Hallie Athanas tried very hard not to smile as she heard MJ shyly ask her groom if he could dance with her. For a moment, Helios Andreadis, the powerful President of the world's most successful underground racing club, appeared pained. "Dancing is for sissies," he muttered under his breath, which Hallie easily heard since she was standing right next to them.
MJ's face fell. "Oh."
Helios glared. "Don't give me that look."
His nineteen-year-old bride blinked in confusion. "What look?"
Helios glared harder. "That look. Like I'm breaking your heart or something."
MJ smiled valiantly. "You are not."
Another moment passed, MJ smiling, Helios glaring...and then the President sighed. An exasperated smile curved on his lips. "Fine, brat but only for tonight, because it's our wedding day and I want you to know how much I love you."
And so it was that MJ Vlahos-Andreadis blushed the whole time Helios danced with her. She also ended up laughing out loud as Helios, who hated dancing, whirled around every second, faster and faster, so no one could ever capture their faces clearly with their cameras.
It was surreal, seeing the couple together, looking blissfully happy and in love, after what they had gone through in the past year. It was even more surreal that in this huge crowd only a few of them knew what had happened. Other people would look at Helios and MJ and probably think that a tomboyish Cinderella had found her Prince Charming in the person of a handsome, rich, and notoriously aloof bike racer. But Hallie knew better. And because she knew better, it made her want so much to have her own fairy tale ending with the man of her dreams.
The thought made her glance at Andreus Economou, the most badass member of the Afxisi. His official role in the club was Treasurer, but Hallie knew it was a euphemism at best. Unlike the others, she had taken great lengths to know what exactly Andreus did when he went off on his frequent jaunts around the world. At the start, it was because she was worried he'd have a mistress in every city he visited. But then she discovered what Andreus was really doing, and since then she had spied on his actions out of fear for his safety.
She checked her watch, which was fashioned like a bracelet, its straps made of rubies and gold. It had been thirty minutes since the dancing had started - and she just couldn't take it anymore. She had told herself she wouldn't embarrass herself tonight, but...she loved him. Maybe tonight, it would be different?
On the other side of the ballroom, Andreus stood like a Greek god, talking to the younger members of the club. While he wasn't as tall as the President, he definitely had a lot more muscle, requiring all his formal wear to be custom-made to fit his tough, hard body. Just looking at him made her mouth dry. He exuded such raw power, it just left her speechless at times, wondering how it was that being born with a silver spoon in his mouth hadn't been able to smooth and polish the rough edges of Andreus' personality. It was as if he was born with a gritty kind of manliness that no amount of sophistication could ever soften.
Picking up the skirts of her gown, Hallie slowly made her way to Andreus. When she was just a step away from his back, she waited for him to turn, knowing that Andreus was aware of her presence. He always was. They had that kind of connection. He was just so stubborn about ignoring it.
But still he didn't turn. Stubborn man. Did he think that was enough to dissuade her? Tiptoeing, she let her fingers drift on his shoulder. Just once, but slowly, savoring the excuse to be in contact with him. And then she waited, knowing that even if Andreus Economou would rather kill himself than date Yuri Athanas' younger sister, he had never really been able to resist her either.
One, two, three seconds of holding her breath passed before Andreus finally turned. He looked at her, his face intimidatingly grim. She looked back at him, a serene smile on her face. He did this all the time, too. But sooner or later, he would smile and everything would be---
Andreus suddenly cupped her elbow and led her away from his crowd of young fans. He looked down at her and said tightly, "Don't bother me right now, princess."
She didn't see that coming. He had always been rude and unfailingly blunt but...not like that. Not ever with her.
Hallie searched for a clue in his expression but couldn't find any. And he still didn't smile, making her own smile falter. "I'm not---"
"Just stay the hell away from me for now, Hallie. You're getting on my nerves---"
Someone from behind them snickered.
When Andreus spun around, Hallie saw that a couple of the club's fourth-year volunteers had overheard Andreus. "You should listen to the Treasurer," one of the girls said derisively. "It's time you found out you can't always have special treatment just because you're Yuri Athanas' kid sister."
***To be continued***
As a thank you to all those who stuck with Helios and MJ till the very end, here's something I thought you'd be interested in reading. Enjoy!
Here is where I talk about behind-the-scene stuff that readers may want to know more about.