Miklos stood in the shower and looked down at the brunette on her knees in front of him. He had hoped going for a swim would have put him in a better mood but the woman in front him was on his last nerve.
She was already two dates beyond what he normally engaged in, and he was tired of it and tired of her. He had a raging headache from her screaming the night before, for which he would need to apologize to Mrs. K. Usually, he waited until she was gone out of the house and had believed she was gone. He’d noted the broken glass in the bin this morning when he went down for orange juice before his lap. He didn’t note any blood, so he hoped she was uninjured.
On Monday, his wife was coming home to live. His father-in-law had insisted it was time for them both to make good on the promises they’d made before God and family and give him the heir he wanted. It would tie their two families together the way he knew the old man wanted. Vasili had been his father’s closest friend and a second father to him. Which meant, his daughter Dimitra was as close to a sister as he could possibly have. The thought of putting his d**k in her made him shudder with disgust. Maybe they could do it clinically with a petri dish. He considered the little brat with a shake of his head. Those dark eyes had always been plotting a way to make his life miserable in only the way a kid sister could. There was no way he could f**k her.
“Hey,” a whining pout from his waist interrupted his daydreaming, “are you bored or something?”
“Or something,” he said as he pulled away from her and walked in the direction of his bedroom. As he stood there, he suddenly realized he could hear loud music blaring from the main floor of the house. Not as if he would have minded Mrs. K listening to it but as he stood there, he realized in all the years she had worked for his family, she had never played music when he was home. He found himself curious if this were the type of music to which she would listen. As Eve whinged about wanting morning s*x, he decided he wanted to see what his housekeeper was up to with her blaring country music. It was as good excuse as any to get away from Eve.
He threw on a pair of well-worn jeans and a fitted t-shirt and staying barefoot made his way down the stairs ignoring the confused pleas of the woman trailing at his feet in his bathrobe. f**k he wished she would leave. “Go home, Eve.”
“Miklos,” she protested as she chased him down the stairs and through to the kitchen.
He came to an abrupt stop forcing Eve to crash into his backside at the vision in front him when he entered the kitchen.
A curvy ass in barely-there cotton shorts was dancing around his kitchen singing into a spatula, clearly very much into her song. The bottom of her ass cheeks peeked out from under the shorts every time she reached up and swung her arms to the music and he c****d his head as he tried to place her from the view he had. His d**k was immediately hard again. Her ass was peach shaped perfection, and he wanted a bite. Who had let her in the house and why? He could kiss them.
“You can tell the girl who left her tights on my boat she can have you now,” she turned and faced him and pointed at the girl peeking over her shoulder, “yeah, you can call her right now and tell her she can have you! Right now.” she grinned and winked at them as she turned back to what she was doing at the stove.
His breath caught in his throat at the big brown eyes singing at him about cheating lovers. f**k.
Mrs. K approached, “apparently the song is called Tights on a Boat by a group called The Chicks.” She sighed, “she’s been playing it on repeat for about twenty minutes now. I think she wanted you to hear it.” She pushed a coffee in his hands. “Good morning, Miklos, Miss Eve.” She made wide eyes at the woman still dancing and flipping a pancake with gusto.
“Who is this, Miklos?” Eve demanded to know. “Why is she in your kitchen?”
“Oh hey,” the brunette with the huge messy bun piled on her head without a stitch of make-up on leaned over and turned the music down but not off, still humming, “Mrs. K said your name is Eve. Nice to meet you, Eve. I’m Dimitra. My friends call me Dimi.” She held up a plate in their direction after flopping another one on the pile, “pancakes? I hacked the recipe from IHOP.”
“You did not,” Miklos rolled his eyes as he came face to face with his wife. “What are you doing here?”
“Making my stolen IHOP pancake recipe. Yes, I did steal it.” She leaned sideways as he tried to block Eve from stepping into the kitchen, “are you going to introduce me to the girl who screamed our house down last night?”
“Our house?” Eve pushed past him now. “What is going on?”
“Well, I came home last night to hear my husband railing you hard. Good thing I have noise cancelling headphones. For the record, you should really wait until Mrs. K is out of the house before you start with the screamers. Or gag them. You could have just put something in her mouth, Miklos, until Mrs. K was gone,” she made big eyes playfully at him.
“Dimitra, why are you here?” He was torn between killing the tormenting demon and throwing her over his shoulder and consummating their marriage. It was a strange, yet absurd feeling and he was perplexed by it. She ignored him and was singing at the top of her lungs about getting what he got coming to him, pointing her spatula at him. “You’re gonna get what you got coming to ya, you are, you are!”
“Husband?” Eve cut him off.
He wanted to scream in frustration when Dimitra ignored him and spoke to Eve directly.
“Yeah, husband. We have an eighth wedding anniversary coming up in a few months. Got married two weeks after my eighteen birthday like it was supposed to be some kind of f*****g gift.” She rolled her eyes and griped sarcastically, “Good times. Also,” she pointed her spatula at him, “if you don’t mind, I’m not sleeping in your bed unless the sheets are cleaned. We may just need to burn the bed, truthfully.” She leaned at Eve, “unless you want the three of us to go upstairs -”
He rounded the giant kitchen island furiously and gripped her by the forearms and shook her, “focus Dimitra, what the f**k are you doing here?”
“Papa ordered me home to procreate. He wants an heir to your throne.” She batted her eyelashes. “Personally,” she reached up and plucked at his chest hair peeking through the v of his t-shirt and wrinkled her nose, “you’re as hairy as a gorilla and it’s not my thing so if we could do IVF, I’d prefer it to f*****g you if we must but truthfully, I’d really just prefer not to do any of it.”
“Is she really your wife?” Eve demanded furiously.
He held his hand up in irritation at the shrieks from her. “Eve, shut up! Dimitra, you told your father you would be here Monday. You’re early.”
She shrugged, “yeah, I was in the neighborhood so popped in.” She looked to the counter as her phone vibrated and bounced, “ooh sorry, gotta take this.”
He pulled his fingers through his hair in frustration as she turned her back to him and put her phone on speaker.
“Morning my pretty, you’re on speaker in the Laskaris kitchen.”
“We have a problem,” a female voice spoke seriously.
Miklos watched as suddenly Dimitra went very still and turned to her phone and lifted it up.
“What’s the matter love? If you can’t remember his name, just take him to Starbucks. They’ll write his name on a cup and problem solved!” Dimitra spoke as if solving a world crisis.
Mrs. K snickered and he looked at her in stunned surprise. Dimitra shrugged at him and laughed, “it works if you need to try it.”
The woman on the phone interrupted before he could speak, “No, it’s not this kind of problem. It’s more of a there is a certain billionaire banker who has upped his price but really wants to have dinner first.”
He watched as Dimitra pulled her bottom lip deep into her mouth as if concerned about what the woman was saying.
“How much more?”
“From two point four up to two point seven.”
His eyes rounded as the expletive escaped the perfect bow lips of the woman standing in front him. “Language.”
She held up her middle finger in his direction as she focused on the phone, and he blinked incredulously. What had happened to her? She’d always been a brat, but this was next level. She shook her head at him as if he were bothering her and stepped away holding the phone near her chin.
“Okay, let’s do this. Arrange a dinner with the three of us and him. Tell him it’s the only way.”
“I don’t know how much more I can hold out. Dimi, he’s so f*****g beautiful.”
Miklos wondered what the woman on the other end of the phone meant by her strange turn of words until Dimitra made it abundantly clear what she was referring to.
“Then don’t. If you want to f**k him, f**k him. It’s your body. Do what you want with it. If you want to screw a hot billionaire who, based on the way he fills out his surf gear is packing, then do it.”
“But it puts our business on the line.”
“There’s more than one buyer. I’m not worried about it, and neither should you. Scratch your itch.”
“He sent me croissants and the biggest latte I’ve ever seen in my life.”
“Girl, you should at least give him head for the latte.”
“What the hell!” he cut in suddenly interrupting the back-and-forth dialogue. “Dimitra, who are you talking to?”
“Magda,” she held up the phone grimacing at him as if he were stupid. She wiggled it as if he could see the person on the other end. “Why don’t you take the pancakes into the dining room. Your girlfriend looks hungry. Mama would say she needs a bit of meat on her bones so when you’re doing what you were doing last night you don’t lose grip on those bony hips. Though,” she pointed at him, “maybe it’s why she was screaming. Did you lose grip and fall on or into her or something?”
He closed his eyes and slowly began counting to ten, aware his housekeeper was hiding her laugh in a cough. He turned and glared at her, “is she why you were late leaving last night?”
“Stop being such a d**k, to Mrs. K, Miklos.” Dimitra cut in. “I told her she had to keep quiet I was here. I didn’t want to interrupt your date.” She turned her attention back to the phone, “Mags, you should have heard the playlist going on in here last night. John Legend, Marvin Gaye, and Sade. It was like old man porn. I swear when I’m in my thirties if I start listening to such s**t, you are ordered to shoot me.”
He watched as Dimitra grabbed a pancake off the stack, rolled it jellyroll style and took a bite and then made her way out of the kitchen, talking about needing music with rhythm to f**k to and not the jazzy soul s**t he’d been playing.
He exhaled and turned his attention to his housekeeper who held her hands up defensively.
“You know what she’s like. She’s a force.”
“I do not know what she’s like because she,” he waved in the direction of the door, “is not the same person I married.”
“She is really your wife?” Eve shrieked furiously. “You’ve had a wife all this time? I’ve put in all this hard work for nothing?”
“Did you really think you were getting the family jewels just from screaming through an orgasm?” Dimitra said as she stepped back into the kitchen. “Sorry sweetie but they belong to me.” Her dark eyes flicked to Miklos and smirked, “unless we can file a divorce? You can have the business and I get my freedom and she can have a handful of the jewels?”
“Your father wants an heir.” He folded his arms over his chest. Yesterday he had been disgusted with the notion. As he looked at her today in those tiny little gym shorts and barefoot in his kitchen, he wasn’t as morally opposed as he had been.
“Yeah, not going to happen.” Dimitra mocked him as she dropped her phone on the counter, evidently done talking to her friend. “Papa has one near-death experience and suddenly I’m supposed to push a baby out my vag. Not happening.”
“What is with your language?” He gripped the counter furiously.
“Uh, double standards much? I heard you with my own ears last night telling a certain little gold-digger you were going to f**k her p***y hard.” She made air quotes and a gagging noise and then reached for coffee. “God, I wish I could pour this into my ears to burn the sound out of it forever.”
“I can’t believe you stayed here to listen and didn’t say you were here!” Eve shouted at her. “What is wrong with you?”
“Actually, I only heard about five minutes of it, ten tops. You scream too much and it’s off-putting. I don’t know how he kept it hard. In the end, I put on my noise-cancelling headphones and had a great sleep in my favorite bed.” She looked at him, “by the way, doing laps in the pool naked might be fun for you but for the people staying on the main floor guest room, not such a pleasure.” She rubbed her eyes as if they burned.
“Dimitra,” he took a calming breath, “why did you not tell me you were coming home?”
“Because if I told you I was coming home, you would have run away, and we wouldn’t have had the chance to have this lovely conversation. Scintillating, isn’t it?”
He considered the woman in front of him was doing her utmost to make him lose his ever-loving mind. He was going to strangle her and then revive her just to kill her again.
“We are going to talk about this,” he held up his finger to her but then she slipped her headphones on and started singing “can’t talk got a beat in my headphones.”
“That would be Banx and Ranx,” Mrs. K said, “I heard the song earlier on repeat when I asked if I could go let you know she was here.”
“You,” he pointed at the older woman, “are on my s**t list. You,” he pointed at Eve, “go upstairs and get dressed. You need to go home.” He considered his security team at the front gates also needed his foot up their asses for not calling it in.
“Why are you angry at me? I’m not the one who has had a wife for eight years and hid it from me for the last several months!” Eve’s eyes watered and her lips were pursed as if she were truly hurt by the drama of the morning. She was a good actress; he’d give her that.
“Eve, I have enough with one annoying woman in my life. If I’m honest, Dimitra was right. You scream too much, and I couldn’t even stay hard from the noise of you, it’s why I played the music so loud. Get your s**t together. My driver will run you home.”
“I can’t believe you are doing this.”
“Get over it,” he looked in the direction of the patio doors off the kitchen Dimitra had disappeared through. He grunted and pulled two of the pancakes off the stack and folded them exactly the way she had and bit one while following her out of the house. He found her sitting at the outside dining table with her laptop, her headphones on and deeply engrossed in whatever was on her screen.
He leaned against the doorway and watched her. The little girl who had tormented the hell out of him most of her life had grown up into an incredibly beautiful, well-rounded woman. It was the rounded parts which had his attention right now. He took in the way the MIT logo was stretched across her full breasts from her t-shirt before being knotted at her belly just over her belly button. He noted the piercing on her navel and wondered when she’d gotten it. Her father would flip his lid. As she noted him watching her, she stuck her tongue out at him and grinned and then went back to looking at her screen. She was a brat. Had always been a brat. Even now at twenty-five, almost twenty-six years old, she knew how to push his buttons. He was ready to pick her up and toss her in the pool the way he had when they were younger.
Her divorce comment had made him freeze if he were honest. It was not something he’d ever considered. He knew at some point they would have to live together but he’d had all the freedom in the world while she’d been at school. He knew in their world there were double standards. While he’d done whatever he wanted she had been closely guarded by the family. If she attended a party, her guards had notified him. Thankfully the parties had been minimal and from all accounts, it appeared she was a nerd who rarely left the confines of the library she worked at.
He watched as she picked up her phone again, someone else calling her. She shoved her earphones around her neck. He openly eavesdropped uncaring at the look she gave him. He took another bite of the pancake. It did taste eerily like IHOP pancakes.
“Hey Dar, what’s up buttercup?”
“Mags is losing her mind over Daddy Warbucks. She’s making me want to find a b**m parlor and flog myself.”
“Take ten lashes for me while you’re there. She’s already called me too.”
Miklos was stunned at the way these women talked to each other. Where did the language come from?
“Did you look at the new proposal I sent you for the next project?”
“I did. I’m on board. I’ll draft up prelim stuff for you to look at. Did you see what I sent you this morning as a gift?”
Clearly the woman on the other end of the phone was intrigued and he pushed away from the door and moved to sit at the table at the chair immediately to her right. He was also curious as to what she was doing.
“Oh my god!”
He wiggled a finger in his ear at the way the woman shrieked into the phone.
“How did you get this Dimi?”
Dimi? He hated the way they shortened her name. He was unable to focus on his annoyance however as he struggled to follow the sequence of the fast-paced conversation between Dimitra and Darya.
“Hacked the company and got it. Their firewall was non-existent.”
“The FBI is going to start breathing down your neck again.”
“No, they won’t. They haven’t been able to pin s**t on me yet. They never will.”
“They want you to work for them.”
“So does half of corporate America.”
“And the other half of corporate America wants you to work under them.” The laugh was wicked and raspy.
“Too bad neither my body nor my talents are for hire.” Dimitra’s grin made him shift in his seat.
“Well, I’m going to go scoop up what’s left of Magda’s dignity from the kitchen floor where she is still seated after eating six buttered croissants. Then I’m going to go look at the photos of my sister’s wedding and cry over how she’s grown up so much but will never know what it’s like to actually live.”
“f**k the patriarchy and all that?”
“Something like it, yeah.”
“It’s okay to cry,” her voice was soft. “I know it hurt you didn’t get invited. It’s okay to be upset. For the record, there’s a really good three-minute video clip of your parents arguing over the color of the flowers and your mom calls your father a wanker. There’s also a clip of your sisters talking about you and how much they miss you. I bet its one which doesn’t make it into the family vlog, but I thought you’d like to have it.”
The call ended and he met her gaze curiously. “What does she mean by the FBI breathing down your neck?”
She rolled her eyes, “I made one mistake and they almost had me. I fixed it fast enough, so they didn’t but sometimes they’re persistent.”
“Why would the FBI be chasing you? What kind of mistake?”
She made a face, “there’s a guy we went to school with. He was a year ahead of us but still I had a couple classes with him. He found work for big corporations as an ethical hacker. His job is to breach their security to find weaknesses and report back to them so they can fix their infrastructure.”
“What does it have to do with you?”
“I hate him. I mean I really hate him.” She bit the words through her clenched teeth. “In second year, he stole my idea and used it to get himself an A and then passed it off like I was the one who stole it from him. I had two choices. Make him disappear or make him pay. I considered calling Papa but then chose to wait to make him pay. He made a comment in fourth year to Magda he was doing work for a government contract, and I hacked him, piggybacked off his entry into the specific government office and then planted stuff to make it look like he went further than he was supposed to in his role. He got arrested but eventually he was cleared. It didn’t take a monkey to know he wasn’t clever enough to get as far as I had but he pointed a finger at me. The FBI took one look at my name and combined the knowledge I was the daughter of Vasili Lykiaos with my GPA and tried to recruit me.”
He exhaled furiously. The feds being in their business was always a problem. He wanted to throttle her for putting them back in the limelight, “Have you told your father?”
“No,” she made a face. “My friends did try to call you, but my father ordered us to never call you again. I figured if I told him what happened he’d make me move home. I’ve spent too many years planning my escape. I didn’t want to self-sabotage.”
“Planning your escape?” he listened to her words with a settling of fear in his chest. What was she planning?
“Yeah, I want out,” she met his gaze head on. “I want a divorce; no babies and I just want to walk. You can have your freedom to f**k loudly to Marvin Gaye in exchange. Magda and Darya suggested I ask nicely. Here is me asking nicely. Can I please have a divorce?”
“No,” he folded his thick arms over his chest. “We had an arrangement, and we will stick to it. You are finished school so you’re moving home, and this will become a real marriage.” He felt the goosebumps on his skin as he regarded her and the way her eyes narrowed on him as if ready to throw down. He loved a good fight. Was thrilled with a battle. The more he could use his mind and his physical strength to gain the upper hand in a contest, the greater the joy of his victory. As he watched her shift her focus from asking nicely to contemplating whatever it was, she was plotting, he realized he had missed the little brat and the upheaval she left in her wake. His heart rate quickened.
“You don’t know what you’re asking for.”
He barely fought the smirk curling his lips as he stared into her brown eyes, the pupils almost matching the irises in color. “kopelia mou,” he pushed up from his chair and rounded behind her and whispered in her ear, “if you are looking for a fight, I delight in giving you one.”
“Be warned, Miklos, I am not the little girl you once knew. I am a woman, and I will get what I want.”
He ran his nose along her ear, breathing in the scent of whatever shampoo she used, “I look forward to you trying, my little wife.”
He walked back into the house feeling invigorated and purposeful while his minx of a wife sputtered a handful of her favorite curse words at his back. A divorce? Never in either of their families had one ever been granted and none would start now. He suddenly felt he owed his father-in-law a debt of gratitude as he climbed the stairs in search of the woman he needed out of his house, with a spring in his step. His wife was home. It was time to make their fake marriage a real one.