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Helios Crowns His Mistress(10)

By:Michelle Smart

She had never expected her birth mother to welcome her long-abandoned daughter with cheers and whistles, but she had expected something. Some curiosity, if nothing else. Did she not even wonder what Amy looked like? Or who she had become?

But there was too much shame. To Neysa Soukis, Amy was nothing but a scar on her memories; a scar that had to remain hidden.

If Amy were a different person she would force the issue. She would stalk Neysa at her house until she was browbeaten into seeing her. But even if she was capable of doing that what would it accomplish? Nothing more than Neysa’s further contempt and probably a restraining order to boot.

All she wanted was to talk to her. Just once. But clearly she wasn’t worth even that.

‘Are you ready to go yet?’

Blinking rapidly, she looked up and found Greta standing in the doorway.

Amy turned her phone off. ‘She doesn’t want to meet me.’

At least with Greta she didn’t have to pretend.

Greta came over to her and put an arm around her back. ‘I’m sorry.’

Amy sniffed. ‘I just thought...’

‘I know,’ said Greta softly. ‘But learning you were here probably came as a big shock to her. She’ll change her mind.’

‘What if she doesn’t?’

‘She will,’ Greta insisted. ‘Now, turn your computer off. We’ve a night out to get ready for.’

‘I’m not going.’

‘You are. A night out is exactly what you need.’

‘But Helios will be there.’

‘So what? This will be your chance to let him see you having a great time and that you’re completely unaffected by your break-up.’

Amy gave a laugh that came out as more of a snort than anything else. Thank God for Greta. Without her cheering friendship and positive attitude life on Agon would be unbearable right now.

Was it only four months ago that she’d arrived on this island full of excitement for what the future held? With a handsome prince as her boss and the opportunity to find the woman who’d given birth to her?

Now she was stuck here for another five months, and she would have to watch the handsome prince marry his princess and her birth mother wanted nothing to do with her.

She wished she’d never come to Agon.

Greta rubbed her arm in solidarity. ‘Let’s get your dress and go back to my flat. There’s a bottle of ouzo waiting for us.’


‘Are you going to give that man so much power over you that you’d give up a free night out with all your friends and colleagues?’

Amy sighed and shook her head. Greta was right. She’d spent the past four days hiding away, mostly holing herself up in the museum’s enormous basement, on the pretext of categorising artefacts, desperate to avoid bumping into Helios. And she’d been successful—other than one brief glimpse of him in the palace gardens she’d not had any dealings with him. Of course he was incredibly busy, with the Gala being only ten days away.

‘Maybe he won’t come,’ she said with sudden hopefulness.

‘Maybe...’ Greta didn’t look convinced.

But the thought of him not coming made her feel just as rotten as the thought of him being there.

If he did come, she had to pray he didn’t bring the Princess as his guest.

To meet his future wife in the flesh would be one wound too many.


THE MAIN REASON Helios had chosen Hotel Giroud for the staff night out was because his staff deserved to enjoy themselves in the most exclusive hotel on Agon. The fact its gardens led to a private beach was a plus.

Owned by Nathaniel Giroud, an old friend from his schooldays, it was the sister establishment of Club Giroud, the most exclusive and secret club on the island. The hotel was only marginally more inclusive, provided one had the funds and the connections. The quality of Helios’s connections went without saying, and of course he had the funds, more than he could ever spend. He didn’t begrudge spending a cent of his money on the staff who worked so hard for him.

He took his museum staff out twice a year: once at the beginning of the summer season, and once right at the end. Although the events weren’t compulsory everyone attended, even those curators and conservators who would live in the museum basement if he’d let them. Most of his museum staff were a breed unto themselves, deeply dedicated to their work. He’d never imagined he would desire one of them.

And yet he had. He did.

During what was possibly the busiest time of his life, he couldn’t flush Amy from his mind. Even after the news his brother Theseus had given him a couple of days ago he couldn’t rid himself of her. Here he was, wrestling with the bombshell that Theseus had a secret child, a Kalliakis heir, and still she remained at the forefront of his mind.

It was taking everything he had to keep away from the museum. There was far too much going on for him to spend any time there, but knowing Amy was within its spacious walls meant the place acted like a magnet to him.

There were only ten days now until the Gala, and he had a mountain of work to do for it. He was determined to make it a success for his grandfather and for all his people.

On Agon, heirs traditionally took the throne at the age of forty. His father had died a few years short of that age and so his grandfather—without a word of complaint—had abandoned his retirement plans to hold the throne for Helios. His grandparents had sacrificed their dreams of travelling the world and his grandmother had put aside her thoughts of returning to her first love of performing as violin virtuoso. Those dreams had been abandoned so they could raise their orphaned grandchildren and mould them into princes the whole of Agon could be proud of. They had sacrificed everything.

There was no person on this earth Helios respected more or felt a deeper affection for than his grandfather. He would do anything for him. And, out of everything, it was marriage he knew his grandfather wanted the most for him. King Astraeus the Fourth wanted to leave this world secure in the knowledge that his lineage would live on and that the monarchy was in safe hands.

Although his engagement was now an open secret, the official announcement would bring his grandfather peace. That more than anything was Helios’s overriding concern. He didn’t like to think what it would bring for his own state of mind.

Catalina wouldn’t return to Agon until the Gala. He’d dissuaded her from coming any earlier, using his busyness as an excuse to keep her away. A shudder ran through him as he recalled her obvious disappointment when he’d left Monte Cleure a day early. When he’d said goodbye she’d raised her chin in anticipation of his kiss. The most he’d been able to do was brush his lips against her cheek. She’d smelled fantastic, and she’d looked beautiful, but he might as well have been dead from the waist down for all she did for him.

Catalina knew what she was marrying into, he reminded himself. She had no illusions that their union   would ever be about love. She’d assured him of that herself. But now he wondered if mutual respect would be enough when he couldn’t even bring himself to kiss her.

He stood in the hotel lobby, personally greeting his staff and their partners. In all, over one hundred people were expected. He always enjoyed seeing their transformation, enjoyed seeing the back-room staff, who tended to live in jeans and baggy tops, and the front-line staff, who wore smart uniforms, all dressed to the nines in smart suits and cocktail dresses.

As each person entered he welcomed them with an embrace while Talia, his private secretary, handed them all an envelope.

Soon the lobby was full and waiting staff with trays of champagne were circulating. Conversation was stilted, as it always was at the beginning of such evenings, but he knew that wouldn’t last long. Once everyone had had a drink or two their inhibitions would fall away and they would enjoy themselves properly. They all worked so hard they deserved to let their hair down.

Through the lobby’s wide glass doors he saw two figures approach, their heads bent close together, laughing. His heart jolted, making him lose the thread of the conversation he’d struck up with one of the tour guides. Closer they came, until they reached the doors and showed their identification to the guards on duty, who inspected them closely before standing to one side to admit them.

The doors opened automatically and in they walked.

He greeted Greta first, with the same kind of embrace he’d shared with everyone else. She returned it warmly, gushing about how excited she was. And then it was time to greet Amy.

The same smile she’d entered the lobby with stayed fixed on her face, but her eyes told a different story.

His throat ran dry.

He’d seen her dressed up on a few occasions before: when he’d taken her out on dates away from the palace, and last weekend for her ‘date’ with someone else, but tonight...

Theos. She looked stunning.

She wore a sleeveless navy blue chiffon dress that floated just above her knees, with silver diamond-shaped beads layered along the hem and across the high round neckline. On her feet were simple high-heeled black shoes that showcased her slender legs. She’d left her dark blonde hair loose, so that it fell across her shoulders and down her back. Her large taupe eyes were ringed with dark grey eyeshadow and her delectable lips were painted nude.

He couldn’t drag his eyes away.