Bond of Hatred

By: Lynne Graham

Sarah stood still as a statue at the glass viewing window. Her wide emerald eyes were burning. Every muscle in her body was rigid with tension. Every muscle ached. Only the most fierce self-discipline held back her exhaustion. It had been a long night and a devastating dawn. And every minute, every agonising hour of it was etched into her soul. The nurse wheeled over her nephew's cot and displayed him with a wide smile.

She probably didn't know, Sarah thought numbly. She looked back at the nurse, her fine-boned face ashen and strained, her facial muscles frozen into a mask. The nurse stopped smiling but Sarah didn't notice. Her attention had locked into her nephew. He had a shock of black hair and a pair of furious dark eyes.

There was nothing of Callie in him. He was Mediterranean-dark, his foreign ancestry clearly ap­parent. He was screaming. He looked so unhappy. She wondered if on some strange wavelength he knew that his mother was dead. Dead. She flinched inwardly away from the word and began to walk up the corridor on legs that didn't feel strong enough to support her.

Women didn't die in childbirth these days. Or so she had believed. And Callie hadn't even been a woman in her sister's opinion. At eighteen, Callie had been on the shady boundary line between child and adult. A golden girl with beauty, intelligence and everything to live for.. .until Damon Terzakis had come into her life and laid it to waste. An immense bitterness gripped Sarah. The emotion was so intense, it literally frightened her.

'MissHartwell...'The sound of that voice halted her in her tracks. That dark, accented drawl cut into her like a razor. She shud­dered. Slowly she raised her head. He stood several feel away. A male few would overlook. He had to be at least six feet three. His superbly tailored dark grey suit out­lined broad, muscular shoulders and long, lean legs. The fabric and the cut alone screamed expense. He had the lethal, inborn grace of a wild animal and the intimi­dating and instinctive authority of a man born to command.

Sarah stared in disbelief as he extended a lean brown hand. The long fingers, she noticed absently, were beautifully shaped. 'Please permit me to offer my most sincere condolences on your sister's tragic death,' he murmured in a taut undertone.

Sarah took a quick backward step, repulsed by the threat of any form of bodily contact. 'What are you doing here?' she demanded shakily.

'You left an urgent message with my secretary,' he re­minded her.

'Callie made me phone, but I didn't ask for you to come, Mr Terzakis,' Sarah breathed jerkily. 'I asked for your brother.'

'Damon is in Greece.' Alexis Terzakis watched her with impassive eyes as dark as a winter's night. 'I have already informed him of your sister's death. He is most deeply distressed,' he asserted.

A hysterical laugh escaped Sarah.'Really !' she gasped incredulously.

'I would like to see my nephew,' Alexis responded, ignoring her response with supreme cool.

'No!' Sarah gritted, her slight body stiffening with a sudden rush of raw aggression that came from fathoms deep down inside her. She hated and detested Alex Terzakis more than any man alive. Her hatred had fes­tered over many months. Now it was like a cancer inside her, eating away until it consumed every other emotion.'Your right is no greater than mine-----'

'Right?' Sarah echoed half an octave higher. 'You dare to talk about rights after what you did to Callie? You have no rights over Callie's child, no rights whatsoever! You sicken me!'

'You are distraught,' Alex Terzakis informed her with apparent calm, but she was not fooled. A dark line of blood had risen over his high cheekbones and his mouth had flattened into a pale line.

People did not speak to Alex Terzakis in such a tone. He was fabulously rich and terrifyingly powerful. His minions bowed and scraped. His family walked in awe of him. His word was law. He did not expect oppo­sition. The media had published several bloodcurdling stories about what happened to those foolish enough to challenge Alex Terzakis in business. But Sarah had no fear of him. Sarah would have given twenty years of her life to have the power to hurt Alex Terzakis as he had hurt her sister.

'You murdered her... you killed her with unkindness. I hope you're satisfied now!' Sarah shot back at him with raw venom.

'Miss Hartwell.' A strong hand caught her wrist as she attempted to walk past him.

"Let go of me, you swine!' Sarah hissed in outrage.

'Were it not for the fact that I am capable of making allowances for your understandable grief, I would demand an apology,' Alex slashed down at her from his imposing height, tiger's eyes raking her enraged face. 'But this is not the place for such a confrontation. Compose yourself before I lose my temper!'

Sarah was shivering as though she were caught in a force-ten gale. Outright fury controlled her as he re­tained that bruising hold on her wrist. She lifted her free hand and hit blindly up at that dark, arrogant face with all her strength. He released her with an incredulous growl, a lean hand flying up to one sculpted cheekbone.Sarah staggered back. 'Don't ever come near me again!' she slung wildly, dimly shocked by that raw surge of uncharacteristic violence. She could not remember ever striking another human being before. Even as a child she had been a pacifist.