Monday Sampler: The Heiress of Santorini by Angel Sefer
January 11, 2016
In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Caleb and Linda Pirtle has launched a series featuring writing samples from some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Monday’s Sampler is an excerpt from The Heiress of Santorini, a romantic suspense thriller from Angel Sefer.
As one reviewer said: The intriguing mystery and the death threat hovering over stunning Alexandra combined with the breathtaking romance with hot and off-limits. I loved the action, the suspense, and above all, the breathtaking descriptions of Santorini.
An unexpected threat…
When insurance manager Alexandra Stewart is assigned to the Imperial Resorts Corporation account and has to travel to the island of Santorini, she’s worried about keeping the promise she made to her late father. Alexandra swore to keep her real identity a secret and to stay away from her maternal grandfather, a Greek billionaire who lives on the island. However, what Alexandra thought was fate is actually a plot to bring her home.
An undeniable attraction…
The new assignment embeds Alexandra in a deadly game of vengeance and greed that threatens to destroy her grandfather’s empire. The only one she can turn to for help is Mark Taylor, the seductively handsome Managing Director of the corporation. Mark is torn between his intense attraction to Alexandra and his promise to her grandfather to guard the secret that could destroy the entire Vassiliou family. His puzzling behavior infuriates Alexandra, but it can’t quell her desire.
A startling revelation…
Will Alexandra be able to trust Mark when he has already lied to her once? Will Mark be able to convince Alexandra he’s not the enemy? And when the time comes, will he be able to confess the truth to her?
The huge, reflective doors of the elevator, with gold-plated frames, opened in front of them. They stepped into a spacious elevator with mirrors all around and gold-plated bars running along the three sides.
“You can leave it here, Ron,” Mark told the limo driver. “We’ll take it from here.”
The bulky limo driver placed Mark’s suitcase on the elevator and stood there, smiling at them, until Mark pushed the button to the penthouse, and the doors closed.
Alexandra felt her stomach turning at the sudden thrust as the elevator accelerated up.
“It takes a bit of getting used to,” Mark said with a reassuring smile and reached over to squeeze her arm.
A minute later, the elevator opened to the thirty-sixth floor. Alexandra saw a long corridor covered with thick burgundy carpet, which led to double mahogany doors with gold-plated brass handles. Mark picked up his suitcase and left it outside the elevator. Then, he took his briefcase and Alexandra’s suitcase and walked down the hall.
Alexandra followed him to the door, and when he opened it and stepped aside to let her go through, she stared at him puzzled.
“Where are we?” she inquired.
“This is my apartment,” he replied and shifted uneasily, seeing the taken-aback expression on her face.
“I’m not staying here,” she said, abruptly.
“This apartment belongs to Imperial Resorts Corporation, as does this entire building,” Mark explained. “This penthouse has four master bedrooms and staff of three people at all times who take care of the corporation’s guests. So don’t worry,” he continued with an ironic smile. “You’re not going to be alone with me.”
Alexandra peered at him, ready to voice another objection. On second thought, however, she closed her mouth and stepped inside the penthouse. The imposing foyer took her breath away. It had carved mirrors on the walls and a beautiful marble statue of Aphrodite in the middle. A few steps in the back led to a huge sunken living room with beautiful windows taking up the entire opposite wall, providing a spectacular view of the city. The floor was covered with a soft cream-colored carpet, and burgundy leather sofas and armchairs were scattered around. A huge piano dominated one corner of the room, and a beautiful bar the other.
In the far corner, a single step led to a higher level where the dining room was located. It had a beautiful cherry wood china cabinet, a buffet, and a matching table with six chairs and two armchairs.
There were two corridors, one on the right side of the room and the other on the left. A young woman dressed in a starched maid’s uniform appeared suddenly from the corridor on the right.
“Hi, Catherine,” Mark said and smiled at the girl.
“Hello, Mr. Taylor,” the maid responded with a big smile on her face. “Welcome back. Do you have any more suitcases?”
“Yes, it’s down by the elevator.”
“I’ll have Jacob take care of it,” she replied.
“Is everything okay?” Mark asked.
“Everything’s ready,” she responded and glanced over at Alexandra.
“This is Alexandra Stewart,” Mark introduced her, while putting her suitcase down. “Catherine will show you around and take care of everything,” he added, turning to Alexandra.
“Welcome, Miss Stewart,” the maid said with a smile and picked up the suitcase.
“Hello,” Alexandra responded and smiled at the girl.
“I’ll take you to your room. Follow me, please,” Catherine said and turned towards the corridor on the left.
Alexandra followed her without saying a word and kept her back as straight as possible, feeling Mark’s eyes watching her. The maid led her down the hall to almost the end of it. Two large doors were on each side, and the girl opened one of them and entered, putting the suitcase on the floor. Alexandra followed her inside.
The huge master bedroom had stately windows and French doors covering one side of the room. A door on her left led to a huge marble bath, and a door on her right led to a walk-in closet.
Alexandra walked towards the French doors and opened them. A large balcony, with a magnificent view of the city, stretched in front of her. She stepped outside and scanned the enchanting surroundings. The reflection of the sun’s glimmering rays on the glass skyscrapers created a glorious sight. She felt uneasy, though, to walk any closer to the edge, unaccustomed to being so high up.
On impulse, she stepped out of her emerald, high heeled sandals and felt the coolness of the marble tiles under her bare feet. Throwing her head back, her eyelids flickered as she blissfully enjoyed the soft breeze tickling her skin. A glimpse of heaven, she thought and smiled, surprised by the uplifting experience.
“I’ll hang your clothes and prepare a bath for you.” Catherine’s voice brought her back to reality.
“Oh, you don’t have to do that,” Alexandra replied and turned to look at Catherine, who was standing at the French doors. “I can do it myself.”
“It’ll be my pleasure,” the girl reassured her and withdrew inside the room.
Alexandra walked over to the white bamboo armchairs with the colorful pillows arranged under the idyllic shade of a pergola. She sat on one of them, raising her eyes to the sky. Admittedly, this had been an amazing morning. Feeling a little bit like Cinderella, she lay back in the chair, closing her eyes. No matter what the future held for her, at that very moment, she was contented.
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” His deep, sensual voice startled her.
Alexandra sprang to her feet and turned around to face him. He was standing at the French doors farther down from hers, leading to the same balcony. The sun was shining in his face, turning his eyes a lighter shade of blue while his lips curved into a sexy smile. He had removed his jacket and tie and unbuttoned his shirt, providing the delectable sight of his bare, tanned firm chest.
With as much strength as she could muster, she jerked her gaze free from the magnetic field that seemed to keep her in a trance. “When am I going to meet with the president?” she asked in a professional manner, avoiding his question.
“He’ll send for you when he’s ready,” he replied and stepped outside on the balcony, walking towards the edge. He grabbed hold of the iron railings and leaned over them, enjoying the view.
Seeing him standing at the edge, Alexandra uneasily drew a deep breath. However, she remained silent, trying to control the turmoil of her emotions. When he turned and walked towards her, she instinctively took a step back.
A half smile appeared on his face. “Alexandra, I don’t bite,” he said and went to sit down at one of the bamboo armchairs. “Sit down and try to relax.”
“I am relaxed,” she lied and laced her hands together to keep them from shaking.
That irresistible smile on his face made her feel the uncontrollable urge to slap him. He was mocking her, and she was tired of his infuriating behavior. Agitated, she walked towards the railings, trying to put some distance between them.
All of a sudden, she stopped dead in her tracks. She was too close to the edge. Panic washed over her like a cold wave. She tried to speak, but no words came out of her mouth. Unable to move, she kept on staring down, going weak at the knees.
Alexandra was about to collapse to the floor when she felt his arms wrapping around her waist and pulling her towards the inside wall. He turned her around to face him and held her tightly against his rock hard body until her breathing came back to normal and her head stop spinning.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered, trying to steady her voice. “I haven’t been so high up before in my life. I had no idea that I’m afraid of heights,” she admitted, embarrassed.
“It’s okay,” he reassured her. “It happens to everybody the first time.”
She lifted her eyes to stare at him; without her high heels on, he stood a lot taller than she. Realizing she was still in his arms, she raised her hands and placed them on his chest to push him back. The silkiness of his bare skin under her touch and the warmth of his body sent a tingling sensation throughout her. She knew she had to pull back, but his mesmerizing gaze kept her captive. Her throat went dry, and she desperately tried to swallow. Powerful sensations erupted throughout her body as he lowered his head, and his tantalizing lips claimed hers. Her eyes flickered, and she was engulfed in the blazing passion of his kiss, oblivious to everything else in the world. Her arms went around his neck to pull him closer as her body started to tremble. Her hands caressed his beautiful hair, and she experienced an intoxicating sensation, hearing him moan as he squeezed her against him. His blazing lips sent her thoughts scattering in every direction, and Alexandra lost track of time.
When he pulled away, she was astonished. A feeling of emptiness engulfed her while watching him walk to the edge of the balcony. He shoved his hands inside his pockets and stood there, staring at the city below.
“I’m so sorry,” he said, keeping his back to her. “I shouldn’t have done that,” he added and sounded sincere.
Alexandra raised a trembling hand to touch her lips. The enthralling sensation of his kiss lingered on her mouth and, for a moment, she closed her eyes. When she opened them again, he was gone. She glanced towards the French doors of his room and felt lost. She pulled herself together and stepped inside her bedroom, hoping the maid hadn’t seen them on the balcony.
She was relieved to see that Catherine was in the bathroom, preparing a bath for her. Even if she had seen something, she was acting like nothing had happened, singing a beautiful love song in Greek.
Alexandra was fluent in Greek; she had been bilingual since birth. And after her mother passed away, her father had sent her to a Greek school in the afternoons so that she could continue her education in the Greek language.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Catherine murmured, seeing Alexandra standing at the bathroom door. “I get carried away, sometimes,” she apologized.
“No need to apologize,” Alexandra replied, smiling. “That was a beautiful song… I just wish I could understand the words,” she added, not wanting to reveal she spoke Greek.
“Your bath is ready. Would you like me to help you?” Catherine asked.
“Yes, please.” Physically and emotionally exhausted, Alexandra let the girl help her take off her clothes and sink into the huge marble bathtub. Surrounded by the fragrance of roses, she lay back and closed her eyes.