‘AND since Leland has given me power of attorney over his affairs, I shall trail that little tramp through the courts and ruin her!’ Jennifer Coulter announced with vindictive satisfaction.
Angelos Petronides surveyed his late mother’s English stepsister with no more than polite attention, his distaste concealed, his brilliant black eyes expressionless. Nobody would ever have guessed that within the last sixty seconds Jennifer had made his day by putting him in possession of information he would’ve paid a considerable amount to gain. Maxie Kendall, the model dubbed the Ice Queen by the press, the one and only woman who had ever given Angelos a sleepless night, was in debt...
‘Leland spent a fortune on her too!’ As she stalked his vast and impressive London office, Jennifer exuded seething resentment. ‘You should see the bills I’ve uncovered... you wouldn’t believe what it cost to keep that little trollop in designer clothes!’
‘A mistress expects a decent wardrobe...and Maxie Kendall is ambitious. I imagine she took Leland for everything she could get.’ Angelos stoked the flames of his visitor’s outrage without a flicker of conscience.
Unlike most who had witnessed the breakup of the Coulter marriage three years earlier, he had never suffered from the misapprehension that Leland had deserted a whiter than white wife. Nor was he impressed by Jennifer’s pleas of penury. The middle-aged blonde had been born wealthy and would die even wealthier, and her miserly habits were a frequent source of malicious amusement in London society.
‘All that money gone for good,’ Jennifer recounted tight-mouthed. ‘And now I find out that the little tart got this huge loan off Leland as well—’
Imperceptibly, Angelos had tensed again. Trollop, tart? Jennifer had no class, no discretion. A mistress was a necessity to a red-blooded male, but a whore wasn’t. However, Leland had broken the rules. An intelligent man did not leave his wife to set up home with his mistress. No Greek male would ever have been that stupid, Angelos reflected with innate superiority. Leland Coulter had made a fool of himself and he had embarrassed his entire family.
‘But you have regained what you said you wanted most,’ he slotted into the flood of Jennifer’s financial recriminations. ‘You have your husband back.’
The dry reminder made the older woman flush and then her mouth twisted again. ‘Oh, yes, I got him back after his heart attack, so weak he’s going to be recuperating for months! That bitch deserted him at the hospital...did I tell you that? Simply told the doctor to contact his wife and walked back out again, cool as a cucumber. Well, I need that money now, and whatever it takes I intend to get it off her. I’ve already had a lawyer’s letter sent to her—’
‘Jennifer...with Leland laid low, you have many more important concerns. And I assure you that Leland would not be impressed by the spectacle of his wife driving his former mistress into the bankruptcy court.’ From below lush black lashes, Angelos watched the blonde stiffen as she belatedly considered that angle. ‘Allow me to deal with this matter. I will assume responsibility for the loan and reimburse you.’
Jennifer’s jaw slackened in shock. ‘You...you will?’
‘Are we not family?’ Angelos chided in his deep, dark, accented drawl.
Slowly, very slowly, Jennifer nodded, fascinated against her will. Those incredible black eyes looked almost warm, and since warmth was not a character trait she had ever associated with Angelos Petronides before she was thrown off balance.
The head of the Petronides clan, and regarded with immense respect by every member, Angelos was ruthless, remorseless and coldly self-sufficient. He was also fabulously wealthy, flamboyantly unpredictable and frighteningly powerful. He scared people; he scared people just by strolling into a room. When Leland had walked out on his marriage, Angelos had silenced Jennifer’s martyred sobs with one sardonic and deeply unsympathetic glance. Somehow Angelos had discovered that her infidelity had come first. Chagrined by that galling awareness, Jennifer had avoided him ever since...
Only the greater fear of what might happen to Leland’s international chain of highly profitable casinos under her own inexpert guidance had driven her to approach Angelos for practical advice and assistance. Indeed, just at the moment Jennifer could not quite comprehend how she had been led into revealing her plans to destroy Maxie Kendall.
‘You’ll make her pay...?’ Jennifer prompted dry-mouthed.
‘My methods are my own,’ Angelos murmured without apology, making it clear that the matter of the loan was no longer her province.