If You Love Dani Collins, You’ll Really Enjoy This Excerpt!

by Dani Collins, author of Xenakis’s Convenient Bride

I initially brainstormed Xenakis’s Convenient Bride with fellow authors Rachael Thomas and Jennifer Hayward. It was built around an exciting premise for a trilogy. Our three heroes accepted a wager that they could go two weeks without their fortunes and positions of entitlement.

I knew that my heroine, Calli, had lost her baby, but I thought it was a miscarriage and that Stavros, the hero, had been the father. However, with Rachael’s story being a secret baby, my editor asked me if I could revisit that detail.

By then I had had more thoughts on Stavros and his connection to Greece. It was better that the challenge brought him back after leaving when he’d been too young to have had an affair with anyone. Calli still had a bad memory about a lost baby, however. What was that memory?

I wound up in a lively brainstorming session with my husband. What if the baby was alive? What if it had been stolen from her by the family of the baby’s father? They were rich. They tried to pay her off, but she wasn’t having it, my husband suggested. Calli’s father gave them the baby and took the money for himself!

Oh, I loved this. It left Calli hating rich playboy tourists who are only in Greece for a good time, not a long time—which is exactly what Stavros is. When she finds out his true identity, she hates him for lying on top of the rest, but when he asks her to be his convenient wife, she sees a chance to find her son. It’s an offer she can’t refuse!

Here’s a snippet of the scene where Stavros has revealed his identity, and his intention to marry Calli.

*

“Must be nice to simply write a check and get what you want. You realize that means I’m shoved off without a job or a home? Thanks.”

“Your job will be ‘wife of a drug tycoon.’ I’ll admit that ‘heir to a multinational pharmaceutical research and manufacturing conglomerate’ is a mouthful, but let’s try to find some middle ground. What do you say?”

“I say you’re a dishonest person, Steve. And I’m not going to marry you. What on earth makes you think I would?”

Stavros lifted a scathing brow. “Shall I remind you what we left unfinished between us?”

A flood of heat washed over her. It was a mix of embarrassment and memory, pleasure and the pain of rejection. She set aside her untasted ouzo and folded her arms.

“Key word. You left,” she stated flatly. “I’ve moved on.”

Something hard and bright flashed in his gaze. “With whom?”

“Takis.” She lifted her chin to deliver the outrageous lie.

“Nice try, but I already know you didn’t marry him when you had the chance. He’s a bit of a fool, asking when you were already living a fine life without putting out or getting pregnant in exchange for it.”

She fell back a step. “What a horrible thing to say!”

He shrugged. “True, though. Isn’t it?”

“No!” Takis had been kind to her in a thousand ways. She deserved none of it, but she had never felt anything toward him except gratitude and affection. “Well, it’s true I didn’t want to get pregnant. But I also said no because I didn’t love him. Not the way a wife should love her husband anyway. Which is why I won’t marry you.”

“That’s good news. The part where you don’t love either of us.” He poured a fresh ouzo for himself. “As is the fact you don’t want children.”

She hadn’t said that. She just wanted to find the child she’d already had before she thought about having more. She swallowed the lump that came into her throat and shifted her stance. “Look, buy the house. I can’t stop you. But why on earth would you suggest we marry?”

“My grandfather has been pressuring me to find a wife. He’s holding off stepping down as director until I do. All the women I know would demand a real marriage. By that I mean years of my life. Children. Half of my assets if we divorce.”

“You don’t like children?” It suddenly became a pivotal sticking point in a conversation that was too outlandish to be happening, but she couldn’t help jumping to a vision of finding her son and watching Stavros reject him. Her heart began to thud in painful tromps.

“I’m told I need an heir, but I’m in no hurry.” He swirled the clear liquid in the bottom of his glass. “In fact, I plan to leave that up to my sisters, but I’m impatient to take the reins of the company. I need a wife to present to my grandfather. One who will act the part but leave on cue. Why do you want to move to New York?”

“How do you know that? Have you had me investigated?” She paled as she wondered what he’d found.

“I overheard you and Takis one day. Why? Do you have a deep dark secret you want to stay buried?” He narrowed his gaze. “Tell me now. I don’t want a scandal popping up to smudge the family name.”

She knew people whispered on the island that she’d had a teen pregnancy. They all thought the baby had died and Stavros might hear that same rumor if he sent someone to snoop, but he wouldn’t find a headstone for the boy. Her father had refused to pay for one. Because her son wasn’t dead.

He was somewhere in New York. At least, his father, Brandon Underwood, was in New York and he knew where the infant had been placed.

“I have a normal desire for privacy,” she said, glossing over her alarm. “I don’t like the idea you’re prying.” But it was starting to hit her that Stavros had the means to pry. That she would have the means.

With Stavros’s name and social standing behind her, she would have the power to confront Brandon. The cache to meet him on a level playing field, face-to-face.

The thought made her dizzy.

*

Read the Prequel to The Secret Billionaires trilogy right here on the Harlequin website! Sebastien was as jaded as the rest of his friends until valuing his fortune more than his mistress, Monika, nearly loses him the woman he has grown to love. It’s free! Click here.

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About Xenakis’s Convenient Bride:

The challenge: two weeks without your billionaire fortune!

Greek magnate Stavros Xenakis must go undercover to win a bet—and escape his grandfather’s demands that he take a bride. Until encountering deliciously tempting housekeeper Calli proves that a wife is exactly what he needs!

Calli’s baby being taken away robbed her of the ability to trust anyone. Now Stavros’s offer to marry her gives her the chance to finally find her son. But Calli doesn’t expect their honeymoon to be so sinfully sensual—and for life as the temporary Mrs. Xenakis to be so exquisitely satisfying…

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