Demetriou Demands His Child(3)

By: Kate Hewitt



A flash of white, a crystalline sparkle, caught the corner of his eye and Alekos turned and glimpsed a young woman at the far end of the ballroom. Her slender body was encased in a white gown beaded with diamantés, her face hidden behind an ivory demi-mask like those many of the women wore this evening. Tonight was meant to be a costume ball, but few took it beyond a mask made elegant with jewels, feathers, and silk.

The woman moved, and Alekos admired the way the light gleamed off her blue-black hair, touched the round curve of her cheek and the slender hollow of her throat. She looked pure and lovely in comparison to the more jaded women who circulated the room, affecting poses of boredom. In contrast this woman glowed, like a luminescent, newly discovered pearl nestled amidst a thousand tarnished gems. Her eyes were wide as she gazed around the ballroom, drinking everything in as if she were viewing Aladdin’s cave of wonders. Alekos couldn’t remember ever looking or feeling that way, as if life was full of possibility, of wonder. Maybe he had as a small boy, before life had shown him how hard and grim it could be. How indifferent and cruel people could be.

Despite her obvious interest in her surroundings, the young woman was hugging the wall, too shy or perhaps simply content to be a mere spectator of events. Interest sharpened to a finely honed point inside Alekos and he started towards her. He didn’t know who she was, but he intended to find out.

‘Alekos.’ A meaty hand clapped him on the shoulder and Alekos turned, schooling his expression into an easy smile as he greeted Spiro Anastos, a corpulent CEO who had been one of the first to use his content management software system. ‘It is good to see you here.’

‘Spiro.’ Alekos shook the man’s hand. ‘It’s good to be here.’

‘You will have fun tonight, eh? My Sofia always says you work too hard.’

‘Perhaps I do.’ For the last four years he’d done nothing but work, regularly pulling twenty-hour days and going home only to eat and sleep for a few brief hours, all in order to establish his business and his name. And it had worked. He was twenty-six years old and CEO of his own company that was growing fast.

‘Tonight is for pleasure,’ Spiro stated. ‘Drink, eat, dance.’ His eyes sparkled as he threw his arms wide. ‘Make love!’

Alekos gave a smiling nod as Spiro let out a belly-deep chuckle. Clearly the older man had been indulging in the first of his commands, and Alekos didn’t begrudge him it.

‘I’ll bear your words in mind,’ he murmured and with a nod of farewell he shouldered past Spiro, intent on finding the woman who had captivated him from a distance.

* * *

Iolanthe stood on the edge of the ballroom, her mask held up to her face. She’d managed to slip from Lukas when he’d been waylaid by some businessmen, and she had no desire for him to find her again. She’d already endured several dances with Lukas; his hands had been damp, his steps mechanical, and his halting conversation had been about computer software. But at least the music had been lovely and Iolanthe had enjoyed the way her skirt had swirled about her as they’d moved across the floor, the music swelling and crashing over them in a symphonic tide.

Maybe she would dance again tonight. Maybe someone else, someone who could actually look her in the eye and make conversation, would ask her.

She pictured it now: a handsome man striding purposefully across the floor, intent firing his eyes, his mouth curving into a smile of sensual promise as he held out his hand...

A flush spread through her body at the thought, and Iolanthe laughed softly, amused and embarrassed by her own girlish fantasy. Most likely she would stand here in the corner for most of the ball, avoiding Lukas and staying in the shadows, awed by the older and more sophisticated women who tossed back their perfectly groomed heads and uttered tinkling laughs. Well, she could still enjoy that. Just looking at all the women in their gorgeous ball gowns was a delight, especially after a lifetime spent in virtual isolation.

‘Good evening.’

Iolanthe stiffened as a figure suddenly loomed in front of her, his voice low and authoritative and strangely sensual. It took her stunned brain a moment to realise he was actually addressing her, and then another few seconds to respond.

‘Good...good evening!’ She’d instinctively pressed her mask closer to her face, its wire frame nearly cutting into her skin, and now she blinked and peered through the feathered eyeholes to get a better look at the man who had approached her. He was as tall and dark as anything out of her naïve fantasies, she realised with a rush of both excitement and alarm. Well over six feet, the stark lines of his tuxedo jacket emphasising his broad shoulders and impressive chest. Eyes the colour of topaz surveyed her with thorough consideration, while perfectly defined lips that could have graced a Grecian statue curved in blatant male appreciation.

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