Shackled by Diamonds

By: Julia James



A stray memory flickered in his brain. The redhead at the Schloss, gazing adoringly up at his cousin. Markos ought to marry her, he thought. He must remember to tell him so. He would lend the girl the Levantsky emeralds for her wedding day.

And speaking of the Levantsky jewels…



‘Don’t move.’

‘I can’t anyway!’

‘Good.’

Leo stood back, surveying his handiwork.

‘Two last pieces.’

He dipped his hand into the almost empty crystal bowl. He picked up a pair of sapphire earrings and carefully arranged them symmetrically.

Then he surveyed his handiwork once more.

‘Perfect,’ he said.

He reached for the camera.

‘Are you sure? I don’t want anything showing that shouldn’t!’

‘You have my word.’

‘OK—well, go on, then. Get it over and done with!’

Leo looked disapprovingly down at her.

‘You really have no soul, have you?’

‘I’ve got a stiff back, an itch behind my knee, a clasp is sticking into me somewhere sensitive, and if I sneeze, Leo Makarios, you are going to have a roomful of flying jewellery!’

‘Don’t even think of it, Kyria Makarios,’ he said, and started snapping.

‘I must be mad,’ muttered Leo’s brand-new wife.

‘Just besotted,’ said Anna’s brand-new husband.

He clicked away again.

‘OK, darling—give me sexy!’ he instructed.

‘Stuff off,’ growled Anna.

‘Pouting and sulky—just as good,’ returned Leo.

‘You’re a pervert, you know that? Taking photos like this!’

‘It’s a one-off private art show, my beloved. Indulge me. You’ll never let me do this again, will you?’

‘Too damn right,’ she growled.

He lowered his camera.

‘Anna—if you could see yourself now you would understand. You simply look—unbelievable.’

His eyes swept over her lying in his bed, her naked body covered in jewels.

He lifted his hand helplessly.

‘You outshine every one of them,’ he said softly. ‘And all of them together.’

‘They’re just crystals, Leo.’

He looked down at her, at her glittering rainbow body.

‘And you are just a woman—but you are my woman, the most precious in the world to me. And if I lost you my life would end.’

Slowly, he raised the camera, and took one last picture.

Then he put the camera aside and came towards her.

‘And do you know the best, the very best, part of this, my adored bride on her wedding night? This,’ he told her.

Carefully he lifted up a diamond ring from her navel and slipped it inside the crystal bowl.

‘This,’ he said, and removed a sapphire collar from where it lay around her arm.

‘This,’ he said, lifting a ruby tiara from where it circled her left breast.

It took him a long, long time to remove them all.

Until at last only the necklace of diamonds was left, cascading from her throat.

‘That stays,’ said Leo.

He bent over to kiss her, long and languorously.

Anna’s eyes gleamed. ‘Don’t you want me to wear the whole parure?’ she asked.

Leo frowned disapprovingly. ‘That would be vulgar,’ he told her loftily.

Her mouth pressed together. ‘Leo Makarios, you are the most—’

‘I know.’ He smiled with insufferable self-satisfaction, and grazed one bare, beautiful breast with his velvet lips. ‘The most irresistible man you’ve ever met.’

Anna locked her arms around his neck and dragged him down to her. ‘Yes! Damn it!’ she said.

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