Greek Tycoon, Inexperienced Mistress

By: Lynne Graham

CHAPTER ONE

AS TWO of the more elderly directors of Dionides Shipping again pressed questions that had already been answered Atreus let his attention stray to the Art Deco bronze on the far side of the boardroom. It was of a voluptuous Spanish dancer, only half-clad in what might once have been a romanticised concept of gipsy clothing.

When Atreus had first taken over as CEO of the family business he had been stunned by the sexy statue, which had seemed so out of step with his grandfather’s stern, old-fashioned outlook on life.

‘She reminded me of my first love,’ the old man had confided with a faraway look in his faded eyes. ‘She married someone else.’

Atreus could not imagine such a disappointment happening to him. The women he met these days were financially astute and a challenge to shake off. Ever since he’d been a teenager he had been relentlessly hunted by gold-digging beauties who would throw themselves in his path in attempts to ensnare him and his wealth. Black-haired, with eyes dark as sloes, and six foot three inches in height, Atreus had always been an object of desire. By the time he had twice become the unhappy focus of false paternity claims he had decided that he would only marry a woman with a fortune and social standing to match his own. His late father, Achilles, had set his only son a chilling example by living an exemplary life until the age of forty, when he had inexplicably gone off the rails by abandoning his wife and only child to run off with an artist’s model famous for dancing on tables. From then on wild self-indulgence and extravagance had ruled the lives of both Atreus’s parents, and he had lost his early childhood to their excesses. After that, raised almost entirely by his strict paternal uncle and aunt, Atreus had been deeply suspicious of any inner prompting to step off the straight and narrow. That had been his father’s fatal flaw; it would not be his.

Regardless of that fact, the Art Deco bronze had contrived recently to acquire a strange significance for Atreus. It reminded him of an episode some weeks earlier that had taken place on his country estate. On a warm summer afternoon while he had been walking through the woods he had come upon a curvaceous brunette skinny-dipping in the river. Her presence on private land had infuriated him. After all, he had paid a fortune for the seclusion of his large estate, and he employed numerous staff to guard his privacy from trespassers and camera lenses. Ironically, ever since then the memory of the brunette’s indescribably lush and creamy curves had had an extraordinarily erotic hold on him—awake and asleep. Yet she had been a woman who had borne not the slightest resemblance to the slender elegant blondes who usually attracted him…

In fact she had not been his type in any way, Atreus acknowledged impatiently. According to his estate manager, Lindy Ryman was an eccentric animal-lover who scratched a living making and selling pot-pourri and candles. A regular churchgoer, she was also a well-respected member of the local community, who hid her remarkable curves beneath drab long skirts and wintry woollens. Atreus had been tough on her in the woods, for at first he had been convinced that she had deliberately schemed—like so many women before her—to set up their encounter. Once he’d appreciated that she was no cunning temptress he had sent her flowers and an apology. He’d been amazed when she’d ignored those olive branches and failed to make use of the phone number he had included.

His mood darkening at the length of time his thoughts had stayed focused on the Ryman woman, Atreus suddenly wondered if he should offer her compensation to surrender her tenancy on his estate. Out of sight would be out of mind, and that might well be the best cure for what afflicted him. He had no doubt that he was too intelligent and logical to succumb to the attraction of a woman who was so outrageously unsuitable for him in every way…

 

‘You dumped Sarah?’ Lindy repeated, turning to glance at Ben.

‘She was getting serious. Why do women always do that?’ Ben enquired, with the pained expression of a male continually tortured by besotted females.

Look in the mirror, Lindy almost told him. She could still recall when she had fallen under the enchantment of Ben’s floppy blond hair, light green eyes and rangy frame. That had been way back when they’d first met at university, and he had put her firmly in the pigeonhole marked ‘Friends’. There had been no jumping ship. Some of the best days of her life had been wasted while she’d wished that she was tiny, cute and giggly instead of shy, sensible and quiet. Since then Lindy had got over him, and grown accustomed to watching him cut a destructive swathe through a long line of beauties. Ben didn’t want commitment, it seemed, just a good time. A City of London trader, he had a successful career and all the worldly trappings that ranged from a flash car to smart suits and the membership of the right gym. Yet Ben never really seemed happy with his lot, Lindy acknowledged ruefully.

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