He hated her so much at that moment he almost did leave her behind. He wanted to do it. But not at the cost of hurting his son. Damn her.
Gritting his teeth, he said, “Call your sister when we reach Las Vegas. You’ll see I’ve kept my word.”
“Very well.” Anna’s face was pale as she knelt beside her sister. “You’ll accept his help, won’t you, Natalie? Please.”
The girl hesitated, and for a moment Nikos thought she would refuse. Then her expression hardened. “All right. Since he’s only paying back what he took from Father.”
What the hell had Anna told her? Surrounded by bodyguards, he didn’t have the time or inclination to find out. He’d tried to spare Anna the truth about her father, but he was done coddling her. It was time she knew the kind of man he really was. He would enjoy telling her.
And more than that, Nikos promised himself as they left the palace. Once they’d returned to his own private fiefdom in Las Vegas he would make her pay for her crimes. In private. In ways she couldn’t even imagine.
Oh, yes, he promised himself grimly. She’d pay.
RIDING in the limo from the Las Vegas airport to Nikos’s desert estate twenty miles outside the city gave Anna an odd sense of unreality.
In one long night she’d left darkness and winter behind. But it wasn’t just the bright morning light that threw her. It wasn’t just the harsh blue sky, or the dried sagebrush tumbling across the long private road, or the feel of the hot Nevada sun on her face.
It was the fact that nothing had changed. And yet everything had changed.
“Hello, miss,” the housekeeper said as they entered the grand foyer.
“Welcome back, miss,” a maid said, smiling shyly at the baby in Anna’s arms.
The moment their limo had arrived inside the guarded gate the house steward and a small army of assistants had descended upon Nikos. He walked ahead with them now, signing papers and giving orders as he led them through the luxurious fortress he called a home. Members of his house staff had already spirited away her luggage.
Where had they taken it? Anna wondered. A guestroom? A dungeon?
She shivered at the thought. No, surely not his bedroom. But for most of her pregnancy his room had been her home. She’d slept naked in his arms on hot summer nights. She’d caressed his body and kissed him with her heart on her lips. She’d dreamed of wearing his engagement ring and prayed to God that it would last. She’d been so sure that if he left her she would die.
But in the end she’d been the one who left.
Because the moment he’d found out she was pregnant he’d fired her. She’d gone from being his powerful, trusted assistant to a prisoner in this gilded cage. He’d ordered her to take her leisure, practically forcing her into bedrest, although she’d had a normal, healthy pregnancy.
Nikos had taken the job she loved and given it to a young, gorgeous blonde with no secretarial skills. He’d ordered the household staff to block the calls of her mother and sister. Then, during her final trimester, he’d suddenly refused to touch her. He’d abandoned her to go and stay, with his secretary Lindsey on hand, at the newly finished penthouse at L’Hermitage Casino Resort.
That should have been enough to make Anna leave him. That should have been more than enough. But it hadn’t been until she’d found those papers showing that Nikos had deliberately destroyed her father’s textiles company that she’d finally been fed up. Anna’s hands tightened. Running away had been an act of self-defense for her and her child.