Read Chapter One Part One here
Read Chapter One Part Two here
Read Chapter One Part Three here
Read Chapter Two Part One here
Read Chapter Two Part Two here
After Eleanna had taken her seat on the plane, she looked out the window. It was a cool day, and the sky was cloudy. The pilot announced that it was perfect weather for flying. She caught herself praying—something she hadn’t done in years. Anxious about flying? she mocked herself. The flight seemed rather trivial compared to what she had to face in Greece.
“Afraid of flying?”
Eleanna turned to face her seatmate, a young man with pale blue eyes and curly blond hair.
“A little bit,” she admitted.
“There’s nothing to worry about,” the man reassured her. “Flying is among the safest means of transportation…” His voice trailed off as Eleanna became lost in her thoughts.
An associate of Mr. Lambert was going to meet her at the Athens International Airport, and arrangements had been made for her transportation to Skopelos. The attorney had advised her to spend the night in Athens, but Eleanna insisted on going to Skopelos right away. She didn’t want to postpone the confrontation with whoever was out there for any longer than she had to.
As soon as they took off, the flight attendants served breakfast. Even though her stomach was upset, Eleanna tried to eat something. The coffee cake was delicious, and she ended up polishing it off. However, she didn’t touch anything else on the tray besides the coffee.
Her neighbor tried to make conversation, but Eleanna’s mind was preoccupied, so he finally gave up.
After a flight attendant had taken her tray, she opened her carry-on bag and pulled out a magazine, hoping to relax—no use. Gloomy thoughts and worries kept on whirling around in her mind, and she put the magazine down, frustrated.
Who is Stephanos Ioannou? And what’s his real connection with everything that’s happened to my family? Is he just a partner, or is there something more to it? Deep down inside, she was sure there was more to it. Otherwise, why go to all this trouble to produce the fake letter from her father? And what about her father? What had he been up to all those years? Why didn’t he ever try to get in touch with them? And whatever happened to Mike? Was he still alive, and if so, where could he be all this time? So many unanswered questions.
Lost in her thoughts, she was startled by a flight attendant asking her if she wanted some coffee.
“Yes, please,” Eleanna replied, devastated by a roaring headache. She took the cup the lady offered her and looked outside, not seeing anything but frothy white clouds. “How much longer do we have?”
“We’ll be landing in Athens in less than an hour,” the flight attendant replied. “Would you like something else?”
“No, coffee is fine.”
Thank God, Eleanna thought when she noticed that her neighbor was asleep. She wasn’t in the mood for conversation. Opening her purse, she took out her father’s letter and stared at it as if it could provide her with some answers.
Putting the letter back in her purse, Eleanna stood up. Having the window seat, she carefully worked her way around her neighbor to go to the bathroom. After washing her face, she took her hairbrush out of her purse and brushed her hair. She wasn’t wearing any makeup and didn’t feel like putting any on. Examining her appearance, she noticed that her dark blue pants and light gray blouse were a little wrinkled. Well, there’s nothing I can do about it.
She strode back to her seat, sat down, and fastened her seatbelt. Her heart was pounding wildly as mixed feelings of worry, anticipation, and excitement washed over her. After all, this would be the first time back to her homeland since she was a baby.
She couldn’t wait to get off the plane. Taking a glimpse outside, she was stunned by the breathtaking view. The crystal-clear sapphire waters of the Aegean Sea sparkled like liquid gold. Eleanna stared in amazement as on their way to the mainland, they flew over numerous islands, scattered like little lilies in a pond. She couldn’t take her eyes from the window as the plane banked to the right, preparing to land at Athens International.
Eleanna was one of the first passengers to disembark. Impressed by the airport’s award-winning huge, modern, and efficient facilities, she forgot her worries for a few minutes. That was until she walked through customs and stepped through the glass doors, looking for her escort.
She immediately spotted a handsome young man with dark gray pants and a blue shirt, holding a sign in his left hand with her name on it.
Pulling her suitcase and carry-on bag, she approached him and…stopped dead in her tracks as his gaze settled on her—his face had turned pale white, and his pupils had dilated.
What’s wrong with him? Eleanna felt intensely uncomfortable under his suddenly petrified look.
“I’m sorry,” he mumbled, a minute later. “Are you Miss Welsh?”
“Yes.” Eleanna examined him carefully.
“I’m Andreas Antoniou—the personal assistant of Mr. Ioannou.” Andreas lowered the sign and extended his right hand.
“The assistant of Mr. Ioannou?” Eleanna asked. Why would the attorney have someone working for Ioannou come to pick her up? She was under the impression that Lambert was going to have an associate of his come get her and arrange for her transportation to Skopelos.
“Are you taking me to the harbor?”
“The harbor? Oh, no.” He hesitated. “We’re flying to Skopelos on the company’s helicopter.”
“The company’s? What company?”
“Midas International Corporation,” Andreas explained. “Mr. Ioannou’s company.”
This isn’t going well. Eleanna didn’t feel good about depending on Ioannou right from the start. It was as if he wanted to control her every move.
“I don’t want to cause any problems. I can take the ferry,” she pointed out.
“There’s no need for that. I’m on my way to Skopelos, anyway, so it won’t be any problem at all.” Reaching over, he took her suitcase from her. “Shall we?” He walked toward the entrance of the terminal.
Eleanna let out a deep breath and followed him, pulling her carry-on behind her.
A black stretch limo was waiting for them right outside the entrance, and the driver held the back door open for Eleanna. Then he took her luggage and put it in the trunk.
Andreas, in the meantime, had stepped aside and was now talking on his cell phone.
Reporting to his boss, Eleanna thought anxiously, wondering what Ioannou would be like. No matter what, I’m here to get some answers, she thought stubbornly, and I’m going to get them one way or another…
“Has she arrived?” Stephanos asked, answering the phone.
“Yes, she’s here,” Andreas replied.
“Then bring her to the island.”
“What’s wrong?” Stephanos picked up a strange tone in his assistant’s voice. “Well?” he insisted after a moment of silence.
“I need to tell you something,” Andreas said.
“Well? Why the introduction? Go ahead and say it!” Stephanos burst out, unable to control his temper. This whole deal had him on edge.
“You need to be prepared…”
“Prepared for what?”
“Eleanna is the spitting image of Christina.”
Silence stretched over the line.
“What do you mean by that?” Stephanos asked a moment later, feeling hollow in his stomach.
“Stephanos, Eleanna looks exactly like Christina… And when I say exactly, I mean it. She could be her twin sister.”
Stephanos took a deep breath, squeezing the phone in his hand as vivid images of his late wife flooded his mind.
“Stephanos, are you okay?”
“Yes, I’m okay,” Stephanos lied. Of course, he wasn’t okay—he hadn’t been ever since his late wife, Christina, had died a little over a year and a half ago.
“Do you want me to take her to a hotel, to give you a few days to get used to the idea? Or if you want, I can take care of things. This way, you wouldn’t have to meet her at all.”
“Bring her to me,” Stephanos ordered and hung up the phone.
As if in a dream, Stephanos walked over to the window. He stared at the manicured gardens of the estate, which stretched all the way to the edge of a nearby cliff. A narrow path, carved into the stone, lead down to a private cove with a sandy beach abutting the emerald waters of the Aegean.
He clenched his fists as Christina’s beautiful face appeared at the window staring back at him, provoking and mocking him at the same time.
Stephanos drew a deep breath and let it out slowly, trying to control his emotions. “When will you stop haunting me?” he yelled at her vision. He turned and walked out of the room, slamming the door behind him.
Come back next Friday to find out what happens next...
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