Eleanna Welsh placed the receiver down with shaky hands and stared. Her mouth was dry and her body numb. Is this for real or am I dreaming?
The phone call from attorney Eliot Lambert had shaken her to the core. She tried to replay the conversation in her mind. However, she couldn’t remember much. The only phrase that had burned itself indelibly in her mind was that…her father was dead.
Drawing a deep breath, she stared at her familiar London office, with its white walls, worn burgundy carpet, and rows of glass cubicles. Nobody at the law firm paid any attention to her. All of a sudden she felt isolated and lonely.
What’s happening to me?
“Are you okay?” Her chubby blonde coworker, Samantha, startled her back to reality.
“I said, are you okay? You seem like you’ve just seen a ghost.”
“Well…maybe I have.” Eleanna sprang to her feet. She grabbed her purse and stormed past Samantha’s cubicle and down the corridor, leaving everyone who happened to notice her stunned.
As if in a dream, she heard Jonathan Sanders—the youngest partner at Bishop, Marks & Sanders, where Eleanna worked as an executive secretary—calling after her, but she kept going. By the time she reached the elevator, the doors had opened and Mary—another coworker—stepped off. Eleanna launched inside, pressing the button to the lobby. As the doors closed, she saw Jonathan rushing after her, but she remained frozen, too dazed to move or speak.
Stepping outside the glass-and-steel office tower, Eleanna raised her face to the cloudy, late-summer sky and closed her eyes, drawing deep breaths to clear the turbulence in her mind. She stared at her reflection in the glass wall of the building’s entrance. The tall, slim woman staring back at her, with golden-brown hair and hazel eyes, seemed like a stranger. All of a sudden, Eleanna wasn’t twenty-four years old anymore but a seven-year-old girl with long braids. She closed her eyes, remembering the endless nights perched on the windowsill of the little two-bedroom apartment she shared with her mother on the outskirts of London, crying, praying, and waiting in vain for her father to come back.
It had been seventeen years since that rainy night when he’d walked out and never returned, yet deep down inside Eleanna always hoped that one day they’d meet again. She thought about it, dreamed about it, wished it would happen with all her heart. And now, it was too late.
The penetrating noise of an ambulance siren pierced her thoughts. She glanced at the heavy downtown London traffic and anxiously checked her watch. Eleven o’clock—I have plenty of time. She let out a deep breath. Her appointment with Eliot Lambert wasn’t until twelve thirty. Hoping that the fresh air would clear her mind, she decided to walk to his office, which was only a few blocks away.
Swallowing hard, she experienced a hollow feeling in her stomach. She glanced around; a lot of people were walking by, but at that moment Eleanna felt invisible.
Grab a hold of yourself. You knew this might happen…you’ve been preparing for it. However, anger, grief, and a thirst for revenge against ruthless Contessa Angelina Sideris threatened to engulf her. Driven by hatred and greed, the Contessa had forced her parents to leave Corfu, the beautiful Greek island of their birth. Not to mention that Eleanna suspected that the Contessa was also responsible for her father’s disappearance from London, which ended up tearing their family apart.
And what were the other things the attorney said? Eleanna drew some deep breaths and let them out slowly. He mentioned that it was urgent and vital for her to sign some paperwork regarding her inheritance of a luxury resort on Skopelos—an island in the Aegean Sea, three hundred miles away from Corfu that is in the Ionian Sea. What inheritance on Skopelos? Where did this inheritance come from? And why is it urgent and vital to sign something right now? Too many questions burned in her mind.
Taking a deep breath, Eleanna started for Lambert’s office. It was time to get some answers.
Eleanna observed the impeccably dressed, middle-aged attorney cautiously. He was polite all right, but something about him bothered her. Maybe it was the way he persistently avoided giving her any straight answers. All he’d told her so far was that her father had passed away, leaving her a 50 percent share of the Royal Blue Luxury Resort, a five-star hotel at Panormos Bay. The other 50 percent belonged to a man named Stephanos Ioannou, owner and managing director of Midas International Corporation—a multibillion-euro conglomerate. Apparently, Mr. Ioannou was interested in buying her out. And not only that, but the paperwork had to be signed within three weeks. If not, a multimillion-euro joint venture with Sunrise Hotels—an international hotel chain—would fall through, with a detrimental effect on the resort’s liquidity.
“Are you sure about this, Miss Welsh?” Mr. Lambert asked, staring at Eleanna over his thick glasses. “I think Mr. Ioannou’s offer is the best you can hope for.” He leaned forward and laced his hands on his polished oak desk.
“Mr. Lambert,” Eleanna replied calmly, despite her rising anger, “I already explained to you that at this point, I’m not interested in selling. I would like to see the resort first and then make a decision.”
“But it would be too late by then.”
“Not if I make it to the island before the deadline of this deal.”
“As you wish,” the attorney said, letting out a deep sigh.
“You still haven’t told me how my father died.”
“All I know is that your father drowned,” Mr. Lambert replied.
“Drowned? You mean in the sea?”
“I don’t have that information, Miss Welsh.” He shifted impatiently.
The only thing this lizard is worried about is getting my signature on those damn papers. Well, that’s not going to happen.
“She doesn’t want to sell,” Lambert informed Stephanos Ioannou a few hours later.
“What?” Stephanos barked. The thirty-two-year-old tycoon slammed his fist on his enormous cherry wood desk. He was used to getting what he wanted, and all this hassling with legal stuff infuriated him. He’d been waiting for Lambert’s call the whole afternoon. “What do you mean she doesn’t want to sell? Did you tell her my offer?”
“No,” the attorney said, hesitating. “She didn’t even ask.”
Stephanos drew a deep breath and sprang to his feet. “What the hell are you talking about?” He strode over to his huge windows, which overlooked the scenic Panormos Βay. “You told her I was ready to buy her out, and she didn’t even ask how much I’m willing to pay?”
“That’s exactly right.”
The attorney’s flat voice was starting to get on Stephanos’s nerves. What an idiot! He probably didn’t handle it right.
“She wants to come to Skopelos,” Lambert said.
“Come to Skopelos? But why?” Stephanos gritted his teeth. This was supposed to be a quick deal, and now this. Why on earth would this girl want to come to Skopelos? “Make sure she changes her mind.”
“I’m afraid that’s not possible. I can give it another try, but I’m sure it’ll be useless. She’s determined to come; she even asked me if I could recommend someone to make all the traveling arrangements.”
“We’ll make the arrangements, then.”
“Mr. Ioannou, making traveling arrangements are not part of my job.”
“I said, we’ll do it!” Stephanos slammed down the phone. It was bad enough that he’d had to deal with his partner, Marios, all these years. They never got along, and when the deal with Sunrise Hotels came up, Marios stubbornly refused to accept it. Stephanos had come to suspect that Marios had a hidden agenda. After Marios’s death, Stephanos had resumed negotiations for the deal when, out of the blue, a will appeared, naming Eleanna Welsh as Marios’s only heir. Stephanos couldn’t wait to buy out this long-lost daughter and finalize the deal, which would provide a substantial amount of working capital for the resort and Midas International Corporation. That was why he was so generous with his offer. How could she refuse? Well, this stubborn girl was in for a real treat…
Read Chapter One Part Two here
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