Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Excerpt from mystery thriller romance The Heiress of Santorini - Chapter Four




Chapter Four


ALEXANDRA LOST TRACK OF TIME, waiting for John. She sat in her car with the doors locked, watching her apartment windows and the entrance to her building. In any case, the neighborhood was quietHer building was the second to last on a dead-end street, and most of the apartments in her building and the last one on the street were unoccupied. Especially tonight, though, she felt as if she was all alone on this planet. No cars had passed by, and no living soul was anywhere around. The lights on Ms. Baileys’ apartment—located right downstairs from hers—were out, since she was away visiting her daughter in Florida. The accountant living on the same floor with her worked long hours, and most of the time he didn’t come home until almost midnight.
Alexandra didn’t know the people living in the last building on the street, but she knew that only three apartments were occupied. And the lights were out on all three of them tonight. Where is everybody? she wondered, feeling a chill caressing her spine.
From time to time, she would glance in her rearview mirror, scanning the woods stretching across the street, fearing that someone might be hiding there.
She was toying with the idea of starting her car and driving away when John pulled into the driveway and parked his car next to hers. Alexandra breathed out, relieved.
As soon as John saw her sitting in the car, he jumped out of his and rushed to open her door. “What are you doing here?” he asked and raised his head to look at the dark windows of the apartment.
“The door was unlocked,” Alexandra replied. “I was afraid to go in.”
“You did good,” he said and reached for his pistol.
“I probably forgot to lock it this morning,” she answered, feeling uneasy at the sight of the gun. As the daughter of a policeman, she was used to seeing them around, but she never liked them. John had tried several times in the past to persuade her to keep a handgun at the house for her own protection, but she stubbornly refused.
“I’m sure you locked the door,” John said. “You’re really careful about things like that.”
Alexandra climbed out of the car to stretch her aching arms and legs, but John told her to get back in and lock the doors.
“I’ll be back in a second.” He rushed to the entrance of the apartment building, opened the door with his keys, and disappeared inside. A few minutes later, the lights came on in her apartment. Alexandra waited, holding her breath and keeping her eyes open for any suspicious movement.
She waited there until she couldn’t stand still any more. She had to get out of the car. Her throat was closing, choking her.
She opened the door and climbed out, taking some deep breaths. Then, she walked to the entrance and up the stairs. The door to her apartment was wide open. Approaching hesitantly, she could hear John’s irritated voice coming from inside. She walked to the doorway and stopped dead in her tracks… Is this real or a dreadful nightmare?
Chaos reigned over her apartment. Furniture was turned over, and her stuff was torn apart and scattered all over the cream colored carpet, like debris from a shipwreck washed ashore.
John was standing in the middle of the living room, talking on his cell phone. He saw her standing at the door and waved for her to come in.
“Don’t touch anything,” he cautioned her and continued his conversation on the phone.
Speechless, Alexandra heard him talking to Jeff, his partner, telling him to get there as soon as possible. She took a few steps and stood by the window, letting her eyes roam over her apartment—her private space with the things she had acquired over the years. The sofa and the armchairs were turned over, and the bottom of them was ripped open. The cherry wood showcase was thrown to the ground, and her favorite crystal and porcelain miniatures were broken into thousands of little pieces. Drowned in fury and disbelief, Alexandra stared at her violated treasures as the light reflected through the pieces scattered everywhere, creating a surreal atmosphere.
John hung up and took her in his arms. Only then, she realized she was shaking.
What happened here?” she asked. “What were they looking for?”
Obviously, it wasn’t just a robbery. Whoever it was had turned the whole place upside down. He had even taken the pictures of the walls and ripped the back of them off.
Alexandra stared at John, who kept silent.
“John, what’s going on? Who are they? What do they want from me?”
“Don’t worry,” he tried to sound reassuring. “I’ll make sure you’re all right.”
“That’s not what I asked,” she said, feeling her temper rising. She could tell he was hiding something from her.
“Alex,” he said and squeezed her even closer. “It’s better if you don’t know. I don’t want you getting involved in all this.”
“But I am involved,” she said and pointed at the chaos around them. “I need to know what we’re dealing with.”
At that moment, they heard footsteps running up the stairs.
John pulled her behind him and raised his gun. Jeff showed up at the entrance, with a gun in his hands.
“Are you guys okay?” he asked, worried, and took a quick look around.
“We’re okay,” John reassured him.
“Have you called it in?” Jeff asked.
“Yes,” John replied. “They should be here any minute now.”
***
In less than five minutes, the whole place crawled with cops. Forensics dusted for prints, and two policemen interviewed any neighbors who might have been around at the time of the robbery.
Alexandra sat on a chair, watching people coming and going. She felt numb inside as the pieces of her life scattered all over the floor were trampled further. She had seen similar scenes in the movies but never realized the emotional turmoil of the victim, having been violated first by the intruders and then by the police turning the place upside down searching for evidence and clues. She sat in her corner speechless, unable to comprehend what was happening. Why? The question burned in her mind. Why did this happen?
By now, she was sure it wasn’t a typical robbery. She had been to her bedroom where nothing was spared from the fury of the intruders— not even her mother’s portrait hanging on the wall. Alexandra was devastated to find it broken in half and tossed aside, right next to what was left of her Tiffany lamp and the crystal miniature of a sailboat she kept on her secretarial desk. Her jewelry box was also thrown on the ground. Breathless, she had kneeled next to it to find that her mother’s diamond-and-sapphire ring, as well as her matching bracelet, was still there, tossed aside as useless pieces of junk. The gold chain with her baptism cross and her diamond earrings hadn’t been stolen either. No, this was definitely not a robbery. They were looking for something specific, Alexandra realized and shuddered.
John had thought the same thing; Alexandra had seen it in his eyes when he walked into the bedroom to find her kneeling on the floor, picking up the pieces of her shattered life. However, he didn’t say anything. He just helped her to her feet and back into the living room where she sat, waiting… praying for the nightmare to end.
The detective in charge wanted to talk to Alexandra, but John took him aside. Absentmindedly, Alexandra watched the two of them talking by the front door. Afterward, the detective left, and John told her he was going to take her to the police station later for her to give a statement.
He disappeared into her bedroom for a while, and a few minutes later, he reappeared with her burgundy, leather carry-on suitcase in hand. He pulled her out of the apartment and down the steps, leaving Jeff behind to take care of things. Alexandra followed him as if in a dream.
Silence stretched in his car as they drove to the police station. There, they met the detective she had seen at the apartment, and Alexandra gave him a statement. The truth was, however, that she couldn’t tell him much.
***
Two hours later, John and Alexandra climbed back in his car and drove off. Physically and, above all, emotionally exhausted, Alexandra leaned back in the leather seat of his black Firebird. Her eyelids felt heavy, and she drifted off to sleep.
A bump on the road woke her up. “Where are we?” Alexandra inquired, staring around her disoriented.
By then, John was pulling into a subdivision.
“This is a safe house,” John replied flatly, and a warning bell went off inside Alexandra’s head.
“John!” she cried out and stared at him startled.
“I’m not going to take any chances,” he said and kept his eyes on the road until he pulled into the driveway of a small, one-story home at the far end of the subdivision.
He stopped the car and told her to wait. He climbed out, and with a gun in his hand, he walked towards the house and around the back. A couple of minutes later, he came out from the other side and waved for her to come.
Alexandra climbed out of the car and met him at the front steps. She followed him inside, and when he turned the lights on, she saw that she was in a small living room with a few pieces of furniture and a stone fireplace.
John walked through a door in the back, and Alexandra followed him to a small kitchen. He checked the refrigerator and then the cabinets.
“I’ll have to buy some supplies,” he said.
“You’re crazy if you think I’m going to stay here,” she snapped at him.
“Alexandra, we have to keep you out of sight for a while,” he said.
“No!” she protested, stubbornly. “Nobody is going to drive me out of my house.” Turning on her heel, she headed for the door.
John chased after her and grabbed her by the arm.
“Alexandra, please…We need to be careful.”
She turned and stared at him for a moment. She could tell he was pretty worried.
“Why don't you tell me what’s going on?”
“All right,” he said and let out a deep breath. “But please, come sit down first.”
Alexandra followed him to the sofa.
“I’ll make some coffee,” he said and walked to the kitchen.
She sat on the sofa and stared around her. The house wasn’t that bad; it just seemed kind of deserted. She heard John moving around in the kitchen, opening and closing cabinets. A few minutes later, he walked back in the living room with two cups of steaming coffee.
Alexandra took her cup and started drinking. Surprisingly enough, it made her feel better. The truth was she’d had nothing to eat all dayI need to stop doing this, she thought. I need to start taking lunch breaks; otherwise, I’m going to get sick.
All of a sudden, she realized John was watching her closely.
“What?” she inquired.
“Nothing,” he replied. “I was just wondering.”
“Wondering what?” she questioned him.
“Wondering if you could go away for a while,” he said, after a small hesitation.
“Go away? Are you crazy?” she asked. “This is no time for vacation. And I’m not going to hide,” she added stubbornly.
“No, I didn’t mean that,” he said. “It’s only that I’m in the middle of something, and I would feel better if you were somewhere safe.”
“You’re in the middle of something?” she asked worriedly. “What is it, John? What have you got yourself into? And what do I have to do with this?”go
“Alexandra, you just have to trust me,” he said. “I can’t talk to you right now, but I think that it might be better if…”
“Stop it!” she interrupted him. “I’m not going anywhere. Besides, I’m in the middle of an important assignment right now.”
“But that’s it!” he said. “The other night you told me you might have to do some traveling to New York. Maybe, it’s time for you to go up there for a while.”
“Are you crazy?” she asked. “I can’t just get up and go. My boss will be the one to decide whether I need to go or not.”
“I’ll talk to him,” John said.
Don’t you dare!” she yelled at him. “You’re not going to embarrass me at my job. God knows what they might think of me if you tell them that I need to get out of town.”
“But I can explain…” he said.
“No!” she insisted stubbornly. “You stay away from my job!”
“Okay!” he gave up. “But you need to be careful. You’ll stay here for a couple of days, until…”
“I’m not staying here,” she interrupted him again.
“You can’t go back to your apartment for a while,” he said. “And you can’t come to mine, either. It’s not safe right now.”
“Then I’ll go to a hotel,” Alexandra decided. “Anything would be better than here.”
“All right,” he agreed. “I’ll take you to a hotel downtown, so you can be close to work.”
John took their cups to the kitchen and rinsed them off. Then he strode back into the living room to find Alexandra ready to go.
Walking out the door, John locked it behind them. They drove by her office building and pulled up to Ritz-Carlton downtown. He followed her to the reception area and then up to her room.
“You stay here and wait,” he told her.
“Where are you going?” she asked, surprised. It was already after midnight.
“I have to go get some stuff from your apartment,” he said.
“What about my suitcase? I saw you taking it from the apartment.”
“I took your jewelry, your pajamas, and some necessities from your bathroom. But the way it looks, you’ll have to stay away for a while. So I need to go back and get you some clothes,” he added and walked to the door, stopping when he heard her calling his name.
“Don’t worry,” he said, reading her mind. “I’ll bring your briefcase, as well.”
“Thanks, John.” Alexandra sighed.
John gave her a reassuring smile. “Don’t worry! Everything is going to be all right. Lock the door behind me,” he said and left.
Alexandra called room service and ordered some hot milk with honey and chocolate chip cookies. Her order was there in a few minutes. She sat on the sofa by the window, staring outside, drinking her milk and eating her cookies. The events of the day flashed before her eyes like scenes on a movie screen. So much had happened today. Hours later, she finally drifted off to sleep.
***
The phone at the mansion rang in the early morning hours. Alexandros woke up abruptly and glanced at the clock. It was five-thirty in the morning.
“What on earth?” he cursed out loud, turning on the lamp by his bed. He reached and picked up the phone.
“Who is it?” he asked angrily.
He sat up in bed as soon as he recognized the voice on the phone.
“What’s wrong?” he asked worriedly.
He listened for a few minutes, and only his heavy breathing could give away how upset he was.
“How could you allow this to happen?” he barked. “I told you to take care of things,” he continued angrily. Jumping out of bed with a swiftness that was amazing for his age, he threw the covers to the floor. “I’ll be on the first flight,” he said and slammed the phone down.


I hope you have enjoyed the first four chapters of The Heiress of Santorini. 


The novel is available here:



Come back next Wednesday to read the first chapter of award-winning, Mystery Thriller Romance Dark Shadows of the Past


And stay tuned for the next giveaway coming up soon...


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Excerpt from mystery thriller romance The Heiress of Santorini - Chapter Three



Read Chapter One here

Read Chapter Two here

Chapter Three


AT SEVEN O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING, Alexandra stepped out of the elevator. Most of her colleagues came to work around nine, so the building was still quiet. She marched to her office and left her purse on the desk. Then, she went to the kitchen down the hall. The smell of fresh coffee filled the air, and she silently thanked whoever it was who had already made some this morning. Walking inside, she found Emma— one of the new recruits—stirring the coffee in her cup.
“Good morning, Emma,” Alexandra said. “You’re up early.”
“Good morning, Miss Stewart!” Emma responded politely. “I have a lot of work to do, and I thought I should get an early start.”
Alexandra filled up her cup with coffee and added a touch of sugar and some milk. She took one of the small straws and stirred her coffee, looking at the girl. Emma had only been there for a month, but she was picking up fast. Alexandra had asked Emma to call her Alex, but the girl seemed reluctant to address her like that.
“I might need some help today,” Alexandra said.
“Yes, Miss Stewart,” the girl responded, willingly.
“But if you have a lot of work…” Alexandra continued.
“Oh! No, I can handle it,” Emma rushed to reassure her.
“All right then. Come around ten, and I’ll tell you what I need.” Taking her cup of coffee, she left the room.
Walking back to her office, she almost ran into Holly, who was rushing out of the elevator.
“Hey!” Holly said breathlessly.
“Watch it!” Alexandra yelled and swerved at the very last minute, saving Holly from having coffee spilled all over her.
“Sorry,” Holly apologized.
“You’re a thunderstorm, young lady.” Alexandra laughed. Holly was so full of life; she was the type of person who could never stand still.
“What on earth are you doing here this early, anyway?” Holly asked surprised, knowing that her boss usually came in around nine o’clock.
“I have a lot to do,” Alexandra replied and walked towards her office. “By the way, did we ever receive that file on Imperial Resorts Corporation?”
“I’ll check on that first thing this morning,” Holly replied and followed her down the hall.
Alexandra did some searching on her computer for some other clients who owned hotels, bungalows, or time-sharing condominiumsShe prepared a list of policy files and gave it to Emma to have her locate them for her. All morning, she went over those files, reading over the policies and searching through the attached documentation, making notes and calculations.
The ringing of the phone made her jump.
“It’s Mr. Jones,” Holly introduced the caller and put the call right through.
“Good morning, Henry!” Alexandra said, trying to sound cheerfulShe liked her boss, Henry Jones, the general manager of the Atlanta office, but right now, she was under a lot of pressure.
“Good morning, Alexandra!” Henry replied. “I believe Hughes called you yesterday on the Imperial Resorts Corporation case, right?” He was direct, as usual.
“He sure did,” Alexandra agreed.
“Well, they’ll be here this afternoon, and I need a proposal ready by five o’clock.”
Alexandra drew a deep breath. “But I don’t even have their file yet…”
“I have it right here,” he interrupted her. “Have Holly come pick it up,” Henry ordered in a firm voice, far more professional than usual.
“All right,” Alexandra agreed, unwillingly. “I’ll be ready,” she promised and hung up the phone.
***
Holly glanced at her watch. Five o’clock already, she realized anxiously. She pulled the last sheet of paper off her printer, placed it neatly in a folder on her desk, and stood up, stretching out her arms. Her entire body felt so tense from typing the whole day.
Taking the folder, she knocked on Alexandra’s door.
“Come in,” Alexandra replied, and Holly walked inside to find her buried in paperwork.
Alexandra leaned back in her chair and rubbed her neck. “What time is it?” she asked.
“It’s time,” Holly replied. “They’re waiting for you,” she added and put the folder in her hands on Alexandra’s desk. “Everything is typed and ready.”
I’m on my way,” Alexandra replied and rose to her feet. She straightened her clothes and ran her fingers through her hair. “How do I look?”
“Ready to take on the whole world,” Holly replied and gave her a reassuring smile. She admired her boss immensely. She was smart and kind and always had something nice to say for everyone. She was tough and demanding, but that was expected from a person in her position. Alexandra was in charge of marketing and sales and was doing a great job. Holly looked up to her, even though Alexandra was only twenty-seven, just five years older than her.
Holly watched her boss taking the folder from her desk, straightening her back, and walking to the door. Alexandra was tall and slender, with beautiful green eyes and soft golden-brown locks that trailed to her shoulders when she didn’t wear it up. She was always dressed to killwhich, combined with her charismatic and dynamic personality, made people notice her right away.
“Good luck,” Holly whispered, knowing that this deal was extremely important.
***
Alexandra marched down the hall, holding the folder in her hands. Even though she felt tense and edgy, she appeared cool and self-confident— an act she had mastered over the years. She walked up to the elevators and pushed the button to go up.
When the elevator doors opened, she was taken aback seeing a strikingly handsome man dressed in a dark blue suit standing right in front of her. Alexandra drew in a sharp breath. What a hunk!
The man moved politely to the side while his deep blue eyes roamed over her intensely. Stepping on the elevator, Alexandra smiled nervously as his aftershave and manly scent filled the air.
Trying to ignore the electric energy that prickled in the air between them, she reached for the button to the sixteenth floor. Noticing it was already lit, Alexandra glanced at her reflection in the mirror that covered the back of the elevator. After she had made sure that she looked presentableshe glimpsed at the man standing next to her. He was facing the elevator doors, so she had a chance to admire his broad shoulders secretly and that delectable, muscular body of his that set her senses on fire. He was four to five inches taller than her, with shining, dark brown hair and an expensive suit hugging his body like a glove.
All of a sudden, the man turned around and stared at her in the mirror. Alexandra was caught off guard, and, as his mesmerizing gaze captivated her, a heat wave shot right through her body. Her cheeks grew warm from embarrassment, and she immediately drew her eyes from him, turning towards the elevator doors, which were opening to the sixteenth floor.
She passed right in front of him and, as her arm touched his sleeve, her skin tickled. What the hell is wrong with me? She rushed down the hallway, feeling silly for her reaction. Stop acting like a love-stricken teenagershe reprimanded herself. It’s probably due to all this stress and tension I’ve been in all dayThen again, sensing his gaze burning into her skin didn’t make things any easier. She straightened her back and took a deep breath, trying to keep her pace steady.
***
Mark stepped out of the elevator and couldn’t take his eyes off of Alexandra. He watched her walk down the hall and felt hypnotized by the sway of her hips and the tease of her beautiful, long legs beneath her skirt. What a knockout! She was the kind of woman who could turn a man’s life upside down.
He had quite a few stormy relationships in the past, but none of those women had managed to throw him off balance—the way he’d felt both times he laid eyes on Alexandra. I have a job to do, and I need to remain focused, he thought, clenching his fists. However, mystified by the way his senses responded to the mere presence of this breathtaking woman, he realized things were going to be complicated.
***
“Welcome! He’s expecting you.” The general manager’s secretary greeted Alexandra and motioned for her to go right in.
“Hello, Deborah!” Alexandra responded and gave the woman a warm smile. “How is the baby?”
Oh! He’s doing fine,” Deborah replied and turned to glance adoringly at the picture of her five-month-old son.
Alexandra knocked on the big mahogany door and went right in.
Alexandra! Come in!” Henry said and stood up from the burgundy leather armchair next to the matching sofa that took up an entire wall of his office.
“Hello, Henry!” Alexandra said and turned to the older man who had just gotten up from the sofa and was now standing next to her boss.
“This is Alexandra Stewart! The lady I was telling you about. She’s the best,” Henry told the old man and glanced at Alexandra with pride. “This is Mr. Antonis Georgiou,” her boss introduced the older gentleman. “He’s the attorney representing the Imperial Resorts Corporation.”
It’s very nice to meet you, Mr. Georgiou,” Alexandra said, shaking his hand.
“Come, my dear. Sit with us,” her boss said and resumed his position while Mr. Georgiou sat back down on the sofa.
Alexandra sat in the armchair on the other side of the sofa. That’s unusual, she thought. Meetings like this usually took place in the conference room right next to the general manager’s office, and of course, the occupants were typically marketing and business representatives of the client and not just an attorney.
“I’m here to make the first contact,” Mr. Georgiou said, staring Alexandra straight in the eyes as if he’d read her mind.
“But, of course,” Alexandra responded smiling, even though she knew that this wasn’t true. According to Hughes, the first contact had been made weeks ago. But what do I care? If this is the way they want to do business, then that’s fine with me. The client is always right, especially a wealthy and important client like this one…
“I have a proposal ready,” she said and opened the folder she was holding on her lap.
Alexandra spent the next hour going over figures and explaining her ideas. Mr. Georgiou watched her closely the whole time, even though she had a feeling he wasn’t paying attention to what she was saying. By the time she finished, she had a headache and felt her face muscles aching from the effort to keep on smiling.
Thank you, Alexandra,” Henry said and turned to Mr. Georgiou.
“That was impressive,” the old man pointed out and gave Alexandra a reassuring smile. “Your proposal sounds good, and I’ll notify my clients accordingly.”
“Thank you, Mr. Georgiou,” Alexandra replied politely, standing. The two men stood up, as well, and Alexandra shook the attorney’s hand. “It was very nice meeting you,” she continued and turned to her boss. “I’ll be in my office if you need anything else,” she said and walked to the door, leaving the file on her boss’s desk.
As soon as she stepped outside, she let out a deep breath.
Deborah stared at her surprised. “That bad?” she asked quietly and smiled, seeing the expression on Alexandra’s face.
“I feel as if I’ve been run over by a truck,” Alexandra admitted and was about to elaborate when she saw the warning look on the girl’s face. She turned cautiously and noticed that the mahogany double-doors to the conference room were open.
What’s going on?” she whispered, leaning closer to Deborah’s desk.
“I have no idea,” the girl replied, lifting her shoulders. “I was informed that Mr. Mark Taylor will be coming, and I was supposed to show him to the conference room. Well, this gorgeous guy showed up right after you went inside, and he’s been waiting in the conference room ever since. That’s all I know.”
“I see,” Alexandra murmured, skeptically. Mark Taylor… She had read the name somewhere. But of course. He was the managing director of the Imperial Resorts Corporation. What on earth? she thought puzzled. The managing director was right here, and he didn’t attend the presentation?
“See you later, Deb,” Alexandra said and stepped down the hall, thinking that things were getting pretty weird. Walking by the open doors, she took a quick glance inside the conference room. She was shocked to see the man from the elevator sitting at the conference table, staring back at her. No wonder Deborah talked about a gorgeous guy.
Her first impulse was to leave, but she stopped dead in her tracks… From the intercom on the conference table, she could hear Henry and the attorney speaking.
Alexandra felt her temper rising. The nerve of this man, spying on my boss! Without a second thought, she charged into the room and hit the button to turn the intercom off.
“Can I help you?” she asked in a cold voice.
“No,” the man replied calmly, unaffected by her barging in.
His reaction made her even more furious. However, the words died on her lips as the door connecting the conference room to the general manager’s office opened, and Henry walked in the room followed by the attorney.
“Alexandra!” Henry cried out, surprised. “You’re still here!”
“I was leaving,” Alexandra replied, “but, as I was going by, I heard…”
“Miss Stewart was kind enough to see if I needed anything,” the man cut in and stood up to shake Henry’s hand. “Everything is satisfactory,” he continued and glanced at the attorney who nodded his head in agreement. “We’ll be in touch soon,” he added and walked out of the room, leaving Alexandra speechless.
The attorney mumbled some excuse and followed him out of the room and down the hall.
“Henry, what’s going on?” Alexandra asked, puzzled.
Henry just stood there, staring after the two men.
“Henry!” Alexandra insisted, and he jumped in surprise as if he’d forgotten she was standing right there.
“I’m not sure,” he replied truthfully. “They seem a little peculiar…”
“A little? That’s an understatement!” Alexandra burst out. “The managing director was here, and he didn’t come to the presentation. He sat in the conference room, listening to you over the intercom,” Alexandra pointed out.
“I know,” Henry admitted. “Mr. Georgiou requested it that way.”
“You mean to tell me he was listening to me, also?” Alexandra inquired shocked.
“I’m afraid so.” Henry gave her an apologetic look.
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I didn’t want you to feel uncomfortable,” he admitted.
“Don’t ever do this to me again!” Alexandra was fuming. She just couldn’t believe what happened. Biting her lower lip to prevent herself from saying anything she might regret later, she turned on her heel and rushed out of the conference room.
She reached the elevator and pushed the button to the thirteenth floor where her office was located. Glancing at her watch, she saw it was already seven o’clock.
Storming into her office, she found Holly waiting for her.
“How did it go?” Holly asked, anxiously.
“Don’t ask!” Alexandra replied.
“Can I get you anything?”
“No, thanks,” Alexandra replied. “Go home.”
“What about you?” Holly asked.
“I’ll be leaving in a few minutes,” Alexandra lied to persuade Holly to leave. She just wanted to be alone for a while.
After Holly had left, Alexandra sunk in her armchair and turned towards the window. She leaned back and placed her arms behind her neck, staring out the window and trying to clear her mind. Howeverthe beautiful view and sparkling lights of the city at night didn’t make her feel any better.
She sat there for a long time, lost in her thoughts. The whole situation had gotten her all worked up. Maybe it wasn’t the job, after all, she thoughtMaybe it was this crazy business with people following her around. She couldn’t be sure about anything anymore.
Then, she saw his face in the window, with those eyes—the deep blue color of the ocean—staring at her. She shut her eyes and shook her head to make the image go away. Something about that man made her feel uneasy. He had a handsome face and a body to die for, not to mention his amazing eyes and those sensual lips… Alexandra had to admit he was the kind of man that every woman would dream aboutand she was drawn to him like no other. But he was also distant, overbearing, and made Alexandra feel the urge to run away from him and hide. This is ridiculousI hardly know the man. He’s just another client… But the expression in his sapphire eyes when he stared at her, examineher… Yes, that’s what it was, Alexandra realized. He was examining her as if she were under a microscope. Grab hold of yourself, she reprimanded herself. Of course, he was appraising me. He was just making sure I’m good enough to handle their account. However, deep down inside, she knew there was something more…
The ringing of the phone on her desk brought her back to reality.
“Alex Stewart,” she answered the phone.
“Alex?” the sound of John’s voice made her smile.
“John!”
“What on earth are you doing there?” he asked surprised. “We were supposed to meet an hour ago.”
Alexandra glanced at her watch shocked. It was eight-thirty.
“I’m so sorry,” she apologized. “I just lost track of time.”
“I tried to call you on your cell phone, but I was transferred to your answering service. Then I called the house, and there was no answer. I was worried,” John complained.
“I’m sorry, John. I was in a meeting, and I had to turn my cell phone off,” she said, avoiding explaining that the meeting ended hours ago. “In any case, I didn’t realize it was this late.”
“Are you okay?” John asked worriedly. “You sound weird.”
“I feel weird,” Alexandra admitted.
“What’s wrong? You want me to come pick you up?”
“No, I’ll be all right,” Alexandra replied. “I’m really sorry about tonight.”
“That’s okay,” he replied. “I probably wouldn’t have been such great company either…”
“That bad?”
“Don’t ask.”
“I’m on my way,” she said and hung up the phone. She grabbed her purse, turned on her cell phone, and headed out the door. As she walked down the empty hallway, she promised herself she would do her best not to stay that late any more. She had a computer at home, and she could continue her work there if she needed to.
She went to the elevator and down to the basement. Rushing to her car, she kept her eyes open for the black truck. Thank God, the truck isn’t here. As a matter of fact, the parking deck was almost empty. She climbed into her car and drove home as fast as she could while keeping an eye on her rear view mirror.
Turning into her apartment complex and driving towards her building, Alexandra carefully scanned her surroundings. The street lights were on, but the canopy of trees lined up along her street was so dense that it prevented most of the light from coming through. The back of her neck prickled as the woods surrounding the area remained pitch black and eerie. The lush greenery she enjoyed so much during the day filled her with apprehension at night—especially these last few days, ever since she had this feeling of been followed.
The lights of her apartment were out, and that made her nervous. John had told her on the phone that he had called her apartment, so she knew he wasn’t there. However, she had hoped to find him home by now. She was feeling down and didn’t want to be alone.
Parking in front of her building, she took another quick look around before climbing out of her car. She rushed to the entrance, and after the front door had closed behind her, she leaned against it and took a deep breath. Her heart pounded fast, so loud she’d swear she could hear its echo in the hallway. Calm down! There is nothing to worry about, she reassured herself, but the warning bell going off inside her head was impossible to ignore.
Anxiously, she climbed the stairwell two steps at a time, holding her key between her fingers, ready to use it as a weapon. Reaching her apartment door, she put it in the keyhole and turned to unlock the door. To her surprise, the door was already unlocked.
I probably forgot to lock it when I left this morning, she thought. Howeverthe warning bell thundered inside her head. She pushed the door open but didn’t enter the apartment. The hallway was lit, but the inside of the apartment was veiled in shadows, and Alexandra contemplated whether to step inside to turn the lights on or not. She hesitated for a few seconds and desperately tried to pick up the slightest noise, holding her breath. She could hear nothing but the pounding of her heart. She took a step back, trying to decide what to do. On an impulse, she pulled the door closed and walked back down the steps. I’m a coward, she thought, irritated. However, she didn’t care. “Better safe than sorry,” she whispered and walked back downstairs to wait for John in her car.


I hope you have enjoyed the first three chapters of The Heiress of Santorini. Come back next Wednesday to read Chapter Four.

Read the blurb here



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