What The Greek Wants Most

By: Maya Blake

CHAPTER ONE

THEO PANTELIDES ACCELERATED his black Aston Martin up the slight incline and screeched to a halt underneath the portico of the Grand Rio Hotel.

He was fifteen minutes late for the black tie fund-raiser, thanks to another probing phone call from his brother, Ari.

He stepped out into the sultry Rio de Janeiro evening and tossed the keys to an eager valet who jumped behind the wheel of the sports car with all the enthusiasm Theo had once felt for driving. For life.

The smile that had teased his lips was slowly extinguished as he entered the plush interior of the five-star hotel. Highly polished marble gleamed beneath his feet. Artistically positioned lighting illuminated the well-heeled and threw the award-winning hotel’s design into stunning relief.

The hotel was by far the best of the best, and Theo knew the venue had been chosen simply because his hosts had wanted to show off, to project a false image to fool him. He’d decided to play along for now.

The right time to end this game would present itself. Soon.

A sleek designer-clad blonde dripping in diamonds clocked him and glided forward on sky-high stilettos, her strawberry-tinted mouth widening in a smile that spelled out a very feminine welcome. And more.

‘Good evening, Mr Pantelides. We are so very honoured you could make it.’

The well-practised smile he’d learnt to flash on and off since he was eighteen slid into place. It had got him out of trouble more times than he could count and also helped him hide what he did not want the world to see.

‘Of course. As the guest of honour, it would’ve been crass not to show up, no?’

She gave a little laugh. ‘No, er, I mean yes. Most of the guests are already here and taking pre-dinner drinks in the ballroom. If there’s anything you need, anything at all, my name is Carolina.’ She sent him a look from beneath heavily mascaraed eyelashes that hinted that she would be willing to go above and beyond her hostess duties to accommodate him.

He flashed another smile. ‘Obrigado,’ he replied in perfect Portuguese. He’d spent a lot of time studying the nuances of the language.

Just as he’d spent a lot of time setting up the events set to culminate in the very near future. For what he planned, there could be no room for misunderstanding. Or failure.

About to head towards the double doors that led to the ballroom, he paused. ‘You said most of the guests are here. Benedicto da Costa and his family. Are they here?’ he asked sharply.

The blonde’s smile slipped a little. Theo didn’t need to guess why. The da Costa family had a certain reputation. Benedicto especially had one that struck fear into the hearts of common men.

It was a good thing Theo wasn’t a common man.

The blonde nodded. ‘Yes, the whole family arrived half an hour ago.’

He smiled at her, effectively hiding the emotions bubbling beneath his skin. ‘You’ve been very helpful.’

Her seductive smile slid back into place. Before she could grow bolder and attempt to ingratiate herself further, he turned and walked away.

Anticipation thrummed through his veins, as it had ever since he’d received concrete evidence that Benedicto da Costa was the man he sought. The road to discovery had been long and hard, fraught with pitfalls and the danger of letting his emotions override his clear thinking.

But Theo was nothing if not meticulous in his planning. It was the reason he was chief troubleshooter and risk-assessor for his family’s global conglomerate, Pantelides Inc.

He didn’t believe in fate but even he couldn’t dismiss the soul-deep certainty that his chosen profession had led him to Rio, and to the man who’d shattered what had remained of his tattered childhood twelve years ago.

Every instinct in his body yearned to take this to the ultimate level. To rip away the veneer of sophistication and urbanity he’d been forced to operate behind.

To claim his revenge. Here. Now.

Soon…

He grimaced as he thought of his phone call with his brother.

Ari was beginning to suspect Theo’s motives for remaining in Rio.

But, despite the pressure from his family, neither Ari nor Sakis, his older brothers, would dare to stop him. He was very much his own man, in complete control of his destiny.

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