Illicit Night with the GreekBy: Susanna Carr
TENSION GRIPPED STERGIOS ANTONIOU as he stood alone on the balcony that jutted out from his cousin’s mansion. He ignored the iconic view of the Parthenon against the blue September sky as he scowled at the blonde woman at the garden party below.
Jodie Little. His stepsister. His darkest secret.
Burning hot fury ate away at him as he watched Jodie glide through the crowd of Athens’s high society. She looked different. She had cut and straightened the long mop of curls. Her hair now fell into soft waves that reached her pointed chin. The yellow floral dress was modest as it skimmed her slender figure. Her bold red lipstick was at odds with her delicate appearance.
He knew the presentable image was false. It was a masquerade, a shield. It had been years since he’d last seen her but he knew time couldn’t have tamed her true nature.
“There you are,” his mother said as she stood beside him. “When did you get here? Come join the party.”
Stergios didn’t look away from Jodie. “How long has she been in Greece?” he asked.
Mairi Antoniou sighed. She rested her forearms against the ornate balustrade as she watched her stepdaughter charm a guileless shipping heiress. “She let her father know she was at a nearby hotel about two days ago. If she thought she would be welcomed with open arms, she is going to be extremely disappointed.”
“Why has she returned?”
“Something about missing her father.”
Stergios studied Jodie intently. The seductress didn’t understand the meaning of family. She had been absent from her father’s life for four years and she suddenly wanted a reunion . “What do you think is the real reason?”
“I don’t know,” she replied softly. “Gregory doesn’t have money of his own.”
“And Jodie recently inherited a fortune,” he murmured. He tore his gaze away from Jodie and scanned the sophisticated crowd for her father. Stergios spotted the tall, well-dressed man on the other side of the lush garden.
Gregory Little had a talent for marrying wealthy women. His only goals were to keep his powerful wife happy and live in the luxury she provided. Stergios knew his stepfather was a benign presence in their lives, unlike his daughter.
“Gregory didn’t know she was coming for a visit,” Mairi insisted. “They’ve been in contact after her mother died earlier this year, but he didn’t invite her.”
Stergios’s stepfather was given a generous allowance. The man knew what was expected of him if he wanted to keep the money flowing, but having a wealthy daughter meant another stream of revenue. “Do you believe him?”
“Of course. Jodie has caused him nothing but trouble and embarrassment.” His mother’s voice was brittle with anger. “That girl almost caused a rift in our family because she couldn’t keep her legs closed.”
The blood pounded hard in Stergios’s veins as he remembered. Jodie knew how to create problems with minimum effort. It could be uttering an explosive comment at a formal dinner or creating a public spectacle at Athens’s most popular nightclub. But none of that compared to seducing his cousin Dimos. If she had succeeded, it would have destroyed a bright and promising future for the Antoniou family.
“She shouldn’t be here,” he declared gruffly. Why had she shown up this week of all weeks? “Does Dimos know that she’s around?”
Mairi stiffened. “I asked him to put Jodie on the invitation list for this party,” she reluctantly admitted.
Stergios cursed as he pushed away from the balustrade. He scanned the guests at the party but he didn’t see his cousin. That alone was suspicious. Dimos had always gravitated toward Jodie.
“What happened between them is in the past,” his mother argued. “Dimos was in a rebellious stage and was easily misled. He was no match for a determined whore.”
Jodie had entranced Dimos almost instantly, yet his cousin had not been an innocent victim. Stergios knew his mother refused to believe that. She’d like to think that an Antoniou man had better standards.
“It took us too long to realize that she was a manipulative liar,” his mother declared. “When she said you’d followed her into the wine cellar that night... Well, no one was going to believe that.”
Stergios closed his eyes briefly. Everyone in the family knew about his aversion to dark and confined spaces. But he had pushed past the reluctance that night because of Jodie. Because of her special brand of trouble.
“Of course she couldn’t bewitch you, but Dimos was unworldly back then,” his mother continued. “Just remembering everything she has done makes me—”
Also By Susanna Carr
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