A slow burn spread across Anna’s cheeks as Nikos watched her nurse their child. She pulled the blanket a little higher, making sure her breast was covered, but she could still feel his eyes on her. It made her feel naked.
Funny to think she’d once dreamed of this moment, of nursing their baby in the gorgeous, spare-no-expense baby suite she’d decorated, with Nikos sitting beside her. A happy family. She’d dreamed that Nikos would love her, be faithful to her, and someday propose to her.
Now the dream tasted like ashes in her mouth.
How could Anna remain here with him and survive? Nikos had made his intentions clear. He would shred her apart without remorse. Glancing at him now, she shivered at the darkness in his eyes. No, she couldn’t stay here. That path led to endless days of seduction . . . a lifetime of heartbreak.
Nikos touched her knee. She jumped in her seat, causing the baby to give a whimper of protest.
“We need to talk. Alone. We’ll have Mrs. Burbridge watch Michael tonight.” He gave her a lazy smile that belied the predatory look in his eyes. His strong, wide fingers lightly traced the edge of her knee through her jeans. “We’ll have dinner. Discuss our future.”
Anna could imagine the type of reacquaintance he had in mind. She felt relatively sure that it wouldn’t involve a night of bowling or picquet. She trembled with anticipation and fear. He meant nothing less than full-scale seduction, which she wouldn’t be able to resist. Even knowing that he caressed her with a cold heart and punishment on his lips.
“We’ll have dinner at Matryoshka,” Nikos continued.
Yes, her heart yearned. But she forced herself to take the safe course. She turned away.
“You can do whatever you want,” she said crisply. “But after Misha’s asleep, I will stay in my room alone. I plan to get a sandwich and take a long, hot bath.”
He gave her another lazy half-smile, toying with her. “That sounds pleasant. I’ll join you.”
“You’ll find a locked door.”
“This is my house, Anna. Do you really think you could keep me out?”
She took a deep breath. He was right, of course. He had the key to every lock. And even if he didn’t, he could break down the door with one slam of his powerful arms. He’d find a way into her room, and that would be that.
Of course, he wouldn’t need violence. One kiss and she’d fall at his feet like a harem girl, without a mind or will of her own . . .
With as much grace as she could muster, she gently lifted Misha out from beneath the blanket, pulling down her shirt.
“He’s asleep,” she said softly. She carefully laid him down on the soft mattress of the crib. Nikos came to stand beside her, and for a moment, they watched their child sleep. The baby’s arms were tossed carelessly above his head, and his dark long eyelashes fluttered against his plump, rosy cheeks as his breath rose and fell. She whispered, “Isn’t he beautiful?”
She bit her lip at his abrupt tone, feeling guilty again about what she’d done. No matter how she hated him, how could she have separated a child from his father?
She took a deep breath. “I . . . I owe you an apology, Nikos. I should never have taken Misha away from you.”
“No.” His voice was low.
She licked her lips. Might as well get it all over with. “And I’m sorry for blaming you for my father’s death. It wasn’t your fault.” She paused, then sighed. “I guess we’ve both made a mess of things in our own way, haven’t we?”
He drew back, his eyes cold. “My only mistake was trying to take care of you.”
She was trying to be penitent, but his words caused resentment to surge through her anew. She backed away from the crib, keeping her voice soft so as not to wake their sleeping child. “Oh, I see,” she said furiously. “So was it for my welfare that you cheated on me during my pregnancy?”
He followed her across the room, clenching his jaw in exasperation. He shook his head. “What are you talking about? I never cheated on you. Although at this point, I wish I had. Are you trying to make up lies to use against me in court? That’s a new low, even for you.”
She could hardly believe he’d try to deny it. “What about Lindsey?”
“What about her?”
“You might as well admit she was your mistress. She told me everything.” Anna stared blindly at the five-foot high stuffed giraffe sitting on the powder-blue sofa in the corner. “Lindsey often came here during the last months of my pregnancy to torment me with details of your affair.”
For a moment, there was silence in the shaded cool of the nursery.
“Lindsey told you that we were lovers?” His voice was matter-of-fact, emotionless.
“She told me everything.” Her throat started to hurt as the pain went through her heart again, ripping the wound anew. “How often you made love. How she believed you’d ask her to marry you.”
“It’s a lie.”
“Of course, that part was a lie. You’ll never propose to anyone.” She gave a bitter laugh. “I almost feel sorry for her. You use women when it suits you. But you’ll abandon her like you abandoned me.”
He became dangerously still. “You think I – abandoned you?”
“I wasn’t so sexy anymore, was I? The last three months of my pregnancy you wouldn’t touch me, you pushed me away, and finally you just left altogether.”
He looked down at her with narrowed eyes as his nostrils flared. “And that’s really what you really think of me. After all our years working together. You think I would reject and abandon the woman carrying my child.”
She pushed away all the wonderful memories of them working, laughing, dancing together. Of the nights under the stars. Days spent together in bed.
Wordlessly, she nodded.
Grabbing her shoulders, he pulled her close, wrapping his muscled arms tightly around her. His breath brushed her cheek, sending waves of heat up and down her body as he whispered in her ear, “Damn you, Anna.”
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"Debut author Jennie Lucas weaves a sensuous story of revenge and
forgiveness. Her exotic locales, interesting characters and lively dialogue
meld to make The Greek Billionaire’s Baby Revenge a read that will ensnare
and entertain right up to the last page."
- CataRomance awarding The Greek Billionaire's Baby Revenge 4.5 stars.
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"From the heat of the desert, to the snowy wilderness of Russia, debut author, Jennie Lucas brings us a top-notch novel of passionate desire and emotion."
- Romance Reviews Today reviewing The Greek Billionaire's Baby Revenge.
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Jennie’s Notes on Las Vegas
Although The Greek Billionaire’s Baby Revenge begins in Russia, most of the story takes place in Las Vegas. The city is a place of contrasts; it’s glamorous and tawdry, romantic and sleazy. It’s the kind of place where, if a bride and groom are walking dreamily hand-in-hand down Las Vegas Boulevard, someone will still try to shove strip-club fliers—or topless photos of “escorts”—into the groom’s hand. It doesn’t matter that he’s wearing a tuxedo, kissing a woman in a white dress. There is no subtlety here.
That’s why it struck me as a powerful setting for a love story. The heat of the desert by day—the chill at night. The gambling. The drinking. The wealth and desperation. The beauty and ugliness. Quick marriages. Quick divorces. It’s all Vegas, baby.
I’ve been there several times, as it’s only a ten-hour drive from Idaho across Nevada’s vast northern desert. My most memorable visit was in 2000, when my brother eloped with his girlfriend and invited us at the last minute. My husband and I flew out from Ohio (where we were living at the time) to be the best man and matron of honor.
The weekend was incredibly romantic, and is one of the reasons I was later inspired to use the setting for my first Presents novel. Here are a few pictures from their Las Vegas wedding.
The happy couple getting their wedding license at the courthouse in downtown Las Vegas. (Just as Anna wished to do in The Greek Billionaire’s Baby Revenge
, “doing it right” instead of calling a judge in the middle of the night, as Nikos wanted.)
Above: After our makeover, two hours before the wedding! Isn’t the bride radiant in her veil?
At left: Here I am in front of the “skyline” roller coaster of the New York, New York casino
—on my way to meet the bride to get our hair and makeup done before the wedding. The New York New York casino, along with the Paris Las Vegas
and the Venetian
inspired the Russian-themed L’Hermitage casino in The Greek Billionaire’s Baby Revenge
The wedding was held in an outdoor gazebo, in a garden converted from a ‘50s motel grounds. Here, my brother and his bride say “I do” in a moment so sweet and true, it made us all tearful.
At left: My favorite picture. The neon Stardust sign, the fading sunset behind the far mountains, the silhouette of the palm trees. And the thrilled groom, the gorgeous bride with her bouquet of roses, beaming together from a parking lot. It was a beautiful, romantic, wonderful weekend. Las Vegas—a perfect wedding location for a young couple with not much money but lots of love.
Ryan and Sadie are still happily married, living in Minnesota with their two adorable young children.
Warning: this feature contains spoilers, so if you haven’t read The Greek Billionaire’s Baby Revenge yet, stop now!
Anna and Nikos had two more children, a girl (Alexandra) and a boy (Andreas, after Nikos’s grandfather). They are a close-knit family, constantly striving to balance the demands of a worldwide empire with time spent laughing, teaching and playing with their children. Working around the world, Anna and Nikos travel with their children and staff via private jet. Misha, their oldest child, was fluent in three languages before he started first grade. Last year, Stavrakis Enterprises opened a large luxury casino resort in Macau, a far bigger project than the one Nikos had to sacrifice in Singapore.
Lindsey was unable to find either a sugar daddy or another secretarial job. She auditioned three times to be a showgirl at Bally’s but was rejected for having “no rhythm”. Fortunately, that hasn’t hurt her tips pole-dancing at a Fremont Strip strip club. She still can’t figure out why she lost Nikos Stavrakis to Anna, since Lindsey considers herself to be (in her own words) “hotter and blonder”.
Victor, as we already know, got sent to a Russian prison for the rest of his life. Do we really need to say more about him? (Except that it serves him right…)
Mrs. Burbridge worked as beloved nanny for the family until Andreas, the youngest Stavrakis child, started school. She is now looking for a position in Southern Europe, close to her English nieces but with warm Mediterranean breezes —keep watch for her in a future story!
Natalie studied art for two years at the Sorbonne in Paris. She now runs a successful one-woman company in Boston, creating wall art for houses and children’s bedrooms. Her murals for celebrities’ children often appear in magazines such as In Style. For the last six months, she’s been dating a charming, goofy folk musician from Vermont. She doesn’t know this yet, but he’s planning to propose this Christmas Eve with a gold-and-ruby ring he designed himself.
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Text Copyright © 2007 by Jennie Lucas • Cover Art Copyright © 2007 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited
Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A. Cover Art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited. All rights reserved. ® and ™ are trademarks owned by Harlequin Enterprises Limited or its affiliated companies, used under license.