Greek's PrideBy: Helen Bianchin
- The Stefanos Marriage
- A Passionate Surrender
- The Greek Bridegroom
The Stefanos Marriage
THE TRAFFIC WAS unusually heavy as Alyse eased her stylish Honda hatchback on to the Stirling highway. From this distance the many tall buildings etched against the city skyline appeared wreathed in a shimmering haze, and the sun’s piercing rays reflected against the sapphire depths of the Swan River as she followed its gentle curve into the heart of Perth.
Parking took an age, and she uttered a silent prayer in celestial thanks that she wasn’t a regular city commuter as she competed with the early-morning populace striding the pavements to their individual places of work.
A telephone call from her solicitor late the previous afternoon requesting her presence in his office as soon as possible was perplexing, to say the least, and a slight frown creased her brow as she entered the modern edifice of gleaming black marble and non-reflecting tinted glass that housed his professional suite.
Gaining the foyer, Alyse stepped briskly towards a cluster of people waiting for any one of three lifts to transport them to their designated floor. As she drew close her attention was caught by a tall, dark-suited man standing slightly apart from the rest, and her eyes lingered with brief curiosity.
Broad-chiselled facial bone-structure in profile provided an excellent foil for the patrician slope of his nose and rugged sculptured jaw. Well-groomed thick dark hair was professionally shaped and worn fractionally longer than the current trend.
In his mid-thirties, she judged, aware there was something about his stance that portrayed an animalistic sense of power—a physical magnetism that was riveting.
As if he sensed her scrutiny, he turned slightly, and she was shaken by the intensity of piercing eyes that were neither blue nor grey but a curious mixture of both.
Suddenly she became supremely conscious of her projected image, aware that the fashionably tailored black suit worn with a demurely styled white silk blouse lent a professional air to her petite frame and shoulder-length strawberry-blonde hair, which, combined with delicate-boned features, reflected poise and dignity.
It took every ounce of control not to blink or lower her eyes beneath his slow analytical appraisal, and for some inexplicable reason she felt each separate nerve-ending tense as a primitive emotion stirred deep within her, alien and unguarded.
For a few timeless seconds her eyes seemed locked with his, and she could have sworn the quickening beat of her heart must sound loud enough for anyone standing close by to hear. A reaction, she decided shakily, that was related to nothing more than recognition of a devastatingly sexual alchemy.
No one man deserved to have such power at his command. Yet there was a lurking cynicism, a slight wariness apparent beneath the sophisticated veneer, almost as if he expected her to instigate an attempt at conversation, initiating a subtle invitation—to God knew what? Her bed?
Innate pride tinged with defiance lent her eyes a fiery sparkle and provided an infinitesimal tilt to her chin as she checked the hands of the clock positioned high on the marble-slabbed wall.
Two lifts reached the ground floor simultaneously, and she stood back, opting to enter the one closest her, aware too late that the man seemed intent on following in her wake.
The lift filled rapidly, and she determinedly fixed her attention on the instrument panel, all too aware of the man standing within touching distance. Despite her four-inch stiletto heels he towered head and shoulders above her, and this close she could sense the slight aroma of his cologne.
It was crazy to feel so positively stifled, yet she was supremely conscious of every single breath, every pulsebeat. It wasn’t a sensation she enjoyed, and she was intensely relieved when the lift slid to a halt at her chosen floor.
Alyse’s gratitude at being freed from his unsettling presence was short-lived when she discovered that he too had vacated the lift and was seemingly intent on entering the same suite of offices.
Moving towards Reception, she gave her name and that of the legal partner with whom she had an appointment, then selected a nearby chair. Reaching for a magazine, she flipped idly through the glossy pages with pretended interest, increasingly aware of the man standing negligently at ease on the edge of her peripheral vision.
With a hand thrust into the trouser pocket of his impeccably tailored suit he looked every inch the powerful potentate, portraying a dramatic mesh of blatant masculinity and elemental ruthlessness. Someone it would be infinitely wiser to have as a friend than an enemy, Alyse perceived wryly.
Something about him bothered her—an intrinsic familiarity she was unable to pinpoint. She knew they had never met, for he wasn’t a man you would forget in a hurry!
‘Miss Anderson? If you’d care to follow me, Mr Mannering will see you now.’
Alyse followed the elegantly attired secretary down a wide, spacious corridor into a modern office offering a magnificent view of the city. Acknowledging the solicitor’s greeting, she selected one of three armchairs opposite his desk and graciously sank into its leather-cushioned depth.
‘There seems to be some urgency in your need to see me,’ she declared, taking time to cross one slim nylon-clad leg over the other as she looked askance at the faintly harassed-looking man viewing her with a degree of thoughtful speculation.