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Excerpt: The Greek Tycoon’s Convenient Bride

He watched her from the shadows.

Lukas Petrakides stood behind the camouflaging fronds of a palm tree, his eyes tracking the young woman as she slipped from her hotel room onto the silky sand of the beach.

Dark, wild curls blew around her face and her slender arms crept around herself in a hug that was pitiably vulnerable.

He hadn’t meant to stumble upon her--or anyone--here. He’d been consumed with a restless energy, his mind full of plans for the new resort that had just opened here in the Languedoc, minutes from a sleepy village, stretching out to a pristine beach.

He’d needed to escape the confines of his own suite, his own mind, even if just for a moment.

The wind and the waves shimmering beneath a diamond sky soothed him, and he’d slipped off his shoes, rolled up the cuffs of his trousers, and strode down the smooth, white sand.

And found her.

He didn’t know what drew him to her, why that slender form seemed to hold so much grace, beauty, desire.

Sorrow.

Her head was bowed, her shoulders slightly slumped, the look of someone in grief or pain.

Still he felt a blaze of feeling deep within. A need, a desire, a hope. A connection.

He took one step towards her, an impulse, an instinct, before checking himself. He couldn’t afford to let her see him, let alone talk to her. He knew his presence here would cause questions, complications he couldn’t afford.

He had to keep his reputation above the faintest reproach. He always had. So he stood in the shadows, watched her walk towards the waves, and wondered.

She stood on the shore, the waves lapping her bare feet, and gazed out at the calm waters of the Mediterranean. She threw one worried glance over her shoulder towards the sliding glass door of her hotel room, as if someone was there, waiting, watching like he was.

Who waited for her in there? A boyfriend, husband?

A lover?

Whoever it was, it was none of his business.

If he were a different man--with a different life, different responsibilities--he might not have checked that impulse. He might have walked up to her, said hello, made conversation.

Nothing sleazy or sordid; he didn’t want that. Just honest conversation, a shared moment. Something real and warm and alive.

The desire for it shook him, vibrated deep in his being. He shook his head. It was never going to happen.

He wasn’t--couldn’t be--that man.

A bitter smile twisted his lips as he watched her. She dropped her arms, raised her face to the moon-bathed sky. The breeze off the sea molded her cheap sundress to the slight contours of her body. Her curves were boyish at best, yet Lukas still felt a stirring of desire.

A desire he wouldn’t act upon. Couldn’t. As the only son of his father, the only heir to the Petrakides real estate fortune, he carried too many responsibilities to shrug them off lightly for a mere dalliance with a slip of a girl. For a moment’s connection.

He would never let it be anything more.

His grey eyes hardened to pewter. He thought he heard her give a little shuddering sigh, but perhaps it was the wind. Perhaps it was his imagination.

Perhaps that sound had come from him.

She jerked her head around sharply, and he drew in a breath as he stepped back, deeper into the shadows. Had he made a sound, one that she’d heard?

Her gaze swept the beach, fastened on the sliding glass door to her hotel room. She hadn’t seen him, he realised; something from inside the room, a person, a man? had beckoned her.

Her body sagged slightly, her arms dropping to her sides, her head bowed as she turned to head back inside.

Lukas watched her go, wondered who--what--called her. Why did she look so sorrowful, as if the weight of the world rested on those slight shoulders?

He knew how that felt. He understood about crippling weight.

The sliding glass door closed with a click, and suppressing another wave of longing, Lukas turned to head back to his private suite.

Excerpt From: THE GREEK TYCOON'S CONVENIENT BRIDE by Kate Hewitt
Copyright © 2008 by Kate Hewitt
Permission granted by Harlequin Books S.A. All rights reserved.

January 2008