With a soft sigh, she realised that Daryle had never listened to sense. Her sister had always chosen her heart over her head, with little or no regard to what others said or did, and once more Diona blamed herself. She had spoiled her as she was growing up, shielded her from the hard, every-day decisions which needed to be made. Perhaps she had protected her too much. However, she smiled remembering how embarrassed Daryle had been when she suggested she was pregnant, and telling her that she and Alexis had not even slept together. With a warm sensation filling her tired body, she smiled. Perhaps she had not done such a terrible job of raising her young sister as she first thought.
As she sat waiting for the return of Daryle, she became aware of somebody stopping behind her. Turning around, Diona held back the gasp as she saw the most handsome man she had ever encountered. He stood watching her with ill-concealed contempt in his eyes, her own showing the surprise at the stranger’s cold expression, seeing how his eyes flicked over her in a manner which caused her to feel uncomfortable.
Her eyes met his and held them unblinkingly before he finally spoke. “Miss Brown?” He asked, his English perfect, but with the most sensual accent, she had ever heard. Diona could only stare at the man, as his voice sent shivers down her spine, surprised that he seemed to know her name. “Are you Miss Brown?”, he repeated, a small frown coming to his handsome face.
“Yes,” she finally managed, “Can I help you?”
With no invitation the man then proceeded to take the seat that Daryle had been sitting in only seconds previously, causing Diona to frown in annoyance at the stranger’s forward and arrogant manner. “My name is Nikias Dranias,” he started, scowling to see how she smiled with relief.
“Alexis’ brother,” she said, “It is so good to meet you.”
However, the man continued to look at her, his dark eyes full of such contempt, his voice angry but controlled. “This is not a social call Miss Brown…I want you to stop seeing my brother right now.”
Diona looked at him with surprise. “No, you’ve made a mistake,” she began before he silenced her, by raising one hand, his look holding hers icily in a manner which made Diona’s eyes flash with annoyance.
“How much Miss Brown?”, he queried softly, his tone low and dangerous.
“For what?”, she asked in surprise, her blue eyes looking quizzically into his dark ones.
“To leave and never see him again.”
Diona began to get angry, losing patience with this overbearing man who, despite being so devastatingly handsome, was treating her with such disrespect, his arrogance so obvious from the way his eyes kept flicking over her, as though she was something unpleasant he was being forced to sit beside. “Who the hell do you think you are?”, she asked, seeing the cold glint enter his dark eyes.
“I am Alexis’ brother, Miss Brown,” he answered, “And I am going to make sure that no little gold digger gets her claws into him.” As she gasped in shock, he paused to look at her, admiring the woman before him despite himself, surprised at what he saw. This one was different from the usual women his brother was attracted to; she was beautiful, that was true, but in a calm, quiet way, not the usual loud and brash type which he had had to deal with in the past. “If you think that you are going to marry yourself a rich man, then you are mistaken…my brother works for me, Miss Brown. The company is owned by me and only by me.”
“Mr Dranias…”, she began, a hard edge to her tone, as he once more interrupted her, making her frown even harder with irritation.
“Miss Brown, I am prepared to pay you to go…so given the fact that I will cut my brother off without a penny if he is stupid enough to marry such an obvious little schemer as yourself… you would be better to take my money and leave.”
Diona glared at the man before her, her voice stilted at the suggestion that her sister was nothing more than a gold digger, “It is nice to know that you think so little of your own brother,” she bit back, her blue eyes flashing haughtily at him.
Nikias Dranias stared back at the woman before him. For some reason he found himself watching her with more than just the contempt he felt when he had first entered the restaurant. Her long blonde hair, which was held primly back in a ponytail, enabled her wonderful face to be seen clearly. Her complexion, slightly flushed with anger, glowed; a perfect setting for her large blue eyes, so bright with a radiance which he could not help but stare. His voice was a little huskier than usual as he continued, “If you know what is good for you Miss Brown, you will be on the next plane home, or else I will be forced into taking further action.”
Diona looked coldly at the man before her. “Don’t threaten me Mr Dranias,” she said softly, “I have never liked bullies who threaten people,” she continued, seeing the look of confusion as it entered his eyes.
Standing up, Nikias dropped an envelope in front of her. “Do yourself a favour, and take what you can and leave.”
Before she could speak further, he moved away from her table and out of the restaurant leaving Diona shaking with the anger which filled her. As he disappeared, Daryle returned to the table, her eyes large and frightened. “Was that Nikias?”, she asked, her voice full of fear.
“Alexis just phoned to say that his brother found out about us. He was warning me that he was looking for me…” With a nervous giggle, she looked at how angry her sister seemed. “Wow, he is gorgeous,” she added, her eyes looking warily at Diona.
Diona looked back grimly. “Yes, Daryle it was Nikias, and he thought I was you… What an arrogant, insufferable man”, she bit out through gritted teeth.
Daryle looked at her, her eyes full of questions. “What did he say?”, she whispered.
“Well you are right…he is totally against your marriage… and I can’t say that I blame him”, she added angrily, before turning on Daryle, her voice hard and determined. “This has to end… get your stuff Daryle, we are leaving.”
“No,” her sister spoke firmly, her eyes full of pain. “I love him, and I am not leaving him…please understand Diona… I love him.”
Diona saw the tears rising in her sister’s eyes. This behaviour was new. Normally she could make her sister see sense eventually, but she could see the grim determination in Daryle’s eyes, warning her that this was going to be even harder than she had first thought. However, remembering Nikias, she knew that she would have to make her see how inappropriate the marriage would be if only because of the enemy they would be making by going ahead with their plans.
With a small sigh, Diona lifted the envelope, opening it to see the contents. Inside she found a business class ticket back home dated the next day and a cheque for 20,000 pounds. Passing it over to her sister, she watched as Daryle gasped, before ripping it up. “He thinks that he can buy us off…well, he is wrong, and so are you Diona…we love each other.”
With a soft sigh, Diona looked at her sister more softly, pausing for a few seconds, her eyes watching her impassioned face. “OK, Daryle…but I want to meet your boyfriend…and to talk to you both… do you understand?”
Daryle smiled at her, her face full of warmth. “Thank you Diona,” she cried in relief, “We’ll both be in touch with you tonight, I promise.”
With a small frown, Diona looked at Daryle…” You told me you were staying at the hotel I booked into …but they have no record of you”, she said in confusion, “Where are you staying Daryle?”
Sighing gently, Daryle replied, “Alexis booked my room under another name so that his brother couldn’t find me.” She looked sadly at the door, adding ruefully, “It still didn’t stop him though.” With that she stood, moving over to hug her sister lovingly. “You will see Diona… he is wonderful, and I know you will love him as much as l do”, her voice wistful, as her elder sister looked on.
As Daryle left, Diona sighed deeply. She would talk to Alexis herself and persuade the two of them to slow down on their plans. She would point out to them that if they were serious, then they should involve their families in their happiness. Suddenly feeling once more so tired she ordered and drank a cup of tea, frowning as she remembered Nikias Dranias.
She had never seen such a good-looking man. He was tall, over six feet, and dressed in a suit which accentuated his broad shoulders and long, lean frame. His handsome face held the darkest eyes she had ever seen, holding her transfixed as she felt the sheer power of the man. She shivered, finding it hard to forget the raw sexuality he seemed to exude with just his presence.
Diona smiled gently. If Alexis was anything like his brother, then she could fully understand why her sister had been swept away, becoming so besotted with this man. However, with a concerned look crossing her eyes, she hoped again for her sister’s sake that he was less arrogant, her eyes once more flashing angrily at the way he talked to her as if she was less than nothing, unfit for his brother. Diona had dealt with men like Nikias Dranias before, arrogant, insufferable men who demanded and expected everything their own way, and she grimaced realising that it was going to be a struggle for Alexis and Daryle. She wondered if they cared enough about each other to see it through, instinctively knowing that Nikias Dranias was a force to be reckoned with.
From the restaurant, Diona returned to her hotel. She stopped at a newsagent to buy a magazine, the picture on the front familiar. Nikias Dranias’ face smiled back at her on the front page, along with the headline: ‘Cruise Tycoon Tells All’. As she sat in her hotel room, she read the story of the 32-year-old tycoon’s rise to fame and fortune, from the humble streets of Greece to multi-billionaire status. The interviewer talked to him in his home, and there was a picture of him standing, looking out to sea beside a picture window, the scene outside wild and wonderful, as craggy cliffs merged into the blue of the sea. She thought for a second about the very different worlds they lived in, he on his island and she in her small flat, overlooking the main road. His face was slightly turned from the camera, and he looked to be deep in thought, and once more Diona shivered gently remembering his musky scent, frowning at the realisation that she picked up that much detail of the man.
As she read on, there were several other photographs of him, all showing him with different women, some she even recognised, and with a twist of her lovely mouth, she thought him to be such a hypocrite. He was apparently a man who enjoyed the good things in life, and that very much included women. How dare he look down on her sister, when he was such a playboy himself? With a sigh, she hoped that this would turn out to be nothing more than a crush for her sister, her head turned by the lifestyle which Alexis offered and that soon she would realise just how wrong he was for her. Diona did not relish having to deal with Alexis’ brother again, remembering the contempt in his eyes when he talked to her.
The hotel room was warm, and still feeling sticky from the heat and her journey, she slipped into the tiny washroom to have a shower. Diona enjoyed the water as it moved down her slim body, her whole being looking forward to finally being able to lie on the bed which offered her the chance to sleep and to sort out her thoughts.