The Konstantos Marriage Demand
Harlequin Presents Extra
ISBN: 0373527578
March 16, 2010
Buy from Amazon.com or eHarlequin.com

The Konstantos Marriage Demand
Mills & Boon
ISBN: 0263877671
January 15, 2010
Buy from Amazon.co.uk

Find Kate's books in ebook format at Harlequin.com or in the UK at MillsandBoon.com.

Excerpt from The Konstantos Marriage Demand

CHAPTER ONE

In spite of the driving rain that lashed her face, stinging her eyes, and almost blinded her, Sadie had no trouble finding her way to the offices where she had an appointment first thing that morning. From the moment that she left the tube station and turned right, it was as if her feet were taking her automatically along the route she needed, with no need to look where she was going.

But then of course she had been this way so many other times before. In other days, some time ago perhaps, but often enough to know her way without thinking. Of course then she had been heading in this direction in such very different circumstances. In those days she would have arrived in a taxi or perhaps a chauffeur-driven car, with a uniformed driver sliding the limousine to the edge of the kerb and opening the door for her. Then, the offices toward which she had been heading belonged to her father as the head of Carteret Incorporated. Now they were the UK headquarters of the man who had set out to ruin her family in revenge for the way he had been treated.

And who had succeeded far more than he had ever dreamed.

Burning tears mingled with the sting of the rain as Sadie forced her feet towards the huge plate glass doors that marked the entrance to the elegant building, blinding her so that she almost stumbled across the threshold. Bitter acid swirled in her stomach as the doors slid open and she recognised the way that the words Konstantos Corporation were now etched in big gold letters on the glass where once she had been able to see her father’s name – her family name - displayed so clearly.

Would she ever be able to come back here and not think of her father dead and in his grave for over six months while the man who had hated him enough to take everything he possessed from him now lorded it over the company that her great-grandfather had built up from nothing into the multi-million corporation it now was?

'No!' drawing on all the determination she possessed, Sadie shook her head, sending her sleek dark hair flying, her blue eyes dark with resolve as she stepped into the wide, marble-floored foyer. Her black patent high heeled shoes made a clipped, decisive sound as she made her way across to the pale wood reception desk.

'No!' she muttered under her breath again.

No way was she going to let the cruel memories of the past destroy her now. She couldn't let them take away the hard-won strength she had drawn on to get herself here. The resolve that was holding her upright and, she prayed, stopping her legs from shaking, her knees from giving way beneath her. She had come here today because it was her last – her only chance. She had to brave the lion in his den and ask – beg him - to give them this one small reprieve. Without it the thought of the consequences were impossible to bear. For herself, her mother and her small brother. She couldn't let anything get in the way of that.

'I have an appointment with Mr Konstantos,' she told the smartly dressed young woman behind the reception desk. 'With - Mr Nikos Konstantos.'

She prayed that no tremor in her voice gave away how difficult she had found it to say the name – his name. The name of the man she had once loved almost to the point of madness. The name that she had once believed would be hers too for the rest of her life until she had realised that she was just being used as a pawn in a very nasty power game. A cruel game of revenge and retribution. A settling of scores from wounds that had originally been inflicted long ago and had spent long, bitter years festering viciously until they had poisoned so many lives. Her own amongst them.

'And your name is?' the receptionist enquired.

'Carter,' Sadie supplied, hoping that the sudden dropping of her green eyes to examine some non-existent spot on one of her hands, didn't betray how difficult she had found it to come out with the lie. 'S – Sandie Carter.'

She had had to resort to the subterfuge of a false name, she acknowledged inwardly, a nasty taste in her mouth at having been reduced to this. She knew only too well that if she had tried to gain an appointment with him in her real identity then Nikos Konstantos would never even have given her a moment's consideration. Her request to see him would have been refused with a cold-blooded arrogance, and unyielding rejection. Her attempt to contact him would have been squashed death under his arrogant heel before it had even struggled into life and she would be back where she had been at the start of this week, lost, desperate, penniless, and without a hope in the world.

She didn't have much of a hope now, but at least the receptionist was checking through a list of names and times on her computer, smiling her satisfaction as she found the fictitious one that Sadie had given her, and making a swift click with her mouse as she checked it off.

'You're a little early . . .'

'Not to worry – I can wait . . .' Sadie put in hastily, knowing only too well that 'a little early' was a major understatement. She was way too early – by more than half an hour. But nervousness and a real fear that she might back out of this if she hadn't left home just as soon as she was ready had pushed her out of the door well before the time needed for her journey.

'No need,' the other woman assured her. 'Mr Konstantos's first appointment cancelled so he can see you straight away.'

'Thank you,' Sadie managed because it was all she could say.

She'd committed herself to this interview and she had to go through with it. But now that the time had come she felt sick at just the thought of confronting Nikos here, in what had once been her family's offices. What had possessed her to do this? To think that she could cope with seeing Nikos for the first time in four years and coming back into the building that did so much to emphasise how far her family's fortunes had fallen – both at the same time.

'I think perhaps. . .' she began again, all her already shaky courage deserting her, meaning to say that she'd changed her mind. She had another appointment, or her mother had just called . . . anything to give her an excuse to leave, get out of here now. To run and hide before she had to come face to face with . . .

'Mr Konstantos . . .'

The receptionist's tone, her sudden change of expression would have alerted Sadie to just what was happening, even without the use of that emotive name. The other woman's eyes had widened, her gaze going straight to a point over Sadie's shoulder, behind her back. And the expression in it, as in the way she had said the name - that name – told Sadie without another word needing to be spoken just who had come up behind her, silent as a hunting jungle cat, and possibly just as deadly.

'Has my ten o'clock appointment arrived?'

'She's right here . . .'

The receptionist smiled as she indicated Sadie standing before her desk and she clearly thought that Sadie would smile back. Smile and turn. Possibly say hello or some such.

But Sadie knew that she couldn't move. Her legs seemed to have frozen to the spot. Her mind too had iced up, leaving her incapable of registering a single thought other than the fact that he was behind her.

That Nikos Konstantos was right behind her. And that at any moment he would see her and realise who she was.

Excerpt from The Konstantos Marriage Demand © Kate Walker

 

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