Page 16 of The Greek Tycoon's Revenge

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Eloise couldn’t think straight, paralysed by shock as he pulled up a chair and sat beside her at the table, angling his seat so he could watch her every move. She felt sick inside, as with dawning horror she realised he actually believed what he was saying.

‘You do well to remain silent.’ Contemptuous amusement glittered in his dark eyes as he noted her bewilderment, the scarlet colour in her cheeks. ‘Under that aura of innocence you wear so well beats the heart of a con-artist. A very talented, beautiful woman, but a thief nevertheless. I know what you are…’ His glittering gaze rested on her with a blatant sexual intensity. ‘And yet I want to possess that body, and until such time as I consider you have paid the debt you and your mother owe my family, you will stay with me.’

He had as good as called her a whore, but that paled into insignificance at the mention of her mother. A growing sense of dread seeped into Eloise’s mind. ‘What has my mother got to do with this?’ she asked shakily.

‘Oh, please!’ Marcus mocked her supposed ignorance, but when she still stared at him with wary eyes, he gestured with his palms up. ‘Okay, Eloise have it your way,’ and he clarified with impatience, ‘Chloe rented one of my uncle’s villas, seduced the man, and then persuaded Theo to give her half a million to invest in her jewellery business—with your collusion, Eloise—and the pair of you vanished as soon as the cheque cleared.’

Appalled at the scenario Marcus presented, Eloise felt tension tighten her every muscle. Because, deep down, she had a horrible feeling there might be some truth in his words. Her mother had been close to Theo Toumbis when they’d stayed on Rykos. They’d departed in a hurry. Maybe Chloe had borrowed money from the man. Eloise had not known her mother well enough to say yes or no. But her mother was dead, and in deference to her memory at least deserved her support, Eloise staunchly reminded herself.

‘You expect me to agree to be your, your mi—mistress.’ She stammered over the word. ‘Until I pay off some mythical debt I am supposed to owe you.’ Eloise tried for a laugh. ‘Dream on, Buster.’ Pushing back her chair, she stood up again.

A chilling smile formed on his lips as he also rose to his feet ‘Think about it. You agree to my terms, or I pull out of the deal with your firm.’ His black eyes, gleaming with an unholy light of triumph, captured hers. ‘Tonight’s celebration, Eloise, will be looked on as a wake. Without the capital to maintain the Paris branch, you will have to close with a mountain of new debt, and within a very short space of time your London base will go bankrupt. I will make sure of it.’

‘You can’t do that!’ Eloise gasped, amazed at the change in the man from sophisticated charmer into a ruthless, remote figure. She saw the implacable determination in his hard gaze, and she shook with fear and outrage. Rage won…

Well, he was not getting away with it. How dared he threaten her like this? Who the hell did he think he was? ‘I won’t let you,’ she snapped.

‘You can’t stop me,’ Marcus said without a flicker of emotion. ‘Speak to Harry—he will confirm what I say. I’ll give you until tomorrow to decide. But think of the effect on Katy and Harry and their baby, their livelihood, before you make up your mind.’ Dropping a bundle of notes on the table, he took her arm and urged her forward. ‘This is too public.’ His dark impervious gaze swept the room. ‘Come on, I’ll get you a cab,’ he added smoothly, viewing her with dark threatening eyes.

‘I don’t need to think,’ she spat, her fury rising to eclipse her earlier fear completely. ‘The answer is no—and, as for Kate and Harry, they are my friends. They’ll stand by me and ignore your ridiculous accusations.’ Eloise took half a dozen enraged steps at his side without realising, then stopped suddenly, yanking her arm free.

‘And I’ll get my own cab,’ she hissed. ‘I want nothing from you, and this so-called business partnership will be dissolved tomorrow. I don’t know how you talked Ted and Harry into it, but we are getting out.’ She stepped out into the foyer.

‘As you please.’ Marcus’s voice followed her, low and lethal. ‘Then I will see you in court.’

The heated colour drained from her face. She stilled. The exit to the street and freedom was barely a step away, but for Eloise it might as well have been a million miles. Once she had given evidence in a court case, and it had been the worst experience of her life. No way could she face doing it again. Taking deep steadying breaths, she fought down the panic that threatened to choke her, and slowly turned to face Marcus. ‘Court? What do you mean by court?’ she demanded starkly.

‘Unless we come to a private agreement, I shall of course present the evidence of your deception to a court of law.’ A shrug of his broad shoulders, and Marcus’s mouth curled in a cynical smile, apparently registering a supreme masculine indifference either way that made her blood run cold. ‘The decision is yours, but you no longer have until tomorrow. I want your answer tonight.’

Eloise swallowed hard, smoothed the fine fabric of her dress down over her hips with damp palms, and wondered what had happened to the Marcus she had first met. The Marcus who had valued her innocence, and then later the lover who had made her initiation into womanhood a magical experience. Was she really such a dim-wit that, for a few short hours, a few kind words and sweet caresses, she forgot what life had taught her? Men could be swine, and worse…

She would never make the same mistake again. Imperceptibly her shoulders straightened, and the ability to disguise her inner thoughts, developed with years of practice, slid back into place in her mind, like a steel trap door closing. She had vowed once never to trust another man as long as she lived, and for a brief space of time she had forgotten, but never again.

‘What’s it to be, Eloise?’

‘First I want to see the so-called proof,’ she demanded quietly and shivered at the cold implacability in his saturnine features.

‘The evidence is at my apartment, ten minutes’ drive away.’ His arm closed firmly around her shoulders. ‘We can continue this conversation better there, I’m sure you will agree.’

He had an apartment

in Paris? Why not? A hysterical laugh fluttered in her throat. The man had everything. Marcus was a powerful, ruthless operator, a legend in the financial markets. Where lesser men made the occasional loss, what he had he kept, be it money, women or property. His nature was obviously possessive; he was a taker, not a giver.

But, held close to him, she could smell the faint musky masculine scent of him, and her traitorous skin heated where he touched. Dear heaven, if he did but know it, he could have had her and everything she was and owned for the asking three months ago—but not any more, she thought with the glimmer of an ironic smile as she agreed. She, more than most, did not appreciate being manipulated by a man—any man…

The apartment was small, more a pied-à-terre, tucked away at the top of one of the classic Napoleon-styled buildings overlooking the Seine. It was clearly designed with a bachelor in mind. A living room that was elegantly furnished and with what looked like a selection of original cartoons displayed on one wall, probably worth more than the apartment. A tiny kitchen area, obviously not meant to be used for anything other than making coffee or heating up a croissant for breakfast. A closed door led to what Marcus indicated was the bedroom, with an en-suite shower and toilet.

Eloise walked over to the ornate dormer window, and looked at the glittering lights reflected with the moonlight on the dark waters of the Seine, and wondered by what trick of fate she had ended up in this mess.

‘Would you like a drink?’ Marcus asked, standing much too close.

Eloise spun around. ‘No. I want your so-called proof and an explanation fast,’ she flashed back, disturbed by the intimacy of the place. ‘It’s not every day one is accused of being a thief.’

‘So be it.’ She watched as Marcus crossed to a desk in one corner. He opened a drawer, took out a folder, and placed it on the desk, and then laid a document on top. Switching on a desk lamp, he straightened up. ‘Feel free to peruse them at your leisure,’ he drawled mockingly. ‘I need a drink.’

Eloise marched across to the desk, and picked up the document and read the first line. She raked a shaking hand through her hair forgetting her elaborate coronet of curls, in the process. It appeared to be a contract between Chloe Baker, her late mother, and Theo Toumbis, selling Theo a half share in Chloe’s latest business venture in designer jewellery for five hundred thousand pounds—“Eloise By Design,” to be situated in London.

Slowly, with mounting horror, she read on and there at the foot of the page were the three signatures to the contract: Chloe Baker, Theo Toumbis, and last Eloise Baker.


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