The bartered bride?
Self-made billionaire Alexander Kosta has come to the island of Lefkis for revenge. He will see it destroyed, as it tried to destroy him. However, he hasn't counted on Ellie Mendoras. She's vowed she'll fight the gorgeous Greek tycoon with all her strength.
But there's a dangerous smile on Alexander's lips. As far as he's concerned, Ellie's a little firecracker who needs to be tamed. He'll seduce her into compliance and then buy her body and soul!
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January 31, 2008
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Excerpt from Bought: One Island, One Bride by Susan Stephens
The only time he relaxed was when he was here on the island of Lefkis, but today was different...
Alexander Kosta, saviour of the island? The mayor speaking to the crowd was calling him that. It was better that than the truth, Alexander supposed. A ruthless tycoon who had identified an opportunity didn't have quite the same ring to it.
His gaze strayed beyond the canvas-draped pavilion to the clear blue ocean beyond the harbour. He noted how the sea turned broody and emerald in the distance, and how the sugared-almond-coloured houses clustered round the perfect horseshoe bay had turned more vivid in the late-afternoon sunshine. The island of Lefkis was beautiful and unspoiled, and when it was put up for sale he had been ready.
He noticed everything, and today a young woman had distracted him. Standing in the prow of an old fishing boat, the only flaw in an otherwise picture-perfect panorama, she was glaring at him. He had given instructions for the harbour to be cleared of craft with shallow draft to make way for the super-yachts, but she was still there.
Ellie Foster, or Ellie Mendoras, as she called herself to honour her dead Greek father, had been chosen by the islanders to voice their objections to his vision of progress for Lefkis. But she didn't know the history behind his purchase, and she clearly didn't know what she was up against.
Perhaps he should be glad she had remained on her boat. The crowd was quiet, but if she joined them that would change. Charm was his weapon of choice in a situation like this, and he knew the dissenters would come round. The wealth he could bring to their island was irresistible.
He looked at the girl again. Her very presence was an insult. Dressed drably in what appeared to be a boiler suit, she couldn't have drawn a sharper contrast to the glamour girls surrounding him. And could her scowl possibly deepen?
Everyone else was smiling at him... Everyone smiled at him all the time, now he came to think about it. Why wouldn't they? The charisma of massive wealth worked its magic everywhere he went. Alexander Kosta was the success story everyone wanted a piece of. Born in a shack, he had learned at an early age that the only certainty in life was the food he put on the table, and the only love he could count on was the love that could be bought.
He could buy anything he wanted now, including an island. He had added Lefkis to his property portfolio as he might have added a vase he coveted from the estate of a man who in life had been both his greatest enemy and the greatest spur to his ambition. He envisaged a mini-Dubai springing up where once there had been bare rock and poverty. It was a wonder the island had survived beneath the heel of his predecessor, Demetrios Lindos.
The girl should thank him, Alexander thought, glancing at Ellie. The power-boat race was just the start of the improvements he intended to make. There would be hotels, luxury spas, shopping malls... Everyone would benefit, including the troublemaker on her old fishing boat.
Hearing a few locals murmur against his scheme,Alexander firmed his jaw. If they couldn't see what he was trying to do--if she stopped them seeing what he was trying to do...
She was preparing to disembark. Although she was too far away for him to see her features clearly, the tilt of her chin told a story of its own. Did she really intend to confront him? She had some nerve. The world measured him by what he owned and what he could buy, and everyone listened when he spoke. She should be down on her knees rejoicing that he had arrived in time to save her tinpot island.
Alexander watched Ellie stride determinedly towards him down the quay. Her God-given certainty that she was on the side of the angels got right under his skin.
As if reading his mind, the crowd turned to look in the same direction. He could feel the tension rising as though everyone sensed a storm brewing. They settled again, reluctantly, and stared at him. They weren't sure what to do. They'd had a taste of his generosity in the free food and entertainment he'd provided, and wanted more. In spite of the girl's determination to disrupt the proceedings he judged them more than ready to listen to his plan.
She was nothing to him; a nobody. He shut her out. The crowd was warming to him. Sunlight bathed the scene, enhancing the colours of the bunting fluttering over his head. The wind had dropped, turning the ocean into a limpid lake. This was his island. This peaceful and lovely scene belonged to him now. Ellie Mendoras had made her first big mistake, because if she was looking for trouble, she'd found it.
Money-making wasAlexander Kosta's greatest skill in life. His only skill in life, Ellie told herself contemptuously as she marched down the quay. In spite of everything he had achieved, he wasn't satisfied. He was still hungry for conquests, still searching for the next challenge; the next acquisition.