For Revenge…Or Pleasure?

By: Trish Morey

CHAPTER ONE




SO THIS was the A-List? From his vantage point on the less crowded mezzanine, Loukas Demakis narrowed his eyes and scanned the sea of glittering celebrities milling about below in the Beverly Hills mansion’s ballroom. He suppressed a sneer as his gaze slid over the megastars, the wannabes and the otherwise rich and famous, all trying to out-dazzle each other with their designer clothes, designer bodies, and enough bling-bling to light up Times Square.

And all of it so fake!

His jaw clenched, teeth grinding together. This wasn’t his world. The sooner he was out of here the better.

But first he had a job to do. The words of his father rang loud in his memory—‘Get her away from them. I don’t care what it takes or who gets hurt—just get her out of there!’

And, dammit, after what had happened to Zoë, there was no way he would let his sister so much as be touched by any of them. He’d do whatever it took to stop her. He’d do whatever it took to keep her safe!

The crowd swayed apart as a woman strode up to the dais. Two women. He pressed closer to the balustrade, his fingers tightening around the rail.

It had to be them. The sorcerer and her apprentice.

Cheers and applause erupted from the crowd when his instincts proved right and Dr Grace Della-Bosca was introduced. A woman in a golden gown stepped up to the microphone. He peered closer. For someone he knew to be on the wrong side of fifty she was remarkably well-preserved. Tutankhamen’s bride wearing Dolce & Gabbana. But then, eternal youth was her business.

He’d meant to listen to what she had to say. He started to listen. Until the second woman turned towards the crowd and smiled, and the breath ripped out of him as if he’d taken a blow to the body.

Jade Ferraro.

This was the woman he’d come to meet. This was the woman he’d come to question. In the flesh.

And what flesh!

Where Della-Bosca’s skin looked as if it had been stretched to within an inch of its life, the younger woman’s was smooth and flawless, her features arranged on her face in a way that found the idea of classic good looks wanting. Clear almond-shaped blue eyes echoed a smile that was wide—almost too wide—though her lips looked lush enough to take the width and then some.

But her face was only one part of the package. Her honey-coloured hair was swept into a sleek coil that exposed the long sweep of her neck to her surprisingly modest neckline.

And the dress! There was nothing modest about it—it must have been shrink-wrapped around her. Without the shimmering aqua colour of the material it would have been impossible to tell where her skin ended and the fabric began, the way it hugged tight over her breasts, dipping into the curves and skimming over the flat of her stomach. The gown was a total failure in terms of disguising the shape beneath, and yet there was no doubt peeling it off would still be an exercise in discovery. An exercise for which he’d be only too happy to volunteer.

With a growl laced with acerbity he clamped down on the traitorous response of his body.

Of course she was a looker. She was bound to be! Because there was no doubt her attributes owed more to the skilled hands of Dr Grace Della-Bosca, the mother superior of the high church of cosmetic surgery, than to any generous endowment by Mother Nature. She was a walking advertisement for the witch doctor’s talents.

The speech came to an end and the crowd once again broke into applause. The younger woman turned back towards the dais a fraction, and then hesitated, her hands locked together as if frozen mid-clap. Then her head swivelled back over her shoulder, her chin lifted and swept up across the crowd, until her eyes jagged and stuck rock-solid on his.

He saw them widen in shocked perplexity; he saw the fractional coming together of her brows as she battled for recognition. He even fancied he felt the tremors spreading out from the quake that rippled through her, and in that instant he decided on a new and much more satisfying course of attack. He allowed himself a smile as his body hummed its approval of his plan.

It hadn’t been his choice to come here tonight, but just because he had to mix with a crowd of people he had nothing in common with and even less respect for it didn’t mean he couldn’t enjoy the mission he was on. Why should he settle for just questions and answers when he could have so much more? Why shouldn’t he find out what Jade Ferraro was really made of?

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