Excerpt: Breaking The Greek’s Rules

Excerpt: Breaking The Greek’s Rules

Book 13: Beware of Greeks Series

Chapter One

Alexandros Antonides studied the crumpled receipt, the one with the hastily scrawled name, address and phone number on the back, and was tempted to stuff it right back in his pocket.

Or better yet, throw it out.

He didn’t need a matchmaker, for God’s sake! 

His fingers crushed the already frequently crumpled piece of paper and stared out the window of the taxi as it headed north on 8th Avenue.  They weren’t out of midtown Manhattan yet.  It was nearly five thirty.  He should just tell the driver to forget it. 

But he didn’t. Instead he made himself lean back against the seat and, just as he had done a dozen or more times before, he smoothed out the paper against his palm. 

Daisy Connolly.  His cousin Lukas had scribbled down her name and address a month ago at the family reunion out in the Hamptons.  “She’ll find you the perfect wife.”

“How do you know?” he’d asked, letting his voice carry his obvious doubt. He’d looked around pointedly, noting Lukas’s complete lack of not only a wife, but even a date.

“Seen her do it,” Lukas said frankly.  “I went to college with her.  She did it then. She does it now. She has some uncanny sense of who belongs together.”  He shrugged.  “Who knows how she does it? Hocus pocus?  Tea leaves?  Beats me.  Give her a call or go see her.”

Alex had grunted, not a sound meant to convey agreement. 

“Unless you really don’t want to get married.” Lukas had cocked his head, considering Alex.  Then, “Maybe he’s chicken,” he had said to his brothers.

One of them had made a clucking sound.

Alex had masked his irritation and rolled his eyes. “Fine,” he’d said curtly. “If I get desperate enough, I’ll look her up.”

“I’d say you’re already desperate,” Lukas had said, grinning. “How many fiancées have you gone through?”

“Two,” Alex said through his teeth.  “But Imogene doesn’t count.”

Imogene had been perfect.  She hadn’t loved Alex any more than he’d loved her.  When her long-time boyfriend had got cold feet faced with a lifetime commitment, Alex had grabbed her on the rebound. Unfortunately two days after she’d said yes to Alex, the love of her life had come to his senses and begged her to marry him. 

“What can I do?” she’d wailed at Alex. “I still love him!”

The more fool she, Alex had thought. But he’d been polite and wished her good luck. He still did.  If she was that besotted, she’d need it.

“I don’t know,” Lukas had said slowly, studying him. “Two fiancées in a little over a year . . . ” he’d arched his brows in speculation, then looked over at his brothers. “Sounds pretty desperate to me.”

His brothers, Elias and PJ, had nodded sagely.

Alex had merely snorted.  He didn’t want a perfect wife, anyway. He just wanted a suitable one.  He was thirty–five years old. Time to get married. 

Of course lots of men would disagree. But not Antonides men. Antonides men married.  All of them.  

Not young, as a rule.  Most all of them  sowed their wild oats before settling down.  But in the end, every last one of them took the plunge.

As a young man Alex had turned his back on the notion. He’d figured to be the exception to the rule. Besides, then the thrill of the hunt and endless variety had enticed him. 

Now it often seemed more trouble than it was worth.

Sex?  Well, that wasn’t too much trouble.  But picking up women who wanted a one-night stand seemed tawdry to him now.  And while it was fine to play the field when they were young, Alex understood what every Antonides male understood — that there came a time to turn into a responsible, steady, dependable mature man.

And that meant having a wife.

Elias might have been born responsible.  But even PJ, who had been a beach bum for years, was respectably married now. In fact he had been secretly married for years.  And Lukas, the youngest of them and definitely a free spirit, would get married, too. 

Even Lukas knew it.  It was just a matter of time.

Alex’s time was now. 

He had made up his mind last year.  The hunt had begun to bore him and he found he preferred spending his time designing buildings to enticing women into his bed.  It wasn’t all that difficult, honestly.  The difficult part was when he had to convince them he didn’t intend to fall in love with them. 

It would be easier and more straight-forward, he decided, to find a woman he liked, spell out the rules, marry her and get on with his life. 

It wasn’t as if he had a lot of rules.   Basically all he wanted was an easy-to-get-along-with, undemanding woman who wanted an easy-to-get-along-with, undemanding husband.  He wasn’t looking for love and he wasn’t looking for kids.  He wasn’t looking to complicate his life.

He and his wife would share bed and board when they were in the same country and would attend each other’s duty functions when possible.  Presently he lived in an apartment he’d restored in Brooklyn above his offices, but it was a bachelor’s pad. He wouldn’t expect his wife to live there.  They could get another place close to her work.  She could choose it.  He didn’t care.  He was perfectly willing to be accommodating.

So, really, how difficult could it be to find a woman willing to agree to his terms?

Harder than he thought, Alex admitted now.

His last three dates had seemed promising – all of them were professional women in their thirties.  He’d met them at business social functions. They all had high-powered careers, fast-track lives, and nearly as many demands on their time as he had on his.

They should have been perfect.

But the lawyer had treated their dinner date as a cross-examination about his determination not to have children.  The dentist bored on about how much she hated her profession and could hardly wait to quit and start a family.  And Melissa, the stock analyst with whom he’d had dinner with last night, told him point blank that her biological clock was ticking and she wanted a baby within a year.

At least Alex had had the presence of mind to say just as firmly, “I don’t.”

But that date, like so many of the others he’d had since he’d decided that it was possible to marry without anything as messy as love complicating the relationship, had gone downhill from there.

Which brought him back to the receipt he held in his hand.

Daisy. 

He stared at the name Lukas had scrawled on the crumpled paper.  It brought with it flickers of memories, a frisson of awareness. Honey-blonde hair.  Sparkling blue eyes. Laughter.  Gentle, warm words. Soft sighs.  Hot kisses.  He shifted in the seat of the cab. Once upon a time, for one brief weekend, Alex had known a woman called Daisy. 

So maybe this was fate. 

The hot kisses, soft sighs Daisy had wanted to marry him.  Maybe the matchmaking Daisy would find him a wife. 

“Think of it as delegating,” Elias had urged him pragmatically when he’d balked at Lukas’s suggestion.  “You do it all the time at work.”

That was true.  Alex had a whole staff at his architectural firm who did the things he didn’t have time for.  They did what he told them, checked  availability, researched zoning and land use and materials, sorted and sifted through piles of information, then presented their findings and recommendations, and left him to make the final decision.

It was sensible. It was efficient. And Elias was right: a matchmaker could do the same thing.  It would be smarter, in fact, than doing it himself. 

He would be leaving less to chance if he deputized a disinterested employee to find appropriate candidates.  And he’d be spared the awkwardness of future dinners like the one he’d shared with Melissa last night.   With a matchmaker vetting the candidates, he would only have to meet the really suitable ones, then decide which one would make the best wife.

It suddenly sounded promising.  He should have dropped in on Daisy Connolly before this.  But Alex didn’t ordinarily get to the Upper West Side.  Today, though, he’d been working on a building project in  the West Village and, finishing early, he’d had a bit of time to spare before he headed back to Brooklyn. So he’d plucked the paper out of his wallet and hopped in a cab.