembered reading a business article that had described
Nikos Kyriacou as cold, ruthless and intimidating and suddenly she
could understand why a journalist might have come to that
conclusion. His unsmiling, icy calm was in direct contrast to her
boiling emotions.
Normally she would also have described herself as calm but she
was fast discovering that grief did funny things to a person. She
was discovering parts of her personality that she hadn’t been
aware existed—basic urges that had never before revealed
themselves—like the desire to wipe that superior expression from
his indecently handsome face.

‘It’s Dr Littlewood.’ She lifted her chin and corrected him in the
tone she reserved for the most arrogant students that she
lectured at the university. ‘And you don’t frighten me.’
‘Doctor, of course. Dr Angelina Littlewood. And the purpose of
my visit is not to scare you.’ He gave a faint smile that implied that
if he’d wanted to frighten her it would have been an easy task. She
curled her fingers into her palms.
‘I don’t use the name Angelina.’ In her opinion it was a ridiculous
name. A name suited to an entirely different sort of woman—a
beautiful, glamorous woman, not a studious, plain archaeologist. ‘I
prefer to be called Angie, as you would be aware if you knew the
first thing about me.’
His hard gaze didn’t shift from her face. ‘I know a great deal about
you. You have a diploma in classical archaeology, a PhD in
Mediterranean archaeology and you specialise in the art and
pottery of the classical Greeks. Quite an impressive academic
record for someone as young as you. Tell me, Dr Littlewood’ his
gentle emphasis on her title was impossible to ignore ‘—do you
often find it necessary to hide behind your qualifications?’
Still recovering from the shock of discovering that he knew so
much about her, Angie tightened her grip on the desk. ‘Only when
I believe I’m being patronised.’
‘Is that what you think?’ He studied her closely, his eyes sweeping
the white coat, the glasses and the fiery hair tortured into a neat

coil at the back of her head. ‘You’re nothing like your sister, are
Intentionally or not, he had used the weapon designed to create
the most serious wound.
She turned away then, unwilling to reveal the agony that his words
caused. She knew she was nothing like Tiffany—had long ago
accepted that they were entirely different in virtually every way.
But those differences hadn’t affected the bond they’d shared. Even
as Tiffany had moved from caring child to wayward, moody
teenager, Angie had still loved her deeply. Knowing that they had
little in common had done nothing to ease the pain of her sister’s
death. If anything it made it slightly worse because Angie felt a
continuous gnawing guilt that she hadn’t tried harder to influence
her younger sister. To persuade her to modify her behaviour. And
that guilt wasn’t helped by her mother’s constant obsession with
‘what if’s. What if Angie hadn’t been so disapproving of Tiffany’s
desire for fun? What if Angie hadn’t been so boring and obsessed
with work? What if she’d flown out to Greece and kept Tiffany
company? What if she’d been with her sister the night of the
Tortured by those recurring thoughts, Angie raised a hand and
rubbed at her brow, trying to relieve the ache. She was almost
beginning to believe that she’d played a part in Tiffany’s death—by
allowing her sister to continue down the path of self-destruction.
By not trying to keep her away from men like Nikos Kyriacou.

‘Did you read the report?’ Cold and relentless, his voice continued
to torment her and she turned, understanding the full meaning of
his question without needing elaboration.
‘If you’re asking me whether I knew she was drunk, then the
answer is yes,’ she said quietly, noting the flash of surprise in his
eyes. ‘What? Did you think I didn’t know? Or did you think I’d
deny that knowledge?’
‘Since you evidently hold me responsible for the accident despite
the fact that the report completely absolved my family of blame or
responsibility, I thought the facts might have escaped you.’
She stared at him in disbelief. ‘The facts are that Tiffany was young,
Mr. Kyriacou. She celebrated her eighteenth birthday just two
months before she started working in one of your hotels. Most
eighteen-year-olds have been drunk at some point or another; it’s
part of the passage into adulthood.’
‘Have you, Dr Littlewood?’
She frowned. ‘I fail to see the relevance of that question.’
‘Really?’ He gave a faint smile, so maddeningly calm and detached
that she wondered for a moment if he was a lawyer by training. He
seemed to be trying to trap her into saying something that would
absolve him of responsibility.
‘If you’re suggesting that Tiffany’s slightly inebriated state in any
way exonerates you of blame then I’m afraid I don’t see it that

way. I find your complete indifference nothing short of insulting
given the circumstances. You were the reason she drank that
night! It was all your fault!’
Why had she always avoided confrontation in the past? It was
actually remarkably liberating being able to say exactly what she
Apparently unmoved by her accusations, Nikos raised a dark
eyebrow in sardonic appraisal. ‘You think I held the bottle to her
‘I think you might as well have done. In normal circumstances you
and my sister would never have crossed paths but unfortunately
fate threw you together.’
‘Fate?’ The heavy sarcasm in his voice goaded her still further. She
didn’t know what he was implying but it was clearly something
‘My sister was a waitress! She had a two-year contract with your
hotel! Her only role at jet-set parties was pouring champagne into
the glasses of people like you!’ Her voice echoed round the stone
walls of the museum and she took a deep breath and forced
herself to lower her voice. There had already been more than
enough gossip surrounding her family. She didn’t need more.
‘Tiffany was young and starry eyed and you took advantage of that.
You were totally out of her league, Mr. Kyriacou, and you should
have recognised that even if she didn’t. You should have stuck to

models and actresses and other women who understand the rules
of the games you choose to play. But you just couldn’t resist my
sister, could you?’ Her voice rang with contempt. ‘You took
advantage of her innocence and broke her heart.’
There was a long, tense silence. A silence during which he studied
her face with a disturbing degree of concentration. ‘It is not my
wish to defame your sister’s character,’ he breathed, ‘but clearly
we have a significantly different interpretation of events and also of
your sister’s personality.’
‘Of course we have! How else would you be able to live
comfortably with your conscience? You’ve clearly managed to
persuade yourself that you were totally without blame. But the
truth is that Tiffany had never even had a proper boyfriend until
she went to Greece and yet you’ She broke off, hot colour
flooding her cheeks and he tilted his proud, handsome head in
‘—and yet I?’ His prompt was lethally soft. ‘Please don’t hold back
on my account, Dr Littlewood. Please enlighten me as to my
behaviour towards your innocent sister. I confess I’m fascinated by
your alternative view on the world. Clearly you’ve spent a
significant proportion of your life closeted in the depths of
museums and universities.’
Why, she wondered in silent amazement, did women find him so
attractive? Was it the air of danger? The sense of menace? It was

like confronting a tiger with sheathed claws, knowing that it would
take little for him to display his deadly power.
True, he was extraordinarily handsome but he had an icy, remote
quality that made her shiver.
Angie thought of all the things that her mother had said about
Nikos Kyriacou. Thought of the file of pictures she’d kept on the
man. The fact that her mother had been proud of her sister’s new
romantic attachment had filled Angie with horror and frustration.
‘The man is at least fifteen years older than her,’ she’d pointed out,
but her mother had merely shrugged dismissively.
‘He’s loaded, Angie, not to mention influential. Whatever happens
now, she’s made. Being with him will give her access to circles that
she never would have had a chance of entering if she hadn’t been
on his arm. They say he has billions—that he’s absolutely brilliant
at business. So clever. He’s dated supermodels and actresses, but
never for more than a few weeks at a time because apparently he
has no intention of ever marrying. And yet he’s been seeing our
Tiffany for at least six weeks! It’s obviously serious. Can you
believe that?’
She’d had great trouble believing it. ‘Why would a man like Nikos
Kyriacou be interested in Tiffany?’ If he were truly as clever as
rumour suggested, then Tiffany, whose conversational skills didn’t
extend beyond fashion and hairstyles, would surely have bored him

in minutes. She’d loved her sister, but love hadn’t blinded her to
the truth.
Her mother had bristled at the question. ‘Tiffany is extremely
pretty,’ she’d said defensively, ‘and a traditional Greek male values
beauty in a woman, not brains. I don’t expect you to understand
because your idea of a good night is having your nose stuck in
some big fat book with long words in a foreign language, but when
a man comes home from a hard day making millions he’s hoping
for something a little more stimulating than conversation. Not that
you’d know anything about that.’
Angie had given a murmur of derision, wondering why it was that
brilliant men turned into idiots when confronted by a pretty face.
She’d seen it with her father. Clearly Nikos Kyriacou suffered from
the same lack of restraint when it came to women. Her mother
was right. It was something that she didn’t understand and never
Looking at him now, there was no doubt in her mind where the
responsibility for her sister’s death lay. ‘Tiffany was very innocent.
At the very worst she was perhaps a little foolish.’
‘You think so?’
She thought she detected a dangerous flash of fire in his dark eyes
but it vanished in an instant and he appeared as controlled as ever.
Unlike her. She felt the last strands of control slipping from her
grasp. Telling herself that it was impossible to appeal to the

conscience of a man who clearly didn’t possess one, Angie
launched a powerful defence of her sister.
‘You’re supposed to be a sophisticated man of the world. I can’t
believe you couldn’t see what was beneath the blonde hair and
make-up. I can’t believe you didn’t know the truth about her.’
‘I knew all about her,’ he said flatly, a tiny muscle flickering in his
lean cheek, ‘but I’m starting to wonder whether you did.’
‘I know my sister always dressed and acted in a way that suggested
that she was far older than she actually was. But she was a child.
She didn’t play by your rules and you must have known that! You
should never have made false promises.’
He inhaled sharply and his eyes narrowed. ‘What promises am I
supposed to have made?’
Angie shook her head, unable to believe that even he had the gall
to deny what he’d done. ‘You vowed to marry her and we both
know that would never have happened. It’s well documented that
marriage never appears on your agenda.’
There was a long, tense silence. ‘What makes you think I promised
to marry her?’
‘Because she told me! I’m sure you were hoping that she’d kept
your proposal a secret. How very inconvenient for you that she
didn’t!’ Her hands shaking, Angie reached for her bag and
rummaged inside for her mobile phone. ‘She sent me a text two

weeks before she died. Two weeks before she fell from your
balcony, Mr. Kyriacou.’
He was unnaturally still. ‘Show me.’
She scrolled down through the texts and stopped when she
reached ‘Tiffy’. The name brought a lump to her throat. ‘It says: “N
going to marry me. So happy!” She was alive when she sent that
text’ She thrust the phone into his hand and swallowed hard. She
wasn’t going to cry. ‘She was in love with you and she was happy.
The next text was sent the night she fell. Read it, why don’t you?’
‘“Just discovered truth about N. Hate him.”’ He read the words
aloud, staring at the phone in his hand, his tension visible. ‘So it
was true then. She did expect marriage,’ he breathed and Angie
gave a humourless laugh.
‘And why would that come as a shock to you? Because she should
have known better than to believe you when you promised to
marry her? Tiff was a young girl and like all young girls her head
was full of romance and happy endings. You ought to remember
that next time you contemplate having some fun with a teenage
girl. She was no match for a man like you and you broke her heart!
Presumably that was why she was drunk that night. She’d
discovered the sort of man you really are!’
Something dangerous flared in his eyes. ‘You know nothing about
the sort of man I am, Dr Littlewood.’

‘I know that my sister shouldn’t have been anywhere near you!
Every time I open a newspaper you’re with another woman.’ A
beautiful, glamorous woman. ‘It’s obvious that you see the female
sex as entertainment and nothing more.’
The tension in his powerful frame increased significantly. ‘And you
always believe what you read in newspapers?’
‘Not all the detail, of course not. I’m not stupid. But the stories
have to come from somewhere.’
‘Is that right?’
‘Which brings us back to the question of what a man like you was
doing with a girl like Tiffany.’
‘I’m sure you’ll tell me, given that you know so much about me
from such a reliable source.’ There was a biting edge to his tone
that made her stiffen.
‘Don’t play games with me and don’t ever joke about my sister’s
‘Believe me, I don’t consider anything about your sister to be
funny, least of all her death.’ There was something about his
excessive stillness that made her increasingly uneasy and suddenly
the fight drained out of her and she just wanted him to leave.
She sank on to her chair and rubbed her hands over the fabric of
her plain, practical navy trousers. ‘Please go.’ Her voice was husky

and she removed her glasses and looked up at him. ‘I don’t know
why you came here, but I want you to leave now. And I want you
to promise not to go anywhere near my mother.’
That cold gaze rested on her face and a faint frown touched his
dark, sculpted brows. ‘Why do you wear glasses?’
‘I’m sorry?’ The irrelevance of the question threw her and she
blinked in astonishment as she stared up at him. She noticed for
the first time that his lashes were very thick and very dark and
softened the otherwise hard lines of his handsome face. ‘I need
them for very close work, for seeing detail, but I don’t understand
why you’
‘You should wear contact lenses. It won’t compensate for your
unfortunate personality but it would at least soften your
appearance and make you appear more feminine.’
She gave a gasp of outrage, just mortified by the personal nature
of his less than flattering comment. She shouldn’t care, she
reminded herself. All her life her mother had been making similar
comments about her appearance. Angie, wear a dress. Angie, have
a haircut. Angie, wear make-up. She didn’t seem to understand that
dressing up wouldn’t make a difference. Her eldest daughter was
plain. She’d been born plain and she’d die plain. And it didn’t
matter to her. All that mattered at the moment was that she’d lost
her little sister.

Feeling emotions that she didn’t entirely understand, she
immediately fumbled for her glasses and slipped them back on to
her nose. ‘I’m not interested in your opinion on anything, Mr.
Kyriacou.’ Her voice trembled as much as her fingers. ‘The only
thing that interests me is the reason for your visit. Clearly you
didn’t come to apologise, so why did you come? Or do you take
pleasure in viewing other people’s distress? Are you one of those
people who slow down on the motorway to view an accident on
the opposite carriageway?’
There was a long silence while he studied her, a silence during
which she grew more and more uncomfortable. Why was he
looking at her like that? Was he ever going to speak?
Finally he drew breath and something in the depths of his dark
eyes made her stomach flip with nerves. Instinctively she sensed
that she wasn’t going to like what he was about to say.
‘Why did you come here?’ Her voice cracked slightly and his
mouth hardened.
‘Have you ever heard of the Brandizi diamond?’
His question was so unexpected that she frowned. ‘Why would I?’
He gave a faint smile and waved a hand around the room she
worked in, gestured to the various artifacts that surrounded her.
‘Because you’re interested in history and legend, Dr Littlewood,
and the Brandizi diamond is surrounded by both.’

‘As you’ve already pointed out, my speciality is Greek art and
pottery of the classical era. I know very little about jewellery.’ She
straightened her shoulders. ‘I fail to understand the relevance of
this conversation.’
‘The Brandizi diamond is one of the most valuable stones ever
documented. It is a flawless pink diamond. The exact date of the
piece is unknown, but it is believed to have been commissioned by
an Indian prince as a gift for his first wife as a symbol of eternal
love. Apparently he believed in such things.’ His faint smile of
derision revealed his thoughts on that topic. ‘Great superstition
surrounds the diamond.’
Even though she would have walked on broken glass sooner than
admit it, something in his cool, cultured tones had caught her
imagination. Angie’s eyes slid to the fragments of pottery that lay
on her desk. ‘Myth and legend are always closely aligned with
ancient artifacts. Much can be learned about people’s beliefs by
studying the art of the time.’
‘The stone came into the possession of my family several
generations ago. It has traditionally been passed down to the
eldest son to offer as a gift to the woman of his heart. It is of
incalculable value in both monetary and emotional terms.’
Her own heart started to beat faster and she felt the rush of
excitement that she always felt when discussing the past. But then
she reminded herself that Nikos Kyriacou wasn’t another

academic and she couldn’t afford the luxury of conversation with
this man, however stimulating the subject.
‘I fail to see what any of this has to do with my sister.’
He looked at her for a long moment and then strolled over to a
cabinet and examined one of the pots on display, leaving Angie to
stare at his glossy dark hair and broad shoulders with increasing
She took a deep breath and tried again. ‘What does this diamond
have to do with my sister?’
‘Everything.’ He turned then, a muscle flickering in his hard jaw, his
eyes glinting Mediterranean-dark. ‘Your sister was wearing the
Brandizi diamond on the night she fell from my balcony, Dr
Littlewood. I suspect that it was amongst her belongings when
they were returned to you. And now I want it back.’

ANGIE stared at him in astonishment. ‘My sister was wearing this
rare diamond the night she died? The Brandizi diamond? The one
that’s worth gazillions?’
She saw the tension ripple through his powerful frame. ‘That is
‘The same diamond that is given by the men of your family to the
women as a symbol of eternal love?’ She gave a disbelieving laugh,
finally appreciating the true irony of the situation. ‘Did my sister
know that story?’
His strong jaw was clenched. ‘Very possibly.’
‘So the fact that she was wearing the diamond would have
supported her genuine belief that you loved her and intended to
marry her, wouldn’t it?’
‘For a respected archaeologist, you have an alarming gift for
misinterpreting the facts, Dr Littlewood,’ he growled softly and she
gave a humourless laugh.
‘On the contrary, I think I’m just establishing the facts for the first
time. Answer me a question, Mr. Kyriacou. Did you love my sister?’
His hesitation answered the question. ‘We had an understanding,’
he said finally and she nodded.

‘I’m sure you did. My sister was young and very easily seduced by
the prospect of money and romance. She would have been easy
prey for a sophisticated man of your experience.’
‘I refuse to discuss the circumstances of your sister’s death any
further,’ he growled and she had some satisfaction in noticing that
his icy cool had finally melted away to be replaced by simmering
anger. ‘All you need to know is that the diamond did not belong to
And clearly he wanted it back.
Aware that she now had the power to make his life extremely
uncomfortable, Angie felt a sudden rush of adrenaline. The fact
that he had shown absolutely no emotion towards her sister and
yet now seemed increasingly tense, merely supported her poor
opinion of him. He was a man interested in money, power and
possessions. Nothing more. He cared more about the loss of the
diamond than he did about the loss of her sister. That, he’d made
clear, was nothing more than an inconvenience for him. Had the
diamond not been around her sister’s neck when she’d died, Angie
had absolutely no doubt that he wouldn’t have bothered to make
this visit and the knowledge increased her own anger. He should
be made to care.
‘But if she was wearing it the night of her death, the night she fell
from your balcony, then presumably you must have given it to her.
And what was it you just said?’ She frowned slightly, pretending to
think, drawing out the confrontation with relish. ‘That it was a

symbol of love, given to the “woman of your heart”? Presumably
that’s why Tiffany sent that text. She knew that once she was
wearing the famed necklace, her future as your wife was surely
Nikos Kyriacou walked towards her, his brooding dark gaze intent
on her face. ‘Tell me, Dr Littlewood, when you find something of
the past’ he lifted a fragment of pottery from her desk and turned
it slowly in his fingers ‘—do you presume to immediately know its
She frowned. ‘Of course not. We have several techniques for
dating objects and for establishing use and value.’
He brushed a finger over the surface of the fragment that he still
held, examining the pattern closely. ‘So you would agree that
something is not always as it seems? That fakes and frauds do
sometimes make an appearance in this less than perfect world of
‘Yes, but’
‘And, as an academic, part of your job is to explore the truth
behind the facts, is it not?’ He placed the fragment back on her
desk with exaggerated care. ‘Not to judge by appearances, as so
many less informed and less educated people might?’
Reminded that her approach to life was to search for evidence
before drawing conclusions, Angie felt a flash of discomfort and

then reminded herself that Nikos Kyriacou was playing games with
her again, manipulating her with words. He’d probably done
exactly the same to her sister. According to her mother, he
negotiated billion dollar deals on a regular basis so he was
obviously skilled at twisting a situation to his advantage, which was
clearly what he’d done with Tiffany. She had no intention of
allowing him to do the same with her. It was true that she’d dealt
with this whole situation in an emotional way that was completely
out of character, but given the circumstances was that really so
surprising? And anyway, she wasn’t just judging on appearances.
She knew Tiffany.
‘My sister was in love with you. I have a text from her that
indicates her sincere belief that you intended to marry her. I now
discover that she was wearing your diamond—your rare and
precious diamond given to the woman of your heart. And yet you
try and persuade me that appearances can delude?’ She rose to
her feet again, so angry that she could barely speak. ‘Allow me to
tell you that although appearances can mislead, they can also be
astonishingly accurate. Things often turn out to be exactly as they
first seem.’
‘The diamond did not belong to your sister.’ His tone was a low,
threatening growl and for a moment she almost imagined that she
could see the dangerous claws unsheathed from those soft, deadly

‘And yet she died wearing it and in love with you. The facts appear
to speak for themselves, wouldn’t you agree?’
Clearly goaded to the limits of his patience, he inhaled sharply and
proceeded to let out a stream of Greek that he incorrectly
assumed she wouldn’t understand.
Slightly smug that his research into her background had failed to
reveal that she was fluent in his language, Angie kept her eyes on
the desk and waited for him to calm down. Had he spoken in
English, the words he’d used would have made her blink with
shock but, as it was, the fact that he was capable of losing his
temper gave her considerable satisfaction and slightly soothed her
own frayed emotions. At least he was capable of feeling something,
even if it was only anger and frustration that she was proving to
be so uncooperative.
He planted both hands on her desk and fixed her with his
unusually penetrating gaze. ‘You must understand that the retrieval
of this diamond is extremely important to my family.’
Should she reveal that she spoke Greek? Deciding not, Angie gave
a faint smile.
‘And you must understand that my sister’s death is extremely
important to mine.’ She looked up then, her eyes glistening with
tears. ‘Do you notice the fundamental difference between us, Mr.
Kyriacou? Your focus is on objects and mine is on people. I may
study ancient artefacts but those artefacts tell us a great deal

about people and the way they lived, just as your desire for this
diamond says a great deal about you. When you first arrived I
assumed that you had come to offer explanation and seek
forgiveness but now I discover that you merely wanted to collect
lost property.’
There was no longer a trace of the ice cool restraint that had
been so much in evidence when he’d first arrived. Instead his dark
eyes flashed dangerously and his mouth hardened. He looked like a
volcano on the brink of eruption. And that was a place that no
sensible being would want to be.
Her legs shaking and her stomach churning, Angie picked up her
bag and walked towards the door, unaccustomed to conflict and
anxious to end the encounter. ‘Thank you for taking the trouble to
visit me personally, Mr. Kyriacou. It was a most illuminating

She battled through the rain and a tube train crowded with
tourists and arrived home to find the house unusually silent. One
glance at the empty sherry bottle on the kitchen table was enough
to tell her how her mother had spent the day. Presumably she was
now in bed, sleeping off the excess of alcohol she’d consumed.
Drained and exhausted from her confrontation with Nikos
Kyriacou, Angie stripped off her wet coat and immediately made
for the attic where she knew her mother had stowed the suitcase

that had been returned to them from Greece. The suitcase
containing her sister’s belongings.
The attic was dusty and crammed with bits of old abandoned
furniture and tattered boxes but she saw the suitcase immediately
and paused with her hand on the zip, emotions churning inside her.
Her mother hadn’t even opened it and she couldn’t blame her for
that. It wasn’t something she was looking forward to doing either.
Her mind went to the myth of Pandora who had been instructed
not to open the box under any circumstances. Yet the temptation
had proved too great and she’d released terrible forces into the
world. Angie chewed her lip, unable to bring herself to open the
suitcase. Would it contain something she’d wish she’d never seen?
Would her life be changed?
Impatient with the ridiculous flight of her habitually overactive
imagination, Angie sucked in a breath and unzipped the case. The
first thing she saw as she lifted the lid was a glittery piece of fabric
designed to be used as a wrap. It was so typical of her sister’s
flamboyant taste that she gave a faint smile. Then she put her hand
in the case again and pulled out her sister’s handbag. It was badly
stained and Angie felt her stomach lurch. It must have been the
bag she’d been holding when she’d fallen. Not allowing herself to
dwell on the origin of those stains, she put the bag carefully to one
side and moved the other items of clothing and then her hand

It lay in the bottom of the case, winking and catching the late
evening light that poured through the small attic window. Angie
caught her breath. Even with absolutely no knowledge of
diamonds, she could see that the stone and the setting were
exquisitely beautiful.
In a trance, she reached down and lifted the pendant from the
case, feeling the weight of the stone settle into the palm of her
Without warning, her eyes filled and the ache inside her was so
great that she could hardly breathe. Her sister had been wearing
this on her last day alive. It had been round her neck, had touched
her skin, been part of her—
‘I miss you, Tiff,’ she whispered and then gave a start of shock as
her mother’s voice came from directly behind her.
‘What’s that?’
Angie blinked back the tears, cleared her throat and turned. Her
mother was staring at the diamond with more animation and
excitement in her expression than she’d shown for months.
‘It belongs to the Kyriacou family,’ Angie said immediately, closing
the case with her free hand so that her mother wouldn’t have to
see the rest of Tiffany’s belongings. ‘I wasn’t going to tell you, but
he visited me today and asked for this back.’ She deliberately
revealed nothing of the stress of the encounter and her mother

didn’t ask. Instead her eyes were glued on the jewel in Angie’s
‘My Tiffany had that round her neck when she died? It’s the
Brandizi diamond.’
Angie stared at her mother in astonishment. ‘You know about it?’
‘Of course. I’ve seen it round the neck of Aristotle Kyriacou’s wife.
Eleni, I think her name is. She doesn’t often wear it in public
because of its value.’
And it had been sitting in their attic unprotected. Angie felt faint at
the thought. What if they’d been burgled? Not that any local
burglar would have been expecting to find one of the world’s most
famous and valuable diamonds in the attic of a terraced house in
North London. She almost laughed at the thought.
‘Well…’ She closed her hand around the diamond, unable to put it
down. Holding it somehow gave her a connection to her dead
sister. ‘I have to return it to the Kyriacou family.’ She said the
words for her own benefit as much as her mother’s. To remind
herself that it was stupid to attach sentimental value to a jewel
that hadn’t even really belonged to her sister.
But she didn’t want to give it away. They had so little of Tiffany left.
The necklace was the last thing she’d worn and that made it
almost a part of her.
‘We should keep it.’

Angie’s gaze softened with sympathy and understanding. ‘Because
giving it away feels like losing part of Tiffany?’
‘No.’ Her mother shot her an impatient glance. ‘Because keeping it
feels like getting our own back on the bastards.’
Angie winced. Despite years of practice, she’d never understand
her mother. ‘Don’t be silly, Mum. It doesn’t belong to us.’
Angie’s gaze slid from her mother’s hard expression to the
glittering diamond that lay in the palm of her hand. It was hard not
to remember the words that Nikos Kyriacou had spoken: It has
traditionally been passed down to offer as a gift to the woman of
his heart. And yet he clearly hadn’t loved Tiffany at all.
‘I can’t believe my Tiffany was wearing that necklace.’ Her mother’s
tone was reverential and Angie felt a rush of exasperation mingled
with a total lack of comprehension. In her opinion, her mother had
a totally misplaced sense of pride.
‘Nikos Kyriacou clearly gave it to her in return for sex, Mum,’ she
mumbled as she stood up and negotiated her way down the
ladder that led from the attic. ‘I don’t really think that’s anything to
boast about.’
‘It’s given by the man to the woman he intends to marry.’
Angie stopped halfway down the ladder. ‘Pardon?’

‘The diamond. It’s given as a gift by the man to the woman he
intends to marry. I read it in an interview with Kyriacou’s wife. So
if my Tiff had it round her neck, then that’s proof that Nikos
Kyriacou intended to marry her.’
‘Nikos Kyriacou had no intention of marrying anyone,’ Angie said
wearily. ‘He isn’t the marrying kind. He’s exactly like Dad. The sort
of man who moves from one woman to another without care,
thought or emotional involvement of any sort. He never would
have married Tiffany.’
‘Then he should be taught a lesson!’
‘Now you’re being ridiculous.’ Angie reached the bottom of the
ladder and helped her mother down. ‘Kyriacou is a billionaire in a
league of his own. According to that article you showed me a few
months ago, he owns five jets, nine properties, including his own
island in Greece. His own island, Mum!’’ She said the words slowly
to emphasise her point. ‘He’s considered a genius in business, you
told me that yourself. Now look at us. We live in North London in
a terraced house, most of which the bank owns.’
Her mother’s lip wobbled. ‘It isn’t my fault that your father
frittered away all our money on women and then went bankrupt.’
Angie sighed. ‘I know you’re not to blame, Mum. All I’m saying is
that we’re hardly in a position to teach a man like Nikos Kyriacou
a lesson, no matter how much we might like to.’ Especially when
I’m just an archaeologist and you’re a lush, she thought to herself.

‘We have his diamond.’
Angie frowned, failing to see the relevance of that statement.
‘You’re not seriously suggesting we keep it? Even if we wanted to,
that wouldn’t be an option. Legally, it belongs to the Kyriacou
family. And they have the money to buy all the lawyers they need
to reclaim it. We don’t have a decent argument for keeping it.’
She had a ridiculous vision of herself standing up in court telling
dark-suited lawyers that she wanted to keep the jewel because it
was the last thing that had touched her sister’s skin. Even she
knew that such a sentiment would attract nothing but derision.
Her mother’s eyes were suddenly hard. ‘That man should be
taught a lesson! He destroyed my Tiffany and he should pay! He’s
Greek, isn’t he?’ Her voice rose to a shrill pitch. ‘Revenge! The
only language these Greeks understand is revenge. You should
know that—it’s in all those stupid stories you read.’
‘Myths, Mum. They’re called myths.’
Her mother gave a snort of derision. ‘Whatever.’
‘They’re stories, Mum, not real life. In real life people like us don’t
go round seeing revenge.’ It was time to give the doctor a call to
discuss her mother’s drinking. ‘I’m going to contact him and give
the diamond back. It’s the right thing to do. Go back to bed, Mum.
I’ll see you in the morning.’

Nikos lounged at the back of the lecture theatre, watching
through narrowed eyes as the students poured into the room,
jostling and chatting, clutching bags and computers ready for the
Without exception, all the women cast interested and hopeful
glances in his direction but he ignored their lingering attention and
focused his gaze at the front of the room.
He was waiting for Dr Littlewood.
Their encounter the previous day had left him angrier and more
frustrated than he could ever remember feeling.
It wasn’t that he’d ever expected the meeting to be an easy one.
He hadn’t. It was more that he was unaccustomed to finding
himself questioned or challenged and Angie Littlewood had done
In fact she’d goaded him to such a degree that he’d been on the
point of revealing the entire truth about her sister and only
monumental self-discipline had prevented him from doing anything
so foolish. For a start, it was obvious that Angie Littlewood
approved of her sister’s behaviour but, most importantly, revealing
the truth risked bringing nothing but misery on his family. If
Angelina Littlewood took the story to the press then the whole
distasteful, sordid mess would be exposed. And that had happened
once before with disastrous consequences—

A horrifying vision flashed into his brain and he dismissed it with
ruthless determination. It wasn’t going to happen again, he
promised himself. He was going to prevent it. This time he was in
control of the situation and he had every intention of remaining in
Once the Brandizi diamond was back in his possession, the whole
ugly chapter could be closed. His contact with the Littlewood
family would be over and, as far as he was concerned, that
moment couldn’t come soon enough. It was true that the two
sisters were entirely different but the elder was every bit as
unappealing as the younger, albeit for different reasons.
And, right now, she was late for her own lecture.
As a man who valued and practised punctuality, he was
contemplating the clock on the wall with brooding disapproval
when the door opened and Angie Littlewood hurried in, juggling a
pile of files, wisps of hair escaping from the clip at the back of her
She looked flustered and out of breath and he noticed that her
hand was shaking as she stepped up to the lectern and switched
on the microphone. ‘I apologise for being slightly late’ Her voice
had a smoky, feminine quality that dragged across Nikos’s nerveendings and sent a stab of elemental lust through his loins.
Irritated and surprised by the strength of his reaction, Nikos
shifted in his seat in an attempt to ease the insistent throb of his

body. Exactly why he should suddenly experience such a powerful
reaction to a woman like Angie Littlewood escaped him. She was
so far removed from his usual choice of companion that it was
laughable. He was used to women who reveled in their femininity
whereas Dr Littlewood seemed totally unaware, even indifferent,
to the possibilities of her sex. She was wearing a plain roll-neck
top under her jacket and the same plain navy blue trousers that
she’d had on the previous day. It was the attire of a woman who
dressed for practicality and convenience rather than allure.
If he hadn’t already established her relationship with Tiffany, he
would never have believed that they were sisters.
And yet there were similarities, he mused, his eyes resting on the
unmistakably generous swell of her breasts and the dip and curve
of her tiny waist. She lifted an arm to emphasise something on a
slide and he saw that her wrist was slender and her profile
remarkably delicate. Part of Tiffany’s appeal had been her external
appearance of fragility and it appeared that her sister shared that
essentially feminine characteristic.
Remembering the way she’d challenged him during their previous
meeting, he gave a smile of derision. There had been nothing
fragile about the way she’d behaved. And her defense of her
sister’s indefensible behaviour was nothing short of distasteful.
Realising that the audience around him were listening with rapt
attention, he forced himself to listen to what she was saying and
found himself surprisingly absorbed in her lecture on classical

Greek pottery. She knew her subject, he thought to himself as he
watched her breathe life and meaning into the past as she talked.
She had a few artefacts on the table in front of her and she used
these and her slides to illustrate her lecture. She spoke fluently,
without notes, clearly passionate about her subject, unaware of the
passage of time or the slow descent of her hair from the clip. Each
time she turned and gestured, the knot slipped a little more until
finally her hair escaped its bonds and cascaded over her shoulders.
Amazing colour, Nikos thought to himself as he watched her
scoop it into her hand and continue to talk, her almost breathless
enthusiasm holding the entire auditorium in enraptured silence.
Only as she paused to draw breath did she finally glance at the
clock. ‘I’ve run over as usual! That’s it for today—I have notes here
if anyone wants them—and don’t forget that there are more
examples in the museum on the second floor if you have time to
look before Friday.’ Her hair slid forward over her shoulders in a
tumbled mass of fiery, flaming curls and Nikos observed the
transformation with masculine fascination. She no longer looked
like a serious archaeologist. Instead she looked like—a woman?
And yet there was no doubt that she considered her hair to be
nothing more than an annoyance as she reached for the clip to
fasten it back from her face but was then distracted by a student
who approached to ask her a question.
She immediately forgot her hair and became absorbed in the
discussion. Another student approached and, by the time they

reluctantly allowed her to stop talking, the rest of the lecture
theatre had emptied.
He stood up and strolled down the steps towards her, watching as
she reached for the files on the desk and gathered them up. Only
as she turned did she finally notice Nikos standing in front of her.
‘I find it hard to believe that you’ve suddenly developed an interest
in Greek pottery of the classical era.’ Her tone was brittle as she
clutched the files to her chest, clearly shocked to see him. ‘So I
assume you’re here for another reason, Mr. Kyriacou.’ Behind her
glasses, her blue eyes seemed more luminous than ever and he
found himself wanting to rip off the glasses and study her face
‘Let’s not play games, Dr Littlewood.’ Angered by an impulse that
he didn’t understand, he walked forward and picked up a pot that
lay on the desk, turning it over in his hands. ‘Very pretty. A good
copy of a psykter—a red figured wine cooler. It would have been
filled with wine and floated in ice cold water until the wine was
cool enough to drink. About 500 BC?’ He saw surprise in her
‘You clearly paid attention in the lecture.’
‘I’m Greek,’ he reminded her softly, returning the pot to its place
on the table. ‘I’m interested in the heritage of my country. And
also that of my family.’ He let the words hang in the air for a
moment and saw her chin lift.

‘If you’re referring to the necklace, then I should warn you that I
haven’t yet had a chance to look for it.’
‘You’re lying.’ His eyes rested on her nose and he noticed the tiny
freckles that danced over her pale skin. ‘The first thing you would
have done when you arrived home last night was look for it.’ The
faint colour that touched her cheeks told him that his assessment
was accurate.
‘The first thing I did when I arrived home last night was care for
my mother. She is extremely unwell and has been since we
received the news of Tiffany’s death. Searching through my sister’s
belongings is a low priority.’
‘In that case, give me the suitcase and I will conduct the search
Her eyes flashed with anger and contempt. ‘Your schedule is of
absolutely no interest to me whatsoever and if you come within a
million miles of our house, Mr. Kyriacou, I will call the police.’
Unaccustomed to being continually challenged, Nikos felt his
frustration rise. ‘I’m ordering you to give me the diamond.’
‘And I don’t respond to orders, especially from people I don’t
Swiftly he changed tack. ‘If you’re thinking, even for a moment, that
you can make money out of this situation then let me tell you
right away that you’re in for a severe disappointment. The diamond

does not belong to you or your late sister. If you are planning to
sell the jewel for money then it’s only fair to warn you that it
would prove impossible to find a buyer. The stone is so famous
that no reputable dealer will touch it and its value is incalculable.’
‘You still think this is about money?’ She threw her head back and
her hair poured over her shoulders like tongues of flame. ‘Is that
all you think about? How very sad your life must be!’ The raw
blaze of anger in her eyes caught his attention and he watched her
transform in front of his eyes. From cool academic to passionate
She was still dressed in the boring, sober suit but Nikos no longer
noticed what she was wearing. He was transfixed by the burning
fire in her unusual blue eyes and by the almost feral wildness of
her hair.
Accustomed to women who existed from one blow-dry to the
next, women who discouraged any activity which might disturb
razor-sharp perfection, Nikos suddenly had an inexplicable desire
to sink his hand into those wild fiery curls and bring his mouth
down hard on hers. Just how far did that wildness of hers extend?
Seriously disturbed by the entirely inappropriate direction of his
own thoughts, he took a step backwards just to make absolutely
sure that he wasn’t tempted to touch her. ‘It isn’t about money. It’s
about regaining something which is rightfully mine.’

‘You are an insult to the human race!’ She stepped off the podium
and stalked towards him, her anger a live and powerful force. ‘Six
months ago my sister died falling from your balcony and we heard
nothing from you. Nothing! And now you have the gross
insensitivity to turn up here asking for a piece of jewellery. Do you
have no compassion? Do you have no sense of human decency?’
Visibly shaken by her own outburst, she took several deep breaths
and he found himself staring at her mouth, captivated by the soft,
ripe curve of her lower lip. The slight fullness gave an impression
of sensuality while a tiny dimple in the corner of her mouth hinted
at vulnerability.
The atmosphere throbbed with tension and Nikos forced himself
to remember that Angie Littlewood was a woman to whom
sensuality was entirely foreign. ‘The very first words I spoke to
you were of condolence.’
She was standing right in front of him now, chin lifted, eyes blazing
into his. A faint scent teased his nostrils and he wondered for a
moment whether she was woman enough to enjoy perfume and
then decided that what he could smell was probably her shampoo.
‘Words are nothing without the appropriate feeling behind them
and we both know that you are entirely devoid of feeling.’ She spat
the words angrily and he ground his teeth.
‘I make excuses for your behaviour because I know you are
distressed about your sister.’

She gasped. ‘My behaviour? I’m not the one who seduced and
misled an innocent young girl—who made her so utterly
miserable she drank herself into oblivion and then fell to her
death. I think if we’re examining anyone’s behaviour here it should
be yours but the difference is that I’m not prepared to excuse you.
You are a ruthless, self-seeking, egocentric bastard’ She stopped as
she said the word and lifted a hand to her mouth, shock and
confusion on her pale face. ‘I—I’m sorry,’ she began stiffly and he
raised an eyebrow, wondering why she felt the need to apologise.
‘Sorry for what? For using the same language that your sister
frequently used?’
Colour touched her cheeks. ‘We’re not—I mean, I’m not’ She gave
a faint frown as if she were trying to remember the point of their
argument. ‘You think of nothing but money and possessions and
you need to be taught that there are other things that matter. I’m
not prepared to give you your jewel.’ Her voice cracked. ‘It was
the last thing she was wearing. I can’t—why would you need it,
anyway? It was supposed to be given to the woman of your heart
and we both know that you don’t have a heart, Mr. Kyriacou.’
Not prepared to give him the diamond?
Nikos stared at her in a state of stunned disbelief. It hadn’t
occurred to him, even for a moment, that she’d seriously refuse to
hand over the jewel.

Shaken by the less than welcome knowledge that he’d
underestimated an opponent for the first time in his life, Nikos
stood frozen to the spot, watching as she strode from the room
and slammed the door so hard that the sound echoed round the
abandoned lecture theatre for several seconds.
Nikos stared after her, his brain still filled with the vision of
flashing blue eyes and fiery red hair.
What, he thought to himself, was he going to do now?

WHAT on earth had her sister ever seen in the man?
Still shocked and shaking from the unexpected violence of her
own temper, Angie twisted her hair on top of her head and
secured it with a vicious stab of the clip.
If she was honest, she was more than a little horrified by the
strength of her own reaction. If she’d been asked to describe her
character in two words she would have chosen ‘calm’ and ‘logical’.
But where had logic been today when she’d stood in front of
Nikos Kyriacou and called him a bastard? And as for calm—
She cringed at the memory. She’d raised her voice and used
language that she considered to be extremely distasteful. She’d
sounded more like her mother than herself. But maybe her
mother was right, in this instance. Nikos Kyriacou had behaved
badly. It didn’t matter which way you looked at it, the evidence was
there. He’d dated her sister—the gift of the necklace supported
her sister’s claim that he’d been in love with her and intending to
marry her, so there could be little doubt that she was telling the
truth on that score—and then the relationship had ended. And
the Greek’s sole purpose in life was now to retrieve the necklace
he’d given away so carelessly. Ready for the next woman, no doubt.
Angie gritted her teeth. She was the first to admit that
relationships weren’t exactly her forte, but it was obvious to her

that Nikos Kyriacou had never intended to marry her sister and
his track record supported that assumption. According to her
mother, he never dated a woman for longer than three weeks.
Clearly her sister had been severely misled.
Angie pushed her files into her bag and then lifted a hand to her
chest just to reassure herself that the diamond was still there,
safely tucked under her jumper.
Perhaps it had been foolish to wear it, but wearing it had made her
feel closer to Tiffany and it wasn’t as if anyone could see it. Under
her jumper was probably as safe a place as any until she gave it
back to the Kyriacou family.
She should have done it today, of course. She should have reached
inside her boring roll-neck jumper, undone the clasp and given him
the diamond. And that would have been the end of it, at least for
him. But for her—
She just couldn’t bear to part with something that Tiffany had
Which was ridiculous, she thought miserably as she pushed open
the door and walked up the stairs that led to the exit, because she
could hardly go through life wearing high neck jumpers to conceal
a priceless diamond. She was going to have to stop being so
sentimental and give it back. It didn’t matter that touching a jewel
that Tiffany had worn somehow brought comfort. She was going
to have to find her comfort in other ways.

It was time to do the right thing.
Time to return the jewel.

‘Are you all right? I wanted to check on you.’ Helen Knightly
hovered in the doorway and Angie looked up from her computer
and adjusted her glasses.
Two days had passed and she’d heard nothing from Nikos Kyriacou
but, oddly enough, his silence was more disturbing than his
presence. She didn’t trust him. ‘I’m fine, thank you. Honestly.’
‘I’m sorry about the other day.’ Her boss was clutching a
newspaper. ‘When he arrived in my office demanding to see you, I
tried to suggest that he make an appointment but he didn’t take
no for an answer.’
Angie gave a wan smile. ‘No. He doesn’t appear to be very good at
hearing that word.’
‘I suppose it was nice that he wanted to come and apologise in
Under the cover of her desk, Angie’s toes curled in her shoes.
‘Absolutely.’ She had no intention of revealing that the purpose of
Nikos Kyriacou’s visit had had little to do with contrition and
everything to do with greed.

‘It must have been hard for him too, losing a girlfriend.’ Helen
Knightly sighed and held out the newspaper she was holding. ‘I
think you ought to see this before anyone else shows you. It’s a
little upsetting, I suppose, but you have to remember that he’s
obviously trying to get on with his life just as you are, which has to
be a good thing. How’s your mother?’
‘She’s fine,’ Angie said absently, taking the paper with a flicker of
disquiet. A little upsetting? What exactly would be in a newspaper
that she would find upsetting? ‘What do you mean, “he’s obviously
trying to get on with his life”?’
‘Page two story: “Greek tycoon seeks consolation after villa
Her mouth dry and her heart pounding, Angie opened the paper
with shaking hands and found herself faced with a large picture of
Nikos Kyriacou emerging from a nightclub in close contact with a
tall willowy blonde.
Angie stared down at the paper, a dangerous cocktail of emotions
mingling inside her. Shock, pain and anger tangled together and she
dropped the paper on to the desk and sucked in a deep breath to
try and calm herself.
Was that why he was so desperate to repossess the jewel? So that
he could give it to another woman?

Helen made an apologetic sound. ‘Perhaps I shouldn’t have shown
‘You were right to show me.’ As if in a trance, Angie stood up,
trying to clear her thoughts and control herself. Feeling slightly
dazed, she looked at Helen, her expression bewildered. ‘Have you
ever thought you knew yourself really well, only to discover that
you’re not the person you thought you were?’
Helen’s expression was puzzled. ‘Well, no, I don’t suppose I have,
but you’ve suffered a severe shock, my dear, had a terrible loss to
cope with. It’s natural that you should be feeling strange and a little
unsettled, if that’s what’s worrying you.’
‘I don’t feel strange or unsettled.’ She felt—furious. Bitterly angry
that Nikos Kyriacou could be allowed to brush off the matter of
her sister’s death as nothing more than a minor inconvenience.
Absolutely boiling mad that he would happily date another woman
in full view of the press without so much as a flicker of conscience
or the slightest concession to decency. Had he given any thought
at all to what such a picture would do to her already grieving
The desire to seriously hurt him grew and grew inside her and she
curled her fists into her palms and understood for the first time in
her life what it was like to want revenge. For the first time she had
some understanding of what had driven her mother to urge her
to seek justice. She was so blisteringly angry with him, so insulted

and hurt by his careless, arrogant behaviour that she wanted to
make him suffer.
She sank down on to the chair, still holding the newspaper as she
tried to calm herself down. Tried to remember who she was. She
was a respected archaeologist. She was an educated woman—a
pacifist who believed totally in the use of negotiation as a means
of solving disputes. She didn’t believe in ‘an eye for an eye and a
tooth for a tooth’. She didn’t believe in vengeance.
So why did she suddenly want to find a way of hurting Nikos
Kyriacou the way he’d hurt her sister?
‘Go home.’ Helen stepped forward and prised the newspaper
from her numb fingers. ‘Really, I think you need a few days off. You
can’t expect to get over this in a hurry and I’m sure that seeing Mr.
Kyriacou has made everything seem very raw.’
‘Yes. Yes, it has.’ Still slightly dazed by the onslaught of emotions
that battered her brain, Angie switched off her computer and rose
to her feet with a distracted nod of her head. ‘I need some fresh
air. I don’t feel like me any more. But I want to keep that
newspaper. Can I have it, please?’
Reluctantly Helen handed it to her and urged her towards the
door. ‘Go and see the doctor. Take a sedative or something. Don’t
come back until you’re ready.’

Hardly aware of what she was doing, Angie pushed the newspaper
into her bag and walked up the stone steps. She elbowed her way
through crowds of the public admiring the dinosaur exhibition at
the front of the museum and pushed through the revolving doors
into the street.
Oblivious to the curious glances of passers-by, she walked in a
state of blind misery, her thoughts on her sister. Tiffany had been
so young and naïve. Being given the necklace must have meant so
much to her. Whereas to him it had meant nothing at all
Without even realising what she was doing, Angie lifted a hand to
the jewel that was safely hidden under her roll-neck top. Wearing
it gave her a comfort that she couldn’t explain, even to herself. Just
knowing that she was wearing something that Tiffany had worn
made her feel better.
It started to rain, but Angie didn’t notice. How had Tiffany felt
when she’d realised that Nikos Kyriacou had no intention of
marrying her? How had she felt when she’d discovered that the
relationship had meant nothing? Had Nikos Kyriacou been seeing
other women when he was with her sister?
Tears started to fall but her face was so wet from the rain that no
one even noticed. They were too busy trying to escape from the
weather to notice her distress.
She walked home on automatic pilot and slotted her key into the
front door with a shaking hand.

The first thing she saw as she walked into the house was a half full
glass of whisky on the kitchen table. Scraping her soaking wet hair
away from her face, she lifted the offending glass and stared at it in
despair. Her mother had been drinking again. She was going to
pour it away, along with all the alcohol in the house.
The doorbell rang and Angie glanced towards the sink and then
gave an impatient sigh and turned towards the front door instead,
the glass still in her hand. It would be the neighbours, checking on
her mother and she didn’t want them to worry.
Wondering how her life had deteriorated to this level, she yanked
open the front door.
Nikos Kyriacou stood on the doorstep, an expression of
simmering impatience on his cold, handsome face. ‘I will come
straight to the point. I have tried to tackle this subject with as
much tact and sensitivity as I am able but you refuse to meet me
even halfway so the time has come to stop playing games.’ His gaze
fastened on the glass in her hand and the impatience in his eyes
changed to incredulity. ‘Clearly the use of alcohol as a crutch runs
in the family.’
Standing in the doorway holding a glass of whisky wasn’t exactly
the impression of herself that she would have chosen to give
another person, but his judgemental tone and the look of
contempt in his eyes squashed any feelings of embarrassment that
she might otherwise have suffered. The tension and pressure had
been building all day and something inside her suddenly snapped.

‘Tact and sensitivity? When did you ever show tact and sensitivity?
Certainly not in my hearing. Given that you are the cause of all
our current problems, I advise you to leave now while your limbs
are still attached to your body.’
Thick, dark lashes lowered, shielding the expression in his eyes. ‘By
all means blame me if it makes you feel better,’ he drawled in a
soft tone, ‘but we both know that I can hardly be held responsible
for your sister’s drink problem.’
‘No?’ Her misery and grief turned to furious anger. ‘My sister had
the misfortune to spend time with you, Mr. Kyriacou. That in itself
is surely sufficient justification for alcoholic support. Having met
you and spent time with you, I can understand all too easily why
she would have found herself in need of that support.’ Her tone
was acid. ‘I should imagine it was the only way my poor sister
could get through the day. If I were in the unfortunate position of
being forced into your company on a regular basis, I too would
drink to excess, I can assure you.’
His eyes moved slowly over her hair and face and she was
suddenly uncomfortably aware of the contrast between her
soaking wet, ultra ordinary appearance and the svelte, perfectly
groomed woman she’d seen him with in the newspaper.
His smile was faintly contemptuous as if the mere thought of her
being in his company was laughable. ‘There is no way you would
ever find yourself spending time with me on a regular basis. You
are not the sort of woman I would ever willingly seek out.’ The

bored derision in his tone was deliberately insulting and she gave a
soft gasp of outrage.
‘I think you’d better go.’ She started to close the door, but Nikos
Kyriacou planted a foot inside the hallway and shouldered his way
‘I’ve already told you, I’m tired of playing games.’ He pushed the
door shut with the palm of his hand, his expression grim as he
stared at her. ‘Once you have returned my property, I will leave.’
‘Your broke my sister’s heart. You promised to marry her.’
His voice cool and unemotional, Nikos took a step backwards. ‘I
never would have married someone like your sister. It is laughable
to think I would have considered it.’
Angie gasped, both at the words and his derisive tone. ‘You just
don’t care, do you? Her death means nothing to you but a
logistical inconvenience. You’d better leave. Now.’
‘Removing myself from the company of your appalling family is my
highest priority. Unfortunately I cannot leave until the necklace is
restored to my family.’ Clearly he thought he was slumming it by
having to deal with them and his blatant distaste goaded her still
further. It didn’t matter that she, herself, had been shocked and
embarrassed by both her sister and mother’s behaviour in the
past. All that mattered now was the fact that he had judged Tiffany
good enough to sleep with but not to marry.

‘The necklace no longer belongs to you. A gift is a gift. Maybe
you’ll remember that next time you give away something valuable.’
Nikos didn’t flinch. ‘The necklace did not belong to your sister.’
‘Well, she was wearing it when she died,’ Angie reminded him
helpfully, ‘so, unless you’re suggesting that she stole it, then it
appears to now be in our possession. Perhaps the loss of the
necklace will force you to rethink your lifestyle, Mr. Kyriacou. You
say that you would never have married a girl like my sister, but you
were more than happy to seduce her, were you not? You came
here, so soon after her death, not to sympathise or offer
condolences but to demand the return of a gift. What sort of cold,
unfeeling monster does that make you, I wonder?’
His explosion of temper was as sudden as it was shocking as he
turned on her with a dangerous flash of his eyes and let out a
stream of fluent Greek that contained words that she hadn’t
encountered before. But, even if her knowledge of the Greek
language hadn’t allowed her to pick up the gist of his diatribe, the
threatening expression on his bronzed handsome face was more
than sufficient to provide adequate translation.
The volcanic force of his anger made her want to seek refuge
under the nearest table and she had to force herself to keep her
own expression impassive, determined not to reveal either that
he’d frightened her or that she spoke his language.

‘Shouting isn’t going to change the facts. Nor is ranting in a foreign
He took a deep breath and stabbed bronzed fingers through his
glossy dark hair. ‘Despite what you may believe, I sincerely regret
your sister’s death and a full investigation was conducted by the
appropriate authorities, as I’ve already told you.’ His English was
heavily accented, as if the sudden switch of language had thrown
him. ‘The truth is that, had your sister drunk less, she wouldn’t
now be dead.’
Angie’s expression was stony as she fixed her eyes on his. ‘The
truth is that had you not given her a reason to drink she wouldn’t
now be dead. You need to be more responsible in your
relationships, Mr. Kyriacou.’
The air hissed through his teeth. ‘I’m extremely responsible in my
‘Really?’ Angie picked up her bag and dragged out the newspaper.
‘Who’s she, then? Some convenient bimbo you picked up last
night? Or do you need the necklace so that you can give it to her
as proof of your undying love and devotion?’
He stared at the picture in the paper and a muscle worked in his
lean cheek. ‘She’s no one important.’
‘No one important? Does she know that?’
‘The press photograph me all the time. It’s an obsession.’

‘How very inconvenient for you.’ All he cared about was his image.
‘It must be almost impossible to conduct your affairs in private. I
really couldn’t care less who you sleep with, Mr. Kyriacou, except
to feel the most sincere sympathy for them. My point is merely
that this photograph shows you to be decidedly lacking in
sensitivity genes. Six months ago my sister was wearing your
necklace around her throat and partying in your villa. Now we’re
mourning her death and you are out seeking a replacement. The
facts are right in front of me, so don’t try and tell me that you care
and have feelings.’
‘I don’t plan to tell you anything. I’m not in the habit of explaining
myself to anyone.’
‘Well, you should be! Being rich and bossy doesn’t give you the
right to walk all over people.’
He looked at her then, his gaze disturbingly intense as it rested on
her face. ‘You really do have a most unfortunate personality.’ His
voice was silky-smooth and the stillness of his powerful frame was
possibly more intimidating than his volcanic burst of temper.
‘Perhaps if you spent less time examining bones and pieces of
pottery and more time on personal relationships, your mood
might improve. Even if it were possible to overlook your complete
lack of interest in your appearance, take it from me, if there’s one
thing guaranteed to turn a guy off it’s hysteria. You might want to
work on that.’

It was the final straw. The suggestion that she even cared what he
thought about her should have made her laugh but instead misery
bubbled inside her. He was so superficial. He had no conscience
and nothing she said seemed to make him see that he’d behaved
‘You can’t have your necklace back.’ She blurted the words out in
a rush. ‘To you it’s just currency. A way of buying sex, but to me’
‘Yes, Dr Littlewood?’ His tone was silky-smooth. ‘To you it’s what?’
How could she possibly tell him the truth? That having the
necklace round her neck was comforting. It made her feel closer
to Tiffany. She realised how completely ridiculous that would
sound to a man like him. A man who didn’t have a gentle or
compassionate bone in his body. ‘I just—I just want it.’
‘Of course you do. It’s the passport to a lifestyle beyond your
wildest dreams.’
All he thought about was money.
Distraught about her sister and deeply offended by his insensitivity,
she flung the contents of the glass in his face but even his soft
curse and the blatant shock on his handsome features weren’t
sufficient to satisfy her. She wanted to hurt him. She really, really
wanted to hurt him. If she’d held a gun at that moment she would
have shot him through the heart without caring for the

As it was, she was going to have to settle for something less than a
mortal wound.
Wasn’t that what her mother had said? Hadn’t she said that
revenge was the only language that a Greek male like Nikos
Kyriacou would understand? Well, maybe she was right.
‘You want your jewel?’ She watched him wipe the beads of liquid
from his face with his strong fingers, saw the simmering fury build
in his dark eyes. Willing to bet that it wasn’t often that anyone
won a round with Nikos Kyriacou, she savoured the moment. ‘You
can have it. But there’s a condition.’
Without further comment, he reached inside his jacket and
removed a cheque book. ‘Name your price. Whatever it is will be
worth it to remove your entire family from my life.’
‘Ah, but you see, that isn’t what’s going to happen,’ Angie said, her
voice shaking. ‘Money would be too easy for you. You wouldn’t
even feel it and I want you to feel it. I really, really want you to feel
it. In return for the jewel, you are going to give me the one thing
you always refused to give my sister.’
He was ominously still. ‘I don’t understand you.’
‘You’re going to marry me.’ Her heart was pounding against her
chest. She still couldn’t quite believe what she’d said. ‘You wouldn’t
marry my sister, but you’re going to have to marry me if you want

that jewel back, Nikos.’ Her flippant use of his first name was
blatantly insulting and there was a long throbbing silence as he
studied her with barely contained aggression.
Who was more shocked? she wondered. Her or him?
When he finally spoke, his voice was hoarse. ‘Meu Dios, you have
to be joking.’ His Greek accent was suddenly pronounced. ‘I would
never marry a woman like you.’
She wasn’t hurt by that comment, she told herself firmly. In fact it
was good that he clearly found her repellent. The more repulsive
she appeared to him, the greater the punishment. ‘It’s a real test of
character, don’t you think? Just how far are you prepared to go for
this one jewel? Are you prepared to marry a woman with an
unfortunate personality who takes no pride in her appearance?’
He stood in rigid silence, his eyes stormy, his mouth set in a hard
Definitely he was Ares, she thought to herself with a flicker of
trepidation. The Greek god of war. Handsome, but vain and cruel.
Priorities in all the wrong places.
‘Why would you even suggest this? Why would a woman like you’
his dark eyes swept over her in a disparaging look ‘—possibly
want to marry me?’
‘I don’t want to marry you.’ Angie kept her voice calm. ‘I’m sure
that comes as a surprise to you, given your natural arrogance, but

it’s the truth. I have absolutely no wish to marry you. In fact, since
we’re going for honesty here, I probably ought to confess that I
find the prospect of spending time with you extremely distasteful.’
She saw him straighten his shoulders. Saw the disbelief in his eyes.
‘Women are queuing up to spend time with me.’
‘Well, you’re very rich,’ Angie muttered, ‘and that has to be
advantageous for someone so mercenary and totally lacking in
interpersonal skills.’ Something flashed in his eyes and for a brief
terrifying moment she wondered whether she’d gone too far. Then
the breath hissed through his teeth.
‘If that is truly your opinion of me, then why would you make such
a ridiculous suggestion?’
‘Marriage, you mean? Because to force you to marry me would be
the sweetest revenge.’ Wondering what on earth had come over
her, she ploughed on. ‘You can’t stand me, can you? It pains you to
even be near me. You can’t wait to remove me from your life.
Well, it isn’t going to happen. You gave my sister a two-year
contract with your company, so let’s switch the agreement. Two
years, Nikos. You have to agree to stay married to me for two
His jaw was clenched tight and she knew he was struggling not to
release a stream of invective. ‘You too would be in this marriage
that you propose.’

‘But the fundamental difference between us is that I have
absolutely no interest in marrying anyone else so I might as well
marry you. It would be entertaining, I think, to cramp your style
and watch you squirm.’
He stared at her with incredulity. ‘You ask for the impossible.’
‘Nothing is impossible if you want it badly enough. Just how badly
do you want your precious jewel, Nikos?’
He studied her for a long intense moment. ‘I have extremely
powerful reasons for wanting that jewel.’
‘I’m sure you do. And all of them are financial.’
A muscle twitched in his cheek. ‘You don’t understand anything
about the situation, but if marrying you is the only way that the
jewel can be returned to me, then I agree to your terms.
Fortunately for you I’m feeling generous, so I’ll give you twentyfour hours to rethink your offer. I advise you to think hard.’
‘Offer?’ Dizzy with shock that he’d accepted her suggestion, she
gave a humourless laugh, squashing down the sudden impulse to
run and hide. ‘It wasn’t an offer, Mr. Kyriacou, it was a threat.’
‘Yes.’ His smile was dangerous. ‘But a threat to whom, agape mou?
Ask yourself that while you are lying there congratulating yourself
on victory. Twenty-four hours. I’ll see you tomorrow.’

Why did she suddenly have the feeling that he was the one in
His assumption that she’d be sitting around waiting for him
outraged her. ‘I’m not in tomorrow. Actually, I have a date,’ she said
on impulse and then winced, reluctant to examine the motives
that had driven her to refer to her colleague as a ‘date’. ‘I’m going
to a lecture on the protogeometric art of Crete at the museum
with a special friend.’
He studied her for a moment and a faintly derisive smile touched
his hard mouth. ‘You really know how to let your hair down, don’t
you, Dr Littlewood? You’re a regular party animal. I’ll see you
Without giving her the opportunity to argue, he turned and
strode out of the house, slamming the door behind him and
leaving her boiling with frustration.

The restaurant was cheap, the meat tough and badly cooked and
Angie prodded the food on her plate, trying to show interest in
Cyril’s earnest summary of the lecture they’d just attended.
Why was she finding it so hard to concentrate? And why, all of a
sudden, was she noticing things about him that she’d never noticed
before? Things that she’d never considered to be important. Like
the fact that his hair was slightly too long and untidy, his beard

decidedly goaty and his checked shirt a painful clash with the
ancient herringbone jacket that was probably a throwback to his
university days. And, as for the way he ate—
She looked away from his open mouth, slightly revolted that his
desire to talk appeared to be in no way impeded by his appetite.
Suddenly she found herself comparing Cyril’s complete lack of
social grace with Nikos Kyriacou’s smooth sophistication. An
image of glossy dark hair and an arrogant stare filled her brain and
she caught herself with a faint frown of annoyance. Why was she
wasting a single thought on the man? Appearance didn’t matter to
her. She didn’t judge people on such shallow terms. All right, so
she couldn’t imagine Nikos Kyriacou eating with his mouth open
and he certainly was astonishingly handsome but he was also a
nasty person.
Possibly aware that he was losing her attention, Cyril leaned
towards her as he talked, spraying food over the tablecloth,
stabbing with a fork to illustrate the point he was making, and she
shrank away slightly, reminding herself that he had an amazing
intellect. It was only when Cyril stuttered to a halt in mid sentence
and stared in astonishment at a point behind her left shoulder that
she turned and saw Nikos Kyriacou standing by their table.
In a restaurant full of students and academic types watching their
budget, he looked entirely out of place in his immaculate dark suit
and silk shirt. Like a dish of caviar placed among plates of mass
produced frozen pizza, she reflected absently, or a bottle of vintage

champagne lined up alongside jugs of pond water. Just in a
completely different class. Not that he was paying any attention to
those around him. The focus of that hard, cold stare was her.
She shifted slightly under his unflinching scrutiny, aware that they
were suddenly the subject of intense speculation by other diners.
‘What are you doing here?’
‘Twenty-four hours are up,’ he reminded her in silky tones,
enviably indifferent to the interest of those around him. On the
tables closest to them, people had actually stopped eating,
obviously aware that this was something worth watching.
‘I’m on a date.’
His gaze flickered to Cyril and there was sympathy and
amusement in his eyes. ‘You find her company pleasurable?’
Cyril’s cheeks turned a mottled puce colour. ‘Dr Littlewood has
the keenest brain I’ve ever encountered,’ he stuttered, dropping
his fork and paper napkin simultaneously. ‘Her research into the
methods used by’
‘I’m sure her conversation can be very stimulating,’ Nikos drawled
in a bored tone, silencing him with a lift of his bronzed hand,
‘although, speaking personally, the ability to converse about ancient
pots isn’t at the top of the list of qualities I demand in a woman. In
fact, when I’m on a “date” I don’t care if we don’t talk at all.’

The implication of his words wasn’t lost on Cyril and the mottled
puce colour deepened and spread into his hair.
Completely mortified, Angie half rose to her feet. ‘Fortunately not
everyone is like you.’ She kept her voice low, determined not to be
overheard by the people at the next table. ‘You’re disgusting, do
you know that?’
His features were impassive. ‘That’s no way to speak to your
husband, agape mou. You need to learn some respect.’
She stilled. ‘You’re not my’
‘No, I’m not.’ A faint smile touched his hard mouth. ‘But I will be.’
Her heart stumbled. ‘I didn’t think’
‘No’ The smile widened. ‘You definitely didn’t think and it’s entirely
possible that you’ll come to regret that fact very shortly. But it’s
too late for regret, because I’ve decided to accept your offer. The
answer is yes, I will marry you.’
Cyril gave a strangled gasp and knocked his glass over. Cheap red
wine poured over the tablecloth and dripped slowly on to the
floor. ‘Angie? You asked this man to marry you?’
‘Very enlightened, don’t you think?’ His tone casual, Nikos reached
out and closed strong fingers round Angie’s wrist, jerking her to
her feet. ‘Some men might be put off by such brazen behaviour but

I get very turned on by a woman who knows her own mind. In my
experience they’re usually complete animals in bed.’
Deeply humiliated by his words and the fact that he hadn’t made
the slightest effort to lower his voice, Angie tugged at her wrist,
aware that Cyril was gaping at her along with just about every
other person in the restaurant. ‘Let me go.’
Nikos tightened his grip and tugged her against him. ‘To have and
to hold,’ he reminded her in smooth tones. ‘At the moment I’m
doing the holding bit, but later on we’ll get to the “having” part of
the arrangement and I predict that it will be extremely interesting.’
Unbelievably shocked and wishing she could just melt through the
floor, Angie yanked at her wrist but failed to free herself. She
couldn’t remember a moment in her life when she’d felt so
completely humiliated. ‘I think we should continue this
conversation outside.’
‘I entirely agree. I’ve never really been into the whole group thing.’
Nikos summoned a waiter with an imperious lift of his free hand.
‘And, speaking of which, you ought to know that I don’t actually
allow my future wife to dine with another man, so if you want to
say goodbye then do it now while I settle the bill. But no physical
contact, please, especially no kissing.’ He handed a card to the
waiter and Angie took a step backwards, feeling physically sick at
the thought of actually kissing Cyril.

‘It’s typical of you to reduce everything to the physical. My
relationship with Cyril is on a much higher level than anything you
can possibly understand,’ she said tightly and Nikos gave a careless
shrug of his broad shoulders.
‘I don’t really care what level my relationships are on providing
they’re conducted in the horizontal plane.’
Angie enjoyed a brief but satisfying mental image of Cyril standing
up and thumping Nikos hard but in reality he sat frozen in his
chair, a look of stupefied disbelief on his face. And anyway, she
thought gloomily, there was no doubting who the winner would be
in any physical encounter. A man like Cyril, with his slightly bony
hairless wrists sticking out from beyond a jacket that was much
too small for him, was absolutely no match for Nikos, who was a
prime specimen of athletic, muscled Greek manhood.
She gave a frown and a slight shake of her head, horrified by the
direction of her thoughts. Cyril was a respected academic. A
civilized person. He wouldn’t ever stoop so low as to indulge in
physical confrontation and she wouldn’t want him to. She didn’t
approve of such behaviour. On the other hand, she would have at
least expected him to use some of his intellectual skills to deliver
an appropriate verbal put-down.
She turned to him, frustrated that he would allow himself to be
treated so badly. ‘Cyril—say something.’

‘Yes, please do feel free to contribute to the discussion.’ Nikos
raised an eyebrow in mocking anticipation and Cyril spluttered
slightly and half rose to his feet.
‘I—I can afford to pay for our meal.’
Angie ground her teeth and Nikos gave a half smile, clearly all too
aware of her frustration. ‘I’m sure you can in a place like this.
Consider it compensation,’ he drawled in a bored tone as he
settled the bill and pocketed his card. His eyes rested on Angie for
a long moment, his gaze faintly mocking. ‘Although, on reflection,
you should probably be the one paying me to take her away. I’m
doing you a favour. She would have made you miserable.’
‘And you think she can m-make you happy?’ Stammering and
virtually incoherent with shock and surprise, Cyril rose to his feet
but Nikos gently pushed him back into his seat.
‘She’s going to make me extremely unhappy,’ he said softly, ‘which I
believe was her intention when she proposed. But nowhere near
as unhappy as I intend to make her. And at least I know I won’t be
Without giving the shell-shocked Cyril time to compose a suitable
response, Nikos strode from the restaurant, virtually dragging
Angie after him. He pushed his way through the door of the
restaurant and out on to the pavement without breaking stride
and virtually threw her into the back of the black limousine
waiting on the kerb.

SPRAWLED inelegantly over the sumptuous leather seat, Angie
tried to right herself. Her hair had tumbled from the knot at the
back of her head and her cheeks were flushed. Her loss of dignity
disturbed her and she rounded on him in anger. ‘How dare you
create such a scene in a public place? And you were unforgivably
rude to Cyril. You’ve just left him sitting there!’
Nikos leaned forward and issued a string of instructions in rapid
Greek. Instantly the driver maneuvered the car into the traffic.
‘If he cared that much then he shouldn’t have let me take you
away.’ He settled himself back in the seat. ‘And you were just dying
for him to stop me, weren’t you? Just longing for him to stand up
and thump me.’
The fact that he’d been able to read her so well was extremely
frustrating. ‘Cyril would never do anything so grossly uncivilized.’
‘No, he probably wouldn’t, but try not to be upset about it.’ His
tone sympathetic, he stretched his long legs out in front of him,
the expression on his handsome face unbearably smug. ‘You’re
with a real man now.’
She stared at his cold, handsome face in disbelief. ‘You’re
insufferably arrogant. I don’t know how any woman can stand you.’

‘Well, if Cyril is an example of your taste in men then I can
understand your confusion.’ His voice was a languorous drawl, his
eyes lingering on her face in mocking contemplation. ‘But the
truth, agape mou, is that you find me almost unbearably exciting,
don’t you? You can’t stop making comparisons and you just hate
that because you like to think that you’re above having such a
basic human need as a desire for sex, but secretly you’re
absolutely longing for it.’
She gasped. ‘I don’t find you exciting.’
‘You do. It’s just that you don’t recognise the feeling because up
until now your life has been totally devoid of the feeling and I’m
sure that’s entirely natural if you’ve been mixing with men like
‘I repeat,’ she said with a soft gasp, ‘I don’t find you exciting. And
I’m certainly not longing for sex. Why do you have to reduce
everything to its most basic? If you must know, I happen to be
more interested in the human mind than the human body.’ She
knew her cheeks were pink but couldn’t help it. She’d never had a
conversation like this before in her life. Sex wasn’t something she
talked about.
‘The human race is basic. If it wasn’t then we wouldn’t survive.’
Thick, dark lashes lowered slightly as he studied her. ‘Man was
born with an urge to procreate. It’s an entirely inbred and natural

She felt the slow spread of warmth between her thighs and her
hands clenched into fists on her lap. ‘I suppose that’s your
justification for your irresponsible sex life.’
‘Active sex life,’ he corrected her gently. ‘Active.’
The term conjured up more images that she didn’t want to face.
Nikos, his hard athletic body entwined with that of some
pathetically willing woman. ‘So you’re just doing your bit for
mankind?’ She used sarcasm to hide the growing tumble of
emotions inside her.
‘I’m saying that hot sex between a man and a woman who are
attracted to each other is entirely natural.’
Hot sex? The colour in her face deepened and she grew more and
more uncomfortable. ‘You’re entitled to your opinion, of course,
but some of us have different priorities in life. Personally, I find a
mental connection more stimulating than anything that happens
He smiled, maddeningly relaxed and at ease. ‘Our priorities are
often set by our experiences. You’re more interested in the mind
because you’ve spent your entire life in the company of men like
Cyril who have nothing else to offer.’
Her heart was pounding hard against her chest. ‘Cyril is more
stimulating company than you will ever be.’

‘Really?’ Nikos leaned forward, his eyes never leaving her face.
‘Does he make your heart race and your breath catch, Dr
Littlewood? When you’re with him is your body on fire? In bed
together, does he make you forget you’re an archaeologist? Does
he make you forget absolutely everything except the fact that
you’re a woman?’
She stared at him, hypnotised, so shocked that it took her a
moment to find her voice. Then the colour flooded into her
cheeks and she looked away quickly, staring out of the window in
an attempt to calm herself. ‘It’s typical of you to reduce everything
to sex but my relationship with Cyril isn’t like that.’
‘I find it all too easy to believe you.’ His tone bordered on the
derogatory. ‘You probably both approach sex like an academic
exercise, consulting the appropriate texts in order to derive
evidential support in favour of the physical act.’
She whipped her head round at that, just furious with him! ‘I’m
not interested in having sex with Cyril!’
‘You shouldn’t blame
sympathetic tones. ‘I’m
way. He isn’t the right
physical to break down

yourself for that,’ he assured her in
sure most women would feel the same
guy for you. You need someone more
all those barriers you’ve built up around

She didn’t even want to think about it! Her whole body was
trembling and she felt hot inside and out of control in a way that

she didn’t understand. ‘I’ve had enough of this. Stop the car and let
me out. I insist that you stop the car. I don’t want to spend
another moment in your company.’
‘You should have thought of that before you proposed,’ he pointed
out, his eyes suddenly hard. ‘You’re the one who wanted to be my
wife and that position comes with certain rules, I’m afraid. One of
them is that no wife of mine is permitted to be with another man.
Even someone with such a dubious claim on masculinity as your
‘He’s not my Cyril.’ She struggled to wriggle her foot back into the
shoe that had somehow become parted from her foot during her
less than elegant entrance into the car. She felt flustered and
completely out of her comfort zone. She’d never had a
conversation like this with anyone before and she found it
hideously uncomfortable.
‘No, you’re right, he isn’t your Cyril.’ His smile was less than
pleasant. ‘At least, not any more.’
She jammed her foot hard into her shoe and brushed the hair out
of her eyes. ‘You have absolutely no right to tell me who I can and
can’t see.’
‘I’m Greek,’ he reminded her gently, the hard glint in his eyes
negating the apology in his tone. ‘We’re a very possessive race, I’m
afraid. Not that great at sharing. Sorry, but that’s just the way it is.
I’m sure you’ll learn to live with it. You probably ought to be

grateful to me. You never would have been happy with a man like
‘You’re doing this on purpose! You’re trying to make me loathe
you so much that I just give you the jewel to get you out of my life.
Well, it isn’t going to happen. You are not going to get away with
treating women badly any longer. This time, you’re going to pay the
The driver steered the car through the heavy London traffic and
Angie sat back against the seat, fuming. And panicking. She realised
suddenly that she hadn’t actually believed for a moment that he’d
agree to her proposition and the implications of her revenge plan
suddenly hit home. She was used to a quiet, ordered life. Never
would she have described herself as a tense person but every time
Nikos strolled into the room her stress levels seemed to rocket.
Her insides churned and her whole body behaved in a way that
was completely inexplicable. It was all very well forcing him to
marry her, but how was she going to stand being with him day
after day? He’d be in the office, she reminded herself quickly. And
she could always find somewhere quiet to read in the evenings.
And anyway, none of this was about her. It was about Tiffany. She
owed it to her sister to at least make him think about what he’d
But what about him? Why had a man like him, a man who had
spent his entire adult life avoiding commitment, accepted the idea
of marriage so readily?

Did he want the jewel that badly or was marriage to her simply
not as distasteful as she’d believed it would be?
She looked at him for a moment, studying his cold, handsome face
through narrowed eyes and suddenly knew exactly why the idea of
marriage didn’t disturb him as much as it should. Obviously he
wasn’t the sort of man to allow a little thing like a wedding to
stand in the way of his continual pursuit of women. Just like her
father, he was clearly planning to have numerous extramarital
affairs and if he did that then it would defeat the purpose of
forcing him to marry her. He wouldn’t suffer at all.
What could she do? What could she do that would actually have
an impact on him? Her mind working fast, she thought hard about
the sort of man he was—all the things she’d ever read about him.
Nikos was a prime example of man at its most basic. All that
seemed to matter to him was sex. Inspiration struck and suddenly
she knew exactly how she could make her revenge all the more
‘I wish to see a lawyer,’ she blurted out quickly. ‘If we’re going to
get married then there are going to be certain conditions. I want a
pre-nuptial agreement.’
He threw back his head and laughed in genuine amusement. ‘If you
think I would marry you without a pre-nuptial agreement then you
truly know nothing about the man you’re taking on. I’ve already
told you, if you’re hoping for money you can forget it because you

won’t get a single penny out of me. And why you would think you
need a pre-nuptial agreement completely escapes me.’
She gave him a superior smile. ‘That’s because you don’t tend to
use your brain very much, do you? Like most men, you think with
an entirely different part of your anatomy.’
She’d never imagined that such a powerfully built man could move
so fast. He was as swift and silent as a predator closing in on its
prey. One moment he was lounging with careless indifference