Oh, and also a note about Off Guard - I made this available for free on all retailers so that when I update it with new chapters, you only have to update the version of the book on your reader. You wouldn't need to visit my website and download a new file.
Now, on to Greek 5...
You've all been asking WHEN it's going to be out. I'd really like to give you a specific date but honestly, I DO NOT WANT TO JINX IT especially now that it's in its final stages of publishing.
All I can tell you for now is to keep an eye on your inbox or my Facebook page or Twitter. I'll make the announcement REALLY SOON. And by announcement I mean that the book is finally live.
Again, I'm sorry for making you wait. I honestly HATED the original version of this book. I just plain hated it and I have a feeling you would have hated it, too.
As for this final version, I cannot of course guarantee that you'd love it. All I can say is that I wrote this from the heart and that every word was meant to do justice to Damen and Mairi's story.
Excerpt: The Art of Wedding a Greek Billionaire
He said: You’re being sarcastic, aren’t you? Our wedding was like a hole-in-the-wall affair and I still think we should marry again. You deserve a proper---
She said: I mean it. My every dream came true when I saw you waiting for me.
Note to editor: We’ll get back to drafting this chapter later. My beloved wife has just given me a raging hard-on that cannot be ignored a moment longer.
A tall dark-haired man stood with his back to the windows, sunlight cascading from behind to lay golden stripes on the royal blue carpet. He had the strong classic features of a Greek god, but marring its perfection were the faintest shadows of bruises that were still in the process of healing. He was dressed in a well-tailored black suit, with a snowy white shirt underneath.
The room he was in had marble floors, expensive stenciled wallpaper, and high vaulted ceilings. At two hundred square meters, the room was the largest in the building and cost more than a thousand dollars at night, something not any ordinary person could afford.
Even so, there was no denying the truth.
This was a hospital room, and it was not fit to be the wedding venue for a man who was once a billionaire.
When the door opened, Damen Leventis drew his breath sharply at the sight that greeted him. Standing in the doorway was the girl he would risk everything for.
The girl who had captured his heart…and whose heart his own cruelty and cynicism had caused to break…over and over.
For a moment, all they did were stare at each other.
Memories, short but vivid, passed through his mind, and Damen’s fists clenched at his sides.
So many memories…
Mairi, the first time he had seen her in Diana’s school, her beautiful smiling face a picture of innocence and optimism…
Mairi, the first time he had kissed her, and with a dazed look in her eyes, all she could say was ‘hi’…
Mairi, the first time he had told her the truth about his engagement to Alina Kokinos, and she could only look at him helplessly as if wanting to stop loving him but unable to…
Damen’s chest heaved.
So many damn memories, and most of them were darkened by the pain he had caused Mairi.
If he was an honorable man, he would cancel the wedding and let her go. She deserved someone better, someone who would never cause her to cry a single teardrop.
But he was not an honorable man when it came to Mairi.
He was a man whose heart no longer belonged to himself, a man whose life would be forfeit if she ever left his side.
He would never let her go. It didn’t matter if she no longer loved him. It didn’t matter if she only chose to stay with him out of pity.
Damen would take Mairi any way he could.
Mairi smoothed one trembling hand over the lacy overskirt of her dress, a concoction of white silk that her best friend Velvet Lambert-Sallis had especially ordered for her. Velvet was on her honeymoon now, and it was only at Mairi’s insistence that neither Velvet nor Mandy had come to her wedding. Everything about her life now was a mess, and she didn’t want her friends to suffer from any kind of public backlash because of her.
As the stylist continued to weave her hair into artful curls, Mairi let her gaze drift around the spacious walk-in closet of Damen’s hospital room, now serving as her temporary bridal boudoir.
Next to the door was a lovely waist-high rosewood cabinet, and gracing its top was a vase of exotic roses sent by Drake Morrison. The flowers had come with a handwritten note, and remembering the message made Mairi hastily blink back tears.
In your heart, you never betrayed him.
And he knows that.
“I’ll be placing the wreath now,” the stylist announced.
Mairi nodded, her eyes going to her reflection. The wreath was a gift from her aunts, a work of art made from gold-plated vines and pearls roped in the shape of flowers. They had spoken on the phone last night, and when the memory of their conversation fluttered inside her mind, Mairi had to take deep breaths to keep herself from breaking down.
‘We so badly want to be there, Mairi, but right now we can help you more if we stay here,’ Vilma had said.
‘This time, dear girl, we’ll be fighting for you. And all we ask is that you be strong for us. Can you do that for us, Mairi?’ Norah had asked.
The stylist stepped back to admire his handiwork. “There, we’re done…”
Mairi slid her feet into the shoes that looked very much like glass slippers, a gift from Diana Leventis and her classmates. The girls had used their own allowance to buy Mairi their gift, and they had sent it with a selfie photo of the entire class.
We love you, Ms. Yay!
Thank you for teaching us to dream.
Slowly, she stood up, and the stylist took her hand to draw Mairi towards the full-length mirror at the side of the room.
A young woman looked back at her, dressed in a white silk dress that bared her shoulders and emphasized the slimness of her waist before falling to a loose ballerina skirt that fell a few inches past her knees.
So many people had suffered because of her foolish heart and her decision to love blindly.
This time, it would be different.
This time, she would be strong for everyone.
It might be a mistake to love Damen after everything, but it was a mistake that she knew she would make over and over again.
She loved Damen, and she would always love him but this time, she would make sure her love would hurt no one – not her aunts, not her friends, not even Damen – but herself.
“Are you ready?”
It was not the stylist who spoke. This time, the low, dark voice came from Ioniko Vlahos, one of the few persons who had remained at her side from the very start. Dressed in a dove gray suit, the Greek billionaire had insisted on the honor of giving her away when he realized that neither Mairi nor Damen would be dissuaded from their decision to marry before leaving the hospital.
Ioniko moved to her side and gently took her arm. Looking down at Mairi, he realized that a part of him had always known this beautiful young woman would never belong to him. From the very start, Mairi only had eyes for one Greek billionaire.
Still, he had to ask, “You are sure of this?”
A brief smile touched her lips as she answered honestly, “It’s what I’ve always dreamed of.”
Ioniko’s lips curved.
That explained it all, really.
Since Damen Leventis was no longer a Greek billionaire, that really explained it all.
Damen’s chest tightened with each step Mairi took towards him.
Beside him, Damen’s best man said under his breath, “You must allow yourself to breathe, my friend.” He was Stavros Manolis, another Greek billionaire whose looks and power had turned him into a celebrity figure. Notorious for being reclusive and aloof, Stavros had shocked the world when it was revealed that he, too, had been vying for the hand of Mairi Tanner, now labelled as a modern-day Mata Hari.
Color stained Damen’s high cheekbones at the realization he had not indeed breathed since the first step Mairi took inside his room. Having overheard Stavros’ aside, the nurses who had been invited to witness the wedding giggled to themselves.
But soon the sounds died and all was left was the most profound silence as Mairi came to stand in front of Damen.
Their gazes met.
And no words had to be spoken.
In the background, the priest started to speak. “Dearly beloved, you have come to this church so that the Lord may seal and strengthen your love…”
Slowly, Damen reached for Mairi’s hand.
Her fingers curled around his and tightened, and the quiet show of support and loyalty humbled Damen.
Soon, the time came for Mairi to profess her eternal love to Damen.
“Do you take Damen to be your husband? Do you promise to be true to him in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, to love him and honor him all the days of your life?”
Fear erupted from nowhere, suffocating her, and for a moment she was lost in the most awful memories.
Esther Leventis, calling her a slut because she had slept with him even if he was promised to another woman…
Cleon Frangos, licking his lips as he unzipped his pants while telling her that they could come into an understanding…
Alina Kokinos, telling Mairi that she had been sleeping with Damen since he had thrown her out…
Mairi squeezed her eyes shut.
She was going to put everything behind her now.
When she opened her eyes, Damen was gazing at her, his eyes fierce, his jaw clenched hard.
Everything inside Damen demanded that he beg for Mairi to stay with him, to marry him, and to love him. But he held the words back even if doing so almost killed him. He was not as selfish as he had thought, after all.
If she married him, the future ahead of them was anything but rosy.
He was no longer a Greek billionaire.
He was only a man who made too many mistakes, and all he could offer her was his love.
He would not keep her with him if she chose to be smart and run away from this wedding.
And so he waited.
Time passed ever so slowly. Around them were reminders of forces that were for and against them. The documents of Esther’s lawsuit against him on the bedside table, the gift from his sister and her aunts, the men who cared for Mairi enough to give her away to Damen if she so chose…
At that moment, Damen realized none of it mattered.
Whether people stood by them or not didn’t matter.
All he wanted was Mairi to be his wife, and if she said yes, then he would fight to the death to keep her safe, cherished, and loved.
His head jerked up, Damen unable to believe that he had really heard Mairi whisper the words.
Unshed tears shone in her eyes as she whispered again, more fiercely, “I do.”
The rest of what the priest had to say was lost in the applause that followed.
Damen pulled Mairi into his arms, and cupping her face, he took her mouth in a kiss that, for as long as it lasted, obliterated every memory of pain.
As their lips met in that one kiss sealing their union, it was as if the past had never happened and Damen Leventis and Mairi Tanner were just two people who had always been in love with each other.
But no kiss lasted forever.
When Damen and Mairi parted, everything came back.
And the knowledge that this was a wedding of two broken beating hearts.