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Bought for the Billionaire's Revenge

By:Clare Connelly

PROLOGUE

HIS CAR CHEWED up the miles easily, almost as though the Ferrari sensed his impatience.

He exited the M25, the call he’d received that morning heavy on his mind.

‘He’s broke, Nik. Not just personally, but his business, too. No more assets to mortgage. Banks are too cautious, anyway. The whole family fortune is going to go down the drain. He’s about to lose it all.’

Nikos should have felt overjoyed. There was something about chickens coming home to roost that ought to have brought him amusement. But it hadn’t.

Seeing Arthur Kenington suffer had never been his goal.

Using the man’s plight to avenge the past, though... That idea held infinite appeal.

For six years he’d carried the other man’s actions in his chest. Oh, Arthur Kenington wasn’t the first elitist snob Nikos had come up against. Being the poorest kid at a prestigious school—‘the scholarship boy’—had led to an ever-present sense of being an outsider.

But it had been so much worse with Arthur. After all, the man had paid him to get out of Marnie’s life, declaring that Nikos would never be good enough for his precious daughter. Worse, Marnie had listened to her father. She’d dropped him like a hot potato.

Marnie.

Or ‘Lady Heiress’, as she was known: the beautiful, enigmatic, softly spoken society princess who had, a long time ago, held his heart in her elegant hands. Held it, pummelled it, stabbed it and finally, at her father’s behest, rejected it. Thrown it away as though it were an inconsequential item of extremely limited value.

It had hurt like hell at the time, but Nikos had long ago credited it as the fuel that had driven his meteoric rise to the top of the finance world.

A dark smile curved his lips as he navigated the car effortlessly through London’s southern boroughs.

The tables had turned; the power was his and he would wield it over Marnie until she realised what a fool she’d been.

He had the power to help her father, to prove his own worth, and finally to hold her heart in his hands and see if he felt like being gentle...or repaying her in kind.





CHAPTER ONE

SHE SHOULDN’T HAVE COME.

The whole way into the city she’d told herself to turn around, go back. It wasn’t too late.

But of course it was.

The second Marnie had heard from him the die had been cast. It had fallen into the water of her life, changing stillness to storm within seconds.

Nikos.

Nikos was back.

And he wanted to see her.

The elevator ascended inside the glass building, but it might as well have been plunging her into the depths of hell. A fine bead of perspiration had broken out on her top lip. Marnie didn’t wipe it. She hardly even noticed it.

Every cell of her body was focussed on the next half-hour of her life and how she’d get through it.

‘I need to see you. It’s important.’

His voice hadn’t changed at all; his tone still resonated with assuredness. Even at twenty-one, with nothing behind him, Nikos Kyriazis had possessed the same confidence bordering on arrogance that was now his stock in trade. Sure, he had the billions to back it up these days, but even without the dollars in his bank he’d still borne that trademark ability to command.

For the briefest of moments she’d thought of refusing him. So long had passed; what good could come from rehashing ancient history? Especially when she knew, in the deepest corner of her heart, that she was still so vulnerable to him. So exposed to his appeal.

‘It’s about your father.’

And the tiny part of Marnie that had wanted to run a mile at the very thought of coming face-to-face with this man again had been silenced instantly.

Her father?

She frowned now, thinking of Arthur Kenington. He’d been different lately. Distracted. He’d lost a little weight, too, and not through any admirable leap into a healthy lifestyle. She’d become worried, and Nikos’s call, completely out of the blue, had underscored those concerns.

The elevator paused, the doors sliding open to allow two men to enter, both dressed in suits. One of them stared at her for a moment too long, in that way people did when they weren’t sure exactly where they knew her from. Marnie cleared her throat and looked straight ahead, her wide-set eyes carefully blanked of any emotion. She tried to conceal the embarrassment that always curdled her blood when she realised she’d been recognised.

When the elevator doors swished open to the top floor of the glass and steel monolith at the heart of Canary Wharf, she saw an enormous sign on the wall opposite that pronounced: KYRIAZIS.

Her heart thumped angrily in her chest.

Kyriazis.

Nikos.

‘Oh, God,’ she whispered under her breath, pausing for a moment to settle her nerves.

The painstakingly developed skill she possessed of hiding her innermost thoughts and feelings from the outside world failed her spectacularly in that moment. Her skin, usually like honey all year round, was pale. Her fingers trembled in a way that wouldn’t be stopped.

‘Madam? May I help you?’

She blinked, her golden-brown eyes showing turmoil before she suppressed the unwanted emotion. With a smile that sat heavily on her lips, Marnie clicked across the tiled foyer.

More recognition.

‘Lady Kenington,’ the receptionist said with a small tilt of her head, observing the visitor with undisguised interest from the brown hair with its natural blonde highlights to the symmetrical features set in a dainty face down to the petite frame of this reclusive heiress.

Cold-hearted, the tabloids liked to claim, and to the receptionist there seemed indeed an air of aloofness in the beautiful woman’s eyes.

‘Yes, hello. I have an appointment with...’ There was the smallest hesitation as she steeled herself to say his name aloud to another soul. ‘Nikos Kyriazis.’

‘Of course.’ The receptionist flicked her long red hair over one shoulder and nodded to a banquette of chairs across the room. ‘He won’t be long. Please, take a seat.’

The anticlimax of the moment might have made Marnie laugh under different circumstances. All morning she’d counted down to this very moment, seeing it as a sort of emotional D-day, and now he was going to keep her waiting?

She moved to the seating area, her lips pursed with disapproval for his lack of punctuality. Behind her there was a spectacular view, framed by a wall of pure glass.

She’d followed his meteoric rise to the top, reading about each success and triumph in the papers alongside the rest of the world. It would have been impossible not to track his astounding emergence onto the world’s financial stage. Nikos had built himself into a billionaire with the kind of ease with which most people put on shoes in the morning. Everything he’d touched had turned to gold.

Marnie had contented herself with congratulating him in her dreams. Or reading about him on the internet—except when her heart found it could no longer handle the never-ending assault of images that showed Nikos and her. The generic ‘Other Woman’ he habitually dated. She was always tall, with big breasts, blonde hair and the kind of extroverted confidence that the Marnies of this world could only marvel at.

In a thousand years she’d never be like one of them. Those women with their easy sexuality and relaxed happiness.

As if to emphasise her point, her fingers drifted to the elegant chignon she’d styled her shoulder-length hair into that morning. A few clumps had come loose. She tucked them back into place with care, then replaced her manicured hands in her lap.

Almost twenty minutes later the receptionist crossed the room purposefully. ‘Lady Kenington?’

Marnie started, her face lifting expectantly.

‘Mr Kyriazis is ready to see you.’

Oh, was he? Well, it was about time, she thought crossly as she stood and fell into step behind the other woman.

A pair of frosted glass doors showed a dark, blurred figure that could only be him. The details of his features were not yet visible.

‘Lady Kenington, sir,’ the receptionist announced.

On the threshold of not just the door but of a moment she’d fantasised about for years, Marnie sucked in a fortifying breath and then, on legs that were trembling lightly, stepped into his palatial office.

Would he be the same?

Would the spark between them still exist?

Or had six years eroded it completely?

‘Nikos.’

To her own ears her voice was cool and detached, despite the way her heart was stammering painfully against her ribs. Standing by the windows, he turned to face her at the receptionist’s pronouncement, the midafternoon sun casting a pale glow over him that focussed her attention on him as a spotlight might have.

The six years since she’d last seen him had been generous to Nikos. The face she’d loved was much the same, perhaps enhanced by wisdom and the hallmarks of success. Dark eyes, wide-set and rimmed by thick black lashes, a nose that had a bump halfway down from a childhood accident, and a wide mouth set above a chin with a thumbprint-sized cleft. His cheekbones were as pronounced as always, as though the features of his face had been carved from stone at the beginning of time. It was a face that conveyed strength and power—a face that had commanded her love.

He wore his dark hair a little shorter now, but it still brushed his collar at the back and had the luxuriant thickness that had always begged her to run her fingers through it. His dark eyes, so captivating, flashed with an emotion that seemed to Marnie almost mocking.

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