Jonathan clenched a tall glass of cold draft beer, staring at the heavy rain whipping the windows of the small pub located near his office. He checked his watch yet another time and drew a deep breath—seven thirty and no sign of Eleanna. Where is she? What happened this morning, after she stormed out of the office without saying a word?
The door behind his booth swung open, and he turned abruptly, only to be disappointed by a couple barging inside, soaking wet and laughing. He tipped the bottom of his glass toward the ceiling and waved to the waiter for a refill. The nasty weather and dense darkness outside were a perfect reflection of his emotions right now. Waiting on Eleanna for the last thirty minutes, he was worried sick. Her husky and trembling voice on the phone had shaken him up. She hadn’t explained anything, only asked him to meet her at their favorite pub at seven. Where the hell is she? It wasn’t like her to be late—Eleanna was one of the most punctual people Jonathan knew. Something serious was up, and that something probably had to do with her mysterious past.
The waiter brought another glass of beer, and Jonathan sipped it absentmindedly. His thoughts drifted back to when he and Eleanna had first met. They’d known each other for about two years, ever since that cold, rainy morning in December when she’d walked into Bishop, Marks & Sanders to interview for an executive secretary position. The moment the stunning beauty with the golden-brown hair and the amazing hazel eyes stepped off the elevator, all the men in the office dropped what they were doing. And thirty-five-year-old Jonathan Sanders—the youngest partner in the firm—was no exception. He was smitten with her right from the start, and the fact that he could sense something mystifying about her made her more desirable than ever.
Eleanna came highly recommended by Peter Haze—a partner in a small but reputable law firm in the outskirts of London. She passed the interview with Henry Marks—one of two senior partners in the firm—with flying colors. Smart, efficient, polite, and punctual, she was excellent at her job. But she was also distant and kept to herself. At first, her attitude could be misinterpreted as arrogant but Jonathan was too smart and too interested to let her go. He wanted to know more about the out-of-reach beauty who haunted his dreams. So, he did the one thing he had promised never to do again, and, of course, would never confess to anyone—he called his brother.
Ian Sanders—Jonathan’s brother—was an ex-homicide detective turned private investigator, who was the main reason Jonathan divorced his wife, Michaela… Or rather, Michaela divorced Jonathan four years ago, after only two years of marriage.
Jonathan would never forgive Ian, and, above all, he would never forgive himself for having Ian follow Michaela. He’d suspected that his sexy Spanish wife was having an affair when in reality she was taking private lessons to improve her English. After Jonathan had confronted her, no matter how sorry he was and how hard he tried to make up for the misunderstanding, his hot-tempered wife never forgave him for doubting her and filed for a divorce.
Ever since, Jonathan had promised never to speak to Ian again. But he broke that promise when he asked him to check up on Eleanna. He was desperately in love with her and, sensing that something wasn’t right, he had Ian investigate her past since she stubbornly refused to talk about it.
And what Ian had found out was a heartbreaking story of pain, sorrow, and abandonment. Then again, some things didn’t seem right, and Ian was puzzled—especially by the fact that he couldn’t trace any information on Eleanna’s family. It was as if her parents and one-year-old Eleanna appeared out of nowhere.
When Ian informed Jonathan about his findings, Jonathan was puzzled, as well. However, he couldn’t quench his yearning for Eleanna. He’d fought for her affection for months, and finally, he’d managed to become her friend—probably her only friend.
Only after Jonathan had come to know her better, did he realize that her arrogant attitude was just a front she put up. Too vulnerable at the time, she’d mastered an act to appear cool, self-confident, and inaccessible in order not to get hurt. Eleanna would never talk about her past, but Jonathan knew that her mother had recently passed away, and she had nobody else in the world.
Her father had walked out on them when Eleanna was seven and her little brother, Mike, was only two. A year later, Mike disappeared without a trace. Tragedy-stricken, young Eleanna and her heartbroken mother, Violet, had clung together, loving, comforting, and supporting each other in their little two-bedroom apartment on the outskirts of London. A few years later, Violet became ill and fought esophageal cancer for years until three years ago she passed away.
After Violet’s death, probably unable to bear the familiar surroundings, Eleanna left their apartment and her job and moved to downtown London.
Jonathan squeezed his glass. He could feel in his gut that something was wrong, and he was worried sick. He loved Eleanna with all his heart, even though their relationship had never been anything more than friendship. She was sweet and unselfish, and they got along well. She was one of few women whom he could talk to about more than just conventional things. At times, she was quiet and withdrawn, but he’d learned to appreciate those peaceful moments as well. And he always respected the times she wanted to be alone—not that she gave him any choice. Those times that Eleanna would disappear and not answer her phone for hours always puzzled and worried Jonathan, but she would stubbornly refuse to tell him where she was going or what she was doing.
“Would you like something else?” The waiter was suddenly standing beside him.
“What?” he asked, staring up at the young, skinny server with the red hair and thick glasses.
“I said, would you like something else?” The waiter pointed at Jonathan’s empty beer glass.
“Yes,” Jonathan replied, his mouth still feeling dry. “Bring me another one.” He watched the waiter turn and walk toward the bar in the back of the small pub.
Then he reached into his pocket and grabbed his cell phone. I hope she answers this time, he thought since Eleanna hadn’t answered the previous two times he’d called. The phone kept ringing until it got diverted to the answering service. Damn! He slammed it down on the table.
Relax, she’ll be here. He tried to calm the frantic pounding of his heart. But still, he couldn’t erase the lost look on her face when she’d flown by his office that morning. He’d jumped up and followed her to the elevators, but she was already gone.
Lost in his thoughts, he didn’t notice her coming in. Only after she’d sat down across from him, did he realize she was there.
“Eleanna! Thank God, you’re here! I was so worried about you.”
“Hello, Jonathan. Sorry, I’m late, but it’s this nasty weather. I couldn’t get a cab, and I had to walk for twenty minutes in the rain.”
“Are you all right?” Eleanna seemed to be miles away. She hasn’t been home at all. Eleanna was wearing the same light gray suit she had on this morning. He reached over and covered her clenched-together hands with his. A chill shot through his spine when he felt how cold they were.
Eleanna was soaked to the bone but didn’t seem to mind. It was obvious that her mind was preoccupied. Where has she been all day?
“I’m okay, I guess,” Eleanna replied unconvincingly.
The waiter came to the table, so Jonathan had to wait until after Eleanna had ordered a glass of white wine to ask what happened. That’s a change from her usual fruit punch, he thought but kept his mouth shut. When the server finally walked away, he couldn’t hold back any longer.
“Eleanna, what happened? What was that all about this morning?”
She stared at her hands.
Jonathan watched her closely until he couldn’t bear the silence any longer. “Listen, I don’t mean to pry…” he started but was interrupted by the waiter bringing Eleanna’s drink.
“I’m just so worried about you,” he continued after the man was out of earshot. “However, if you don’t want to talk about it, just say so. I won’t like it, but I’ll understand.”
Eleanna took a sip of her wine and stared at their reflections in the window. “My father is dead,” she said simply.
She spoke so softly that Jonathan wasn’t sure if he’d imagined it.
“An attorney called this morning,” she added.
“I’m sorry,” he mumbled, squeezing her hands, not knowing what else to say. She hadn’t heard from her father in all those years, but he was still her father. Besides, they’d never talked about her family before, and he didn’t want to say anything that would reveal that he’d checked up on her. What’s going through her mind?
“He named me in his will. Apparently there’s an eight-hundred-acre estate with a hotel and an old mansion on Skopelos that now belongs to me.”
“An estate with a hotel?” Jonathan asked, surprised. “On Skopelos? Where on earth is Skopelos?”
“It’s a Greek island in the Aegean Sea, a few hours from Athens.”
“Did your father live there?”
“I have no idea.”
Jonathan glanced at her, puzzled.
“My father walked out on us when I was very young. I have no idea where he was all those years.” She pulled her hands away from his and stared at him for the first time since she’d walked into the pub.
Jonathan swallowed hard, seeing the pain clouding her lovely eyes. “I’m really sorry to hear that.”
“I’m the only one mentioned in the will,” she continued. “Which means that he knew about Mike’s disappearance, even though he never got in touch with us.”
“Mike? Who’s Mike?” Jonathan hated himself for having to lie to her. But he couldn’t bring himself to admit that he’d had Ian investigate her past. She would never forgive him for not trusting her—just like Michaela never did.
“Mike was my little brother,” Eleanna replied, her voice trembling with emotion. “He disappeared when he was only three years old.”
“Oh, wow! I’m so sorry, Eleanna… I had no idea.”
He watched her as she tried to regain control of herself. But he knew better than to touch her; he could see how upset she was. She tapped her fingers on the table and returned her gaze to the window.
“I have to go there,” she said finally.
“What? Go where?”
“To Skopelos. I have to go,” Eleanna repeated more to herself than to him.
“But you can sell everything through an attorney. I can take care of that for you—”
“I’m not going to sell,” Eleanna interrupted.
“What are you talking about?” Jonathan was seriously worried now. She must have lost her mind. What does she mean she’s not going to sell?
“Don’t you understand? I have to find out…” Her words trailed off.
“Find out what?”
“I have to find out what kind of person my father was and what kept him away from us for so long,” she replied. However, Jonathan had a feeling that this wasn’t what she intended to say at first.
“Eleanna, be sensible! You can’t just get up and go. What about your job? What about us?” However, the words died on his lips as he could see that she wasn’t paying any attention to him. She was lost in her thoughts once more.
“The attorney informed me that my father had a partner, someone named Stephanos Ioannou, who owns a lot of businesses and properties in Greece. My father had borrowed from him some years back, and after he couldn’t repay the loan, Ioannou acquired a large percentage of the hotel and the estate.”
“What do you mean by large?”
“Yes… It seems that he’s willing to buy me out—”
“That’s great!” Jonathan cried out. “That’s exactly what I told you, sell and—”
“I’m not going to sell,” she insisted stubbornly, “at least, not right away. I have to find out some things first.”
“You’re going to fly to some foreign island you know nothing about, just to see where your father lived? Eleanna, be sensible! What about your job?”
“I’m going to ask for a couple of months’ leave. I’m sure Mr. Marks won’t have a problem with that since I’ve been such a punctual and dedicated employee, and I’ve never missed a day of work. I’ve never even taken the vacation days that I was eligible for. I’ll explain to him that I have to go to Greece for a while to take care of things.”
“Take care of what?” Jonathan could hardly control his agitation. She’d been so stubborn about the whole thing; she had no business going to Greece. Deep down inside, he was afraid of losing her, and he was going to do everything in his power to change her mind.
Read Chapter One Part Three here
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The book is available at: