Harlequin Presents #2438
Originally published: 12/01/04
Current publication: 12/17/12
Greek billionaire Dimitri Petronides has one rule: duty over passionespecially for the women in his bed. This includes his latest mistress, the beautiful Xandra Fortune. But when Dimitri ends their affair, announcing his engagement to a more suitable woman, Xandra’s parting shot turns his world upside down.
But Xandra disappears without a trace, and it’s taken four months for Dimitri to track her down. Now that he’s found her, he’s not going to let heror the baby she’s carryingout of his sight!
Alexandra left the painful life of Xandra Fortune far behind, but the moment Dimitri appears, it comes crashing back. Knowing he’ll use their searing attraction against her, she must resist, because this time more is at stake than just her heart.
Originally published December 2004 in Harlequin Presents #2438 in mass market paperback.
Also available in Manga.
“I re-read The Billionaire’s Pregnant Mistress tonight. And even though I knew the story, it was as if I was reading something completely new. It was a roller-coaster ride through an amazing love story, and I couldn’t put it down. I loved the characters and the ‘heck’ you put them through <g>, to reach their completely believable happy ever after. I am in awe of your talent and skill.” ~ Kati Dougherty Carthum, Science Fiction & Fantasy Author
“Just finished Lucy’s book – about Demitri and Xandra. Absolutely Loved it! And Lucy, would you write a little faster please so I can get my “Lucy Fix” at least once a month. (g)” ~ Judy S
“Wow, Wow, Wow. It moved my heart……I loved it! I couldn’t put it down and read until late last night. Thanks for the wonderful story.” ~ Marilyn
“Lucy, I bought your book today. I had to stop on page 85 so I could pick up my kids from school. You know, I am reaching a point where I am coming to dread reading one of your books. I can usually read one and think “good book” and put it down and pick up another book and get into it. I read so darn many in one week that I usually have to write down the ones I’ve read. Not yours. Nuh uh. I have already cried once and gotten really mad while reading this book. Not fair. I thought about the story as I was walking to the school and while walking back. Its excellent. I should be getting some housework done, but I’m gonna finish the book instead. This is a really terrific book. … I just got done page 114. I’m crying again. Darn you. … It was beautiful. That’s all I can say.” ~ Pat
“Lucy, “The Billionaire’s Pregnant Mistress” is the best book from Harlequin Presents that I have read in the past year. It’s emotional and realistic, although I thought that the hero should have to work harder to track down the heroine for his despicable treatment of her but it was a very emotionally satisfying tale. Thank you! I look forward to more stories from you.” ~ Katherine
“Oh, Lucy, another keeper! One of my favorite things about your writing is how you always manage to make a traditional love story sound so original. Instead of relying on the same old methods, you face those obstacles head on and create more valid ones. Your females could not be considered TSTL (too stupid to live) because they speak their own minds and live their lives as strong, independent women – I love that! No weeping, fainting Barbie dolls in your books 🙂 And the heroes may be alpha, but they are not cruel or heartless but rather strong and passionate and very irresistible.” ~ Stacy
“I just adored the book. Dimitri was so alpha but still had that tender side. Alexandra was the perfect match for him, very strong willed and didn’t let Dimitri walk all over her… They both had their reasons for their actions and it made them who they were. It was very steamy too. Awesome job.” ~ Judy F
“Lucy, I got my December Presents in the mail today. Present subscriptions always run early! I just finished The Billionaire’s Pregnant Mistress and it was great!! Definitely for my keeper shelf. I don’t keep all my Presents (I usually trade them at the trade store) but this one was great!! Just thought I’d let you know how much I enjoyed it! :)” ~ Melissa
“I just want to let you know that when I purchased The Billionaire’s Pregnant Mistress that I was so touched by it and that it is one book I will keep forever, I have read it many times over and over, never being able to put it down till I have fished reading it. I have 3 favourite authors and you are one of them being able to touch the reader. Looking forward to read any more books soon.” ~ your fan Carol in Australia
“Only yesterday have I come across your book “The Billionnaire’s Pregnant Mistress”!!!!!!!!!!!! It was sooooooooooooooo good, I finished it the same day!!!!!!!!! I just called a buddy to tell her to look out for you books from now on, as you have just been added to my list of favourites, like Anne Mather and Penny Jordan, Michalle Reid, Jacqueline Baird and Lynne Graham, I was amazed that a “new” M&B writer has managed to capture the very essence of the M&B senarios and was totally stumped by the calibre of your writing!!! I like your Alpha male and independant women story!!!” ~ Michelle in South Africa
“Hi Lucy! I just had to write and tell you how much I LOVED ‘The Billionaire’s Pregnant Mistress’ – it was fabulous. It was so great that I bought it at 5.30pm yesterday and had it read by 9pm at night! I really loved it. Alexandra was a great match for Dimitri and he sounds gorgeous – I think I fell in love with him (but sssshhh! Don’t tell my boyfriend!!! <G>). I loved the way you used his point of you throughout the book – it really made it easier for me to understand his feelings and why he was acting as he was. <snip – spoiler> It was a fantastic book Lucy and I’ll definitely be re-reading it in the future. I think it will be much like those classics by Michelle Reid and Lynne Graham that you just have to keep going back to time and again to relive the emotions of reading it the 1st time. Thanks for anther great book, Lucy – I’ll definitely be looking for your next one….and the one after that!” ~ Katie in the UK
“Lucy – After reading your first book and loving it, I didn’t want to wait until The Billionaire’s Pregnant Mistress was released in the US to buy it, so I ordered it from a bookstore in England . The postage cost more than the book, but it was worth it. When the book arrived the other day, I had just started reading a new book; but I put that book aside and read yours instead. And it was worth it for Xandra/Alexandra’s and Dimitri’s story was so beautiful. Loved it! It’s a keeper. I loved your first two books and looking forward to reading more.” ~ Rhye in the USA
The cold porcelain of the bathroom sink pressed against Alexandra Dupree’s forehead as she leaned against it, her stomach still heaving from its third early morning upset in as many days. She dragged air into lungs starved by the unpleasant moments spent bent over the sink.
After a minute of doing nothing but breathe, she tentatively brought her body erect. A small twinge of nausea hit her, but she was able to control it. Okay, as unpleasant as this new early morning ritual had become, she had something even less pleasant to perform. She stared at the small white stick with all the wariness she would feel for a snake found curled around the base of the commode.
Dimitri had been fanatical about using birth control. So she’d convinced herself one late period didn’t mean anything, until she woke up heaving three days ago. At first she’d thought she had the flu, sure there could be no possibility she was pregnant even though the condom had broken a month ago. Her menses had come right on time a week later.
She still didn’t understand how this could be possible, but she had too many symptoms to deny. Her breasts were tender. She was tired all the time. She’d cried when Dimitri told her he had to spend more time in Greece and wouldn’t be returning to their Paris apartment for several days. She never cried.
She forced herself to do what was necessary for the pregnancy test. Ten minutes later the world went white around the edges as she stared at the blue line confirming she carried the child of Dimitrius Petronides.
Dimitri clenched his fists, refusing to give vent to his frustration.
“You know it is time. You are thirty, heh? You need a wife, some babies, a home.” The older man’s gray head tilted arrogantly, while he fixed Dimitri with a look that said he would argue this to the ground.
Dimitri had no desire to argue anything with his grandfather. He had barely survived a heart attack five days ago. Dimitri smiled. “I’m hardly in my dotage, Grandfather.”
The man who had raised Dimitri and his brother since their parents’ deaths snorted. “Don’t try to get around me with your charm. It won’t work. You’re my heir and I need to go to my grave knowing you will do your duty by the Petronides name.”
Dimitri’s heart contracted. “You are not going to die.”
His grandfather shrugged. “Who of us is to say when we will die? But I’m old, Dimitrius. My heart is not as strong as it once was. Is it so much to ask you marry Phoebe now? Why put it off? She’s a sweet girl. She’ll make you a proper Greek wife. She’ll give you Petronides babies.”
Eyes sliding shut, the older man breathed shallowly as if his short speech had taken more out of his weakened physical state than he had to give. Dimitri wanted to do something, but he was powerless. His grandfather’s doctors wanted the old man to have heart surgery, but he had refused to discuss it.
Why won’t you have the by-pass operation your doctor is recommending?”
“Why won’t you marry?” the old man countered. “Perhaps if I had great-grandchildren to look forward to, the pain of such an operation would be worth going through.”
Dimitri felt the blood drain from his face. “Are you saying you won’t have the operation if I don’t marry Phoebe Leonides?”
Dark blue eyes, so much like his own, opened to stare at Dimitri with all the stubbornness a Petronides male had to bear. “Yes.”
Alexandra nervously smoothed the kerchief style silk halter-top over the non-existent bump where her baby rested under her heart.
The unaccustomed warmth of late spring had allowed her to wear the sexy outfit to boost her flagging morale. She turned to the side and surveyed herself in the full-length mirror in her bedroom. Her willowy body encased in the champagne silk hip-hugging pants and sexy halter looked no different than it had when Dimitri had left for Greece.
The week old knowledge that she was pregnant with his child might show in her wary hazel eyes, tinted sultry green by colored contacts, but it had not yet affected the shape of her body. She adjusted the gold chain belt resting low on her hips and the multiple thin bangles she wore on her wrist tinkled like small bells as they clinked together. Then in a nervous gesture, she pulled another curling strand of her hair down to frame the soft angles of her face.
Permed and professionally bleached so many shades, it looked like rippling sunlight when she let it down, her hair was a Xandra trademark. Only right now, she didn’t feel like Xandra Fortune, popular model and lover to Greek Tycoon, Dimitrius Petronides. She felt like Alexandra Dupree, daughter of an old New Orleans family, convent educated and shocked to be unmarried and pregnant with her lover’s child.
“You look beautiful, pethi mou.”
Alexandra spun away from the mirror. Dimitri stood in the door, masculine appreciation burning in his startling blue eyes. For a moment she forgot her condition. Forgot the many truths she needed to tell him. Forgot her fears. Forgot everything but how much she had missed this man over the past three weeks.
She flew across the room and threw herself against his chest. “Mon cher, I have counted the minutes since you left!”
Strong arms locked around her in an almost convulsive movement while his body remained strangely stiff. “It has only been a month and you have been busy with work. You cannot have missed me that much.”
His words reminded her how he had resented her refusal to quit modeling when they had become lovers, but she had not wanted to be any man’s kept mistress. Nor had she had the option of quitting her job. She needed the money she made to support the family he knew nothing about.
“You are wrong. Nothing can keep me so occupied I do not notice your absence. A day. A week. A month. I grieve them all.” She grimaced inwardly at her blatant vulnerability. Where had her sophisticated cool gone, the career model façade that had initially drawn Dimitri to her?
The first crack had appeared when he’d told her he was going to be in Greece longer than anticipated and she’d cried. After two-and-a-half weeks of morning sickness, a positive pregnancy test and her mother’s horrified reaction to the news, the Xandra Fortune persona was in definite risk of extinction.
Dimitri tried to hold onto his self-control, not an easy thing around Xandra. And this was Xandra as he’d never seen her. Clingy. Almost vulnerable, but he knew that could not be true. They had become lovers a year ago and although she shared her body with a generosity that moved him, she kept her heart and parts of her life hidden from him.
Their relationship was modern and free of long term commitment, something she’d made it clear by her actions she did not expect from him.
She pressed her body to his in blatant invitation and he laughed. “You mean you have grieved my absence from your bed, do you not?”
That was the only place he was convinced she need him. She wouldn’t let him support her, making it obvious she would rather spend time away from him than give up any part of her career. None of this, however, made it easier to say what needed to be said. In fact, he was sure it would be harder for him to say the words than for her to hear them. His sophisticated lover would not appreciate an drawn out, or emotional good-bye any more than he would.
She shook her head, stretching up to link her hands behind his neck and brushed the hair at his nape. “I missed you, Dimitri. There was no joy in cooking for myself alone, no pleasure in watching the French Open without you to mutter when your favorite double-faulted on game point.”
He frowned, remembering the play. She smiled at him with a look that spelled his doom if he didn’t get his news out quickly. It had already wrought an instant response in his body. “I have news I must tell you.”
Her arms went stiff in reaction to the seriousness of his tone. “Can it not wait, mon cher?”
He reached behind his neck to remove her hands, but she locked her fingers with surprising force.
He clasped her wrists. “We must talk now.”
Alexandra did not want to talk. She was not ready to share her news. He’d seduced her from the beginning. She’d given him her heart, her body and her fidelity, as committed to him as any wife could be. Only she wasn’t his wife and she didn’t know how he’d respond to his lover getting pregnant.
Fear more than desire prompted her hips to grind against him. “No.” She kissed his chin, tasting the skin and letting her body absorb the return of its other half. “No talk.” She brushed her unfettered breasts behind her thin top back and forth across the crisp white silk of his shirt. “First, this.”
“Xandra, no.” He pulled her hands away from his neck, but made the mistake of letting them go.
She tunneled under his jacket and pushed it off his shoulders. “Dimitri, yes.”
He glared at her, but he did not stop her from pushing his suit coat to a pile of expensive Italian designer fabric on the floor. She smiled in approval. “I want you, Dimitri. We can talk later.”
She needed the affirmation that they were two halves of the same whole before she could tell him the truth about the baby she carried and equally as terrifying, the truth about who and what she was.
He grabbed her round the waist and lifted her until her mouth was even with his own. “Heaven help me, I want you too.”
There was something about the angry tone in his voice she did not understand, but she could not focus on it for long, not with his warm lips closing over her own in overwhelming passion.
She tore at his tie while he made quick work of the two hooks holding her top together. He helped her with the buttons on his shirt. The two garments fell to the thick pile carpet together and his lips never separated from hers. He pulled her flush against his body and the naked flesh of her already aroused nipples brushed the heat of his muscular chest.
She shivered in reaction while he groaned.
“We should not be doing this.”
The words registered only subliminally, planting a question as to why they should be said, but she could not consciously respond to them. She was too overwhelmed by the feel of his flesh against her own for the first time in over a month. He seemed similarly affected as his arms tightened around her until she could barely take a breath.
Seconds later they lay entwined on the bed, the rest of their clothes discarded, hungry hands touching intimate places, mouths devouring one another. They climbed to the heights together with a speed they never had before. When they tumbled into starbursts and oblivion, masculine shouts mingled with her own cries of pleasure.
Alexandra laid her hand over Dimitri’s heart. It still beat with the accelerated pulse of recently spent passion.
“Such a strong heartbeat,” she murmured, “such a strong man.” Would the news she had to share direct that strength toward her or against her?
His body tensed as if he had some premonition of what was to come. He rolled away and ejected himself from the bed. “I need a shower.”
She stared at the six-foot-four-inch sexy giant towering above the bed. Tension was emanating off him in waves.
“I’ll join you.”
He shook his head. “Stay there. I will be quick.”
Her heart squeezed at the small rejection, but she smiled and nodded. “All right.” Craven coward that she was, she gladly accepted another excuse to put off telling him her news.
He came out of the bathroom fifteen minutes later dressed in his usual sartorial elegance, but his dark hair was still damp. His choice of another business suit over something less formal made her pause.
“Do you have a meeting?”
The chiseled features of his gorgeous face were set in an unemotional mask. “Xandra, there is something I must tell you.”
She scooted into a sitting position, pulling the sheet with her to shield her body from the blue gaze that had mesmerized her from the moment they met. “What?”
“I’m getting married.”
Everything inside her went still. Had he said what she thought he had said? No. It wasn’t possible. “M-married?”
His hands fisted at his sides, his body stiff with tension she could no longer ignore. “Yes.”
She could not take it in. It had to be some kind of joke.
“If this is your idea of a marriage proposal, you’ve got a lot to learn.”
Sensual lips twisted in a grimace. “Do not be ridiculous.”
“Ridiculous?” She wished her brain would start working again, but she couldn’t think in the face of his words.
“You are a career woman as you’ve shown time and again over the past year.” He slashed the air with one cutting hand. “A woman with your ambitions would not make a proper wife for the heir to the Petronides empire.”
She shivered with a chill that went clear to the marrow of her bones. “What exactly are you saying?”
“I am getting married and naturally our liaison must come to an end.” The sick paleness of his features did nothing to alleviate her personal pain.
“You told me our relationship was exclusive. You told me I could trust you. You would not make love to another woman while I shared your bed.” She jumped out of that bed, feeling dirty and used, the passion they had shared soiled with his revelation.
Running his long fingers through the black silk of his hair, he sighed. “I have not had sex with another woman.”
“Then who are you marrying?” she practically shrieked.
“No one you know.”
“Obviously.” Alexandra glared at him, wanting to kill him, wanting to scream, very afraid she would cry.
He sighed again. “Her name is Phoebe Leonides.”
Greek. The other woman was Greek and probably meek, proper and educated but without a career. “When did you meet her?” Though the pain was tearing her apart, she had to know.
“I’ve known Phoebe most of my life. She is the daughter of a family friend.”
“You’ve known her most of your life and you just decided you loved her?”
A cynical laugh erupted from him. “Love has nothing to do with it.”
The Billionaire’s Pregnant Mistress
Harlequin Presents – December 04
© 2004 Lucy Monroe