Rhiannon Davies's plan was to reunite her late friend's baby with the infant's Greek father, then return home...alone. Instead Lukas whisks them away to his private island! Soon Rhiannon falls under the spell of the sun, sea--and the ruthless tycoon himself. Caught up in a wave of desire for the devastatingly handsome Lukas, she finds herself agreeing to marriage--with a man who has made it clear he'll never love her....
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March 31, 2008
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Excerpt from The Greek Tycoon's Convenient Bride by Kate Hewitt
Rhiannon Davies checked her reflection one last time before nodding to the babysitter.
'Right...I should only be an hour or two.' She glanced uncertainly at the baby sitting on the floor, chewing on her house keys and looking at her with dark, soulful eyes. 'She might need a nap in a little while.'
The babysitter, a stout Frenchwoman with an impassive expression, nodded once before stooping to pickAnnabel up in her arms.
Rhiannon watched, noticed how the older woman's arms went comfortably around Annabel's chubby middle and carried her with a confident ease she had yet to feel herself.
'I don't think she'll cry,' she ventured, and was answered with another brisk nod.
In the two weeks since Annabel had been in her care, the baby had hardly cried at all. Despite the whirl of events, the change of both home and mother, she simply regarded the world with big, blank eyes. Rhiannon suspected the poor mite was in shock.
That was why she was here, she told herself firmly, not for the first time, ignoring the pangs of guilt and longing stabbing her middle. Her heart.
She had come to France, to this exclusive resort, to Lukas Petrakides, to give Annabel some stability. To give her love.
Annabel stuck a fist in her mouth and chewed while gazing in blank curiosity at the woman who'd come so abruptly into her life.
They hadn't bonded, Rhiannon acknowledged, hadn't really tried. It was too strange, too difficult, too sad.
She'd never even held a baby before Leanne, pale-faced, wide-eyed, had thrust a sleeping Annabel into her arms. Take her.
Rhiannon's arms had closed around the solid little form as a matter of instinct, but her arms had been at awkward angles and she hadn't been sure how to cuddle.
Annabel had woken up with a furious screech.
'Goodbye, sweetheart.' Hesitantly Rhiannon stroked one satiny cheek. Annabel simply blinked.
It was better this way, she knew. Better they didn't get attached. Then it would be so much easier to say goodbye.
A lump formed in her throat; she forced it down. She would do what she had to do to secure Annabel's future and, more importantly, her happiness.
No matter what the cost.
She stole one last look at her reflection: dark curls, mostly tamed behind her ears, a face pale but with a sprinkling of freckles in stark relief, a smart if inexpensive skirt, and a matching sleeveless top in aquamarine. Modest, businesslike. Appropriate.
Suppressing a sigh, she slipped out of the hotel room.
The sun was bright, the air fresh and clean as she walked along the outside corridor. The newest Petra Resort, situated in this remote, exclusive corner of the Languedoc province of France, was simple, spare and elegant. Having arrived in darkness, she now took note of the bougainvillaea spilling from terracotta pots, the climbing vines, the clean colours.
It had cost her half a month's salary--far more than she could possibly afford--to book even the cheapest room at the resort on its opening weekend. If there hadn't been a last-minute cancellation she wouldn't have got in at all.
Taking a deep, cleansing breath that was meant to steady her jangling nerves, Rhiannon hoped this journey would be worth it. For Annabel.
She closed her eyes briefly. This was all so, so crazy.
Only a fortnight ago Leanne had exploded back into her life--and out again just as quickly. Leaving confusion and Annabel in her wake. And the name of Annabel's father.
Rhiannon bit her lip as fresh doubts assailed her, washed over her in a sickening wave. What if Lukas refused to talk to her? Or, worse, denied his responsibility? When she'd attempted to contact him by telephone she hadn't made it past the first hurdle.
We'll give Mr Petrakides your message.
Yeah, right. The disbelief and scorn had been obvious, shaming. They hadn't even taken her number or her name.
Then she'd read in the local newspaper that a new Petra resort was opening in France, seen that Lukas Petrakides would be there at a reception for the resort's first guests. She knew it was a chance--perhaps the only one--for Annabel to know her father. Her family.
Every child needed parents. Real ones, not strangers who took them out of duty, obligation.
She believed that with all her heart. She wanted more for Annabel. She wanted to give her a family. She didn't know where she herself would fit into that equation, if at all. The thought had first chilled her; now it merely numbed.
She understood about sacrifice. She was prepared.
Rhiannon walked down several corridors, looking for the lounge that the resort had advertised as the location for the 'Meet and Greet' reception.