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Sunday, November 8, 2015

Yuri by Marian Tee ♥ Spotlight & GIVEAWAY ♥ (New Adult Romance)

His name was Yuri Athanas.
They called him the golden boy of the Afxisi, a college org during the day and an underground racing club at night.
Like his brothers, Yuri was rich, powerful, gorgeous, and devastatingly sexy.
Unlike his brothers, Yuri did not leave a trail of broken hearts behind him.
Yuri was the angel amidst all the other Greek devils, they said.
I liked hearing that about him. It gave me hope that when we do meet again, he would remember his promise, and he would keep it.
He would take one look at me and he wouldn’t mind that I wasn’t…okay.
He wouldn’t mind I wasn’t…normal.
If he was everything I prayed he would be, he’d take one look at me and love me, like he had promised.

Copyright 2015 by Streak Digital Publishing


One Man Can Change the World

Madame descended into the basement, hoping tonight would be the night she succeeded in breaking the child’s spirit. After switching the lights open, she found the child curled up on the cold hard ground, sucking on its thumb, its eyes squeezed shut. For Madame, all the children that came under her care were objects that needed to be trained. In her eyes, they were genderless and mindless, their only purpose in life to prove that Madame was good.
Madame’s lip curled as she observed her latest project. The child was emaciated and smaller than most other seven year olds. But for Madame, it hadn’t been starved enough.
“Get up.” A kick to the child’s ribs punctuated the words.
Its eyes flew open.
Madame drew her breath sharply. She despised a lot of things about this latest project of hers, but none more than those violet eyes staring at her right now. Terrible in its deceptive purity, the eyes made Madame feel soiled and—
She shook her head violently. No, this was the work of the Devil, using the child to make her feel like she wasn’t guided by God’s hand.
But still, those big violet eyes stared, damning her, and Madame shrieked, “Didn’t you hear what I said?”
Seeing Madame taking one step towards her seemed to throw the child into a panic. It scrambled to its knees, pale body shaking hard as it bent its head. “I am sorry, Madame,” it whispered. Please make Madame believe me, it prayed. It hated itself for being a liar, but no matter what it did, it just couldn’t stop lying.
When Madame reached the child, it threw itself prostrate on the ground. Her skin crawled when it tried to kiss her feet. “Get away from me!” Madame shoved the child away with another kick to its face.
It bit back a cry of pain.
Madame’s hatred grew at how silent and stoic it was. Why was this child so different? “You don’t want to see me, do you?”
“No, Madame.” The child shook its head fiercely even while keeping its gaze trained on the ground. “I’m happy to see you.” It was lying of course, but it prayed hard that maybe this time God wouldn’t tell Madame it wasn’t speaking the truth. The child knew Madame was good and it was bad. It knew this, but it didn’t believe—
Madame’s hiss made the child bite its lip hard. Please God, please make me believe the truth. Please make me believe so that Madame would love me—
Madame suddenly cupped its chin, forcing it to look up.
The child’s eyes clashed with the woman’s.
Madame screamed, “Stop looking at me like I’m evil!”
It tried to protest but it wasn’t given any chance. Madame’s hand cracked against its cheek. Madame tried to scratch its eyes out. And then Madame was gripping its hair, dragging it up the stairs and out of the basement.
The child forced itself to keep quiet, hoping its silence would make Madame forgive her. But what the child didn’t know was that the more silent it was, the more Madame would despise it.
In its desperate, innocent desire to please, the harder it had become for Madame to remain blind to the truth.
Madame threw the child to the floor when they reached the dining room. She waited for the child to cry and fight back, but it only raised itself to its knees, looking up at Madame with eyes that neither hated nor questioned.
In those eyes, Madame saw the truth – the real truth, and not what she had tried to convince herself and all the children that she had killed in the name of her love for them.
Madame screamed, “Why won’t you just break?” Pulling the child up to its feet, Madame waited for the child to lift its head before slapping it as hard as she could.
The child swayed on its feet, and the dance began. Soon after, the music of Madame’s palm cracking against the child’s cheek played in the room.
Crack. Sway. Crack. Sway. Crack. Sway.
The child’s vision dimmed, but it struggled to stay on its feet. The child and Madame had danced to this music for as long as it could remember, and the steps were simple to remember. It mustn’t fall, mustn’t look at Madame, and most importantly of all, it mustn’t ever make Madame have trouble hitting her.
Madame was speaking/singing now, lyrics to the music that the child didn’t understand.
Why wasn’t it still broken?
Why did it still want to live?
Why couldn’t it just break?
If it had been allowed to speak, the child would have asked just one question. How did Madame want to break itself?
Madame’s voice became feverish.
“I can’t be blamed. I was so scared.”
As the child continued to dance to Madame’s music, it wondered dazedly if her own terror was the same as Madame. Did Madame feel like she felt now?
“I’m not evil.”
The child wanted to believe Madame. There must be a reason why Madame couldn’t stop hurting her, couldn’t begin loving her. Madame was good, and it was not.
“Those men beat me up, raped me the entire night, all at the same time. They were the monsters, not me!”
The music rose to a screaming crescendo, and the dance reached its peak. Madame was no longer content slapping its face. Now, Madame’s fists began to color the child’s eyes with bruises, and the cracking slaps turned into painful thuds.
Thud. Thud. Thud.
Its eyes swelled shut, and the child struggled to dance even when it was half-blind with pain.
“They told me to kill my parents so I did! I was scared, and that was why I did it! I was young like you. I can’t be blamed. God knows I must be forgiven for what I did. They broke me!”
The music suddenly stopped, and the child started to tremble. The silence was bad and scary, and she wished she could hear the music again. She didn’t want this quiet, knew with all her heart that it was—
Madame came out of her trance, and the first thing she saw was the child’s eyes.
“No!” Madame grabbed the child by the hair, and still it didn’t speak. It was terrified out of its wits, but it still knew what was right or wrong.
Why didn’t it break like Madame had?
“You’re going to break,” Madame muttered feverishly. “You’re going to break like all the others did.”
The beating lasted for an hour. By the time Madame’s vision cleared, the child was crumpled in a ball of pain.
Madame knelt down, breathing hard. “Open your eyes.”
Slowly, its eyes opened.
And Madame saw she had lost.
It still had not broken.


“You have to understand these things take time, Mrs. Antoniou.” The doctor’s voice was gentle but resolute. Samuel Demo knew the powerful Antoniou matriarch could have him fired for mere impertinence, but he didn’t give a damn.
His patient was his first priority and no one else.
Mila Antoniou’s gaze swung back to the adjoining room, its two-way wall allowing her to study her 12-year-old grandchild. “Just tell me my grandchild will get better,” Mila said tightly. “Is that too much to ask?”
Samuel shook his head irritably. “I know you are used to getting your way, but if you truly care about your grandchild—”
“Of course I care,” Mila snapped.
“Then don’t force me to give you a diagnosis we both know I’m unable to provide,” the doctor snapped back. “If I could give you more reassurance, I would. But I can’t.”
Mila’s face became stiff at the doctor’s words, but her voice shook when she spoke. “It’s my fault, can’t you see? I forced my daughter to give her baby up, and now I’m paying the price-” Her voice broke as she imagined the unspeakable horror her arrogance had forced her own flesh and blood to live through. “I have all the money in the world,” she said bitterly, “and it does nothing for my grandchild.”
The matriarch’s grief was more than palpable, and the doctor was unable to remain completely indifferent at the sight of the older woman’s suffering. “Not everything’s lost,” Samuel said, making an effort to soften his voice. “Your grandchild’s exceptionally intelligent, her IQ score off the charts—”
“I’m not asking you if my grandchild is smart—”
“I know that,” the doctor growled impatiently. “But I’m telling you this because I want you to be thankful for it! Your grandchild’s formative years were spent under the care of an abusive woman. Your grandchild was beaten regularly and nearly starved to death. Most children would have grown up insane or twisted and evil because of it, but your grandchild became neither. That’s a miracle and that’s…” The doctor drew a deep breath. “What I’m about to say is against my professional training, but I will say it because I want my patient to heal almost as much as you do.”
The doctor’s weary gaze settled back on his patient. Her eyes were glued to the wall-mounted TV, which was configured to play downloaded episodes of food shows. After several months of therapy, Samuel had discovered that food was the only thing guaranteed to draw the twelve year old out of her shell. Prior to it, the child had refused to even acknowledge being called by her name.
“I am it,” the child had muttered almost defiantly. “I don’t have a name because Madame says I’m not good.”
They had been the only words the child spoke of Madame, but for the doctor, it was enough. He had seen enough victims of child abuse to read between the lines. Madame, whoever the bitch was, had used starvation as a way of reinforcing her beliefs on Mila Antoniou’s grandchild. Food had become a measurement of love, and the child had learned to voluntarily starve herself until Madame considered her “good.”
The memory had the doctor feeling murderous. The taking of human lives went against his very nature, but for the so-called Madame, Samuel was more than willing to make an exception.
“Doctor?” Mila’s strained voice snapped him out of his thoughts, and he found the older woman standing next to the two-way window, her eyes filled with despair while gazing at her grandchild.
The doctor came to stand next to her. “Your grandchild will never be completely normal.” Ignoring the matriarch’s cry of pain, he asked in a hard voice, “Knowing that, are you still certain you’re able to care for her?”
“I love her!” Mila’s voice was both ravaged and absolute. “I will do everything for her—”
“I hope you mean that.” Samuel faced her then. “Because I wasn’t lying. The trauma she’s suffering from is so severe, Madame’s conditioning too deep and ingrained, I’m not sure we’ll ever completely get rid of it.”
Mila Antoniou’s head lowered, defeat destroying the glamour that wealth and power bought and reducing her into an old woman burdened with the weight of the world on her shoulders.
“The only thing you can do is to be patient with her. If you never tire of showing her love, she willget better. Eventually, she may learn to trust you. She may believe that she’s worthy of being loved.But never forget that she can suffer from a relapse anytime, and anything can trigger it.” The doctor’s eyes bored into hers. “Everything, but most especially lying.”
Mila nodded stiffly. “I understand.” She held her tears back ruthlessly as she spoke. If her young grandchild could suffer this long without breaking down, so would she.
When Mila was about to leave, Samuel wrestled with his conscience and his professional duty. The former won, and he went after the matriarch. “Wait, Mrs. Antoniou.”
In the act of joining her granddaughter in the car, Mila paused, and turning back, she saw the younger man running down the hospital steps.
She waited for the doctor to reach her. “What is it?” Mila deliberately didn’t speak in Greek to prevent her grandchild from understanding.
In blunt English, the doctor said, “I know you worry about the time when she has to live alone and you’re not there to guide her.”
Mila inhaled sharply. “I don’t plan on dying anytime soon—”
The doctor interrupted quietly, “I know that, but we both know death is an unpredictable thing.” Behind Mila, his patient stared back at him with guileless eyes that knew too little and too much at the same time. “I want her to get well, too, Mrs. Antoniou, and that’s why I’m advising this.” He didn’t wait for an answer, saying grimly, “Buy her a husband. Someone honorable. Someone who understands that she’s emotionally crippled but not insane. And most importantly, someone who will not abandon your grandchild to the wolves when you’re gone.”


Two years later

Mila’s daily routine had not changed despite learning that she had Stage IV cancer. She still woke up early, went to work six days a week, and still flew all over the world attending business meetings.
Her doctors didn’t approve, of course.
“Your already limited days on earth will be even more limited if you keep up what you’re doing,” one of them had warned.
Idiots, Mila thought, fuming. None of them had realized she didn’t have a choice. She had to present a strong front for as long as her granddaughter needed her.
A knock sounded on her bedroom door just as Mila finished her bath, something that used to take minutes but now took her almost an hour and caused immeasurable pain. “Come in,” she said wearily.
To her shock, it was her granddaughter, and she sat up abruptly. “What is it, Kalli?” Six months ago, Mila had finally succeeded in manipulating the child into accepting her name – or nickname for that matter. Seeing how the girl abhorred causing anyone pain, Mila had resorted to emotional blackmail, crying copious tears as she told the child that she would die of loneliness if Kalli didn’t stop thinking of herself as ‘it.’

“And you promise not to die of loneliness if I do what you want, Grandmama?”
Mila had sniffed for effect. “Yes.”
Her 14-year- old granddaughter gazed at her for a long time, her uncanny violet eyes so bright it was almost like having a light shining all the way to her soul.
But Mila had refused to feel guilty, telling herself that she wasn’t speaking any untruth.
Her head had snapped up. “What do you mean alright?” she whispered.
“I am no longer it.” A heartbreakingly shy smile broke over her granddaughter’s lips, and her voice was grave when she said, “If you think I am deserving of having a name—” A pause, as if the child was waiting for Mila to change her mind.
She didn’t of course. “It would mean so much,” Mila had said shakily, “if you let me call you by your name.”
Another eternity passed before her granddaughter finally nodded. “Then from this day, I am…Kalliope Antoniou.”

And that had been the last time they talked, Mila thought painfully. Kalli had become distant and watchful again after that, and Mila had been at a loss on how to reach out to her granddaughter again. She had even begun to feel maudlin, wondering if she had imagined it all…until now.
In front of her, Kalli remained by the door, her serenely beautiful face yielding nothing.
“What is it, Kalli?” Mila asked gently.
“You haven’t eaten breakfast.” It was a statement, not a question, spoken in an equally monotonic voice.
Not knowing what to make of it, she said slowly, “No, I haven’t.”
Another watchful, calculating glance, and then Kalli said almost defiantly, “I have prepared breakfast for you.”
Mila’s heart raced at the words. “Y-you did?”
Kalli nodded.
“F-for me?”
Kalli nodded again.
Mila swallowed in an effort to control her emotions. “I w-would love to eat it.” She started to stand up, only to have her granddaughter shaking her head at Mila.
“Stay there.”
Mila had started to smile at the commanding note in Kalli’s voice when the door opened and her granddaughter pushed a trolley in, with a covered tray on top.
The urge to smile disappeared, replaced by an intense desire to weep.
Oh, Kalli.
This girl broke her heart every day, with how strong and good she was, and Mila could never thank God enough for it.
Lord, don’t take me away until I know Kalli’s strong enough to survive without me.
I beg you, Lord.
In front of her, Kalli lifted the tray, and Mila’s breath caught. “It’s beautiful, Kalli.” She had never described food as beautiful, but there was no better word for it now. On a black rectangle box was white saffron rice on one side, and on top of it was egg white dyed pink and cut in the shape of cherry blossoms, with strips of nori seaweed making up its thin and almost intricately arranged branches. On the other side was a mix of fresh broccoli, cubed beef teriyaki, and carrots shaped like hearts.
Swallowing back a sob, Mila asked tremulously, “Where did you learn to make this?”
“The Internet.” The girl’s eyes were bright and intense, her gaze focused intently on her grandmother’s face. “Do you like it?” Her voice was sharp, almost abrupt.
Mila said simply, “Yes.”
A bit of tension left Kalli’s taut form. “You may eat it now.”
As Mila started on her meal, Kalli’s gaze never left hers. When she was done and sipping a glass of lemon water, Kalli suddenly asked, “Do you love me, Grandmama?”
Her heart broke for the second time that day. “Of course.” Mila poured all her heart into those two words.
It wasn’t the first time Kalli had asked the question. In fact, the girl liked to ask it at the oddest times. When they were in the middle of a shopping mall, when she saw Mila tending to her private garden in her bedroom – there was no telling when Kalli would ask, and every time she did, Mila wished with all her heart she had the power to kill Madame over and over.
Looking at Kalli, she said softly, “I will always love you.”
No emotions crossed the girl’s unblinking gaze as she asked simply, “Why?”
“Because I do.” Mila furiously blinked back tears. “And you don’t need to do or say anything to earn it.”
Kalli frowned. “You are not…lying?”
Mila met her granddaughter’s gaze head on, praying to God that Kalli would see the truth she lived for. “No.”
Kalli started walking towards her, and Mila found herself beside anxiety. Had she said something wrong? Was Kalli mad? Was—
Kalli dropped to her knees.
Mila let out a cry of dismay. “Darling, what is it?”
Kalli’s words were a fragile whisper. “If you’re not lying to me…”
Mila paled.
Kalli’s body trembled so hard it was as if Mila’s granddaughter was struggling against the vilest demons inside her.
“Oh, baby, what is it?”
Kalli lifted tear-stained eyes to her. “If you’re n-not l-lying, G-Grandmama, then I’ll…I’ll try to love you.”
A sob escaped Mila as she drew her granddaughter into her arms, and for the first time, Mila felt Kalli’s arms going around her. She choked on another sob. “Oh, child, I love you. I’ll always love you.” She murmured the words over and over, her tears bittersweet because she knew that God had answered her prayers.
Kalli was strong now.
It was time for her to go.


“She’s different,” Mila explained carefully, “but she’s not crazy.”
The young man seated across her only nodded, his angelically beautiful face perfectly expressionless. It reminded her so much of Kalli it was uncanny, and Mila had to repress a shiver. Is this a good or bad omen, Lord?
“You’ve read the reports I’ve sent you?”
“I have, kyria.”
Her voice became fierce. “Then you know I’m telling you the truth.”
“I never thought you would lie to me, kyria.”
The man’s voice was courteous and pleasant, something Mila normally found admirable in young Greek men. But right now, she would pay a fortune to hear any emotion in that voice.
Mila made a snap decision to lay all her cards on the table. “I could have had any man in Greece, but I chose you because I know you’re honorable and because—” A dainty shrug. “You need me more than I need you.”
The young man inclined his head. “Touché, kyria.” His tone remained respectful but even, his face expressionless.
Mila refused to feel defeated. The man she had chosen might appear too young for the daunting task she had for him, but she knew with all her heart that he was the only one she could trust. She would bet all her remaining days in earth on it.
“What’s stopping you from saying yes?” she demanded.
A moment of hesitation before the man answered slowly, “I may be too cold for her.”
“Is that the only thing you’re worried about?” Mila’s laughter didn’t reach her eyes. “Let me make it clear to you then. I chose you precisely because of that. That coldness you speak of is nothing but a shield. I know because I use the same thing, too, to protect what I value the most. For me, that is my granddaughter. For you, that is your half-sister.”
The man stiffened.
“Yes,” she acknowledged shamelessly. “I know about her. I know you’ve sacrificed your relationship with your father for her, and it’s that kind of selflessness – no, that coldness – I want from you.” Her voice turned hard. “Let us stop playing games. We both know you have no one left.No one but me. There is no one else in this world who has the wealth, power, and motivationnecessary to go against your father. I am your only chance, Yuri Athanas, so I suggest you be as cold-blooded as you say you are and say yes.”
Ten minutes later, and Mila was leading the young Greek scion out of her office and downstairs, where Kalli was.
Yuri was bemused when he realized where they were heading. “She’s in the kitchen?” With the exception of his own half-sister, most heiresses of his acquaintance weren’t even aware where their own kitchen was.
“It’s her favorite place in the house,” the Antoniou matriarch answered briefly.
Opening the door for Mila, Yuri followed the older woman inside. He stopped when he saw the sole occupant in the kitchen, his gaze immediately arrested by the 14-year-old girl behind the island, her head bent as she expertly minced spring onion on the chopping board. Sunlight filtering through the expansive windows at her back gave the girl a golden halo. Her hair, cascading down in a silky brown waterfall, hid most of her face, but what little he saw told Yuri that the girl was exquisitely beautiful and would be even more so when she matured.
Even so, Yuri did not feel a thing.
When the Antoniou matriarch nodded at him, he walked towards the girl. They had agreed that he would speak to his granddaughter first and he would make his decision from there.
Kalliope Antoniou didn’t look up when Yuri’s shadow fell over her chopping board. Her fingers paused, however, the knife coming to a stop mid-air. A second passed, and Yuri sensed she was waiting for him to speak. When he didn’t, another second passed before her slender, elegant fingers started moving again.
Finally, Yuri said, “Hello.”
The girl stilled, and she was so perfectly motionless that with her ivory skin, one could be forgiven for thinking she was a marble statue. Slowly, she raised her head, and violet eyes met brilliant blue.
Ah, Yuri thought. Now he knew why her first and only day in the girls’ academy Mila enrolled her in had been disastrous. Those gypsy-looking eyes were innocent and all-knowing like a child’s, hiding nothing but seeing everything.
Most people would feel condemned just looking at those eyes, Yuri knew.
He was about to speak again when he saw her lips part, and Yuri stilled.
“Hello.” Her voice was light and grave, beautiful and cold. But her violet eyes had a hint of wariness, and when Mila came to join them, Yuri realized that the girl had already been briefed about him. What she thought of it, however, was impossible to tell. Her eyes were too much like his in that sense. Perfectly glassy, reflecting everything except her own thoughts.
“Darling,” Mila said softly. She waited for her granddaughter’s gaze to meet hers before continuing. “This is the man I was telling you about. His name is Yuri, and he’ll take care of you because he loves you, like I do.”
The girl’s brows furrowed. “You’re not lying?”
Mila swallowed. “I love you, don’t I? Will I lie to you?”
The violet eyes turned towards Yuri.
In her gaze, he saw both his prison and his future.
“Will you love me?”
And for this girl, Yuri realized bleakly, it was that simple.
Dishonesty had been beaten out of her system, and Mila’s overprotective love hadn’t given her any chance to discover that life would never be that black and white.
Meeting her gaze, Yuri heard himself lie, “Yes.”
After, Mila and Yuri were both quiet as they went through the majestic front doors of the Antoniou mansion.
When the valet brought his car to the driveway, Mila broke the silence, saying, “I will not go back on my word.”
“I never thought you would,” Yuri murmured.
The older woman hesitated, and it struck him at that moment how frighteningly frail she appeared. In her frequent photos on the society pages, the matriarch always had an untouchable aura about her, but there was none of her usual glamour now. “Are you alright?” he asked.
“Of course.” Her voice was bland as she knowingly added to her sins. Forgive me, Yuri Athanas.Mila had deliberately withheld the truth of her medical condition from the younger man, fearing his refusal if he realized that he might have only months left before fate demanded him to tie himself irrevocably to a stranger.
After accepting the keys from the valet, Yuri faced Mila again. “Is there anything else you would like to discuss?”
A lot, Mila thought painfully. Do you think you’ll ever fall for someone like my granddaughter? Can you promise never to make her cry? Do you realize how terrified I am, knowing that I have no choice but to trust you?
But in the end she knew she could not say any of those. Instead, she had to content herself with a promise. “I will do everything in my power to help you save your sister, but you must promise me that you will do the same for my granddaughter. Save her when the time comes that I am no longer by her side.”
Chapter One

Four years later
Athens, Greece

If only she could be food.
Food didn’t lie. Food smelled good when it was edible. Food smelled bad when it was rotten. If only everyone could be food, maybe she wouldn’t be so confused.
Somewhere in the room, Dr. Silas Korba continued to talk in a pompous-sounding voice. The thin-haired, bespectacled man had appointed himself as her guardian since her grandmother had died, and everyone in the estate as well as the lawyers hadn’t questioned it.
Or at least everyone except her—
“Are you listening to me, Ms. Antoniou?” Silas wrestled with irritation and infatuation as he gazed at his future wife, whose profile was turned towards the expansive windows. Kalliope meant ‘beautiful’ in their language, and the Antoniou heiress was indeed the embodiment of physical perfection. Her long, shiny hair was like ebony silk, providing a mesmerizing contrast against her skin, which was an unusual ivory shade when most Greek girls had sun-kissed complexions. Tall, slim, and long-legged, Kalliope also had an equally perfect figure, the kind that any dress would end up flattering.
Perfect, Silas thought, and if his plans would proceed without fail, this goddess and all her money would be his.
Straightening, he walked towards Kalliope, and in what he hoped was a hard, authoritative voice, he said, “I asked you a question, Ms. Antoniou.”
Kalliope slowly turned towards him, and her large, violet, all-seeing eyes focused on his face.
Silas could feel himself flushing under the girl’s gaze. It was as if she knew exactly what he was planning. Which was rubbish, the doctor told himself. He had been exceptionally careful, and never once had he slipped in the presence of Mila Antoniou when she was still alive. No one knew that he had unintentionally learned the truth while listening to the old woman’s maudlin ramblings when she was under the power of heavy sedatives. From there, it had been ludicrously easy to confirm the facts. Although all files about Kalliope’s past and her medical history had been destroyed, people’s memories remained, and those memories could always be bought.
Silas grimaced at the thought of how much he had paid for those memories. Half of his life savings blown away, but he had to think of it as an investment he could recoup, the doctor comforted himself.
When his gaze returned to Kalliope, the 18-year-old girl said in an exquisite lilting voice, “No.”
Silas was confused, having forgotten what he had asked. “No, what?”
Her violet eyes unblinking and steady on his face, she said clearly, “No, I wasn’t listening to you. I don’t like listening to foolish talk.” Her voice took on a patient note. “I told you that already, didn’t I, Dr. Korba?”
Silas could feel himself flushing at the heiress’ words. “Y-you mustn’t speak to me that way,” he managed to bluster even though he was more humiliated than furious. There was just something about the way Kalliope Antoniou looked and talked that made one feel like he was facing an angel. A real angel, one that hadn’t sinned and never would – how could anyone lie to an angel?
The heiress’ head inclined to the side, a puzzled look on her face. “What way, Dr. Silas?”
She really was mad, Silas told himself. She had no sense of propriety, no sense of right and wrong. If he didn’t do his duty by intervening, she could be completely out of touch with reality and maybe even end up killing herself or someone else.
Ultimately, he would be doing Kalliope and the world a great favor by taking her under his wings. The thought made the doctor unconsciously puff his chest out and condescension turn his voice oily when he said, “Never mind that.” He smiled at Kalliope. “Even though your grandmother has unfortunately departed this world, I want you to know that you are not completely alone.”
Kalliope’s violet eyes blinked, once. “How can I be alone when I have the entire staff with me, Dr. Silas?”
The doctor’s laugh was high-pitched. “I don’t mean just physical companionship, Ms. Antoniou. I meant that with Mila Antoniou gone, who will be there to take care of you?” He paused before sliding the first knife into her back, saying, “The staff is paid to cater to your needs, but they don’t love you.” Every word was calculated to poison, the way only people born with the capacity to be treacherous could. “I hope you didn’t fool yourself into thinking they have gradually come to care for you just because of the years you’ve spent together?”
Kalliope didn’t speak, but Silas observed in satisfaction that the young woman now sat tensely on the sofa, her back ramrod straight and her elegant fingers curled into fists on her lap.
“You’re an exceptionally intelligent girl,” he murmured. “You know I’m saying the truth, don’t you, Kalliope? May I call you that—”
The doctor started at the girl’s cold voice, and when he glanced at her, he almost found himself rearing back at the fierce intensity in her violet eyes. A shiver ran through him, and he suddenly realized that this girl would be more than happy to dance on his grave.
She disliked him that much, Silas thought, and this angered and offended Silas’ great pride so that it pushed him to reveal his inner emotions for the first time. “Don’t start putting on airs,” he said nastily, “when we both know who you were before Mila Antoniou dressed you in jewels and furs.”
Kalliope’s expressionless face didn’t alter at the doctor’s outburst, and her voice was mild when she said, “I don’t own any jewelry or fur, Dr. Korba.” She had only meant to correct the doctor’s misassumption about her wardrobe, but it only seemed to goad him further.
“You think you don’t deserve someone like me, don’t you?” Silas accused.
Since Kalliope couldn’t lie, she said simply, “Yes.” This time, the doctor looked like he wanted to kill her.
End of this sample Kindle book.


Marian Tee

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Marian Tee is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of steamy romantic comedies. She is Filipino-Chinese, has lived all her life in the Philippines, and is a frustrated mangaka. She is addicted to horror flicks, misses hip hop dancing, and loves all things Japanese.


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