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"A dramatic and passionate tale written by a true mistress of the genre, The Greek Tycoon’s Achilles Heel’s intoxicating brand of steamy sensuality, electrifying pathos, heart-wrenching emotion and spellbinding romance is guaranteed to keep readers glued to the pages of this fabulous story and eagerly turning the pages late into the night. Wonderfully told, highly emotive and simply breathtaking, Lucy Gordon’s excellent new Modern Romance, The Greek Tycoon’s Achilles, is compulsive reading at its unputdownable best!"
Cataromance, 4.5 stars
Lysandros and Petra are spending some time together at his home on the island of Corfu. Behind his hard exterior she can see the passionate man inside, but after a night spent loving each other he retreats cautiously behind his defences.
She wondered how Lysandros would be when they met again at breakfast, whether he would show any awareness of what had happened. But he greeted her cheerfully, with a kiss on the cheek. They might have been any couple enjoying a few days vacation without a care in the world.
“Is there anything you’d like to do?” he asked.
“I’d love to go to Gastouri.”
She was referring to the tiny village where the Achilleion Palace had been built.
“Have you never been before?” he asked in surprise
“Yes, but it was a hurried visit to get material. Now I’ll have time to explore properly.”
And perhaps, she thought, it would help her cope with the sadness of being rejected again.
The village lay about seven miles to the south, built on a slope, with the Palace at the top, overlooking the sea. This was the place that Sisi, the Empress Elizabeth, had built to indulge her passion for the ancient Greek hero, who seemed to have reached out to her over thousands of years. His courage, his complex character, his terrible fate, all were remembered here.
As soon as they entered the gates Petra was aware of the atmosphere; powerful, vital, yet melancholy, much as Achilles himself must have been.
There stood the tall, bronze statue, showing Achilles as a magnificent young warrior, wearing a metal helmet, mounted with a great feathered crest. On his lower legs was armour, embossed at the kneecaps with snarling lions.
From one arm hung a shield while the other hand held a spear. He stood on a sixteen foot plinth, looming over all-comers, staring out into the distance.
“Disdainful,” Petra murmured. “Standing so far above, he’d never notice ordinary mortals like us, coming and going down here. So that’s who your father wanted you to be.”
“Nothing less would do for him. There’s also the picture inside which he admired.”
The main hall was dominated by a great staircase, at the top of which was a gigantic painting, depicting a man in a racing chariot, galloping at full speed, dragging the lifeless body of his enemy in the dirt behind.
“Achilles in triumph,” Petra said, “parading the lifeless body of his enemy around the walls of Troy.”
“That was how a man ought to be,” Lysandros mused. “Because if you didn’t do it to them, they would do it to you. So I was raised being taught how to do it to them.”
“And do you?”
“Yes,” he replied simply. “If I have to, otherwise I wouldn’t survive, and nor would the people who work for me.”
“Parading lifeless bodies?” she queried.
“Not literally. My enemies are still walking about on earth, trying to destroy me. But if you’ve won, people have to know you’ve won, and the lengths you were prepared to go to. That way they learn the lesson.”
For a moment his face frightened her, not because it displayed harshness or cruelty, but because it displayed nothing at all. He was simply stating a fact. Victory had to be flaunted, or it was less effective.
He’d been born into a society that expected him to conquer his enemies and drag them behind his chariot wheels. The past lay its weight on him, almost expecting him to live two lives at once, and he knew it. Fight it as he might, there were times when the expectations almost crushed him.
If she’d doubted that, she had the proof when they moved back into the garden and went to stand before the great statue depicting Achilles’ last moments. He lay on the ground, trying to draw the arrow from his heel, although in his heart he knew it was hopeless. His head was raised to the heavens and on his face was a look of despair.
“He’s resigned,” Lysandros said. “He knows there’s no escaping his fate.”
“Maybe he shouldn’t be so resigned,” Petra said at once. “You should never accept bad luck as inevitable. That’s just giving in.”
“How could he help it? He knew his fate was written on the day he was born. It was always there on his mind, the hidden vulnerability. Except that in the end it wasn’t hidden, because someone had known all the time. None of us hide our weaknesses as well as we think we do.”
“But perhaps,” she began tentatively, “if the other person was someone we didn’t have to be afraid of, someone who wouldn’t use it against us – ”
“That would be paradise indeed,” Lysandros agreed. “But how would you know, until it was too late?”
On the way home his mood seemed to lighten. They had a cheerful supper, enlivened by an argument about a trivial point that he seemed unable to let go of, until he covered his eyes with his hands, in despair at himself.
“It doesn’t matter, does it?” he groaned. “I know it doesn’t matter and yet – ”
“You’re a mess,” she said tenderly. “You don’t know how to deal with people – unless they’re enemies. You deal with them well enough, but anyone else – you’re left floundering. You know what you need?”
“Me. To put you on a straight line and keep you there.”
“Where does this line lead?”
“Back to me, every time. So make up your mind to it, I’m taking charge.”
He regarded her for a moment, frowning, and she wondered if she’d pushed his dictatorial nature too far. But then the frown vanished, replaced by a tender smile.
“That’s all right, then,” he said.
She smiled in a way that she could see he found mystifying. Good. That suited her perfectly.
Quickly she reached into her pocket, drew out a small notebook and pencil that never left her, then began counting on her fingers and making notes.
“What are you doing?” he demanded.
“Calculating. Do you know it’s exactly eighteen hours and twenty-three minutes since you made love to me?” She sighed theatrically. “I don’t know. Some men are all talk.”
Before he could think of an answer she rose and darted away.
“Hey, where are you going?”
“Where do you think?” she called back over her shoulder from half way up the stairs.
He managed to pass her on the stairs and reach the bedroom first.
“Come here,” he said, yanking her close and holding her tightly, without gentleness. “Come here.”
It was less a kiss than an act of desperation. She knew that as soon as his lips touched hers, not tenderly but with a ferocity that mirrored her own. They had shared kisses before, but this was a step further. In the past she’d been struggling with her own reaction, and doubtful of his. But their two earlier love-makings had told each of them something about the other, and where they were going together.
Now there were no doubts on either side, no room for thoughts or even emotions. They wanted each other as a simple physical act, free of everything but the need for satisfaction.
His mouth seemed to burn hers while his tongue invaded her, demanding, asking no quarter and giving none. His urgency thrilled her for it matched her own, but she wouldn’t let him know that just yet. She had another plan in mind.
“Mmm, just as I hoped,” she murmured.
He ground his teeth. “You pulled my strings and I jumped, didn’t I?”
“‘Fraid so. And you have another problem now.”
“I’m a horrible person. In fact I’m just horrible enough to get up and walk away right now.”
His hands tightened on her in a grip of steel. “Don’t even think about it.”
She began to laugh with delight, revelling in the ruthless determination with which he held her, threw her onto her back and invaded her like a conqueror. She was still laughing when her explosion of pleasure sent the world into a spin.
Afterwards he looked down at her, gasping and frenzied.
“You little – it’s not funny!”
“But it is funny. Oh my darling, you’re so easily fooled.”
He began to move inside her again, slowly, making her wait but leaving her in no doubt that he had the strength and control to prolong the moment.
“Were you expecting this too?” he whispered.
“Not exactly expecting, but I was hoping – oh yes, I was hoping you’d do just what you’re doing now – and again – and again – oh, darling, don’t stop!”
She ceased to be aware of time, losing track of how often he brought her to climax. It didn’t matter. All that mattered was that he’d transported her to another world, while giving her the vital feeling that she too had transported him. Whatever happened to then, happened together, and she cared about nothing else.
When he finally managed to speak it was with ironic humour.
“I did it again, didn’t I? Danced to your tune. Is there any way I can get one step ahead of you?”
She seemed to consider this. “Probably not. But I’d hate you to stop trying.”
Now it was his turn to laugh. She felt it against her before she heard it, and her soul rejoiced because it was through laughter that she could reach him.
From the book THE GREEK TYCOON'S ACHILLES HEEL by Lucy Gordon.
Copyright 2009 by Lucy Gordon
Cover Copyright © 2010 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited. ® and tm are trademarks of the publisher.
The edition published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.
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