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The Tycoon's Marriage Exchange
Author: Elizabeth Lennox

Elizabeth Lennox - The Tycoon's Marriage Exchange

The Tycoon's Marriage Exchange
Elizabeth Lennox



Chapter 1

Kallista Papadelias shook her head, her eyes wary as she faced this large, intimidating man who was waiting patiently for her answer. “Surely there’s an alternative. I really don’t want to marry you.” She braced herself, her muscles tense and guarded as the powerful man sitting across from her absorbed her rejection. Goose bumps rose up on her arms and she knew that the shiver running through her were due more to the man’s darkening eyes than the cold air blowing down from the ceiling’s ventilation system. She wrapped her cold, shaking fingers around the coffee cup in front of her, trying to gain some warmth but she was too nervous.

“Have you heard a thing I’ve said?” Hector Christophe asked digging deeper to find more patience. This woman sitting in front of him was lovely, but he wasn’t sure how much was going on inside her pretty head. “Your father’s business is in jeopardy. He is going to lose everything if I don’t help him. And he won’t accept my help because of his pride.”

Kallista tried to focus, truly she was, but the way this man was watching her unnerved her, made her stomach quake and her muscles tense. Unfortunately, if his irritated look was any indication, she’d obviously missed something significant during this discussion. “What does me marrying you have to do with that?”

Hector was proud that he didn’t grind his teeth in frustration, knowing that would only make her more nervous. “Don’t be obtuse, Kallista. You know how our culture works,” he replied heartlessly. “If we are married, I would be family. Your father would accept help from a family member. As it stands now, he won’t even acknowledge to me that there’s a problem. But I can see in his eyes when I try and talk to him about some of the issues I’ve discovered, and I know that he’s fully aware of the dangers to his company and all he’s built over the years. He’s trying to fix this himself but he doesn’t have the resources so he’s making a bigger mess of the situation. I’m already working behind the scenes to help, but I need to become more out in the open to deter the takeover.”

He watched carefully as the woman with soft blue eyes and pale, porcelain skin listened carefully. She was tall for a woman at five feet, seven inches but he still towered over her and he couldn’t help his size. It was scaring her and he shifted to give her more space, but there was only so much he could do. He was six feet, three inches tall which made him loom larger than most of the men she was probably used to.

She smelled good, he thought, then banished that from his mind. Her scent, no matter how lovely, had nothing to do with this conversation. There was a crisis and he could see her occasional shivers so he had to ignore her allure and focus on saving her family’s reputation, and her father’s company.

Kallista’s hands squeezed tightly together under the table. She loved her parents and they’d done so much for her. How could she not do this if it would help them? Hector was right, her father wouldn’t accept help from a friend but in her culture, family was not only allowed to help when needed, they were expected to help however possible. Families stuck together, they worked together, lived, laughed, fought and loved together. And when things got tough, they all came together to find a solution to whatever problem was facing them.

Her father, bless his soul, had more pride than sense sometimes, Kallista thought angrily. She pulled the complicated reports and colorful charts closer, trying to understand the immense data this man was attempting to impart to her. “Okay, so please explain all this to me one more time and let me try and absorb the situation. Surly there’s a less drastic way to deal with this horrible situation other than the two of us marrying.”

Hector sighed and pulled the files together. He’d gone through all the information himself and tried to come up with an alternative but every time he’d approached Demetrius Papadelias with a solution, Kallista’s father, the man had simply shut down and changed the subject. Unfortunately, whenever Hector visited his old friend, he saw that the valuable paintings that were slowly leaving the walls of Demetrius’ once regal home, he recognized the slow deterioration and the dust intermingled with the missing valuables. Kallista’s mother no longer wore even her beautiful engagement ring, which led Hector to suspect that she had sold the ring to try and raise needed money to counter this latest threat to their company.

It wasn’t that Kallista’s parents were in a bad situation. Hector’s information told him that Demetrius Papadelias, and more than five thousand employees, were about to be swindled horribly, the entire company and all of its employees and their families will lose their life savings and their pensions if someone didn’t come in and stop this takeover threat. So it wasn’t just Demetrius and Kallista’s family who needed to be saved. It was the life savings of thousands of innocent families who could be completely destroyed if someone didn’t step in and stop the insidious problem this takeover presented.

With a patience Hector didn’t realize he had, he straightened and once again went through the data, trying to explain to Kallista Papadelias what had happened and what impact the crisis could mean for everyone involved. “Six months ago, stock in your father’s company started getting bought up. The price has remained relatively stable...” he explained, showing Kallista the charts and graphs his staff had generated to explain the takeover attempt. Unfortunately, it wasn’t just a takeover. The man who was slowly, secretly buying up stock in her family’s business was known for purchasing troubled companies and liquidating everything, sometimes even draining the pension funds if there was a weak pension manager. There were stories that he even denied final paychecks to employees after some sales when he took over a company. The man in charge operated both above and below the law, uncaring if anything he did was legal. Since he’d done this so many times, the man was a relatively wealthy and had a team of unethical lawyers who sometimes provided bogus cover or slammed the opposition with inane but expensive litigation to protect him from any repercussions.

Kallista rubbed her forehead, a headache forming as she tried to understand all this data. “Who is this man that is doing all of this and how can he operate in this nasty manner?” she asked, going cross eyed from all of the financial information. She didn’t understand most of it but didn’t want to admit that to Hector Christophe who was reportedly a financial genius. She might have joked that he thought he controlled the world to her parents one evening, but the reality was that his holdings internationally were so broad, so far flung, that the man really might control the world. Or at least a very large part of it. He was so powerful, she still didn’t understand why Hector and her family were friends. Although he’d always come by her parents’ house when he was in town, she’d never really understood the friendship Hector had with her father.

Kallista had avoided this intimidating whenever possible, but was polite when her parents insisted that she be present for the occasional dinners when Hector was in town and had time for a meal at her parents’ house. It wasn’t that her parents were poor. They were definitely what most people considered wealthy. Even the elite, some might say. But they weren’t even close to the stratosphere where Hector reigned. He was the top dog in a pack of some of the most powerful men in the world. And he’d done it all from nothing, according to the vague news reports that had come out over the years.

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