Day Two

day 2 advent calendar

Second day of Advent Calendar

 

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.

Day One

day one advent calendar

First day of the advent calendar

Chapter One

Diona Brown sat on the small couch moaning gently as she read through the letter which she held in her quivering fingers.  Dragging her hand over her suddenly warm brow, she looked in disbelief at the words on the page:

 

Dear Diona

Alexis and I are in love.  He has asked me to marry him and I have gone to Greece to meet him.  We plan on getting married as soon as possible.

I hope that you can be happy for us, and we will be in touch when we return.

All my love

Daryle

 

After several more seconds reading and rereading the short note, she finally slammed the paper on the table and cursing under her breath, picked up the phone. She quickly made reservations for the next available flight to Greece, her fingers gripping the phone tightly as she felt the panic which even the thought of flying always raised within her.  Diona remembered the many details Daryle gave her about her latest boyfriend, Alexis Dranias, and with a grim set to her mouth she thought about her young sister.

Although there were only three years between them, the two could not have been any more different.  Daryle was fun-loving and always surrounded by friends and boyfriends.  She worked in a high-fashion store, and partied every weekend, often giving her sister cause for concern regarding the direction her life was heading.  Diona, however, was more serious, choosing a small group of friends, preferring to work long hours as a nurse and to stay home.

When their mother died when she was twelve and Daryle only nine, Diona assumed much of the burden of raising her sister and keeping house.  Her father was unable to cope with the loss of his much-loved wife, and retreated into himself before his sudden death four years ago.  Diona felt the familiar tears rising to her eyes, thinking again of her father, and how they had never really been able to mend the many bridges before his death.  She wished that she had tried harder to understand, while knowing that at that time she had too much on her plate, looking after her sister and ensuring that they kept a roof over their heads.

Sighing wearily, she thought how she had been looking forward to her week’s holiday, now groaning with the realisation that rather than the week of long lie-ins and catching up on the many books she hoped to read, she would now have to traipse all the way to Greece to rescue her sister from herself.  With a shudder, she also felt the fear gripping her knowing that there was only one way to get there.

Moving into her sister’s room, to try and quell the foreboding causing tight knots to clench her stomach, she searched through the old writing bureau, which had been her mother’s, until she found her sister’s address book.  With angry fingers she thumbed through the many names and addresses in the small book, until she found the address and phone number of Alexis Dranias.  With a small triumphant sound, she copied down the information, before quickly moving back into her own room to throw some clothes into a case.  An hour later with a weary sigh she left her small flat in the centre of Glasgow to enter the taxi she had called earlier.

“Airport”, she cried, before finally sitting back, closing her eyes tiredly.  Diona Brown was a beautiful girl.  While small, only 5’3”, her figure had men turning wherever she went.  Large blue intelligent eyes sat in her petite round face, giving her an innocent look which many found so appealing.  When she would smile, her soft red lips had the power to completely transform her lovely features, giving her a glow which was breath-taking and which people responded to so warmly, a great trait to have in her job as a nurse.  She sighed wearily, having just come off a double shift and having now to deal with her wayward sister.  Rubbing her eyes gently, she wondered how she had missed the signs, frowning wondering how her sister had hidden this from her.  Daryle was usually an open book, not able to hide her emotions or keep a secret of any kind.

With tired fingers she pulled her hair from the tight knot which she wore for work, feeling as the long blonde hair fell around her shoulders, before pulling it back from her face and securing it once more within a controlled ponytail.  Her whole body sat stiffly, primly, as she looked at her watch, aware of the time to catch her flight.

Thinking back, she remembered how excited her younger sister had been.  It was her first real holiday abroad with her friends, and she waved them off from the same airport with mixed feelings about her going.  Daryle was gregarious, fun-loving and incredibly beautiful.  A volatile mix, her older sister thought, worried at her lack of maturity and determination to get every ounce of fun from her week break.  When she came home, she was sad and heartbroken at leaving Greece, and the most perfect man she had ever met: Alexis Dranias, having spent every minute of her time with him.

At the time Diona wrote it off as a holiday romance, glad that she had only been there a week.  However, when they started to talk on the phone every night she began to become irritated, only holding her tongue because it was not her having to pay the cost of the calls, as Alexis always called Daryle.  She believed that given enough time the two would become bored with each other and everything would return to normal.  However, that was before the bombshell which landed on her on her return home from work that morning.

As the plane took off, Diona held onto the armrests, her whole body stiff from the fear which clutched at her to be once more back on a plane.  She felt the sweat coursing down her back as she cursed her sister.  The flight was tiring and cramped and she dozed on and off, woken constantly by the excited cries of small children, their families all looking forward to a holiday in the sun.  However, finally they landed as Diona breathed a sigh of relief.  After clearing customs, Diona phoned her sister’s mobile, looking at her own with concern, seeing how the charge was almost gone.  She frowned realising that she had not brought an adapter, hoping that her sister would have one she could use.  With a small twist of her lips she thought ‘of course she would have one’, it was one of the few things that Daryle was careful about, she thought wryly to herself.

As her sister answered, Diona told her where she was, demanding that the two meet.  Daryle was shocked to hear that she was in Greece and quickly gave her the name of the town she was staying in, along with the hotel and details on how to get there.  She then agreed to meet with her at a restaurant later that day, to her relief informing Diona that Alexis would be there too.  Ringing off, she was glad that she would have the opportunity to speak to the two of them at the same time, her mouth set determinedly that she would be bringing her sister home the following day.

At the airport she quickly exchanged money.  Then, following her sister’s instructions, she took the appropriate bus, dragging her bag, which seemed to be getting heavier by the second, halfway across town to reach the named hotel.  She booked herself into a room, frowning slightly as the receptionist informed her that there was no Daryle Brown staying at the hotel.  As she collected her key she then took her case up so that she could change out of her warm jeans and shirt into shorts and a strappy t-shirt, which was such a welcome relief in the heat of the Greek sun.

Moving out of the hotel to keep her appointment with her sister, she received many admiring looks from the Greek men who spoke gently to her as they looked over her figure with appreciative eyes, seeing her firm breasts, slim waist and flat stomach flaring out to wider hips and perfect bottom.  Her long shapely legs moved fast as she ignored the many offers being thrown at her, as she did every day at work, with the many men who saw her as the perfect erotic dream date complete with nurse’s uniform.  Diona felt uncomfortable with this kind of attention, stopping to buy sunglasses to hide the discomfort in her eyes.

Finally, she reached the restaurant, relieved to see Daryle already there, laughing with some men at another table.  As she moved to the table her sister sat at, Daryle stood, smiling warmly at her.  “I can’t believe you came here…you flew?”, her sister asked with such a look of wonder in her eyes.

Diona however, waved away the comment, looking sharply at her.  “What did you think I would do Daryle?  You left a note only saying that you were in love and getting married”

“Isn’t it marvellous?”, Daryle cried, her face shining with delight.  “He loves me Diona… And I love him.”

Diona moved quickly to the seat opposite her.  “Are you out of your mind?”, she hissed, her face clearly showing her disapproval.  “You only just met this man, you’ve known him for less than a week…and you’re ready to fly to a completely different country, away from your friends and family and get married?”  Her voice was full of irritation both from the absurdity of her sister’s actions and the intense tiredness filling her.  “Get your things Daryle, we are on the next flight back home”

Sitting back, she glared at her sister, who was smiling patiently at her.  “Weren’t you listening Diona? We are in love.”

With a small sound of annoyance, Diona sat forward, her voice softer, knowing how best to deal with her sister.  “I heard you Daryle…why the rush? … if you are in love then come home and let’s do this right…get to know this man properly…why do you need to run off?”

For the first time she saw a look of concern crossing her sister’s lovely face.  “Well… There is a problem.”, she said, her liquid brown eyes suddenly serious.

“And what is that?”, Diona asked.

“His brother Nikias…he doesn’t approve”, Daryle said, her face frowning, as she pushed back her long copper hair from her face.

With a look of annoyance Diona looked back at the woman before her.  “He is not the only one Daryle…this is ridiculous, what is the big rush?”  For a moment she looked at her sister, a look of horror crossing her face.  “Are you pregnant?”, she asked, her voice low, her eyes wide as saucers.

Daryle looked at her with shock, crying out indignantly, “No! I’m not pregnant Diona… Why does everybody think that? … We are in love…We haven’t even…you know.”

With another look of annoyance, but also a great sense of relief Diona raised her eyes skywards.  “Then why the rush? Please Daryle, I am begging you to come home.  How do you know he doesn’t just want to marry you for a British passport?  How do you know he doesn’t see you as some kind of golden goose to support him?”

Daryle giggled at her.  “Nikias and Alexis Dranias, you haven’t heard of them?”, she asked with disbelief as Diona shook hers impatiently.  “They own some of the largest cruise ships in the world… they are super-rich Diona… he will be supporting me.”

Diona looked at her sister with a hard expression on her face.  “All the more reason to take it slowly Daryle, guys like that play by very different rules, and you are the one who is going to get hurt.”

However, her sister was laughing at her, her eyes shining brightly as she shook her head.  “You are wrong Diona…you will see when you meet Alexis.”

With a look of irritation, she asked, “And when will that be Daryle?  I want to meet this man who thinks that it is OK to run off with you and get married with no concern for your family.  You said he would be here.”

Daryle giggled, as her phone began to ring.  Looking at the caller ID she smiled, rising.  “One minute Diona, I need to take this outside…reception in here is shockingly bad.”

Diona nodded, glad for the break from her sister, annoyed at the way she seemed to be so love-struck, that she would not listen to common sense, as she moved out of sight to speak to the caller she assumed to be Alexis.