Spotlight & Giveaway: After the Billionaire’s Wedding Vows by Lucy Monroe | Harlequin Junkie | Blogging about Books Leave a comment

Today it is my pleasure to Welcome author Lucy Monroe to HJ!

Hi Lucy and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, After the Billionaire’s Wedding Vows!

Hi! It’s so great to be back on HJ. Thanks for having me!

Tell us about the book with this fun little challenge using the title of the book:

After the Billionaire’s Wedding Vows is a super personal book for me. I love the marriage in peril trope and I wanted to explore what happens after the HEA. This is a couple who were in love when they got married, but it’s five years on and that love feels really rocky. Andros is so clueless and I loved that. My own husband is the absolute love of my life, but we have had dips and valleys in our relationship over our 30+ years together and those clueless moments? Are real. Getting a chance to show how a couple can find their way back to each other was so special to me, and fun. Writing that level of emotion and sensual heat between a married couple was just amazing too. Andros is a sexy, powerful hero and Polly is a strong woman, who knows how to love, but also how to stand up for herself.


What’s your favorite line(s) from the book?:

Pushed to the limit by his obtuseness, Polly blasts Alexandros with a truth she has kept inside:
“A bad husband? No, you’re not a bad husband. You’re a terrible husband.”
This is my favorite line because it is the beginning of them embarking on the journey that will bring about a genuine and long lasting happily ever after.

This is another super poignant moment for me both as the author and later as I reread what I had written:

“Andros,” she whispered against his chest in her sleep.
He went rigid at the name he hadn’t heard in years, not even during lovemaking. Then without even considering it, he was turning and facing her, gently shaking her shoulder. “Why don’t you call me Andros anymore?”
“Andros was the man I fell in love with,” she said in a voice that sounded more asleep than awake.
“And who is Alexandros?”
“The man I married.” She made a snuffling sound and turned in her sleep. Away from him.
Alexandros wrapped his body around his wife, his entire perception of his life going through a painful metamorphosis.


Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. What first attracts your Hero to the Heroine and vice versa?

Alexandros is Greek, powerful and very successful businesswise. He’s dedicated to his family and trying hard to take care of them as his dead father would have wanted.

Pollyanna is American, emotional and independent. She argues until she realizes arguing isn’t doing any good and then simply builds the life she wants for herself within the one she is living.

They meet when he is on business in America. The attraction is instantaneous, but they discover they are also incredibly compatible in how they see the world and what they want from a relationship. Or so they believe…


When you sat down to start this book, what was the biggest challenge you faced? What were you most excited about?

The biggest challenge was to show how much Polly and Andros loved each other despite how that love had been sidelined by circumstances. For me, it was important to show how very deeply in trouble their marriage really was and yet, somehow get the characters (and the reader) to see the possibility of something so much better.

Hands down, I was most excited to take them on the journey to their HEA, to show that love can be nurtured back from the brink of extinction and that a strong marriage isn’t always smooth sailing, that the essence of romance is the willingness to work for the HEA, not have it handed on a silver platter. Romance readers know this. I know this. We like our HEAs to be hard come by because we know they’re real then. 🙂


What, in your mind, makes this book stand out?

This book is unique because it shows a genuine romance developing inside of a marriage that is not a marriage of convenience, but one that came about because two people were in love. It takes the reader on the journey of building a stronger HEA and unearthing the love that has gotten buried under life and circumstance.


The First Kiss…

Alexandros carried Helena inside and up the stairs, handing her off to Dora when they reached the landing and putting his arm around Polly to walk her to their bedroom.
“Why did you come home again today?” she asked breathlessly as they stepped inside the sanctuary.
He turned her around to face him. “Because I wanted to.” Then he kissed her and she forgot the question and everything else. Just that quickly.
It was always like this. Polly could not resist the physical temptation of her husband. Not for a kiss, or for more. She never had been able to. Even more, she could not resist the emotional connection she felt to him during times of physical intimacy.
She knew it didn’t go both ways or he could not spend as much time traveling as he did.
Because if it was up to Polly she would never have willingly spent a single night away from him.
He pulled her still- damp body right against him, letting her feel how quickly he had responded to the kiss. His hardness pressed against her and she wanted nothing more than to move to the bed so she could explore the hard male body she found such delight in.


If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters and why?

The scene where Alexandros realizes his marriage is not what he thinks and that his wife does not see him the way he sees himself. Because if the actors can show the underlying love still there for both of them, they would be the right ones to play Polly & Andros.

“I can be considerate,” he informed her, wondering how she’d missed his efforts in their marriage.
Had he really got it so wrong? For five years?
“To your mother, maybe,” Pollyanna acknowledged without missing a beat. “But even as much as you spoil Stacia, I wouldn’t say you are particularly considerate of her feelings or desires when they conflict with what you want or the way you think things should be done.”
“Is this another argument where you lament the fact I won’t always take your part against my mother?” Even as he asked the question, he tried to remember the last time they had had that disagreement and knew it was years past.
“No. I wasn’t aware we were arguing at all.” She sighed, still not opening her eyes. “Is there a reason for this conversation? Only I’m really tired.”
“I forgot. I’m not worth arguing with.”
“Alexandros, what exactly do you want me to say here?”
“That I’m not a bad husband,” he blasted her.
Finally. Finally, her head snapped round, her eyes opening to flash at him with anger he remembered but had not seen in too long.
“Alexandros, I am six months pregnant and the mother of a very active toddler. Even without all the committees you insist I chair or participate in, I would be exhausted. Not just tired. Exhausted.” And suddenly she looked it, her usual vibrancy so muted as to almost be extinguished.
She placed her hand protectively over her baby bump. “I am making new life inside me and I still suffer from nausea. It hurts to sit in any but the most comfortable chairs, hurts to walk and stand. Just like with my last pregnancy. But still you insist I suffer through a stylist’s ministrations so I can attend these unpleasant family dinners, which require an uncomfortable fifty-minute helicopter ride each way.”
“I did not realize it was such a struggle for you.” But he should have.
Damn it. He should have.
“Of course you didn’t, and if you had? You would not have cared. Never once, in our entire five years of marriage, have you ever made a decision with my happiness, or even my well-being at the forefront of your mind. A bad husband? No, you’re not a bad husband. You’re a terrible husband.”
In receipt of those indictments, he was shocked stupid and silent for several long moments.
“If I’m so awful, why have you stayed married to me?” he asked finally, a wholly unexpected fear that one day maybe she wouldn’t taking root inside him.
He’d realized long ago that the material benefits of being married to a billionaire were not the perks he thought they would be for her. So, what kept her married to a man she considered a total failure as a husband?
“You’re just now asking yourself that?” She sighed. “We made promises before God, and I won’t just ignore those promises in favor of an easy out. We also have a child together. From the moment of conception, I stopped making decisions based solely on my own happiness.”
He had no doubt she spoke the truth on both counts, but those reasons for his wife staying married to him were not exactly good for his ego.
“So you’ll stay married to me no matter what?” That didn’t jibejive with the woman he knew his wife to be under the placid facçade.
“No, not no matter what.”
“What would make those vows invalid?” he was driven to ask, a nameless dread telling him that he was on the thinnest ice when he hadn’t even realized he’d stepped out onto the frozen lake.
“Abuse. Infidelity.”
“And that is all I have going for me? I don’t abuse you and I’m not unfaithful.”
“Pretty much, yeah.” She sighed. “And you’re good in bed,” she added as if forced to do so. “You are not a selfish lover.”
Just selfish in every other way.
He had no words to respond to that statement.


If your hero had a sexy-times play list, what song(s) would have to be on it?

Anything by Michael Bublé. I wrote most of this book with the sound of his smooth tones in the background.


What do you want people to take away from reading this book?

That love worth having is worth fighting for. That saying, “I do!” is not a guarantee for happiness but an opportunity for it.


What are you currently working on? What are your up-coming releases?

I’m currently working on a fun, emotional 1920s historical romance with suspense elements set in Roaring 20s California and Egypt right after the discovery of King Tut’s tomb. I’m also writing another story in my Children of the Moon series, this one set in the Regency Era.

June will see the release of the first in my Princess by Royal Decree trilogy, Queen by Royal Appointment. It’s a steamy story with some of my favorite romance tropes: royalty, marriage of convenience, and a virgin heroine (more my reader’s favorite trope lol).

Thanks for blogging at HJ!


Giveaway: Sticking with the Greek tycoon theme, I’ll be giving away a copy of my popular duo: The Shy Bride & The Greek’s Pregnant Lover. I will send paperbacks if the winner is in the US and ebooks if the winner is outside the US.


To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: What are your favorite romance tropes?

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Excerpt from After the Billionaire’s Wedding Vows:


THEY HAD ARRIVED at the helipad, and for the first time ever, Alexandros was relieved to have a confrontation interrupted because he literally did not know where to go from here.
He watched his wife scoot to get out of the car and really noticed for the first time just how tired she was. Why hadn’t he noticed before? Those bruises under her eyes had been there before they left the house., Tthe way she moved more slowly than normal—, that had been there too.
He cursed and then reached in to lift her out into his arms and carried her to the helicopter. She didn’t fight him. In fact, she gave him the biggest shock in an evening of shocks when she relaxed into him and simply let him take her weight.
Was it a sign that on some primal level she still trusted him? Or was she simply that exhausted.
When they got into the helicopter, he shrugged out of his dinner jacket and then pulled her into his arms, putting it around her like a blanket. Again, she didn’t fight him, but relaxed into him, falling asleep almost immediately.
Okay. That exhausted.
She did not wake on the flight home, nor when he lifted her from the helicopter and carried her inside.
When he reached their bedroom, Alexandros undressed his wife for the first time since meeting her without plans to have sex. Not that the sight of her body didn’t turn him on. It always turned him on, but he wasn’t such a monster he couldn’t see how much she needed her rest.
No matter what she chose to believe, he did care about her well-being. Of course he did. She was his wife. And though he rarely said the words, he loved her.
He carefully removed the pins from her hair and fetched makeup wipes from their en suite in order to do what he’d never done before. He gently removed all traces of the makeup he knew she did not like to wear.
So, why did she wear it?
Because he’d made it clear he expected her to look the part of the wife of Alexandros Kristalakis, one of the most powerful men in Greece, if not the world.
He’d thought he was helping her fit into a world she had no experience of, but he couldn’t help wondering how much help his advice couched as demands had really been.
Alexandros might be singularly obtuse to her feelings like she accused him, but he’d noticed that while she did the charity work he insisted was part of being his wife, she chose to support charities that his mother did not. His wife had put the power of his purse behind children’s charities and those that served the marginalized, charities that did not have the cachetcache of those his mother supported.
In five years, his wife had built her own circle of friends and interests, and while those circles might overlap his and that of his influential family, they were not encompassed by them. Were in fact, he realized, as far removed from them as she could get without removing herself completely from his sphere of influence.
He finished preparing his wife for bed and then slid her lovely, pregnant body under the sheet and summer- weight duvet. She didn’t shift until he joined her in the bed, forgoing the call to China he’d meant to make. He put his arm over her and tugged her close, the feeling that he was on the verge of having her ripped right from his arms too strong to ignore.
“Andros,” she whispered against his chest in her sleep.
He went rigid at the name he hadn’t heard in years, not even during lovemaking. Then without even considering it, he was turning and facing her, gently shaking her shoulder. “Why don’t you call me Andros anymore?”
“Andros was the man I fell in love with,” she said in a voice that sounded more asleep than awake.
“And who is Alexandros?”
“The man I married.” She made a snuffling sound and turned in her sleep. Away from him.
Alexandros wrapped his body around his wife, his entire perception of his life going through a painful metamorphosis.
Polly woke warm and relaxed, feeling better than she had all week despite the way the night before had ended.
She had no memory of undressing or taking off her makeup the night before, but she slept naked, the way her husband liked her, with no day-old mascara clumped on her lashes when she blinked her eyes open.
Polly was alone in the bed. Nothing new about that, but the single yellow rose on her husband’s pillow was.
She picked it up and automatically brought it to her nose to sniff as she read the note he’d left with the flower on her pillow.

Good morning, agape mou.

Nothing life altering in those four words, except it was the first time in their relationship that Alexandros had written a personal note to her. He didn’t do cards for holidays or anniversaries, or even her birthday. He did big, extravagant gifts that touched her less than a simple card would have done. Money was easy for Alexandros.
Sentiment would have been harder.
He did texts and sometimes phone calls, but since she stopped replying immediately or picking up the phone every time his number showed, those instances had become less common.
She went to find her daughter, knowing the little girl would be up soon if Helena was not already. They breakfasted together like they usually did, Polly answering her precocious three-year-old’s many and often unexpected questions. Today’s topic was pandas, culminating in an altogether to be expected request to visit the zoo.
The thought of walking the long pathways at the zoo with a rambunctious toddler did not appeal, but they could take the nursery maid with them, so Polly said, “Maybe, darling, but not today.”
“Okay, Mommy.”
Polly’s phone buzzed with a text and she checked it, startled when it was Alexandros inquiring how she was feeling.
She shot off a quick reply—Fine—and went back to talking the merits of different habitats at the zoo with her daughter.
A second text buzzed seconds later.

Do not say you are fine when you are not. Are you still exhausted?

She stared down at the phone in consternation. Since when was she not supposed to say she was fine when she wasn’t? Alexandros didn’t do drama. He didn’t do anything that interfered with his well-ordered, fully business-oriented life.

Why are you asking? Is there something you want to add to my schedule?

That was the only thing she could think would have prompted the unprecedented text. But then why hadn’t he contacted her social secretary? She’d hired Beryl the first year of their marriage, when Polly had realized that she needed a buffer between herself and the in-laws from hell. And that chances were, her husband was never going to be that buffer.
From an old elite Athens family that had fallen on hard times, Beryl was the perfect person to arrange social occasions with Alexandros’s family and the rest of Athens society. Her efficiency also made it possible for Polly to fulfill her responsibilities as the wife of a billionaire and still be the kind of mom she’d always determined to be.
She sent another quick text off to Alexandros.

Just text Beryl. She has my calendar.

Which of course Alexandros knew, but Polly was thrown for a loop and reacting.
Her phone rang and she was surprised to see it was Alexandros.
“I’m not trying put more on your schedule, yineka mou. I was simply trying to find out if you are feeling any better this morning. You were well and truly exhausted last night.”
“I’m pregnant. It comes with the territory.”
“But having to get dressed up to attend an unpleasant weekly family dinner doesn’t help, does it?”
Was he expecting her to apologize for saying that? She wasn’t going to. If he didn’t like the truth, he should not ask for it. Or better yet, he should make a different truth.
But she’d given up on that happening when she was pregnant with Helena.
“I will be home for lunch,” he said into the silence between them.
“Why?” she asked in surprise.
“To see my wife and daughter.”
She didn’t say, But you just saw me last night, because though that was true, their daughter would be thrilled to see her beloved papa.
“We’ll see you then. Only if you want me to wait lunch for you, that’s fine, but Helena goes down for her nap at one o’clock.”
If he was expecting their daughter to skip her nap to play happy families, Polly was going to have to rearrange their schedule if she didn’t want to deal with a super cranky toddler for the rest of the day.
“I will be there by noon.”
“All right.”
The sound of a helicopter landing at five minutes to twelve brought Polly’s attention up from the plans Beryl had given her to go over for an upcoming fundraiser. Helena was coloring at her little desk beside her mother’s in the room Polly had appropriated for her use after moving into the mansion.
Besides the nursery, it was the only room that had any stamp of Polly’s personality and preference for comfort and warm colors in it. The rest of the mansion they called a home looked like a high- end modern hotel. Even their bedroom felt like she should be calling for a late check out one the rare occasions she slept in.
“That will be Papa. Shall we go meet him?” Polly put her hand out to her daughter.
“Papa is here?” Helena squealed, jumping to her feet.
Alexandros was crossing the lawn from the helipad when they got outside, a big smile on his face for his daughter. Helena pulled away from Polly and ran to him, her papa lifting the little girl and giving her a hug and kiss while listening with rapt attention to her baby chatter.
The sight of the super virile man holding the little girl made Polly’s heart clench like it always did. This man might not be the husband she’d dreamed of, but he was it for her.
If she could have stopped loving him, she would have. But she’d learned that shutting off her emotions was a lot harder than pretending for the sake of her pride that she didn’t have any.
Alexandros had wanted to know the night before why she had stayed married to him, and she’d withheld the most relevant answer. She had fallen head over heels in love with him five and a half years ago.
And she still loved him. He wasn’t perfect, but there was so much about him to love.
It came out over lunch that Helena wanted to go to the zoo, but instead of looking at Polly like he expected her to tell him when that was going to happen, Alexandros gave her a worried frown. “Wouldn’t that be taxing for you right now?”
She wanted to snap that everything was taxing for her in that minute, but Polly didn’t do waspish comments anymore. She’d grown up. Or so she told herself.
So, she shrugged instead. “I can hardly expect our daughter’s life to go on hold simply because her mom is pregnant.”
“If we had a nanny, she could take her.”
It was an old argument. Polly had refused to hire a full-time nanny, preferring instead to have two different nursery maids working different shifts. Dora, a middle-aged widow, was on hand from six in the morning until two in the afternoon. And Hero, a local girl who had been attending online university while helping her parents on their farm, covered the hours from six to midnight.
Both had rooms in the mansion, and Polly was sure Hero found her studies much more manageable than she had as a farm laborer, especially as Helena was usually asleep by eight.
And neither woman had primary responsibility for Polly’s child. Polly was and always would be a hands-on, dedicated mom. “Dora could take her, come to that,” she told her husband. “But I’m Helena’s mom. Our outings together are important.”
“And when you are feeling better, you will be able to go on them again,” he said, his tone oh, so reasonable.
“If this pregnancy is like my last one, my discomfort isn’t going anywhere.”
“Call it what it is, pain. And since I realized you were suffering from it again, I’ve researched possible remedies.”
“I am not taking pain killers.” They’d had that discussion when she was pregnant with Helena, and Polly had thought he’d agreed with her.
“Naturally not, but have you considered chiropractic and acupuncture? I have the name of a reputable clinic staffed by two doctors that have only rave reviews from their patients.”
“You want me to try alternative medicine? You do?” Mr. Conservative, only the Greek way is the best way, and only the really rich Greek way of doing things met even that mark?
“It is not alternative medicine., Iit is perfectly valid holistic medicine. Thousands of years of success cannot be discounted as merely alternative.”
“Who are you and what have you done with Alexandros Kristalakis?”
He laughed, the sound booming and masculine and all together alluring.
But she hadn’t been joking. She really didn’t understand what was going on. “How did you even think to look for that clinic?”
“I told you, I did some research.”
“Because you realized I was in pain?”
“I wish I had realized sooner, or that you had told me.”
“But why would I tell you?” she asked in honest bewilderment.
Any time she’d complained during her first pregnancy, he either asked his mother to advise Polly, which had never been a pleasant experience, or he’d quoted some lowering thing his mother had said. To this day, Polly herself wasn’t sure if Athena said the things she did to undermine Polly, or because she really believed them.
Athena was of a different generation, not to mention a completely different socio-economic background.
The worst had been when Alexandros had fallen back on his standby that women had been enduring the inconveniences of pregnancies since the beginning of time. He always couched it with how strong and resilient Polly was, so of course she would be fine.
Only she hadn’t been fine. First, she’d be nauseated to the point of throwing up several times a day, all day long for the first four months. Then a month of relative bliss and then the pain in her pelvic floor had started, followed quickly by lower back pain and finally pain in both hips had stacked on top of that for her final month with a return of her nausea.
This time around, the nausea had clung on past the fourth month, but she was no longer throwing up, so that was an improvement.
He stared at her like she was the one being incomprehensible, but when had her husband ever invited her to share her complaints with him? He was a dynamic workaholic who powered through lack of sleep and physical infirmity with a strength of will that used to intimidate her.
Because she’d felt the need to be worthy of that kind of dynamism. She didn’t anymore.
Polly accepted that while that was who her husband was, it was not her.
And she accepted the fact that he expected those around him to deal with their own challenges. So, she did, even if she gave herself more of a break than he ever would have done.
Or tried to anyway, within the parameters of her job description.
Socially conscious wife to Alexandros Kristalakis.
“Perhaps because if you had told me, I would have made changes sooner.”
Chance would be a fine thing. “What changes?” she asked anyway, wondering what he considered concessions made to her condition.
“I have informed my mother and sister that until further notice, our once a week family get- togethers will happen here and they will be lunches, not dinners.”
“What? Why?” Did she want to host the family meals? Wouldn’t that just give Athena, and more likely Stacia, even more reasons to criticize Polly?
But she could not deny that a lunchtime get-together would be much easier for Polly to manage from both a physical and schedule perspective.
“It is a change that should have happened when you first got pregnant. I forget that other people do better with more sleep than I get, and my pregnant wife should be getting even more sleep than her usual.” He gave her a self-deprecating smile that sort of took her breath away.
Her husband did not do self-deprecating.
“You don’t believe that. You don’t believe in giving in to infirmity.”
His smile slid away to be replaced by an expression that almost looked hurt. “Am I really that arrogant? That lacking in compassion?”
“Yes,” she answered immediately and without a shred of desire to lie.
His strong features showed consternation. “I am sorry you believe that, but trust me when I tell you that your pain and discomfort do affect me.”
“Since when?”
“But before…” She let her voice trail off, not sure it was worth getting into.
His handsome mouth firmed. “Not worth discussing?” he asked silkily. “But I will answer your implied question. The last time you were pregnant, I was in the middle of a takeover bid from a conglomerate that wanted my flagship company. I was not as focused on you as I should have been, which was why I asked for my mother’s help.”
Polly didn’t mask her expression fast enough to hide what she thought of his mother’s help.
He smiled ruefully. “Just so. I accept that she was not the comfort to you I thought she would be.”
Appreciative of that insight, belated though it might be, Polly went back to what else he’d revealed. “But surely no takeover bid could have been any real threat.”
“One thing you will learn in business. No matter how big you are? Someone is always bigger, if only temporarily. I’d made some risky moves, not realizing they were waiting for just such an opportunity. I was too focused on business, and when you told me the difficulties you were having with your pregnancy, my mother assured me you were fine. It was all very normal. Your doctor confirmed that.”
“It was normal, if not easy for me to deal with.” And she’d really wanted his support, not his mother’s repressively traditional advice.
“I really thought Mama would help you through the difficulties of pregnancy while I worked seven days a week to keep my business.”
“Your mother help me?” Polly asked in disbelief, even as she appreciated he hadn’t just ignored her for business as usual. Andy he’d believed she was okay because maybe that was what he needed to believe while his attention was directed elsewhere.
It put her last pregnancy in a different light, but it didn’t appreciably change how she saw her husband’s attitude to her. Because whatever the cause, even pregnant, Polly had not been anything like his primary concern.
“I did not appreciate how old-fashioned her views on pregnancy were,” he acknowledged with unexpected candor.
Even oblique criticism of his mother was not something she was used to from Alexandros.
He was very protective of the older woman. He’d once shared how close to losing her he’d felt he’d come after the unexpected death of his father.
The Kristalakis patriarch had only died a little over a year before she and Alexandros met. She’d wondered sometimes if that was what had driven Alexandros’s uncharacteristic impromptu marriage proposal.
“Or how much she enjoyed my discomfort.”
He frowned. “I’m sure that is not true.”
And with that, they reached the end of any honest dialogue about his mother and her attitude toward Polly.
Polly didn’t bother to argue her viewpoint. She’d learned there was no advantage to it. He didn’t hear criticism of his precious mother.
And honestly? Polly wasn’t sure Athena had enjoyed her pain. It had seemed like it though, all mixed up with Athena’s and Stacia’s efforts to undermine Polly’s place in Alexandros’ life.
Regardless, Polly would not allow a few unexpected moments of understanding on his part lull her into thinking Alexandros had changed in any significant way.
This refrain, in different guises, was an old one. Athena Kristalakis had been furious with her son marrying an American nobody instead of one of the beautiful Greek socialites she’d been pushing at him for years.
Under the pretext of friendship, Athena had drawn proverbial blood over and over again in her campaign to send her unwanted daughter-in-law packing. She and daughter, Stacia, had done their best to make Polly feel like the outsider she was, making sure those in their circle treated her with the same disdain they did.
Athena had even changed Polly’s first name! Calling her Anna, without asking for Polly’s approval. Which she would not have given.
Anna was not Polly’s name and she never thought of herself that way. However, as time went on, Polly had allowed her Anna persona to develop. The Anna facçade stood between her and any real interaction with her detractors, and most of the time, even with her husband anymore.
“Your silence does not signify agreement,” he said as if just figuring that fact out.
“No, it does not.” It never had.
“It is your way of telling me you can’t be bothered to argue any longer.”
“Maybe.” She was reeling.
He’d gone from stone dense to insightful literally overnight, and Polly didn’t know how she felt about that.
“I think my mother has almost as much ground to make up with you as I do.”
Suddenly, Polly had her own insight.
Her husband was terribly competitive. And last night she had inadvertently triggered his need to prove he was the better husband between himself and his younger brother.
News flash—, that would require something Alexandros simply could not give her.
His love.
“I’m beginning to realize just how often you use silence as its own answer,” he said in a tone she found difficult to interpret.
“You used to tell me off all the time for disagreeing with you so often.”
“Be careful what you wish for—, isn’t that how the saying goes?”
“Are you saying you want me to argue with you?” She didn’t buy it. Not for a single second.
“I want you to think it’s worth it.”
“It’s a goal to shoot for,” she said with more facetiousness than she usually allowed herself with him.
His sardonic look said he recognized it. “You have an appointment with the chiropractor and acupuncturist the day after tomorrow,” he said, changing the subject away from confrontation like he never did. “I would have arranged it for tomorrow, but you’ve already got your appointment with your OB.”
“Wednesday? But I have committee meetings in Athens. Did you forget I was going to fly in on the helicopter with you?” Beryl had arranged it, as she always did when Polly needed to get into city.
Polly would come home in a car with a driver, usually after sharing lunch with her busy husband. It was one of those treats she looked forward to. Adult time during the day with Alexandros.
“There will be no more uncomfortable helicopter rides into Athens for the duration of your pregnancy.” His tone said this was not one of those occasions he wanted her to think it was worth arguing with him.
Too bad! “But my charity work!” Work he’d insisted she had to do in order to fulfill her responsibilities as his wife.
“Can be done by someone else.”
Like her efforts had no intrinsic value because she was the one making them? Thank you so much, husband! “What if there is no one else?”
“We will hire Beryl an assistant and she will take your place in committees, etc. After working for you so long, she knows your stand on things, what you would want to involve yourself in and what you would not.” He reached across the table and took her hand. “Listen to me, pethi mou. You are too valuable to me to allow you to continue putting your health at risk. And while the work you do on behalf of children at risk and the marginalized is incredibly important, it is not more important to me than you are.”
He was saying all the right things, but she wasn’t believing them.
She couldn’t afford to let herself go down that road again, where she thought he loved her, valued her and had married her for anything other than the untrammeled lust he felt for her body.
“While Beryl is invaluable to me, she is not the wife of a billionaire.”
“But she has your ear, which means she influences your donation and spokesperson power. It will suffice for this season of your life.”
Season? Did he mean beyond delivery of their second child? “I assume you’ve already spoken to Beryl about this change in her duties.” He might make it sound like he’d just thought of hiring her sSocial sSecretary an assistant, but Polly wasn’t that naiïve.
Alexandros did not wait to act.
His hand squeezed hers. “Naturally, you are right. You know me well.”
But did he know her? “Didn’t you think that maybe you should have discussed some of these changes with me before you made them?”
“I saw a problem and I sought to fix it. What is wrong with that?”
“The problem is mine to fix.”
“Only you weren’t fixing it. You were running yourself ragged doing all the same old stuff.”
She couldn’t deny that. Polly had her own measure of pride and hadn’t wanted to admit she wasn’t physically up to the same schedule she’d always kept. “If you’ve hired a nanny behind my back, we are going to have some serious words,” she warned him.
“It would almost be worth it to see you engaged enough to actually argue with me, but that is not something I would do.”
“You want me angry with you?” she asked. This was the second time he’d alluded to wanting that and she was trying to understand why suddenly he wanted her to revert to how she’d used to be.
Willing to argue every time she didn’t agree with his autocratic view of the world. Angry with him more often than she’d ever wanted to be.
Because she kept expecting him to treat her like he loved her.
She didn’t have those expectations any longer.
“No.” Which did not surprise her. “I want you real with me, and I’m only just now realizing how long it has been since I saw the real Pollyanna. Only in the same way I have realized that there are an honored few that already do.”
“What do you mean?”
“My brother. His new wife. The few you call friend and not acquaintance.”
He’d left off her family, but maybe that was because he realized bringing them up would only point out how differently her parents and siblings treated Polly to how his own mother and sister did. “None of them call me Anna.”
And at its most basic level, that was the dividing line.
“So, all I have to do is call you Pollyanna to get back into the charmed circle?” he asked in that seductive tone he usually reserved for the bedroom.
Heat climbing her cheeks at her body’s instant reaction to it, she said, “I don’t know what circle you’re talking about.”
But she did. He meant the people she trusted, including those few she’d learned she could rely on since moving to Greece.
Her husband, she had learned not to trust.
“Yes, you do.”
“Yes, I do,” she admitted.
“I call you Anna.”
“You do not like it.”
“It is not my name.”
“It is a nickname.”
“That your mother finds more acceptable than my real name. Yes, I know.”
“You have never asked me to call you Pollyanna instead.”
She shook her head. Was he rewriting history now? “That is not true.”
He stared at her, his mouth open to refute her words, but then he must have remembered. Because he went oddly pale. “You told me Anna was not your name and you would prefer if I would not use it.”
“But your mother had made it clear how very lowbrow she found my real name.”
“So, I called you Anna around her.”
“Not just around her.”
He winced in acknowledgment. “I slipped once too often and realized I needed to use it all the time, for consistency.”
The other option of course would have been for him to never use it. For consistency. And because Polly had made it clear that was what she wanted. But then, when had Polly’s wants, or even needs, ever trumped his mother’s? Never, that was when.
Their daughter demanded her father’s attention right then, and Polly was grateful for it. She was done with this weird walk down memory lane.
No one could change the path their marriage had taken, because as she’d realized way too late that she’d married a man programmed to hurt her.
Because, despite a few claims to the contrary, usually when she’d done something that made him really happy, like giving birth, he did not love her.
No man who loved her would treat her the way that Alexandros had since their marriage and her move to Greece. The very fact he’d insisted on moving into his family home, one they had had to share with the two wicked witches, showed just how little her feelings had mattered to him.
He knew from the beginning that Athena had wanted him to marry an entirely different type of woman. It had taken Polly longer to see the contempt behind the smile.
Even so, Alexandros would be so annoyed if he knew she thought of his mother and sister in those terms.
But Polly’s thoughts were her own and even her had to be in charge husband could not police them.
They put their daughter down for her nap together, and Polly enjoyed the family togetherness so much, moisture burned the back of her eyes.
“Are you all right?” he asked as they left their daughter’s bedroom together.
“I’m fine.” She didn’t consider that two-word answer deception.
She simply said what he expected to hear.
Suddenly she found herself in his arms and being carried past the staircase that would have taken them back downstairs, down the hall and to their bedroom.
“It’s the middle of the day, Alexandros!”
“When has that ever stopped me?”
It was true that some weekends they utilized the time during their daughter’s naps to enjoy marital intimacy, but since he was never home during the day during the week, and not always on the weekends, it was something very new.
“Don’t you have to get back to the office?” she asked in wonder as he laid her down on their bed, his expression harsh with need that hadn’t been there a moment ago.
Or maybe it had been and she just hadn’t let herself notice it.
“The office can wait.” He removed his jacket and tie in rapid succession, his nimble fingers already working the buttons of his shirt open.
She gasped, her shock was so great at that unprecedented statement.

Excerpts. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Book Info:

Can this Greek marriage go the distance? Find out in this passionate and dramatic romance by USA TODAY bestselling author Lucy Monroe!

First came passion, then came vows…

What comes after “I do”?

Greek tycoon Andros Kristalakis knew that his white-hot whirlwind romance with Polly could end only one way—with her wearing his ring! He offered her his world of unbelievable luxury while he ruled his family’s business empire. But that was all he could give.

Now pregnant Polly has revealed that for the past five years she’s secretly craved more! With his marriage on the line, Andros must choose—because closing the distance between himself and Polly will mean destroying the protective barriers he’s long fought to keep intact…
Book Links: Amazon | B &N | iTunes | Kobo|

Meet the Author:

With more than 8 million copies of her books in print worldwide, award winning and USA Today bestseller Lucy Monroe has published over 75 books and had her stories translated for sale all over the world. While she writes multiple subgenres of romance, all of her books are sexy, deeply emotional and adhere to the concept that love will conquer all. A passionate devotee of romance, she adores sharing her love for the genre with her readers.
Website | Facebook | Twitter |

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *