None of the motives he’d attributed to her actions during their marriage withstood the revelations she’d made in his office. And damn it to hell, he hadn’t intended to have sex with her. Not yet.

No matter how much he’d enjoyed it and knew the pleasure to be reciprocal, he didn’t like being out of control. And he had been. He didn’t like deviating from the plan. And he had done.


Frustration and a touch of something he absolutely refused to acknowledge, but someone else might label fear, went through him. He took a deliberate sip of his coffee and the unwelcome flavor pouring across his tongue hit him as another testament to his loss of control.

With another low curse, he threw the cup against the bulletproof glass of his oversize office windows. The sound of shattering crockery was a lot more satisfying than his own thoughts.

Jean opened the door almost immediately. “Is everything all right in here?”

“Is she gone?” Ariston demanded.

“Yes.”

“You gave her instructions for where to meet for dinner?” Plans he’d made before Chloe ever set foot in his office this morning.

“I did.” Jean looked at the broken china cup and coffee spilled against the window. “I know you don’t like that blend, but was that entirely necessary?”

“Have maintenance in to clean it up when I’ve left,” he instructed without answering her gentle gibe.

She nodded, her expression revealing concern he had no desire to see. “Do you need anything?”

“Just privacy.” The words came out harsher than intended, but he wasn’t about to apologize.

Jean, being the highly efficient and intelligent PA that she was, closed the door with a soft snick, disappearing on the other side.

His meeting with Chloe ran over and over in his mind, his superior brain having difficulty aligning newly discovered realities with beliefs he had held for two years.

She hadn’t confirmed it, but he now believed there was a strong possibility that his wife had walked out on him because of the divorce papers her father had told her about.

Divorce papers Ariston had drawn up in his absolute fury at discovering Chloe’s deceitful actions.

Actions that no longer fit into the scenario Ariston had first assigned to them, but behavior that was no less a heinous betrayal of both his grandfather and himself regardless of what had motivated it.

How else could he see her use of birth control when one of the major reasons for their marriage contract was to provide his grandfather with the certainty of the next generation of Spiridakous?

Ariston had believed that marrying Chloe as part of a business bargain would take the messy emotional side out of his need for children to pass the Spiridakou empire onto. His own father had messed up spectacularly in that arena repeatedly.

And Ariston’s one foray into the world of romance had had him crashing and burning, not to mention losing several million dollars on a business deal gone bad in the bargain.

So when his grandfather had come to him and asked him to consider a contractual marriage to ensure the next generation, after careful consideration, Ariston had agreed. As he’d reminded Chloe, it wasn’t so uncommon among the men at his level of power and wealth.

He knew Eber Dioletis was looking for a single investor to infuse capital into his company.

Eber didn’t want to give enough shares of the company for the investment capital he expected in return, but the marriage deal made it possible for both men to find a win-win.

Emotions were messy and devastating.

Business was something Ariston understood and knew how to control, so finding a wife as the result of a business deal appealed very much.

He now realized his certainty that a business marriage would come without the complications he’d sworn off, not once, but twice in his life—first because of his parents’ devastating mistakes and then because of his own—was one of the reasons he’d been so livid with Chloe for lying to him.

She’d let him down personally, but more important, Chloe had betrayed him on a business level, just as Shannon had done. Only this time, Ariston’s grandfather had been hurt as well and Ariston found that untenable.

The one person in his life he could trust and wanted to protect, and Chloe had betrayed them both.

Ariston hadn’t discovered what she’d been up to until a couple of months before their third anniversary. He’d been looking for his wife’s favorite pair of earrings so he could have a complementary necklace and bracelet made as a gift to celebrate the occasion.

He’d also hoped to use the jewelry to soften her toward having fertility tests done. Ariston hadn’t said anything, but he’d been to his own doctor and tests had confirmed that there should be no problem with conception coming from his side.

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