Drakon Lyonedes has it all: power, wealth, sex appeal...and any woman he wants! Until the beautiful Gemini Bartholomew steps into his life, that is...
Confronting him over his plan to turn her family home into a hotel, Gemini intrigues Drakon. The problem? Long-term just isn't in this infamously arrogant tycoon's vocabulary--and Gemini is a virgin who surely wants more than one night of sizzling, scorching passion...?
She's determined to defy him, but whose willpower will prove the strongest?
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Harlequin Enterprises, Limited
July 01, 2012
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Excerpt from Defying Drakon by Carole Mortimer
'Who is she?' Markos asked.
Drakon had telephoned down to his cousin Markos's office just a few minutes ago, and was now in one of the many rooms of the penthouse apartment on the thirtieth floor of the Lyonedes Tower building in Central London, where Drakon stayed whenever he was visiting from the company's New York offices. Markos, naturally, preferred to live away from the building where he worked every day.
Drakon's full attention was focused speculatively on one of several security monitors in front of him as he watched the young woman on the monochrome screen pacing restlessly up and down the room she had been escorted to several minutes ago by Max Stanford, his head of Security, after causing something of a disturbance in the reception area situated on the ground floor of the building.
She was a tall and willowy young woman, the dark blouse she wore--possibly black or brown--clinging to the outline of small pert breasts, while slim-fitting low-rider jeans revealed a tantalising glimpse of the flatness of her abdomen before curving lovingly over her bottom and the length of her legs. She was probably aged somewhere in her mid to late twenties, with just below shoulder-length straight hair--blonde? Her face was arrestingly beautiful: delicately heart-shaped and dominated by light-coloured eyes. Damn this black and white screen! She had a small straight nose and sensuously full lips.
He glanced at Markos as his cousin came to stand beside him. The family resemblance and their Greek nationality were more than obvious in their harshly sculptured olive-skinned features. Both men were dark-haired and over six feet tall, although at thirty-four Markos was two years Drakon's junior.
I'm not sure,' Drakon answered. 'Max telephoned a few minutes ago and asked me what I wished him to do with her,' he continued. 'Apparently when he removed her from Reception she refused to tell him anything other than that her name is Bartholomew and she has no intention of leaving the building until she has spoken either to you or me--but preferably me,' he added dryly.
Markos's eyes widened. 'Any relation to Miles Bartholomew, do you think?'
'Could be his daughter.' Drakon had met Miles Bartholomew several times before the other man's death in a car crash six months ago, and there was a definite facial resemblance between him and the young woman they could see on the screen now. Although at sixty-two Miles's hair had been silver, and his tall frame wiry rather than willowy and graceful.
'What do you suppose she wants?' Markos prompted curiously.
Drakon's dark eyes narrowed on the impatiently pacing woman, his mouth thinning to an uncompromising line. 'I have absolutely no idea. But I have every intention of finding out.'
Markos's brows rose. 'You intend talking to her yourself?'
Drakon gave a humourless smile at his cousin's obvious surprise. 'I have asked Max to bring her to me here in ten minutes' time. It is to be hoped she will not have worn a hole in a very expensive carpet before then.'
Markos looked thoughtful. 'Are you sure that's a good idea with our current connection to Bartholomew's young and beautiful widow?'
Drakon deliberately turned his back on the screen. 'Max's alternative was to have her arrested for trespassing and/or disturbing the peace. A move at best guaranteed to bring unnecessary and unwanted publicity to Lyonedes Enterprises,' he said, 'and at worst to have an adverse effect on our relationship with Angela Bartholomew.'
'True,' his cousin conceded. 'But isn't it setting something of a precedent to give in to this type of emotional blackmail?'
Drakon arched arrogant dark brows. 'You are expecting there to be more than one determined young woman in London at the moment who feels the need to stage a sit-in in the reception area of Lyonedes Enterprises until she has been allowed to talk to the company's president?'
Markos gave a rueful shake of his head. 'You've only been in England for two days--hardly long enough for you to have broken any female hearts as yet.'
Drakon's expression remained impassive. 'If, as you say, hearts have been broken in the past, then it has not been my doing; I have never made any secret of the fact that I have no interest in marrying at this time.'
'If ever!' His cousin snorted.
Drakon shrugged. 'No doubt there will come a time when an heir becomes necessary.' 'Just not yet?' His mouth thinned. 'No.'
Markos eyed him teasingly. 'Miss Bartholomew seems to have piqued your interest..'
There were only two people in the world who would dare to speak to Drakon in this familiar way: his cousin and his widowed mother.
The two men had grown up together in the family home in Athens. Markos had come to live with his aunt and uncle and slightly older cousin after his parents were killed in a plane crash when he was eight years old. It was that closeness, and the fact that they were related by blood, which allowed the younger man certain freedoms of expression where Drakon was concerned. If anyone else but Markos had dared to make a comment on or question Drakon's private life like that, he would very quickly have found himself on the other side of the door. After being suitably and icily chastened, of course.
'I am...curious as to her reasons for coming here,' he acknowledged slowly.
His cousin glanced towards the screen. 'She's certainly beautiful...'
'Yes, she is,' Drakon acknowledged tersely.
Markos shot him another sideways glance. 'Maybe I could sit in on the meeting?'
'I think not, Markos,' he dismissed with dry humour. 'Whatever Miss Bartholomew wishes to talk to me about, she has gone about it in a very unorthodox manner. I do not think the Vice-Chairman of Lyonedes Enterprises showing an admiring interest in her is going to suitably convey our displeasure at her behaviour!'
Markos gave an unrepentant grin. 'Do you have to spoil all my fun?'
Drakon smiled in acknowledgement of his cousin's roguish reputation with the ladies even as he glanced down at the plain gold watch secured about his wrist. 'Thompson should be arriving shortly for his ten o'clock appointment. I will join the two of you in your office in ten minutes.'
The other man arched teasing brows. 'Are you sure that will be long enough with the lovely Miss Bartholomew?'
'oh, yes.' He nodded.
Drakon gave one last glance at the young woman on the screen before striding through to the sitting room of the spacious apartment to stand in front of one of the huge picture windows that looked out over the London morning skyline, hearing his cousin leaving the penthouse a few seconds later as his own brooding thoughts continued to dwell on the impudent Miss Bartholomew.
He had taken over as head of the Lyonedes family business empire on the death of his father ten years ago, and now, aged thirty-six, Drakon knew he was rarely surprised by anything anyone did or said--and was certainly never intimidated by their actions. He was the one whose very presence invariably intimidated others; never the other way about.
And whatever reason Miss Bartholomew felt she had for her unacceptable behaviour, she would very shortly be made aware of that fact.
Gemini stopped pacing and turned to frown at the middle-aged man who had earlier introduced himself only as Head of Security for Lyonedes Enterprises as he finally returned to the elegantly furnished room he had made her prison fifteen minutes ago, before abandoning her there and locking the door behind him as he left.
No doubt he had gone off to take instruction from Markos Lyonedes as to what was the best thing to do with her--or maybe he hadn't bothered with that and had just telephoned the police to have her arrested! She doubted the visiting totally elusive Drakon Lyonedes, President of Lyonedes Enterprises, would even be informed of something so trivial as a young woman refusing to leave the building until she was allowed to speak to him.
Gemini had every reason to know just how elusive he was. She had desperately tried repeatedly to make an appointment to speak to the man since she'd learnt of his arrival in England two days ago. But as she had remained stubbornly unwilling to give her reasons as to why she wanted the appointment, her request had been politely but firmly refused by Markos Lyonedes's secretary.
Oh, she had been invited to send in her C.V. to the personnel manager--as if she would ever want to work for a circling shark like Drakon Lyonedes!--but had been refused an appointment with him or his cousin, who was Vice-Chairman of the company in charge of the London-based offices. Leaving her with no alternative, Gemini had finally decided determinedly, than to stage a sit-in in the ground floor reception area of Lyonedes Tower.
Only to be firmly removed within minutes of her arrival and locked in a room pending dispatch!
'Let's go.' The tough-looking Head of Security, dressed all in black, his grey hair shaved to a crewcut, stepped back in order to allow her to precede him out of the room. He was probably ex-military.
'I expected handcuffs at the very least!' she drawled as she strolled past him into the marble hallway.
He arched iron-grey brows. 'What exactly did you have in mind?'
Was that amusement she saw in those hard blue eyes? No, surely not! 'Nothing like that, I assure you,' Gemini said dryly.
'That's what I thought.' He nodded as he took a vicelike grip of her arm. 'And handcuffs wouldn't look good in front of the other visitors.'
That remark might have been funny if the man hadn't looked so deadly serious when he made it! 'Where are you taking me?' she prompted with a frown, having tried to resist that steely hold and only succeeded in bruising her arm as the now grim-faced man all but frogmarched her down a long and silent hallway towards the back of the building. 'I asked--'
'I heard you.' He came to a halt beside a lift before deftly punching a security code into the lit keypad.
He'd heard her, but obviously had no intention of satisfying her curiosity. 'I'm sure this building is far too modern to have a dungeon,' she commented.
'But it does have a basement.' He shot her a narrow-eyed glance as the lift doors opened, and he pulled her in beside him before pressing one of the buttons.
The movement was made altogether too fast for Gemini to be able to see which button he had pressed before the doors closed behind them and the lift began to move. Down? Or up? Whichever it was, the lift was moving so fast her stomach seemed literally to somersault! Or maybe that was just her slightly shredded nerves? She hadn't particularly enjoyed coming to Lyonedes Tower this morning and making such a nuisance of herself, and the dangerous-looking man standing so still and silent beside her certainly didn't inspire confidence as to her future wellbeing!
Maybe trying to force a meeting between herself and either Markos or Drakon Lyonedes hadn't been such a good idea after all?
It had seemed perfectly logical and straightforward when Gemini had considered her options earlier that morning, as she sat in the kitchen of her apartment. But here and now, on her way to goodness' knew where, with a hatchet-faced man who looked as if he was more than capable of killing with his bare hands, it seemed far less so.
It was all Drakon Lyonedes's fault, of course. If the man didn't make it so impossible for people to see or speak with him then there would be no reason for her to resort to such drastic measures as she had this morning. As it was.
Her chin rose defensively as she chanced a glance at the grimly silent man standing beside her. 'Kidnapping is a serious offence, you know.'
'So is making a public nuisance of yourself,' he came back remorselessly.
'Lyonedes Tower isn't exactly public!'
'Keep telling yourself that, love.' Once again she thought she caught a glimpse of humour in those steely blue eyes, before it quickly dissipated and only the steel remained.
'There's nowhere for me to escape to, stuck in this lift, so it's probably safe to let go of my arm now--' She broke off abruptly as the lift came to a gliding halt and the doors slid silently open in front of her.
Not into a basement. Or a dungeon. But into the unlikeliest-looking office Gemini had ever seen.
Probably because it wasn't an office, she realised as Mr Grim pulled her with him into a huge and elegant sitting room. The thick-pile carpet beneath her booted feet was a rich cream colour, and several brown leather armchairs and a huge matching L-shaped sofa were placed near the marble fireplace. Occasional tables bore vases of cream roses, and a matching cream piano stood in one corner of the room, a bar area in another. She easily recognised some of the numerous paintings on the cream walls as being priceless works of art by long-dead artists, and the floor-to-ceiling windows that made up the wall directly in front of her displayed an amazing view of the London skyline. So--definitely not the basement, then!