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CHAPTER ONE ‘SHE’S here—’ Constantine Zagorakis didn’t move a muscle in response to his aide’s whispered aside, though his eyes darkened a little as Lisa Bond entered the room. The woman’s rise to the seat of power at Bond Steel had played right into his hands. Her late father, Jack Bond, had been a difficult character; doing business with Jack’s daughter promised an easier ride. Lisa Bond had a reputation in the City for being hard. In fairness she’d had to be hard-hearted to fill the shoes of her father when he’d died. But, hard or not, she was still a woman… and women were prey to their emotions, a factor that would give him an immediate advantage. An air of confident command hung about the chairwoman of Bond Steel as she led her directors into the boardroom. Her manner challenged him. Lisa Bond wouldn’t just dance to his tune; by the time he had finished with her, she’d sing to it too. She’d had the worst kind of childhood, but his youth had been blighted too and he’d come through. He’d make no allowances. There were only two women in the world he could trust, and Lisa Bond was neither one of them. Bond was a woman with history. Before throwing in her lot with her father, she had lived with her mother in a place that knew no rules or boundaries. She could turn on the ice all she liked, he wasn’t buying it. Beneath that front there had to be a free spirit itching to break out. He would set that spirit free and add her company to his portfolio at a knock-down price. Where business was concerned he had no scruples. Breaking down the opposition was Constantine’s primary objective. Like any predator, Tino sensed the change in the air as Lisa Bond walked towards him, as well as the hint of some fresh scent she wore. She was dwarfed by the men in suits flanking her, but her presence more than made up for it. Petite and trim, she had clearly chosen her dark tailored suit to create a certain impression. She was more beautiful than her photograph suggested, with luxuriant chestnut-brown hair fixed in an immaculate chignon. Beautiful women frequently used their looks like a weapon in an attempt to disarm him, but Lisa Bond was different—and not just because she had the most compelling sea-green eyes he had ever seen. She had something more. The outcome would be the same. He would take what he wanted and walk away. A woman had betrayed him at birth; only two had won his trust since then; there would be no more. The tabloids and the business reports all said Bond was blessed with the attributes of an alpha male mixed together with the subtle cunning of a woman. The tempting sight of her breasts leant some credence to the rumour. Had she forgotten to fasten the extra button? Or was the curve of lush breasts exposed just enough to tease another cold calculation? Either way, it was his ineluctable duty to bring her to heel. Tino took no more than a second or two over his assessment. His senses were tuned to the highest level. Whatever happened in the meeting, he would find the key that unlocked Bond Steel’s darkest secrets. Every company had them. He and his people would simply sift through the records until he found out what they were. This ‘negotiation’ was merely a business courtesy—a gesture that meant nothing. The moment Bond Steel’s Achilles heel was uncovered he would strike. In the role of gracious victor he might save Ms Bond’s backside—he might not. That would depend on how cooperative she was. The only certainty was that he would be adding another valuable asset to Zagorakis International Inc. While this was going on, Lisa was drawing a few fast conclusions of her own, though it was hard to think rationally when her back was still bristling at the unannounced arrival of Constantine Zagorakis. Her diary was planned with all the care of a military operation; she didn’t like it upset. The meeting with Zagorakis Inc had been scheduled for later that morning. She had something to sell; Zagorakis Inc was always hungry. But no one had expected Constantine Zagorakis to turn up in person. Lisa had barely had chance to sit down at her desk before her PA, Mike, had alerted her to who was in the building… Zagorakis might as well have swept through it like a firestorm. Grown men were behaving like overexcited children at the mere mention of his presence. Fortunately, Lisa’s speciality was dousing fires.
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