Claiming The Drakos Heir
Series: Greek Island Brides, book 2
Available at (Print/Digital):
Publisher: Harlequin Romance / Mills & Boon True Love
First Published: June 1, 2019
Formats: Mass Market Paperback, Hardcover, e-Book, Large Print
Pages: 256 (large print)
The rebel bachelor is back…
To claim her baby!
In this Greek Island Brides story, pregnant surrogate Popi Costas is faced with raising her late sister’s child alone, until the baby’s wealthy uncle arrives to take charge! Apollo Drakos is distractingly handsome, but Popi won’t let that stop her fighting to keep the baby. Yet as she gets to know the man behind the wildcard reputation, Popi’s reconsidering welcoming Apollo into her new little family…
TODAY WAS THE WEDDING.
And nothing was going to go wrong.
Popi Costas assured herself that all would be well on this gorgeous autumn day. After all, she’d gone over every detail at least a dozen times. This was the most important wedding that she’d ever planned—even topping the royal wedding they’d hosted earlier that year.
This was the last wedding on Infinity Island before the groom, Xander, brought in work crews to give the private Greek island a much-needed facelift. In fact, they’d been having all the residents pack up their things so they could be put into storage while the renovations took place.
In the meantime, Popi planned to visit with her parents until the work on the island was complete. And after all the misery they’d faced that summer, they all needed some happiness. She could barely believe two months had passed since her adopted sister and brother-in-law had been alive in one breath...
And gone in the next.
How had it all gone so wrong? Popi had asked herself that question countless times. And she’d never come up with a sufficient answer. All she knew was what she’d been told—her sister and brother-in-law had died in a boating accident.
Something had triggered an explosion and no one had escaped the blazing inferno in the middle of the sea. It felt as though a piece of Popi had died along with them. If only she’d have said something... Done something...
She halted her thoughts. Today was about her best friend, Lea, getting married to the love of her life. If two people ever belonged together, it was the two of them—
Popi lowered the curling iron she’d been using to put elegant barrel rolls in her long hair. With only half her hair curled, she really didn’t need any interruptions right now. If it was Lea, she would let herself inside. So it had to be someone else. Maybe if she ignored her unwanted guest, they would go away. Yes, that sounded like a good plan.
Popi sectioned off more hair and rolled it onto the iron. She needed to get to the reception as soon as possible to make sure everything was in place. Even though she’d just been there less than two hours ago and gone over the plans with the staff for the umpteenth time, she still worried something would go astray.
She didn’t know why she was so nervous. She planned weddings for a living—big ones, small ones, traditional, original and everything in between. But this wedding was for her dearest friend. And Popi needed it to go off without a hitch.
Just then the baby kicked. Being almost nine months pregnant with her niece or nephew added a whole new level of turbulent emotions to the situation. When she’d agreed to be the surrogate for her sister, she never imagined life could be so cruel and at the same time provide such a precious blessing—a little piece of her sister lived on.
Popi placed a protective hand over her abdomen. “Don’t worry, little one. I will make sure you are safe and loved.”
Popi unrolled the iron. She never considered becoming a parent while she was still in her twenties, but there was no way she would turn her back on her sister’s baby. Though she tried to put on a brave face, on the inside she was worried about being a good parent. She’d been reading parenting books but would it be enough?
Her life was about to change in so many ways, as the baby was due in a couple of weeks. Not long at all—
So much for ignoring them.
“Anyone home?” A male voice called out through the open window.
Who could that be?
Popi wasn’t expecting anyone. Everyone she knew was getting ready for the wedding. And then the thought of something going wrong with the wedding had her rushing out of the bathroom in her fluffy, short pink robe that barely fit over her baby bump and with a large portion of her hair pulled up in a big orange clip.
Popi swung the door open. Her gaze took in the man’s scruffy but sexy appearance. From his longish hair to the thick scruff trailing along his dark, tanned jawline—his slack jaw, as though he’d opened his mouth to say something but totally forgot what it was he’d been meaning to say.
His casual white shirt and cargo shorts let her know he wasn’t one of the wedding guests. Nor did he work on the island, as she knew everyone. That meant he must have been hired to help with the island renovations. But what was he doing here today?
When her gaze returned to his face, she noticed his rounded eyes were blue—not just blue, but a light blue that caught and held her attention. But his gaze wasn’t meeting hers. In fact, his gaze was aimed southward.
His Adam’s apple bobbed. “You’re pregnant.”
She stifled a laugh at his obvious discomfort. Had this man never seen a pregnant woman before? Or was she so large now that it bordered on the obscene?
Popi pressed a hand to the small of her back, trying to ease the ache. “You win the gold star for the day. I am indeed pregnant. Very pregnant.” And then realizing that by putting her hand behind her back that her fuzzy robe was straining to cover all her amplified curves, she immediately lowered her arm to her side.
Was it just her or did the man look distinctly pale? Not like he hadn’t seen any sun recently, because he most definitely had a better tan than her, but rather his face had drained of its color.
Struggling not to squirm under his bold stare, she asked, “What can I do for you?”
He cleared his throat and raised his gaze until those dreamy blue eyes finally stared into her own. “Are you Popi?”
“I don’t know if you were expecting me—”
“I wasn’t.” The movers weren’t scheduled to arrive until tomorrow to transfer her belongings to storage. “Today is a really bad day for me.” It was the worst day for a surprise. Her focus was supposed to be on Lea, not anything else. But apparently this very strong, very handsome stranger hadn’t gotten the message.
He had broad shoulders and his shirt clung to his muscled chest, while the short sleeves wrapped snuggly around his bulging biceps. One arm had a tattoo of a map of the world overlaid with a compass. From the looks of this man, he didn’t believe in spending much time indoors. And the sun gods had blessed him with strength and the most amazing tan that accentuated the lines of his muscles.
Popi swallowed hard. Maybe she’d been too focused on her problems lately to notice what was around her. Or else it was the pregnancy hormones. But this guy looked good enough to serve up on the top of a wedding cake.
Realizing she was once again staring, Popi lifted her gaze, finding she had to crane her neck to meet his gaze. “You’re early.”
“Yes. You aren’t supposed to be here until tomorrow. I have a wedding today.” But it wouldn’t hurt to get a move on the work, since she hadn’t finished packing, and she wanted to get to the mainland and her parents’ house by tomorrow evening.
Confusion reflected in his eyes. “I didn’t know about any wedding. No one mentioned it.” Then his brows lifted. “Are you getting married?”
She couldn’t help but laugh. Her irritation with him drained away. “Not a chance. It’s my best friend’s wedding and I’m coordinating it.”
“Oh.” He looked caught off guard and unsure what to say or do next.
“No worries.” She stepped back. “Come on in. You can move all the boxes out of the guest room and stack them here in the living room. They’ll be ready for pickup in the morning.”
“You want them moved now?”
The man’s face creased with worry lines, but she didn’t have time to answer whatever questions he had. How many questions could there be to move boxes from one room to the next?
She checked the time on her watch. “I have to hurry.”
“I can’t answer questions now. If it’s too much for you, you’ll have to come back tomorrow.” She turned for the master suite. No moving man, no matter how hot she found him, was going to hold her up. She had a bride waiting for her.
WHAT JUST HAPPENED?
Apollo Drakos stood slack-jawed as the woman sashayed down the hallway, but to be honest her sashay was more like a waddle. A cute waddle, but still a waddle all the same.
How could she still be pregnant?
His attorney had assured him the baby was born, though no one had been able to tell him if it was a boy or girl. Not that it mattered to him. Either way, he was still claiming his niece or nephew.
The attorney had gone on to inform him that Miss Costas would have a strong case to gain full custody of the baby, as well as control over the child’s inheritance. The attorney even seemed to think that with Miss Costas being adopted and not the child’s biological aunt, it wouldn’t be enough to sway the judge from giving her custody. But did Popi really want to take on that responsibility? Or was she doing it out of necessity?
Apollo knew he had no one to blame for this mess but himself. While Popi had been here, helping to make his brother and sister-in-law’s dream of a family into a reality, he’d been off on another adventure—avoiding the fact that he was the unwanted son, the outcast. But he’d come here as soon as he’d heard. That had to count for something, didn’t it?
But how was this going to work now that he knew Popi was still pregnant? Although it did look as though she was going to give birth soon. Not that he was an expert on pregnant women. Yet all of her was thin except for her stomach. It was very round indeed. Funnily enough, from behind you couldn’t even tell she was pregnant. However, the cute little waddle did give it away.
It wasn’t until now—seeing Popi round with a baby—that he realized how much she’d done for his brother and sister-in-law. Not everyone would step up and offer to carry someone else’s baby—certainly not him, if that were even a possibility.
Gathering himself, Apollo pressed his lips together in a firm line. Who exactly did this woman think he was? And where was she moving to with his brother’s baby?
The baby belonged at the Drakos estate, which was situated just outside Athens. It was a place Apollo rarely visited. Though the vast estate was aesthetically beautiful, it held many dark memories. When Apollo was a kid, it felt more like a prison he so desperately wanted to escape. While his older brother, Nile, had been cast as the “good son,” Apollo had been labelled “worthless” by their father.
Apollo slammed the door on the bad memories. But no matter how many times he turned his back on the past, the door would eventually creak open once more. He’d heard it said that you can’t outrun the past. He should know—he’d been trying for years and it was still just a blink away.
He needed to concentrate on the here and now. Everything was such an utter mess. If only he’d have come home when his brother had asked...