The Secret His Mistress Carried

By: Lynne Graham

How had he believed it would be when he turned up out of nowhere? he asked himself impatiently. Billie had asked him to leave: he still couldn’t believe that. She was angry with him: that reality had sunk in. He had married another woman and she was holding that against him but how could she? Gio raked long brown fingers of frustration through the curly black hair he kept close cropped to his skull. She could not possibly have believed that he might marry her...could she?

He was the acknowledged head of his family owing to his grandfather’s long-term ill health, and it had always been Gio’s role and responsibility to rebuild the aristocratic, conservative and hugely wealthy Letsos clan. He had vowed as a boy that he would never repeat the mistakes his own father had made. His great-grandfather had had a mistress, his grandfather had had a mistress but Gio’s father had been less conventional. Dmitri Letsos had divorced Gio’s mother to marry his mistress in a seriously destructive act of disloyalty to his own blood. Family unity had never recovered from that blow and the older man had forfeited all respect. Gio’s mother had died and he and his sisters’ childhoods had been wrecked while Dmitri had almost bankrupted the family business in an effort to satisfy his spendthrift second wife’s caviar tastes.

Well, if there was another man in Billie’s bed, he would soon find out, Gio rationalised with clenched teeth and a jaw line set rock hard with tension. In twenty-four hours he would have the background report from Henley Investigations. Regrettably he was not a patient man and he had assumed she would throw herself back into his arms the instant he told her that he was divorced. Why hadn’t she?

Her response when he’d kissed her had In fact Gio got hard just thinking about it, his libido as much as his brain telling him exactly what and who he needed back in his life. He wondered if he should send her flowers. She was crazy about flowers, had always been buying them, arranging them, sniffing them, growing them. It had been selfish of him not to buy her a house with a garden, he conceded darkly, wondering what other oversights he must’ve made when the woman who had once worshipped the ground he walked on now felt able to show him the door. No woman had ever done that to Gio Letsos. He knew he could have virtually any woman he wanted but that wasn’t a consolation when he only wanted Billie back where she belonged: in his bed.

* * *

After a disturbed night of sleep, Billie rose around dawn, fed all the kids and tidied up. It was only at weekends that she and Dee saw much of each other. On weekdays, she took the kids to school to allow Dee, who worked evenings as a bartender in a local pub, a little longer in bed. Theo went to work with Billie in the mornings and Dee collected him at lunchtime and minded the three kids for the afternoon. After the shop closed, they all ate an early evening meal together before Dee went off to do her shift. It was an arrangement that worked very well for both women and Billie was fond of Dee and her company because her two years in a city apartment where Gio was only an occasional visitor had been full of lonely days and nights.

Of course, in those days she had learned to make good use of her free time, she acknowledged wryly. In those two years with Gio she had acquired GCSEs and two A-levels, not to mention certificates in various courses ranging from cordon-bleu cookery and flower arranging to business start-up qualifications. Gio might not have noticed any of that or have shown the smallest interest in what she did when he wasn’t around, but making up for the education she had missed out on while she was acting as her grandmother’s carer throughout the teenage years had done much to raise Billie’s low self-esteem. After all, when she had first met Gio she had been working as a cleaner because she had lacked the qualifications that would have helped her to aspire to a better-paid job.

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