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His Drakon Runaway Bride(20)

By:Tara Pammi

She would be unlike any Queen Drakon had seen, yes. But at least she would not let him descend into that kind of megalomania that Theos had fallen into over the last few years. She would not let Andreas complete the transformation into becoming that hard man who, despite having all the riches and power in his hands, would forever remain alone in the end.

The man his father had forced him to become.

A man who would always be feared but never liked. Never loved.

He’d give her everything she asked for, this time. Everything that was in his power to give.

* * *

It was late evening almost a week later when Andreas was finally free. He’d had Petra invite Ariana to dine with him in his private suite. He was determined to be civil tonight, and not slide down the slippery path to their disturbing past.

They needed a fresh start and for that, he needed to believe Ariana. He needed to understand, as much as it burned him, that Ariana had left him because he’d made living with him unbearable.

He had barely time to shower after his long day and put on fresh clothes when Ariana walked into his suite.

A panorama of expressions crossed her face as her gaze fell on the intimate table set out on the veranda, overlooking the courtyard, with a spectacular view of the horizon. He tried to see it from her point of view. Crystalware twinkled in the orange glow of the setting sun. A bottle of champagne sat in an ice bucket. Their food was already sitting on the table since he’d dismissed the staff already.

“Kalispera, Ariana.”

He saw her head come up but she didn’t turn.

So easily she snagged at his temper. Until he saw the tense line of her shoulders. Until he remembered that this was Ariana and emotional control didn’t come to her easily.

In fact, it was the opposite of her nature. Which had been what had attracted him to her in the first place.

His amazement that anyone could live with such free rein given to their emotions.

Knowing what he did now about her background, it amazed him even more how fearlessly she had lived then. How generously she had given of herself to anyone who had come into the sphere of her life.

She slowly turned toward him, as if she needed the extra minute to compose herself. Something caught in his chest, a twinge of regret maybe, for how things had been once. The wariness in her eyes...he was determined to push through it.

He wanted the old Ariana back. The Ariana who had worshipped him. The Ariana who would have never filtered anything that had come to her mouth, especially with him.

The Ariana that had made him feel that he was, finally, not alone. That he need not be alone.

“Kalispera, Andreas,” she replied back softly. The wariness didn’t abate but neither could she stop her gaze from devouring his face nor from sweeping down his body and back up. As if she had been starving for the sight of him.

Just as he’d been for her.

He felt no such compunction about showing his own interest, however. He had had a week from hell and all that had kept him going was that he would come back to this.

To her.

That tension that had become second skin flickered over his muscles as he swept his gaze over her.

She was dressed differently today, like the Ariana he remembered.

Sexy, confident, yet with a thread of vulnerability beneath.

A simple beige sheath dress that barely touched her knees, that made her golden skin glow with a burnished sheen. It showed off her toned arms and lithe figure with its simplicity. Black pumps made the most of her long, long legs, bringing her face almost to his chin.

Thee mou, he’d always loved how well she had fit against him. But now, that angular look was replaced by soft curves. Curves he wanted to feel beneath his body, softness he wanted to surround himself in.

She left her hair to fall softly around her shoulders. It softened that stubborn jaw of hers.

When their gazes met, he smiled and raised a brow. “You look gorgeous.”

She flushed but held his gaze. “Efharisto. You look—” her mouth twitched, and so did his entire body in response “—very...dashing.”

“Can I assume that the cold war between you and Petra reached its conclusion?”

“Let’s just say we reached a mutually satisfactory agreement.”

“What is that?”

“To stay out of each other’s way. And now that I have my own people, her attitude doesn’t bother me at all.”

He frowned, remembering all the small tidbits she’d thrown out during the dinner with his family. The near panic he’d seen in her eyes as she’d stood by his bed.

“I have appointed Giannis as my aide and I’ve been interviewing candidates for an administrative assistant and a PR person. Eleni’s miffed, I think, that I chose someone Mia recommended.”

He half nodded, his mind still on the previous issue.

Knowing Petra’s loyalty, and even her bit of possessiveness when it came to him, he didn’t doubt the veracity of Ari’s words. Regret, piling up as high as his guilt, made his voice harsh. “Petra is invaluable to me, ne. But not indispensable, Ariana.

“I will have her moved to another department instantly.”

“Oxhi,” she replied instantly but with such shock in her eyes that Andreas momentarily stilled. “Not necessary.”

Christos, did she really think he would put a staff member before her, even now? After everything she’d told him about how isolated she’d felt then? About how Petra and her team had taken their lead from Theos’s treatment of her, even from Andreas’s own retreat as he’d struggled with his own emotions?

He reached her, refusing to let her shy away from him. “Why not?”

“Because it would mean that I’m still that insecure girl. It sends a message that I’m helpless and I hide behind your power.” She lifted her chin. “I mean to hold my own, against you and against everyone in your world this time, Andreas.”

He nodded, pride filling his very veins. She had come a long way from that girl and he needed to see that. “I think you’ve already proved that.”

“I could not believe it when Petra told me you wanted to dine with me. Now I’m astonished that you went to this much trouble.”


“For one thing, I know how busy you are. And for another, I didn’t think you would take my ultimatum seriously. But I guess that’s the one chink in your armor, ne? That I might somehow go to the media. In the current sentiment the people have with you, a woman crying kidnapping is the last thing you need.”

He poured them both a glass of the champagne and handed it to her. “So let me get this straight.” A thread of chill filled his tone and her head jerked up. “The only reason I’d want to spend time with you is for damage control.”

Her white knuckles around the champagne flute were the only sign that she wasn’t as breezy as she sounded. “Is it not?”

“No, Ariana.” He put his glass on the table with not quite a steady hand, and then took hers. Then he went and stood in front of her. He plucked the small velvet box he’d had his aide retrieve from the royal treasury and held it out.

She didn’t look up but her chest fell and rose with her shallow breaths. He waited, knowing in that moment how much he had crushed her tender heart ten years ago.

How he’d done exactly what he’d feared he would do.

“Ari, look at me.” When she didn’t, his patience finally unraveled its last thread. Clasping her chin with both his hands, he tilted it up.

Whatever he meant to say fluttered away at the sight of her lush lips. Angling his head, he took her mouth with a hunger that punched through him.

Thee mou, he’d forgotten how sweet, how perfect she tasted. Lust surged through him as she swept her tongue over his lower lip.

No reluctance, no hesitation.

No lies, no dares.

Pure Ariana, pouring every inch of her emotion into the kiss, right down to the hoarse chuckle when their teeth banged in their hurry to get at each other.

But Andreas was not in a laughing mood today.

He was in a devouring mood. Dios, he’d waited so long for the taste of her. So long to feel like he would combust if he didn’t slide inside her wet warmth.

Her hands moved to his chest, her body arching like a bow toward him.

The more he took of her mouth, the more he needed. Wrapping his hand around her neck, holding her still, he licked and stroked with his tongue, bit and suckled with his teeth, until she was whimpering against him. Trembling with need.

The kiss flared higher and hotter. The dinner was forgotten. Promises he’d made misting in the heat of their passion.

The press of her breasts against his chest, her long thighs straddled by his own, that scent of her skin...it was like striking a match to hot cinders.

He moved his hands to her hips and then to the curve of her buttocks. Roughly, he pulled her until she was plastered to his lower body.

His erection lengthened.

She moaned and arched into his touch, always so responsive. Always pushing Andreas toward a bit more madness.

He lifted her on the next breath and arranged her on the table. The ice bucket clattered to the ground with an almighty thud, the slide of ice cubes on the concrete a hiss in the silence.

She was breathing hard, her eyes heavy lidded, a protest on her lips, he knew. She meant to talk, throw up another one of her demands. Or dares.

He didn’t let her get the words out. Instead, he stole them from her lips in another kiss that had them both growling against each other.