The cold porcelain of the bathroom sink pressed against Alexandra Dupree’s forehead as she leaned against it, her stomach still heaving from its third early morning upset in as many days. She dragged air into lungs starved by the unpleasant moments spent bent over the sink.
After a minute of doing nothing but breathe, she tentatively brought her body erect. A small twinge of nausea hit her, but she was able to control it. Okay, as unpleasant as this new early morning ritual had become, she had something even less pleasant to perform. She stared at the small white stick with all the wariness she would feel for a snake found curled around the base of the commode.
Dimitri had been fanatical about using birth control. So she’d convinced herself one late period didn’t mean anything, until she woke up heaving three days ago. At first she’d thought she had the flu, sure there could be no possibility she was pregnant even though the condom had broken a month ago. Her menses had come right on time a week later.
She still didn’t understand how this could be possible, but she had too many symptoms to deny. Her breasts were tender. She was tired all the time. She’d cried when Dimitri told her he had to spend more time in Greece and wouldn’t be returning to their Paris apartment for several days. She never cried.
She forced herself to do what was necessary for the pregnancy test. Ten minutes later the world went white around the edges as she stared at the blue line confirming she carried the child of Dimitrius Petronides.
Dimitri clenched his fists, refusing to give vent to his frustration.
"You know it is time. You are thirty, heh? You need a wife, some babies, a home." The older man’s gray head tilted arrogantly, while he fixed Dimitri with a look that said he would argue this to the ground.
Dimitri had no desire to argue anything with his grandfather. He had barely survived a heart attack five days ago. Dimitri smiled. "I’m hardly in my dotage, Grandfather."
The man who had raised Dimitri and his brother since their parents’ deaths snorted. "Don’t try to get around me with your charm. It won’t work. You’re my heir and I need to go to my grave knowing you will do your duty by the Petronides name."
Dimitri’s heart contracted. "You are not going to die."
His grandfather shrugged. "Who of us is to say when we will die? But I’m old, Dimitrius. My heart is not as strong as it once was. Is it so much to ask you marry Phoebe now? Why put it off? She’s a sweet girl. She’ll make you a proper Greek wife. She’ll give you Petronides babies."
Eyes sliding shut, the older man breathed shallowly as if his short speech had taken more out of his weakened physical state than he had to give. Dimitri wanted to do something, but he was powerless. His grandfather’s doctors wanted the old man to have heart surgery, but he had refused to discuss it.
"Why won’t you have the by-pass operation your doctor is recommending?"
"Why won’t you marry?" the old man countered. "Perhaps if I had great-grandchildren to look forward to, the pain of such an operation would be worth going through."
Dimitri felt the blood drain from his face. "Are you saying you won’t have the operation if I don’t marry Phoebe Leonides?"
Dark blue eyes, so much like his own, opened to stare at Dimitri with all the stubbornness a Petronides male had to bear. "Yes."
Alexandra nervously smoothed the kerchief style silk halter-top over the non-existent bump where her baby rested under her heart.
The unaccustomed warmth of late spring had allowed her to wear the sexy outfit to boost her flagging morale. She turned to the side and surveyed herself in the full-length mirror in her bedroom. Her willowy body encased in the champagne silk hip-hugging pants and sexy halter looked no different than it had when Dimitri had left for Greece.
The week old knowledge that she was pregnant with his child might show in her wary hazel eyes, tinted sultry green by colored contacts, but it had not yet affected the shape of her body. She adjusted the gold chain belt resting low on her hips and the multiple thin bangles she wore on her wrist tinkled like small bells as they clinked together. Then in a nervous gesture, she pulled another curling strand of her hair down to frame the soft angles of her face.
Permed and professionally bleached so many shades, it looked like rippling sunlight when she let it down, her hair was a Xandra trademark. Only right now, she didn’t feel like Xandra Fortune, popular model and lover to Greek Tycoon, Dimitrius Petronides. She felt like Alexandra Dupree, daughter of an old New Orleans family, convent educated and shocked to be unmarried and pregnant with her lover’s child.
"You look beautiful, pethi mou."
Alexandra spun away from the mirror. Dimitri stood in the door, masculine appreciation burning in his startling blue eyes. For a moment she forgot her condition. Forgot the many truths she needed to tell him. Forgot her fears. Forgot everything but how much she had missed this man over the past three weeks.
She flew across the room and threw herself against his chest. "Mon cher, I have counted the minutes since you left!"
Strong arms locked around her in an almost convulsive movement while his body remained strangely stiff. "It has only been a month and you have been busy with work. You cannot have missed me that much."
His words reminded her how he had resented her refusal to quit modeling when they had become lovers, but she had not wanted to be any man’s kept mistress. Nor had she had the option of quitting her job. She needed the money she made to support the family he knew nothing about.
"You are wrong. Nothing can keep me so occupied I do not notice your absence. A day. A week. A month. I grieve them all." She grimaced inwardly at her blatant vulnerability. Where had her sophisticated cool gone, the career model façade that had initially drawn Dimitri to her?
The first crack had appeared when he’d told her he was going to be in Greece longer than anticipated and she’d cried. After two-and-a-half weeks of morning sickness, a positive pregnancy test and her mother’s horrified reaction to the news, the Xandra Fortune persona was in definite risk of extinction.
Dimitri tried to hold onto his self-control, not an easy thing around Xandra. And this was Xandra as he’d never seen her. Clingy. Almost vulnerable, but he knew that could not be true. They had become lovers a year ago and although she shared her body with a generosity that moved him, she kept her heart and parts of her life hidden from him.
Their relationship was modern and free of long term commitment, something she’d made it clear by her actions she did not expect from him.
She pressed her body to his in blatant invitation and he laughed. "You mean you have grieved my absence from your bed, do you not?"
That was the only place he was convinced she need him. She wouldn’t let him support her, making it obvious she would rather spend time away from him than give up any part of her career. None of this, however, made it easier to say what needed to be said. In fact, he was sure it would be harder for him to say the words than for her to hear them. His sophisticated lover would not appreciate an drawn out, or emotional good-bye any more than he would.
She shook her head, stretching up to link her hands behind his neck and brushed the hair at his nape. "I missed you, Dimitri. There was no joy in cooking for myself alone, no pleasure in watching the French Open without you to mutter when your favorite double-faulted on game point."
He frowned, remembering the play. She smiled at him with a look that spelled his doom if he didn’t get his news out quickly. It had already wrought an instant response in his body. "I have news I must tell you."
Her arms went stiff in reaction to the seriousness of his tone. "Can it not wait, moncher?"
He reached behind his neck to remove her hands, but she locked her fingers with surprising force.
He clasped her wrists. "We must talk now."
Alexandra did not want to talk. She was not ready to share her news. He’d seduced her from the beginning. She’d given him her heart, her body and her fidelity, as committed to him as any wife could be. Only she wasn’t his wife and she didn’t know how he’d respond to his lover getting pregnant.
Fear more than desire prompted her hips to grind against him. "No." She kissed his chin, tasting the skin and letting her body absorb the return of its other half. "No talk." She brushed her unfettered breasts behind her thin top back and forth across the crisp white silk of his shirt. "First, this."
"Xandra, no." He pulled her hands away from his neck, but made the mistake of letting them go.
She tunneled under his jacket and pushed it off his shoulders. "Dimitri, yes."
He glared at her, but he did not stop her from pushing his suit coat to a pile of expensive Italian designer fabric on the floor. She smiled in approval. "I want you, Dimitri. We can talk later."
She needed the affirmation that they were two halves of the same whole before she could tell him the truth about the baby she carried and equally as terrifying, the truth about who and what she was.
He grabbed her round the waist and lifted her until her mouth was even with his own. "Heaven help me, I want you too."
There was something about the angry tone in his voice she did not understand, but she could not focus on it for long, not with his warm lips closing over her own in overwhelming passion.
She tore at his tie while he made quick work of the two hooks holding her top together. He helped her with the buttons on his shirt. The two garments fell to the thick pile carpet together and his lips never separated from hers. He pulled her flush against his body and the naked flesh of her already aroused nipples brushed the heat of his muscular chest.
She shivered in reaction while he groaned.
"We should not be doing this."
The words registered only subliminally, planting a question as to why they should be said, but she could not consciously respond to them. She was too overwhelmed by the feel of his flesh against her own for the first time in over a month. He seemed similarly affected as his arms tightened around her until she could barely take a breath.
Seconds later they lay entwined on the bed, the rest of their clothes discarded, hungry hands touching intimate places, mouths devouring one another. They climbed to the heights together with a speed they never had before. When they tumbled into starbursts and oblivion, masculine shouts mingled with her own cries of pleasure.
Alexandra laid her hand over Dimitri’s heart. It still beat with the accelerated pulse of recently spent passion.
"Such a strong heartbeat," she murmured, "such a strong man." Would the news she had to share direct that strength toward her or against her?
His body tensed as if he had some premonition of what was to come. He rolled away and ejected himself from the bed. "I need a shower."
She stared at the six-foot-four-inch sexy giant towering above the bed. Tension was emanating off him in waves.
"I’ll join you."
He shook his head. "Stay there. I will be quick."
Her heart squeezed at the small rejection, but she smiled and nodded. "All right." Craven coward that she was, she gladly accepted another excuse to put off telling him her news.
He came out of the bathroom fifteen minutes later dressed in his usual sartorial elegance, but his dark hair was still damp. His choice of another business suit over something less formal made her pause.
"Do you have a meeting?"
The chiseled features of his gorgeous face were set in an unemotional mask. "Xandra, there is something I must tell you."
She scooted into a sitting position, pulling the sheet with her to shield her body from the blue gaze that had mesmerized her from the moment they met. "What?"
"I’m getting married."
Everything inside her went still. Had he said what she thought he had said? No. It wasn’t possible. "M-married?"
His hands fisted at his sides, his body stiff with tension she could no longer ignore. "Yes."
She could not take it in. It had to be some kind of joke.
"If this is your idea of a marriage proposal, you’ve got a lot to learn."
Sensual lips twisted in a grimace. "Do not be ridiculous."
"Ridiculous?" She wished her brain would start working again, but she couldn’t think in the face of his words.
"You are a career woman as you’ve shown time and again over the past year." He slashed the air with one cutting hand. "A woman with your ambitions would not make a proper wife for the heir to the Petronides empire."
She shivered with a chill that went clear to the marrow of her bones. "What exactly are you saying?"
"I am getting married and naturally our liaison must come to an end." The sick paleness of his features did nothing to alleviate her personal pain.
"You told me our relationship was exclusive. You told me I could trust you. You would not make love to another woman while I shared your bed." She jumped out of that bed, feeling dirty and used, the passion they had shared soiled with his revelation.
Running his long fingers through the black silk of his hair, he sighed. "I have not had sex with another woman."
"Then who are you marrying?" she practically shrieked.
"No one you know."
"Obviously." Alexandra glared at him, wanting to kill him, wanting to scream, very afraid she would cry.
He sighed again. "Her name is Phoebe Leonides."
Greek. The other woman was Greek and probably meek, proper and educated but without a career. "When did you meet her?" Though the pain was tearing her apart, she had to know.
"I’ve known Phoebe most of my life. She is the daughter of a family friend."
"You’ve known her most of your life and you just decided you loved her?"
A cynical laugh erupted from him. "Love has nothing to do with it."
Sunday, December 9, 2012
Excerpt: The Billionaires Pregnant Mistress by Lucy Monroe
I loved, loved this book. This book is a re-release that is coming out and it is one of Lucy Monroe's first books. I have re-read this book many times and because it is being re-released I am thinking of reading again. Thankfully Lucy's books are one of those that shipped here.