Even so, pride demanded that he at least let her know there were limits he would not cross, not even for her.

“I cannot promise to wait for as long as you need me to,” he said tightly, “but I will try—”

A kiss cut him off, and Ioniko was stunned rigid. It had been an incredibly long time since someone had managed to stun the shit out of him, but this kiss…he had definitely not seen it coming, knowing how shy and wary Schuyler was of him.

An endearingly clumsy movement of her lips doused him out of his shock, and Ioniko wasted no time in seizing control of the kiss as his passion surged into life. He urged her lips to part open and drove his tongue inside to claim his prize.

Eísai díkos mou.

You are mine.

And he strove to remember this when it was time to let her go. Willed himself to believe in it while he paced his hotel room, knowing that it was about this time some asshole would come knocking on Schuyler’s door—

Fuck this.

Since he had an entire squad tailing her the moment they had landed back in Miami, all it took was one quick call, and his driver already knew where to drop him off. He stepped out of the limousine, and as soon as his driver sped away, he gained an unobstructed view of the restaurant across the street…and the couple seated on one of the windowside tables.

Fuck.

It didn’t matter that they had an entire table between them. Didn’t matter that not once had she come close to having the other man touch her. It just didn’t fucking feel right—

“Ioniko?”

The voice was familiar, and he turned towards it.

Stavros Manolis grinned when he saw that it was indeed the Greek billionaire that, once upon a time, had almost been a rival of his. “Are you here for business as well?”

“Ne.”

Stavros saw the other man’s gaze drift back to the restaurant across the street, and he had no problem spotting the redhead that Ioniko was staring at. “Your girlfriend?”

Ioniko’s lips twisted. “Not exactly.”

Stavros raised a brow. “So you’ve finally found a woman who’s able to say no to you?”

“While the woman in question definitely hasn’t any trouble saying no to me,” Ioniko said dryly, “we both know she is not the first one…” He stopped speaking when he saw the way Stavros’ gaze snap back to Schuyler, and when his friend started to frown, he asked right away, “What is it?”

“I was thinking something was familiar about her.”

Ioniko frowned. “So you noticed it, too?” His gaze narrowed at Schuyler. “It’s funny, though, but I still can’t…”

“She reminds me of Mairi.”

Ioniko stiffened. “Schuyler isn’t a brunette—”

Stavros shook his head. “I’m not talking about superficial similarities.”

Ah.

“Maybe it’s her smile? Or the way she acts?” Stavros rubbed his jaw. “To be honest, it’s been a while since Willow and I met up with Damen and Mairi, so I could be wrong.”

“Could be,” Ioniko heard himself say.

“Anyway, it was nice meeting you. Willow and I will be here for another week, so if you’re sticking around, we should have dinner together.”

“Ne. I’ll call you.”

“If you can…bring your not-exactly-girlfriend with you,” Stavros suggested with a smirk.

“Fuck you.”

Stavros laughed. “I’ll be seeing you.” He turned to walk away, not realizing that with just a few words he had managed to turn his friend’s world upside down.

Ioniko slowly turned his gaze back to Schuyler, but he couldn’t even fucking see her this time. All he could see, all he could think about was…

Mairi.

Part III

Several years ago

“Ioniko.”

A helpless rage washed over him at the fragile tone of her voice. Even now, he still couldn’t say with certainty that this woman truly held his heart in its entirety. But at the very least, a piece of it was hers, and for him that was enough. With a piece of his heart lost to hers, he hurt when she hurt, and right now the pain that was tearing through him was excruciating.

The whole of Greece thought she was trash, and with no company willing to brave the combined wrath of Esther Leventis and that of the Kokinos’ clan, she had been forced to take on a job that was not much different from modern-day slavery…

And there was nothing he could do or say about it, he thought sickly.

He was Ioniko fucking Vlahos, the head of his own billion-dollar empire, and yet when it came down to what really mattered, fate had rendered his fortune useless, and all he could do was watch as the only woman who meant something to him continued to suffer.

“If you do not want me to fight for you, then you must look strong in front of me. You must look strong and happy that you have indeed chosen Damen Leventis over me. That you do not regret loving him. Because if you continue looking the way you look now, you tempt me to go back on my word and try to steal you away.”


Tags: Marian Tee Billionaire Romance
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