Authors: Lynne Graham
Sander poured himself a stiff drink and tipped it back with scant appreciation. He knew that he was going to get very, very drunk before he went to see Tally the next day. He dared not mention her father’s visit.
Suppressing his anger on that issue, he reminded himself that, having been brutally honest with her when she told him about the baby, he now had fences to mend. He also had an honourable proposal to make in response to the most dishonourable act of blackmail …
THE VOLAKIS VOW
A marriage made of secrets …
An enthralling two-part story by bestselling author
THE MARRIAGE BETRAYAL
Tally Spencer, an ordinary girl with no experience of
relationships … Sander Volakis, an impossibly rich and
handsome Greek entrepreneur … Their worlds collide
in an explosion of attraction and passion. Sander’s
expecting to love her and leave her, but for Tally this is
love at first sight. Both are about to find that it’s not easy
to walk away …
because Tally is expecting Sander’s baby
and he is being blackmailed into making her his wife!
Next month, look out for:
BRIDE FOR REAL
Just when they thought their hasty marriage was
finished, Tally and Sander are drawn back together and
the passion between them is just as strong … But Sander
has hidden reasons for wanting his wife in his bed again,
and Tally also has secrets …
and neither is prepared for
what this tempestuous reunion will bring …
Available in July and August—
can you wait to find out what happens?
The Marriage Betrayal
English country weekends,’ Sander Volakis informed his father without hesitation.
With difficulty, Petros Volakis mustered a diplomatic smile, wishing for the hundredth time since the death of his eldest son that he had devoted a little more time and attention to his awkward relationship with his younger one. After all, on the face of it, Lysander, known as Sander to his friends, was a son that any man would be proud to possess.
Extremely good-looking and athletic, Sander had a shrewd brain for business and his outstanding entrepreneurial skills had already ensured that even without family backing he excelled at making money. Unhappily, however, Sander also had a darker side to his passionate temperament and a wild streak that ran deep. He was obstinate as a rock, arrogant and fiercely independent, indeed very much an extrovert individualist in a family of unashamedly conservative people. Over the years clashes between father and son had proved inevitable because Sander went his own way …
. Parental disapproval had not deterred him. But with the death of Titos, Sander’s older brother, the need to build bridges had increased a thousandfold, Petros reflected heavily.
‘Eleni’s family deserve to see you visit their English home again as a guest,’ Petros argued. ‘It’s not their fault that your brother died in the car crash and that his fiancée survived—’
Sander elevated a contradictory brow, his lean darkly handsome features grim while a glow of disagreement burned bright in his dark gaze. ‘Eleni only just escaped a charge of careless driving—’
‘They went out in Eleni’s car, so she was at the wheel!’ Petros snapped back at his son, frustrated by his unforgiving attitude. ‘It was a snowy night and the roads were treacherous. Have a little compassion and make allowances for human error. Eleni was devastated by Titos’ death.’
Not so devastated that she had resisted the urge to flirt with his younger brother within weeks of Titos’ funeral, Sander recalled with cynical cool. But he kept that salient fact to himself, well aware that his parent would gallantly protest that Sander must have misinterpreted her signals. Although only six months had passed since Titos’ demise, Sander had already become bleakly aware that that tragic event had transformed his prospects in the eyes of his peers. As his shipping tycoon father’s only surviving heir, he was now viewed as a much bigger catch than when he’d been seen as a mere maverick businessman cut loose from the family apron strings.
‘Relations between our respective families will relax again if you accept the invitation to stay at the Ziakis home,’ Petros declared.
Sander gritted his even white teeth, resenting the request, for he had no desire to fill his late brother’s shoes in any way. He liked his life just as it was and wondered if his parents were cherishing the ludicrous
hope that he might miraculously warm to Eleni and marry her because she was an equally good catch in shipping terms. He almost winced at so depressing a prospect. Eleni might be beautiful and accomplished, but at twenty five years of age Sander had not the smallest desire to marry or settle down with one woman and his headline-grabbing private life remained as varied and adventurous as he could make it.
‘I would really appreciate this, Sander,’ the older man declared in a grudging undertone that hinted at how hard he found it to ask for a favour.
Sander studied the older man, reluctantly noticing the lines of age that grief had indented more heavily on his face. He was disturbed by that pull on his conscience and loyalty. But he could not fill the hole that Titos had left in their family. Having been the indisputable favourite from birth, his older brother would be an impossible act to follow. Sander had always refused to compete with his sibling because when he was quite young he had noticed that it had annoyed their parents when he’d outshone their firstborn. But what the hell was one weekend if it made his parents content that the social mores they based their entire lives on had been respected? Sander asked himself in sudden exasperation.
‘All right, I’ll go … this once,’ he felt moved to add, afraid that he might be creating a precedent and setting himself up for other boring social occasions.
‘Thank you. Your mother will be relieved. You’re almost certain to meet friends at Westgrave Manor and no doubt useful business connections as well,’ Petros continued, conscious that his son’s primary need to forge his own power base and fortune were more likely to
influence him than anything else.
In the wake of that uncomfortable meeting neither
man was best pleased with the other. Driven now by a desire to do his duty, Sander proceeded to an upper floor in the Athens town house to visit his grieving mother, Eirene. On his way his mobile buzzed and he checked the number: Lina, his current lover; this was already her
call since he’d left London. He switched his phone to silent, resolving to ignore her and ditch her at the first chance he got. A sense of injustice dogged him, though. What was it that turned women from exciting lovers into all-too-predictable demanding stalker types in search of a commitment he had already made clear he wasn’t offering?
As usual, his mother lamented Titos’ death as if it had only just happened. Sander submitted to being wept over and reproached for his deficiencies in comparison to his perfect brother before finally beating the fastest possible retreat back to the airport and the freedom that he revelled in. He knew it would be quite a few months before he could make himself visit again; going home was
a downer in his view.
you should go and take the opportunity to get to know your sister better,’ Binkie pronounced, beaming at the prospect of Tally being treated to a luxury weekend in a stately home. ‘You could do with a break after all the studying you’ve been doing.’
Unsurprised that the older woman had taken only the most positive view of the invitation, Tally swallowed back the admission that her father’s phone call and request had come as an unwelcome surprise. She pushed her honey-blonde curls off her brow with a rueful hand, her green eyes wary. ‘It’s not quite that simple. I got the impression that my father only wants me to go so that I can police Cosima’s every move—’
‘My goodness,’ Binkie cut in with a frown of dismay. ‘Did he say so?’
‘Well, then, aren’t you being a bit too imaginative?’ Binkie asked in gentle reproof, her kindly brown gaze resting on the younger woman’s troubled face. ‘Granted your father rarely gets in touch but why immediately assume the worst of his motives? Maybe he simply wants his two daughters to get to know each other.’
‘I’m twenty years old and Cosima’s seventeen—if
that’s what he wants why would he have waited so long?’
Tally responded wryly because, after a lifetime of disappointments and hurtful rejections, she was a dyed in the wool cynic when it came to either of her parents.
Binkie sighed. ‘Perhaps he has seen the error of his ways. People can mellow as they get older.’
Reluctant to parade her bitterness in front of the woman who was the closest thing she had ever had to a loving mother, Tally stared a hole in the table because Binkie was always an optimist and Tally was reluctant to make yet another negative comment. Binkie or, to be more formal, Mrs Binkiewicz, a Polish widow, had looked after Tally since she’d been a baby and had soon graduated from childcare to taking care of her employer’s household as well. Anatole Karydas was a very wealthy and powerful Greek businessman who had done his best to ignore his eldest daughter’s existence from birth. He hated Tally’s mother, Crystal, with a passion and Tally had paid the price for that hostility. Crystal had been a well-known fashion model, engaged to Anatole at the time that she’d fallen pregnant …
‘Of course I planned it!’ Crystal had admitted in a rare moment of honesty. ‘Your father and I had been engaged for over a year, but his precious family didn’t like me and I could see that he was going cold on the idea of marrying me.’
As, in the midst of that delicate situation, Crystal had been caught cheating with another man, Tally could only feel that her father had had some excuse for his waning matrimonial enthusiasm. Indeed, her parents had such different outlooks on life that she did not see how they could ever have made each other happy. Anatole, unfortunately, had never been able to forgive
or forget the stinging humiliation of her mother’s betrayal or the embarrassing interviews she had sold to
magazines maligning him in the aftermath of their break-up. He had also questioned the paternity of the child that Crystal was carrying. Ultimately, Crystal had had to take her ex-fiancé to court to get an allowance with which to raise her daughter and although her father had eventually paid his dues Tally had reached eleven years of age before he finally agreed to meet her. By that stage, Anatole had long since married a Greek woman called Ariadne with whom he’d also had a daughter, Cosima. Tally had always been made to feel that she was on the outside looking in and surplus to paternal requirements.
In fact she could count on two hands the number of times she had met her reluctant father. Currently a student in her last year of a degree course in interior design, however, Tally was conscious that Anatole
paid for her education and she was grateful for that because her spendthrift mother never had a penny to spare at the end of the month.
‘You like Cosima,’ Binkie pointed out cheerfully. ‘You were really pleased when you were invited to her seventeenth birthday party last year.’
‘That was different. I was a guest,’ Tally pointed out ruefully. ‘But my father made it clear on the phone that he was asking me to accompany Cosima this weekend to keep her out of trouble. Apparently she’s been drinking and partying too much and seeing some man he disapproves of.’
‘She’s very young. Naturally your father’s con cerned.’
‘But I don’t see how I could make a difference. I doubt very much if she would listen to me. She’s much more sophisticated than I am and very headstrong.’
‘But it’s heartening that your father trusts you enough to ask you to help, and Cosima does like you …’
‘She won’t like me much if I try to interfere with her fun,’ Tally retorted wryly, but she was far from impervious to the sound good sense of Binkie’s reasoning.