The Art of Trusting a Greek Billionaire

By: Tawny Taylor

Chapter 1

“I’m sorry, but I just locked the house up.” I said to the handsome man who’d just come strolling up my mother’s front walk. Selling the house had been an absolute nightmare. Not just because the building brought so many memories to the surface, but also because it wasn’t in the best of shape. It was a great house in a wonderful neighborhood. If only I could get just one person to see past all the ugly linoleum, godawful paneling, and circa 70’s shag carpet.

Twisting to look over my shoulder, I shot the man--who happened to be well dressed and gorgeous--a quick smile. “But if you give me a minute, I’ll make a quick phone call and then let you in.”

“I’d appreciate that. Thanks.” His voice was a low, rich rumble. For some reason, it resonated through my body, and the feeling of familiarity sparked inside me. Did I know this man?

Once I had the lock engaged, I click-clacked out to my car, my pinched toes probably blistered, and flounced into the driver’s seat. I dug my phone out of my purse, and studied the strange man who didn’t seem to be a stranger as I called my best friend Jill to let her know I’d be a little late meeting her for lunch.

Was the man another real estate agent, looking to list the house? Could be. His clothes were impeccable.

A brief conversation--primarily ample apologies--and I had an extra forty-five minutes to not only figure out where I’d met the man before but also how to convince him to buy the house instead of sell it for me. I was getting seriously strapped, paying the utilities and property taxes on the place, in addition to my condo. Because of this silly need to cling to my childhood, I’d put off selling the place as long as I could. It was time to make something happen and move on.

Determined I’d found the buyer for my mom’s place, I pasted on my best smile, fluffed my hair and headed back up to the front porch. As I unlocked the door, I said, “This house is a wonderful investment. It’s in a great location, on a dead end street. The neighborhood is excellent, a great place to raise a family.”

“Hmmm.” The man walked inside. He moved with a rare fluidity for a male. I watched him as he wandered through the rooms on the first floor. Living room. Dining room. Kitchen (that was in dire need of a full gut job). The longer I studied him, the more I felt I knew him. Trying to concentrate on the house, I pointed out the beautiful, original hardwood floors, the baseboards and window and door trims, the lovely hand carved handrail.

His wandering took us upstairs. He stopped outside of my mom’s bedroom and stared. It was then that I knew who he was.

“Uncle” Shane.

He wasn’t legally my uncle, no. That was just what I’d called him. I hadn’t seen him in...ten years, maybe. Since I was about twelve. Uncle Shane had been the subject of my first crush. Of course, he hadn’t known that at the time.

“I can’t believe she’s gone,” he said.

“Uncle Shane?”

He scrutinized me closely, his intense gaze making me uneasy. “Of course. I don’t know why I didn’t see it before. Bristol?”

“Yes, that’s me.” I extended a hand. “It’s been a long time. A very long time. Good to see you again.”

His hand enveloped mine. He shook it, stopped, but didn’t release it. His gaze was focused on my face. Sharp and intense. Assessing. “It’s good to see you again, too. Your mother was a good friend. I’m sorry I lost touch with her...and with you. I haven’t been in town for many years.”

“I’m sure she understood.”

“Yes, I’m sure I did. That was how Katherine was. Always understanding. Generous. Giving.”

I couldn’t help saying, “Too generous sometimes. She nearly went bankrupt. And this house...it’s mortgaged for more than it’s worth. And you can see how well she kept it up. Mom always told me it didn’t matter, that the house was falling down around her. All that mattered was how many people she touched in her life.”

His smile nearly took my breath away. For a man I guessed was within a handful of years of my mother’s age, he was strikingly handsome and fit. Ten years had done nothing to change that. His hair was very dark, almost black. Not curly. But not straight either. His features, as they had been then, were well balanced and masculine. Not pretty, but not too rugged either. And his body, from what I could tell, was also still in great shape. Shoulders broad. Waist narrow. His black jacket fit him perfectly, as if it had been sewn just for him. Same with the pants. The white shirt was a stark contrast against the jacket and the honey brown color of his skin. The only thing a decade had done was add a sprinkling of silver hairs glinting at his temples, just enough to make him look sexy and distinguished.

“Katherine Deatrich was a one-of-a-kind woman.” He turned, facing me. “Why are you selling the house?”

“I can’t afford the mortgage payments or the upkeep, and it’s too big. I live alone...unless you count my cat.”

“I see.” He reached up, caught a curl that had flopped over my face and tucked it behind my ear. For some reason, the intimate touch sent me careening back into that old place, back into the childhood crush. Our gazes tangled, and my heart did a little hop in my chest. “I can’t get over how much you’ve changed.”

“Kids do that,” I said, holding my breath.

“They do. How old are you?”

“Twenty-one.”

He shook his head. “Damn. Where’s the time gone?”

Still feeling a little wobbly, I shrugged. “I couldn’t say.” I motioned to the bedroom. “Erm, the master bath is a nice size.”

“Oh, yes. The house.” He glanced around, almost as if he’d forgotten where he was. “I’ll take it. What are you asking?”

My insides did a flip flop. Could it be I’d just sold the house? Or was he just playing with me? “Three forty-nine, nine. That’s the balance of the mortgage. I’m not making a penny from the sale.”

“No agent?”

“No, I didn’t want to have to pay another five to ten percent out of pocket. The closing costs alone are going to kill me.”

“I’ll have my attorney draw up the papers and schedule the closing with the title company.”

This couldn’t have gone any better. It was honestly too good to be true, which made me a little nervous. Thankfully, my best friend was an attorney. She’d offered to handle the closing for me pro bono. “I already have someone.”

“Fine.” He reached in his inside jacket pocket, pulled out a card. “I’ll be expecting a call then.”

“Do you need time to secure financing?” I asked. My fingertips brushed his as I took the card from him.

“No, I’ll be paying cash.”

Cash. I couldn’t imagine paying three hundred fifty thousand dollars cash for anything. “Wonderful! We’ll be seeing each other soon, then.”

“Soon.” He took my hand again, and little buzzing electrical charges seemed to zap between us. I couldn’t believe it. After all this time, ten years, there was still something there. I wondered if he felt it too. “Goodbye, Bristol. It was a nice surprise, running into you today.”

* * * *

Three weeks later, I slid a cashier’s check into my purse.

Jill congratulated me with a sparkly-faced grin. “How are you feeling, now that the house is officially gone?”

“Relieved.” An understatement.

“Excellent. Want to go celebrate?” she asked, smoothing a few stray away amber hued hairs that had slipped out of her slick bun. “I have a few loose ends to wrap up, but I can be ready to go in about an hour.”

“Sure. Okay. I guess...” I said, following her from the building. “I could go run a few errands while I wait.”

“Cool. See you soon.” She tossed her briefcase into her sparkly new Subaru, and climbed in. I threw her a wave before unlocking the door to my trusty old Toyota. As I was pulling it open, a car pulled up behind mine and parked. Out of habit, I glanced at it.

The door opened and a man stepped out.

A man I recognized.

Oh God, please tell me he isn’t having buyer’s remorse already.

I smiled, though it probably wasn’t one of my brightest.

“I was hoping I’d catch you,” he said as he strolled toward me.

“Is there a problem?”

“No, no. Nothing like that.” He leaned against my car’s trunk, and immediately I regretted not having washed the car in weeks. Those impeccable black pants weren’t going to look so impeccable in a minute. “I was wondering if you’d like to go to dinner?”

“When?”

“Tonight? Now?”

“Oh, I...” Have plans. But what the hell? “I think that’ll be okay. But I need to make a call first.”

“Sure. You can do that while we’re driving.” He reached around me, pushing my car door closed. My nerves buzzed at his nearness. Wow, was there some serious chemistry there.

I hit the button on my key fob, locking the doors and followed him to his car. Nice car. Black. Sleek. BMW. And it smelled really nice inside. Like leather and expensive cologne and man. He got the engine purring while I buckled in. And within moments, we were backing out of the parking spot.

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