Lucy Monroe - Greek's Wife
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Not Just the Greek's Wife - Exclusive Excerpt
by Lucy Monroe
Have you ever had to do something you *really* didn't want to do for the sake of someone you loved more than your own comfort? That's the situation Chloe finds herself in as "Not Just the Greek's Wife" opens. She doesn't want to see her ex-husband again, but she has no choice. Not if she wants her sister's marriage to have a better chance than her own. But Chloe soon learns that as much as she didn't want to see him, she's still attracted to him. And Ariston doesn't even try to hide the fact he's still attracted to her.
This scene is from Chapter 3 and my characters are doing the second thing I love best...talking. :)
Hope you find it intriguing!
Not Just the Greek’s Wife
Harlequin Presents #3089 - October 2012
© By Lucy Monroe
Ariston arrived at the restaurant right on time for the eight o'clock reservation, but Chloe had already been seated.
Her now shoulder length brown hair with its golden highlights was an unmistakable beacon at his favorite table. She appeared to be enjoying a jumbo shrimp cocktail. A mutual favorite of theirs.
"I am not late, I hope," he said as he took the chair across from her.
She looked up, a wry twist to her lips. "You know you aren't. But since you divorced me, I've been living more like a normal person and I usually eat dinner around six. I was starving, to tell you the truth."
He was pleased to see her eating at all and thought her claims she normally ate somewhat of an exaggeration.
She had lost weight since the divorce and he would prefer to see her put it back on.
For her health's sake. Not because her over-thin figure had turned him off. He wasn't sure anything could.
For whatever reason, his libido was turned to her signal to near devastating effect. But she'd never had much to spare weight to begin with, having an indifferent attitude toward food that he had wondered about at times during their marriage. She wasn't anorexic, but if there was such thing as a borderline case, that was Chloe.
The slightest cold or flu had her off her feed and losing pounds she couldn't afford off her willowy five-foot-eight-inch figure.
He should inquire as to whether she'd been ill recently. That would account for her more gaunt appearance now.
For the present, he simply said mildly, "Well, that looks good. I hope you ordered me one as well."
Her green eyes twinkled as she nodded at the waiter, hovering nearby. "Oh, I thought you could do without."
The waiter arrived with Ariston's matching appetizer. They took a moment to order their entrees.
"You like to tease the bear." Ariston gave her a mock frown. "I had forgotten that."
"Really? I thought you said I was memorable." Something shifted in her expression, but then she was smiling again, if with less sparkle than he remembered. "But you meant sexually, didn't you?"
He was too smart to agree with her. He might have played the fool during their marriage, but he wasn't one. Not really.
"There are many things I remember about you, Chloe." That, at least, was truth.
Her green gaze narrowed speculatively. "I imagine I was the first woman to ever leave you. That would have made me memorable, I suppose."
"That's the thing about imagination. It's not real."
Her shock was palpable. "I didn't know you'd had any serious relationships. I can't believe she ditched you either."
"Why not? You did."
"I didn't have a choice."
"Because we wanted different things," he mocked. "Perhaps my memory is faulty, but it was you in those discussions with me and my grandfather via video conference saying you wanted children eventually and that you agreed to the marriage."
"I'm not the one who filed for divorce."
"I wouldn't have been either, if you'd still been there when I got back from Hong Kong."
Both her expression and the sound that came out of her mouth said she didn’t believe him.
"Shannon was my one and only serious girlfriend," he said, rather than trying to convince Chloe of something Ariston would rather forget himself.
"A long time ago. I was younger than you were when we married."
Interest burned bright in Chloe's emerald gaze. "How young?"
"How old was she?" Chloe asked, proving an insight he didn't expect.
"Twenty-seven." And Shannon had had an entire universe worth more experience than he had with sex and the male-female thing.
He'd avoided it because of what he'd seen in his parents' marriages, so he'd been entirely unprepared for a piranha like Shannon to come into his life.
Chloe stopped eating, fiddling with her silverware instead. "How long did it last?"
"Long enough for her to gather enough inside information so her father could steal a multi-million dollar deal out from under me." Long enough for him to tell Shannon that he loved her and wanted to be together always.
Even then, he'd been jaded about marriage, so when she'd broached the subject, he'd said they didn't need legal bindings to know what they were to each other. It had been all romance at the time, only later had he given thanks for that one small foresight.
"I...oh..." Chloe frowned, her eyes troubled. "It wasn't like that with us."
"No, of course not. I didn't try to get any deals for my father." "You got him a lot of cash."
"That was your idea...yours and his. I wasn't even brought in until the deal between you two was negotiated."
"True." He frowned, annoyed by the fact that their discussion had already gone off script to what he'd planned. "We got sidetracked rather spectacularly earlier. You never answered my question."
For several seconds Chloe looked confused, but then her expression cleared only to turn into a frown. "You mean why I'd asked to meet with you? Are you still pretending not to know?"
"It is no pretense. You have agreed that you've changed, implied there is no love lost between you and your father and yet, here you are."
"Because my sister asked me to fall at your feet in supplication. And because her husband begged me to save my sister." Chloe shrugged her thin shoulders. "I don't think I have that power, but I'll try."
The image her words evoked made his slacks uncomfortable tight, but he merely said, "For the sake of your family's fortune."
Now was not the time to be sidetracked by sexual innuendo or fantasizing.
"For the sake of my family, or at least the ones that still matter to me," Chloe said with conviction. "But Rhea also reminded me of the hundreds of people employed by Dioletis Industries. I can't turn my back on all those families without at least asking you to show a little mercy."
Her expression indicated she had little hope in the success of her request, but that it was important enough to her to try. That was easy to believe. Even in their first meeting, Chloe had evinced concern for the employees of her father's company. No doubt their welfare had been one of the screws her father had turned five years ago.
And Rhea was using it again now, to great effect.
Ariston was tempted to shake his ex-wife and demand if she didn't realize she was being used again. However, he had his own plans and they didn't include pointing out weakness he wanted to exploit as well.
"This is about the rumors circulating that I plan to offload my stock in Dioletis Industries."
The privately held company had gone public the year before in a bid to save it. It might have worked if Ariston hadn't been working behind the scenes, but as it stood the company wavered precariously on the precipice of bankruptcy. It would take only a simple shove on the right leverage point to push it over and Ariston held that leverage.
In more ways than one, the most obvious being his chunk of stock that if he unloaded onto the market in one big block would devalue the rest until the company's viability would be placed in question. At that point, its creditors would have no choice but than to demand bankruptcy proceedings.
Particularly those under Ariston's financial umbrella. The Spiridakou name was no longer on all of the company's concerns and that worked well for Ariston in times like these.
"Partly." She sighed and looked away, a telling response.
Ah, so, as he'd expected and hoped, the Dioletis family wanted more from him than his promise to hold onto his stock.
Finally the script was going according to plan. "Mercy has no place in business. Surely your father taught you that."
"I don't share my father's views and particularly not in that regard." Chloe glared at him, clearly offended.
He almost smiled. This was turning out to be almost too easy. "If I don't sell my shares, the company as it stands will only stay afloat another year, maybe two at the most."
"Samuel mentioned that and Rhea confirmed it."
At least Rhea had been forthright with Chloe. Perhaps the sister wasn't using his ex-wife quite as ruthlessly as her father had done.
"What could you possibly expect me to do at this point?" Ariston asked, wondering if she would be as truthful with him as her sister had been with her.
"Expect? Nothing." She sighed again, looking more defeated than anything else. "But hope? I guess I'm an irrepressible optimist because I can't seem to give that commodity up entirely where you are concerned."
Again with the hope issue. What was it she'd hoped for from him before and not gotten? "And what is it you hope?" If she was as unwilling to answer this time as she had been the last, they would be at an impasse. For now.
"I'm not lending investment capital to a man who has no more business sense than to have kept the majority of his liquid assets in our home country's toppling banking institution," he said before she had a chance to answer his question.
Eber was a business dinosaur and his once thriving company had no chance with him at the helm in the new world economy, even without a powerful enemy like Ariston.
Chloe waited for their plates to be set before them before saying, "No, I can see that would be a mistake."
"If you do, you've gained business acumen you never had when married to me." He took a bite of his dinner, hoping it would encourage her to do the same and feeling triumphant when it worked.
The aged steak, seared but not cooked through was one of the restaurants specialty dishes he had always enjoyed. It did not disappoint, but Chloe looked equally pleased with her blackened salmon.
"I do understand some things," Chloe said after enjoying several thoughtful bites of her dinner. "Like the fact that Spiridakou & Sons Enterprises has weathered the current financial crisis in a way businesses in countries with much more stable economies than Greece have not."
"Though it may have started in Greece with my great-grandfather, SSE is now a fully-functioning multi-national corporation with headquarters in New York and Greece." He was proud of that fact.
His grandfather had made their company a multi-million dollar concern. Ariston had taken it into the billions.
At thirty-two, he was one of the youngest billionaires living. Not entirely self-made, he'd nevertheless brought the company started by his great-grandfather to a level far beyond anything the Spiridakous that came before him had been able to achieve. "Yes, with a brilliant businessman at its head." Chloe's voice was laced with unexpected approval and respect.
"You believe I am brilliant?"
"In business, there is no question." There was a caveat there in her voice.
He got the distinct impression though, that if he asked about it, she would say it was nothing.
Or none of his business.
"So, what do you want?" he asked instead.
For a moment something poignant and vulnerable flared in her emerald gaze, but then it was gone. "My father signed over his principle interests in the company to my sister." "Yes?" This was not news to Ariston.
Eber's health had deteriorated right along with his company. His moved to make his daughter chairman had not been welcome, but Ariston had been determined to follow through with his plans no matter who spearheaded the Dioletis empire.
"You already knew that. Even so, you brought my father up. Twice." She shook her head. "You are such a shark."
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
With more than 6 million copies of her books in print, USA Today bestselling author Lucy Monroe has published more than 50 books and had her stories translated for sale in dozens of countries. While she writes several subgenres of romance (paranormal, historical, single title and short contemporary) for multiple publishers, all of her books are sexy, emotional and show that love will conquer all. She's a passionate devotee of romance and shares her love for the genre with her readers through her books and a policy of open communication. You can find Lucy on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/LucyMonroe.Romance) her blog (http://lucymonroeblog.blogspot.com), her official website (http://lucymonroe.com) or by emailing her at http://www.lucymonroe.com/contactmail.htm.
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