Annie West.

The Greek's Forbidden Innocent






The Greeks virgin bride...

...is hiding her royal identity!

While helping her friend escape an arranged marriage, dutiful Princess Mina finds herself captive on enigmatic Alexei Katsaross luxurious private island! Mina must convince Alexei that shes his future bride, but she doesnt expect their scorching chemistry to be so deliciously overwhelming... And after a night in the Greeks bed, suddenly theres more at stake than just Minas hidden identityher heart is at Alexeis mercy, too!

Escape to an island paradise with the billionaire and his royal bride!

Growing up near the beach, ANNIE WEST spent lots of time observing tall, burnished lifeguardsearly research! Now she spends her days fantasising about gorgeous men and their love lives. Annie has been a reader all her life. She also loves travel, long walks, good company and great food. You can contact her at annie@annie-west.com or via PO Box 1041, Warners Bay, NSW 2282, Australia.

Also by Annie West

Seducing His Enemys Daughter

A Vow to Secure His Legacy

The Flaw in Raffaeles Revenge

The Desert Kings Secret Heir The Desert Kings Captive Bride

Contracted for the Petrakis Heir

Inherited for the Royal Bed

Her Forgotten Lovers Heir

The Princess Seductions miniseries

His Majestys Temporary Bride

The Greeks Forbidden Princess

Discover more at millsandboon.co.uk.

The Greeks Forbidden Innocent

Annie West


www.millsandboon.co.uk

ISBN: 978-1-474-08742-1

THE GREEKS FORBIDDEN INNOCENT

2019 Annie West

Published in Great Britain 2019

by Mills & Boon, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers 1 London Bridge Street, London, SE1 9GF

All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. This edition is published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, locations and incidents are purely fictional and bear no relationship to any real life individuals, living or dead, or to any actual places, business establishments, locations, events or incidents. Any resemblance is entirely coincidental.

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www.millsandboon.co.uk

This story is for Helen Sibbritt

Thank you so much for your enthusiasm, support and never-failing good cheer!

Contents

Cover

Back Cover Text

About the Author

Booklist

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

CHAPTER ELEVEN

CHAPTER TWELVE

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

EPILOGUE

Extract

About the Publisher

CHAPTER ONE

TAKE A DEEP BREATH, Carissa, and tell me slowly. Mina held her friends shoulders tight. And another. She nodded encouragingly as Carissas breathing grew more normal. Thats better.

While Carissa focused on her breathing, Minas gaze searched for the source of her friends distress. But there was nothing unusual in the entry to the other womans apartment. No blood. No disarray. No intruder. Just a large pink suitcase.

Yet something was definitely wrong. Carissa, the most easygoing person she knew, had grabbed Mina before she could open the door to her own apartment and yanked her in next door. There was real fear in Carissas china-blue eyes.

Come and sit and tell me about it.

No! Carissa shook her head and a cloud of golden curls spilled around her shoulders. Theres no time. Theyll be here soon. But I dont want to go. I cant go. Tears filled her eyes as her voice wobbled. I want Pierre! But hes not here in Paris. Hes abroad.

That at least made sense. Pierre was Carissas boyfriend.

Dont fret. No ones going to make you go anywhere you dont want to. Mina kept her voice calm, ushering her friend into the small sitting room and gently pushing her into a seat. Carissas whole body shook and her face was stark white.

Mina had received enough bad news herself to recognise shock. Her mother had died when she was young and just five years ago, when she was seventeen, her father had died unexpectedly from a brain aneurism.

Memories stirred of that terrifying time, held hostage in a palace coup after her fathers funeral. Then her sister Ghizlans sacrifice, forced to wed the coup leader, Huseyn, so he could become Sheikh. It seemed a lifetime away from Minas life now in France.

Tell me whats up so I can help. Mina pulled a chair close and took Carissas hands. Her face was, for the first time Mina could recall, bare of make-up and her shirt wasnt buttoned right. For Carissa this was a fashion catastrophe. More like Minas usual look than her own.

Minas frown deepened. Has someone hurt you?

Her stomach clenched as she remembered the day of the coup, the drench of icy fear as a soldier manhandled her, stopping her escape with brutal efficiency. She recalled the adrenalin rush galvanising her to fight back. It was the first time anyone had laid a hand on her. The first time shed become aware of the sheer, physical power men could exert over women. Until then, Minas royal status had protected her.

Carissa was trusting and gentle, always looking for the best in people. If someone had taken advantage of her

No, its nothing like that.

Minas shoulders sagged. Relief rushed through her. In the years theyd studied together at a prestigious Paris art school, and since, shed never seen Carissa distraught like this.

So who is coming? Where dont you want to go?

Carissas bottom lip quivered and she blinked hard.

Alexei Katsaros is sending someone. Theyll take me to his private island. A shudder ran through her. But I dont want to go. I cant. Even when Dad told me about it, I never thought it would actually happen! You have to help me, Mina. Please.

Minas worry eased and with it her frantic heartbeat. Not a life-and-death situation, then. She knew who Alexei Katsaros was. Who didnt? He was a megawealthy IT entrepreneur. Carissas father was one of his executives.

Is it an invitation to visit your father? Im sure Pierre would spare you for a short vacation.

Carissa shook her head. This isnt a vacation. Its an arranged marriage! Dad told me he hoped to organise it but I never thought hed bring it off. Alexei Katsaros can have his pick of women.

Mina said nothing. Carissa was extraordinarily pretty and sweet-natured. That, plus her innate desire to please, would appeal to lots of men.

I cant go through with it, Mina. Carissas fingers bit into hers. I could never love a man like that, so hard and judgemental. He wants a trophy wife, wholl do what he wants when he wants. My fathers told him Im pretty and biddable and... Her shoulders shook as the tears became sobs. I never thought it would come to this. It seemed impossible, laughable. But I dont have a choice. My fathers counting on me.

Mina frowned. Arranged marriages she knew about. If her father had lived hed have organised one for her.

Im sure no one will force you into anything. Unlike in Jeirut. Her sister had been forced into an unwanted marriage and Mina remembered feeling utterly helpless at being unable to prevent it. It had been a miracle when, against the odds, the pair later fell in love. The match had seemed doomed to end in misery. Your father will be there. If you explain

But hes not there, Carissa wailed. I dont know where he is. I cant contact him. And I cant say no to Mr Katsaros. Dad warned me thered been some trouble at work. He didnt say what, but I think his jobs on the line. Hes hoping this marriage will smooth everything over. Carissa clung to Minas hands, her fingers curling into talons. But I could never marry such a hard man. He has a new woman every week. Besides, Pierre and I are in love. Were getting married. A flicker of happiness transformed her teary features.

Youre getting married? Mina stared. She shouldnt be surprised; the pair were besotted.

Carissas smile died. We were planning to elope next weekend, when hes back from this business trip. Pierre says it will be easier to face his family with a fait accompli.

Pierre rose in Minas estimation. He was a lovely guy but hed never stood up to his stiff-necked family who wanted him to marry someone from old French money.

But I cant marry him if Im forced to marry Alexei Katsaros! Carissas tears overflowed.

Did Katsaros say he wanted to marry you?

As good as. He said my father had told him about me and he was anxious to meet. He believed wed find a lot in common and that we had a future together. Carissa bit her lip. I tried to fob him off but he didnt hear a word I said. He cut me off and said his staff would be here in an hour to collect me. What will I do?

Mina frowned. She didnt like the sound of this. He might be rich but that didnt excuse rudeness or give him the right to order Carissa around.

Tell me again exactly what your father told you.

But as Carissa spoke, Minas hope that her friend had overreacted dissolved. Thered recently been a rift between her father and his employer. After years of faithful service it seemed Katsaros might dump him. Mina couldnt approve of Mr Carters plan to use Carissa to cement his position, but such things happened. Several of Minas peers in Jeirut had been married to older men they barely knew to strengthen family or business links.

She gritted her teeth, watching Carissas hands flutter as she related the one-sided conversation with Alexei Katsaros. He hadnt invited Carissa to his island hideaway but simply informed her of the travel arrangements. As if she were freight to be transported, not a woman with a life of her own.

Minas temper rose like steam from a kettle.

She prized her freedom, appreciating how different her life was in Paris, away from a world where every major decision was made by the male head of her family. Western women accepted freedom as their right, not knowing how precious that was. And here was some billionaire bully, trying to snatch that from Carissa. With the help of her own father!

It wasnt right.

And theres nothing I can do. Carissa sniffled.

Of course there is. They cant force you onto the plane. Or into marriage.

I cant not go. What about my fathers job? She hiccupped. But if I go, what about Pierre? His family will find a way to stop our wedding.

Mina wanted to tell Carissa to grow a backbone and stand up for herself. But Carissa wasnt made that way. Besides, she cared for her father, though hed got her into this mess. Plus it sounded, from other things shed said, as if Mr Carter hadnt recovered from his wifes recent death. That might explain why hed slipped up at work. A good employer would make allowances for grief. Mina suspected Alexei Katsaros was a domineering tyrant, considering no one but himself.

Irresistibly, her thoughts dragged back to those fraught days after her fathers death. Her future and her sisters had hung in the balance, their fate determined by a man with little sympathy for their hopes and wishes.

Mina remembered the horror of being utterly powerless.

She refused to let Carissa become a chattel to buy her father out of trouble, or satisfy Katsaross desire for a convenient, biddable wife.

Ive packed a bag. I cant reach my father, so Ill have to go. But it means leaving Pierre. Carissa wrung her hands and Mina felt something snap inside.

Carissa was sweet but she had as much grit as a marshmallow. Between them, Katsaros and Carter could herd her into a marriage that would make her miserable for the rest of her life. Mina couldnt change her friend into a woman whod look a thug in the eye and send him packing, or tell her father he couldnt marry her off to a stranger. But she could delay things long enough for Carissa and Pierre to marry. A few days, a week at most.

How long before they collect you?

Carissas answer was drowned by a sharp rap on the door. She gasped and grabbed Minas hands.

The last shred of doubt fled Minas brain as she read her friends terror and despair. Carissa was a pushover, but Mina wasnt.

She got to her feet.

* * *

Still no sign of Carter, sir. He hasnt been home.

Alexeis grip tightened on the phone and he ground his teeth in frustration. But he refrained from chewing out the head of his London office. It wasnt MacIntyres fault Carter had done a bunk. Alexei should have acted sooner, but initially he hadnt wanted to believe Carters guilt. The man had been at his side for years, the only person Alexei really trusted.

That was why his betrayal cut so deep. Trust came hard to Alexei. Hed seen his mother betrayed and cast aside, made into a victim and her life shortened, because she trusted too easily.

Alexei bore a lot of the blame. Hed been gullible, falling for his stepfathers charm, believing the man genuinely cared. Hed persuaded his mother to let the guy into their lives. Too late they discovered hed only cultivated Alexei to get to his mother and her dead husbands insurance payment.

No one could accuse Alexei of gullibility now.

That was what made it so remarkable that, despite his caution, hed come to believe in Carter. It wasnt just his way with numbers. His almost uncanny knack for identifying problems and possible solutions. It was his reticence, his scrupulous separation of business and personal life. Hed been the perfect executive.

Until his double-dealing came to light.

Alexei felt that sucker punch of betrayal. Worse this time because he should have known better. He was no innocent kid.

Keep me informed. Have the investigator check in daily.

Yes, sir. Of course, sir.

Alexei ended the call and scraped a hand through his hair, telling himself hed grown soft. He should have acted sooner. Now he had to play catch-up.

He swung round to pace, ignoring the turquoise water and white sand beyond the window. He didnt want to be in the Caribbean, no matter how restful his private retreat. He wanted to be wherever Carter was. The mans depredations had been deep. Not enough to destabilise Alexeis business but enough to send a ripple of disquiet through anyone savvy enough to discover Alexei had been duped.

Despite his policy of employing the best, most innovative people in the industry, Alexei Katsaros was his company as far as the market was concerned. Hed worked hard to establish one of the worlds leading software companies and build a reputation as a canny entrepreneur. His nose for success was only rivalled by his companys groundbreaking IT solutions. News of his fallibility would crack that image and damage his companys position.

Damn Carter. Where was he hiding?

Alexei slammed to a halt as he heard a vehicle through the open window.

At last. The ace up his sleeve.

Alexei breathed deep, easing cramped lungs, assuring himself that now, finally, he had the upper hand.

He crossed to the window and watched as the four-wheel drive pulled up. The drivers door opened but before Henri could get out the front passenger door swung open and someone alighted.

Alexeis brow twitched into a frown. That couldnt be her. He waited for the rear door to open but it stayed steadfastly shut. Henri walked ponderously to the rear of the vehicle and pulled out a single suitcase of candy pink.

That was all. One suitcase and one passenger, though not the passenger he expected.

Alexeis frown became a scowl. The call from Paris had assured him that shed been collected from her apartment and deposited on his jet. Yet surely this wasnt Carters daughter. Hed expected a fashion tragic with mountains of luggage.

His gaze rested on the svelte figure of a woman who stood, hands on her hips and head back, surveying his home. Far from being addicted to high-end fashion as hed been led to believe, she wasnt dressed in designer casuals for a tropical island holiday, but for...what? A yoga class? An artists garret?

Understanding took root. That was it.

Carter, when hed raised the preposterous idea of a match between Alexei and his daughter, had waxed voluble about the girl hed never mentioned in years of employment. Hed wittered on about her beauty and charm, her sweet disposition and eagerness to please. And her aspirations to be an artist in between shopping. She lived in Paris, playing at an artistic career, no doubt funded by the money Carter had embezzled from Alexei.

Pain radiated from Alexeis jaw down his neck to his tight shoulders.

He yanked his thoughts from Carters crimes to the mans daughter.

She took her pretensions seriously. Or perhaps the outfit was for his benefit, though surely it wasnt designed to please a man. Flat black shoes, black leggings and an oversized black T-shirt that gaped over one shoulder.

Definitely not Alexeis style. He preferred a woman who dressed like a woman.

Yet even as he dismissed Carissa Carter as not his type, his gaze lingered on the length of shapely legs silhouetted in black. Long legs, the sort of legs hed enjoy wrapped around his waist during sex.

His gaze flicked higher, skimming her slight figure. He supposed, in the right gear, shed be a perfect clothes horse, but personally he preferred a woman whose curves were more abundant.

Then the tilt of her head altered and he found himself face-to-face with her.

She was too far away for him to make out her features properly. Just good bone structure and dark hair pulled ruthlessly back into a bun. He had the impression of a wide, mobile mouth, but he wasnt paying attention. His thoughts were on the sudden throb pulsing through his belly.

It couldnt be attraction. Not for the daughter of a criminal. A woman whose lifestyle had probably fed her fathers depredations. He had no proof Carissa Carter knew of her fathers crimes, but shed benefited. Maybe shed been in on the scheme, eager to fund her easy life in Paris. Alexei couldnt trust her. Hed play the part of eager suitor, pretending he was in the market for a wife.

As if he needed a third party to find him a woman!

He stared back at her, expecting her to duck her head and pretend not to see him.

Instead she stood motionless, watching as if he were under the microscope. It was a curious feeling. Alexei was used to people inclining their heads in agreement or deference. Except women, who tended to stare.

Carissas bold regard was something altogether different. It sent heat skittering down his spine, drawing every sense to hyperalert.

Finally, after shed looked her fill, she turned to Henri. Alexei caught a flash of white teeth as she smiled but it was the coltish grace of her movements that held his attention. There was a fluidity to her supple body that reminded him of a Russian ballet dancer with whom hed once shared a fiery affair. Alexei recalled not only the dancers grace but her athleticism and body awareness that had taken sexual pleasure to a new level.

He watched Carissa Carter saunter towards his house. Shoulders back, head up, yet she didnt march. Instead that loose-limbed stroll was a symphony of sensual femininity.

For his benefit?

Of course.

His guest might play at being the bohemian artist, but if she was her fathers daughter, shed have her eye on the main game, getting Alexeis money.

For the first time since hed learned of Carters betrayal, Alexei smiled.

He didnt want the woman here, except as bait to draw her father. The fact shed accepted his summons told him shed sell herself into marriage with a man she didnt even know. Though she knew the size of his bank balance. That regularly featured in rich lists around the world.

It could be amusing watching her try to seduce him.





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