Authors: Lynn Raye Harris
Tags: #Romance, #General, #Contemporary Romance, #Fiction
‘We are not friends, Lucilla. You do not care about my childhood, nor I yours.
‘You care about what I am doing to your precious company and I care about returning the Chatsfield name to its former glory. We are not on opposite sides, no matter how you wish to view it. And we don’t need to engage in polite banter in order to pretend we like each other.’
Her eyes had narrowed considerably. And her colour was high. The flush over her breasts was intriguing. He wanted to slip her gown off her shoulder and press his mouth just above her heart.
‘With an attitude like that, no wonder you don’t have any friends. You refuse to let anyone get close enough to be a friend.’
He snorted. ‘And do you really want to be my friend, Lucilla? Or is there something more to this query?’
She tilted her chin up. ‘No, I don’t want to be your friend. But I
trying to be polite. I thought maybe life would be easier if we at least pretended to like one another.’
He took a step closer to her, watched the thrum of her pulse kick up in her neck. He had to admire that she did not back away. She stood her ground, though she had to tilt her head back to look up at him, since he towered over her.
‘I am quite willing to pretend, Lucilla
I find myself utterly intrigued by the cut of that gown and the mystery of what lies beneath. If you wish, we can leave together and pretend to like each other in my bed.’
Step into the opulent glory of the world’s most elite hotel, where clients are the impossibly rich and exceptionally famous.
Whether you’re in America, Australia, Europe or Dubai, our doors will always be open …
Synonymous with style, sensation … and scandal!
For years, the children of Gene Chatsfield—global hotel entrepreneur—have shocked the world’s media with their exploits. But no longer! When Gene appoints a new CEO, Christos Giatrakos, to bring his children into line, little did he know what he was starting.
Christos’ first command scatters the Chatsfields to the furthest reaches of their international holdings—from Las Vegas to Monte Carlo, Sydney to San Francisco … but will they rise to the challenge set by a man who hides dark secrets in his past?
Let the games begin!
Your room has been reserved, so check in to enjoy all the passion and scandal we have to offer.
LYNN RAYE HARRIS
burst on to the scene when she won a writing contest held by Mills & Boon. The prize was an editor for a year—but only six months later Lynn sold her first novel. A former finalist for the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Award, Lynn lives in Alabama with her handsome husband and two crazy cats. Her stories have been called ‘exceptional and emotional,’ ‘intense’ and ‘sizzling.’ You can visit her at
Lynn Raye Harris
To Lynn’s Lovelies, the most awesome street team a girl could ask for. Thanks for being such great fans of my books!
AKE CARE OF
it now,” Christos Giatrakos said into the phone, his voice hard and clipped and way sexier than Lucilla would have liked. Oh, how she hated Christos! And yet, sitting here in his office, waiting for him to finish whatever dictatorial phone call he was currently making, her belly churned with heat at the mere sound of that voice.
Certainly it did not help that he looked more like a male underwear model than a CEO. Christos should have been strutting his stuff on a runway in Milan, dressed in nothing but his tightie-whities, instead of sitting in what should be
chair—at what should be
desk—and making everyone’s lives miserable.
Especially her life. She’d worked too damn hard and too damn long, and sacrificed too damn much, to have this Greek god of an up-start
usurping her position in her own family company.
Lucilla ran a hand over her sleek twist, making sure her hair wasn’t out of place, and fumed. She wanted to get up and walk out, but she couldn’t let Christos see that he had that much power to anger her. He’d summoned her by email, as he so often did, and then forced her to cool her heels on his couch while he made phone calls.
She sat ramrod straight, with her tablet on her lap, scrolled through emails and pretended not to care that Christos was ignoring her. Her gaze took in the office that should have been hers. Christos hadn’t claimed the desk in the manner that she’d expected, but there were subtle differences—the way the computer sat at a precise angle, the pen—worth more than her monthly salary—perfectly positioned in line with the keyboard, and a small coin sitting just to the right of the pen. From where she was sitting she could only tell that the coin wasn’t English. The photographs that had once lined her father’s desk had been pushed back into the corner of the bookcase behind the desk. Her mother’s ancient edition of
was still in its usual position in the case, however.
“If you can’t get this done, then don’t call
back. The Chatsfield has other suppliers, Ron. And I will not hesitate to use them.”
Christos put the phone back in the cradle with a firm click and muttered something in Greek. And then he looked up, hitting her with the full force of those icy blue eyes. Lucilla shrugged off the internal shiver making its way down her spine and met his gaze evenly.
“What is the problem with the Frost wedding reception this weekend?”
Lucilla’s insides boiled at his tone. No polite greeting, no reasonable query. Just a demand. And an insulting one at that.
“Problem? There is no problem, Christos.” She refused to call him Mr. Giatrakos, though he insisted on it from all the employees. Well, damn him, she wasn’t just any employee. She was the rightful CEO of this company and she refused to act subservient just because her father had chosen this man over her. Not happening.
His gaze did not soften. “I have heard there is a problem.”
At times like this, Lucilla wanted to wrap her hands around his gorgeous neck and squeeze. “Then you heard wrong.” She flipped through the schedule on her tablet and ran down the page of tasks for the Frosts. “The
only thing that could have ever been considered a minor issue—and trust me, it is not an issue for us—is the seating arrangements for the bride’s mother and father. I have taken care of it.”
“And why would this have been an issue?”
“Because they are divorcing, acrimoniously as it happens, and Mr. Frost is attending with his new, much younger girlfriend. Something he should know better than to do but apparently does not.”
Christos’s eyes were chips of ice. “Lucca may have pulled off the coup of the century and made a success of the royal wedding in Preitalle, but this means now, more than ever, the world’s eye is upon us. And the Frosts’ wedding has the potential to explode in our faces, Lucilla. You will see that it does not.”
Lucilla stood and tried not to look flustered. Dammit. Every time he said her name, a heated shudder rolled through her. His accent wasn’t heavy, but it was definitely pronounced, and the way it rolled over the syllables of her name was too sensual, too disturbing. Yet he would not call her Ms. Chatsfield because she would not call him Mr. Giatrakos. In that respect, it was her own fault. If she didn’t like her name on his lips, she had no one to blame but herself.
“I have been seeing that things do not explode for quite some time. I will continue to do so, even when you are history.”
And he would be history, if she had anything to say about it. If Antonio came through with the hostile takeover of the Kennedy Group, they could prove to their father that they did not need Christos Giatrakos. However, given that Antonio had missed their meeting last week she was starting to worry.
Lucilla frowned. The only thing that bothered her about the scheme was Antonio himself. Although Antonio was living in this hotel, she wasn’t seeing him any more than she had over the past few years. And when she’d seen him this last time he’d looked … different somehow. More agitated and preoccupied.
Concern speared into her at the thought of her big brother, but she pushed it aside and concentrated on the man before her. If they could just get rid of Christos, life could be good again. They would all be happier when she and Antonio were in control of the family empire once more.
And that was a goal she intended to work tirelessly for.
One corner of Christos’s mouth lifted in a grin. It was not a friendly grin, however, and
she cursed herself for showing her irritation yet again. Sometimes, she just could not help her reaction.
“I am not history at the moment, Lucilla
, and you will do as you are told or face the consequences.”
Lucilla tried so hard to keep her tongue in check. But some things were impossible to stomach. “You have no control over me, Christos, no matter what you think. Yes, you control the Chatsfield empire, and you control access to my trust fund. But you won’t intimidate me the way you’ve intimidated my family.” She walked over and put her palms on his desk, leaned over until her eyes were at the same level as his. She was all in now, her emotions whipped to a furious froth that had been bubbling for weeks, ever since this man showed up and started giving orders like a despot.
“I won’t be bullied by the likes of you. You need me right here, doing what it is I do every day, or you
fail. I’ve been running this hotel for years. Fire me, and see what happens then. My father will send you packing without a shred of remorse once you fail to do whatever it is he thinks you’re going to do.”
Christos’s eyes glittered. He stood, very slowly, and Lucilla straightened. Even in her
heels, she wasn’t as tall as he was. He looked down on her as if she were a bug beneath his custom shoe.
“You’ve been wanting to say that for a while, have you not?” His voice was mild, amused, and yet it also managed to be hard and unflinching.
Her heart raced, her skin heating from the inside out. Yes, she’d been holding it in, and yes, it felt good to finally say what she’d been thinking. But she also felt as if she’d committed an error. She’d admitted to the enemy that she cared very much about his elevation over her when what she really needed to do was be quiet and take him down from the inside.
She absolutely could not let him get wind of what she’d talked Antonio into doing.
take this arrogant Greek down. One way or the other, Christos Giatrakos’s reign would be short and sweet, a footnote in the history of the hotel chain. It still stung that her father had chosen this stranger over her, but she could not let her wounded feelings get in the way of what she had to do to win.
Yes, she should have kept her mouth shut. But she hadn’t, and now there was nothing to do but own it. Lucilla tilted her chin up. “I have indeed. You might be congratulating
yourself on dispersing my siblings on your errands, but don’t think you’ll handle me quite so easily.”
His eyes slid over her then, and her stomach clenched. “I wouldn’t dream of
you, Lucilla. But if I did, rest assured you would do as I wished. And you would enjoy every moment of it.”
Her heart lodged in her throat. Were they still talking about the hotel? Or about something else?
“You are a deluded man, Christos. I will never enjoy a moment with you. I despise you and wish you would crawl back into whatever hole you crawled out of.”
His expression changed then, went from coolly amused and arrogant to hard and cold and … resentful? Lucilla blinked. She had the impression she’d hurt him, but that could not be possible. Christos Giatrakos had no heart to wound.
His next words proved it. “I care not what you think of me, Lucilla
You are as spoiled and useless as the rest of your kind.” He held up a hand to stop any protests. “Oh, you play at working, and you do a good enough job in your duties as the director of guest services. You are correct that I need you, but make no mistake—if I have to fire
you, I will. No one is indispensable to the running of this company, Lucilla. Not even you.”
“Or you,” she threw back at him.
One eyebrow lifted. “Or me. And that is as it should be. Any company that is so invested in the talents of a single person and cannot recover should that person die or leave is a very stupid company indeed. My goal is to make the Chatsfield number one in the luxury field again. But I do not expect that this company will not ever run without me, nor would I want it to. That, I believe, is the difference between us. You would see it fail out of spite. I would see it succeed.”
There was a pinch in her chest as she pulled in a sharp breath. Of all the arrogant assumptions. Yes, she wanted the Chatsfield to be number one again—but she didn’t think it took Christos to do it. She could have done it if her father had given her the chance. She still could. She
“I do not wish to see us fail at all. And I resent that you would think so.”
“Then grow up and act like it.” He flicked his hand. “And now if you will get out of my office, I have important work to do.”
Lucilla clutched her tablet tight to stop her from flinging it at his head. “As you command,
O Lord of Everything.” She took two steps, then whirled back around to find him still watching her. “You won’t always be here, Christos. Enjoy the big corner office while you can.”
He lowered himself into the plush leather chair with a smile. Then the arrogant bastard had the nerve to lean back and put his feet on the ancient cherry desk.
“I am enjoying it very much, thank you. Now be a good girl and get to work.”
Lucilla stalked out of his office with her head held high. But she could feel the blood pounding in her veins, feel the hate coursing through her. She wanted to scream. And, perversely, she wanted to kiss the bastard. She marched past Jessie—her able assistant—and into her own, much smaller office, slamming the door satisfyingly before throwing herself into her chair and closing her eyes while she fought for calm.
Why on earth could she not face the damn man without thinking about how his lips must taste? It was getting worse, not better. Every time she was with him, she thought of how he might taste, of how those muscles would feel beneath her hands. It was just her perverse nature, going left when she wanted to go right. She’d always been this way. Tell her
she couldn’t do something and she set out to prove she could.
Like run the hotel chain. She’d spent years proving she was the rightful heir to the CEO position, and what did her father do? He hired a smoldering Greek with a bad attitude and a sexier-than-sin body to do the job she’d been training for all her life. She’d put her dreams aside at the age of fourteen, when her mother had walked out and left her and Antonio, her older brother, to be the surrogate parents for their siblings. Her father had been useless after Liliana left and so it had fallen to her and Antonio.
Well, dammit, she’d done what she was supposed to do. She’d been a good girl and played by rules that should never have been imposed on her at such a young age. She’d done her time and she wanted her due. She wanted control of the Chatsfield empire. The hotels were in her blood. They were not in Christos’s. He was not a Chatsfield and he didn’t care, other than where dollars, pounds and euros were concerned.
Lucilla chewed her lip, thinking. She’d researched Christos thoroughly when he’d arrived, but there was one thing she couldn’t find out. He didn’t seem to come from anywhere.
He didn’t have a family. He was Greek, he claimed Athens as his hometown, and that was it. There’d been no record of his life before he was about twenty-five and burst onto the scene as the man who’d turned around a very old and venerable shipping company.
Then he’d moved on to another company, and another. He was good at what he did—and ruthless beyond belief. He slashed and burned and what emerged from the ashes was always better and brighter than before.
Yes, he was pretty good. But she didn’t trust him. And she damn sure didn’t like him. She couldn’t believe that her father had turned over control to this man they knew so little about. Gene Chatsfield had handed over the keys to the kingdom and then flown back to the U.S. to be with his new fiancée as if he hadn’t just turned Lucilla’s world—and her siblings’ worlds—upside down in the process.
Lucilla wanted to know more. She wanted to know who Christos Giatrakos really was, where he came from and why he thought he could be so cold and ruthless with everyone. And then she wanted him gone.
That, really, was the deciding factor. Lucilla wanted him
, no matter how sexy or smoldering he was. And she was willing to do just about anything to achieve that goal.
She picked up the phone. It was time to call in every last favor she was owed in exchange for information.
The Chatsfield was hosting a gala tonight in the main ballroom. An art auction for charity that would bring out the richest members of London society. As CEO, it was Christos’s duty to be there as the new public face of the company. Whatever the Chatsfield children had done to tarnish the venerable name, Christos was determined to erase those memories from the public consciousness. Yes, it would take time, but he would turn the company around. Of that he had no doubt.