Read The Highest Stakes of All Online

Authors: Sara Craven

Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Contemporary Women, #General

The Highest Stakes of All (15 page)

BOOK: The Highest Stakes of All
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Vassos said gently, ‘
Agapi mou,
‘ and, gulping, she flew back to his arms. He lifted her and carried her to a sofa, settling her on his lap, before taking the elastic band from her hair and combing the shining strands loose with fingers that shook a little.

She said in a whisper, ‘Were you really going to send me away?’

‘Only so that I could come and find you, my precious one. As I should have done that day when we first looked at each other. As I almost did,’ he added in a low voice. ‘Until I told myself I was there for revenge, not to fall in love. Then, that night, when I realised who you were, I cursed the Fates for playing me such a trick. For making you a girl I could never have as my own. Only to find, when I took you, that I had been wrong—about you—about everything—and that somehow I must atone for what I had done. I thought—I hoped—that when we were truly lovers things might change. That I could persuade you to enjoy being in my arms. Make you want to stay for ever. But it did not happen, and I knew I had only myself to blame. That I had hurt you, repelled you.’

‘You think I didn’t want you?’ Joanna played with one of the buttons on his shirt. ‘Oh, Vassos, I did. Almost from the beginning, even though I wouldn’t admit it.’ She swallowed. ‘After I’d left you that first night, I couldn’t sleep for thinking of you, so I decided to go back to your room.’

He turned her face up to his. ‘Then why did you not do so, my sweet one?’

‘Because you decided to go fishing.’ Her mouth trembled into a smile. ‘I watched you leave. And after that—you were so different. I didn’t know how to get near you.’

‘One smile,
agapi mou,
one touch of your hand would have been enough,’ he said unsteadily. ‘I was dying for you. Desperate to love you as you deserved. But scared to show you in case you turned away for ever.’

He paused. ‘I went to Athens to think. I feared you would always regard Pellas—and this house—as a prison, and that if there was to be any hope for us it would have to begin elsewhere. Even when you gave yourself to me at last, I could not believe that you really wanted me. I thought you were simply using my need for you for your own purpose, and I was bitter. Then, when I heard the truth about Eleni, I knew I had to begin my atonement by returning you to your father. That there could be no other way.’

He gave a faint groan. ‘I was trying so hard to behave well, but when they came and I heard his wife—how she spoke to you—what she was planning—I knew I could not let you go. I would beg you on my knees to stay with me.’

She kissed him softly. ‘Except I didn’t give you the chance.’

agapi mou.
Instead you gave me the whole world.’ He paused. ‘Is there really to be a baby? I ask because it has occurred to me that when you came to me at last I forgot to be careful.’

Joanna smiled into his eyes, her hand stroking his cheek ‘No, darling, I’m not pregnant. Not yet. What I said just now was a promise for the future, not a statement of fact. Although I think Eleni would like to have a little brother or sister, don’t you?’

‘Yes, my dearest one.’ Vassos drew her closer. ‘But first, and more importantly, I want to have a wife.’

‘But until you’re married,’ she whispered, ‘won’t you still need a pillow friend?’

‘A pillow friend.’ He kissed her. ‘A companion.’ He kissed her again.

‘And a sweetheart for the whole of my life. And do you know something,
agapi mou?
‘ he murmured against her lips. ‘By some miracle they are all called—Joanna.’

All the characters in this book have no existence outside the imagination of the author, and have no relation whatsoever to anyone bearing the same name or names. They are not even distantly inspired by any individual known or unknown to the author, and all the incidents are pure invention.
All Rights Reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. This edition is published by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises II BV/S.à.r.l. The text of this publication or any part thereof may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, storage in an information retrieval system, or otherwise, without the written permission of the publisher.
This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out or otherwise circulated without the prior consent of the publisher in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
® and TM are trademarks owned and used by the trademark owner and/or its licensee. Trademarks marked with ® are registered with the United Kingdom Patent Office and/or the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market and in other countries.
First published in Great Britain 2011
Harlequin Mills & Boon Limited,
Eton House, 18-24 Paradise Road, Richmond, Surrey TW9 1SR
© Sara Craven 2011
ISBN: 978-1-408-92556-0
BOOK: The Highest Stakes of All
12.56Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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