Chapter 13 - Divorce
November 15, 2013
Le Bernardin Restaurant
New York City
Nikos was seething.
Nobody managed to rile his temper like this in a really long time. Usually people cowered before him. He was Nikos Demakis; a billionaire and the owner of the largest shipping company in the world. He was not used to being told he couldn’t have what he wanted.
He took one glance at the divorce papers in front of him and deemed it as a huge pile of rubbish. Then, he reached for his wine and poured himself another glass.
“There will be no divorce,” he said with finality.
“What did you say?”
“I said there will be no divorce,” he repeated.
Right on time, the waiters who tried to appear oblivious to what was happening, came and brought their food. Nikos opened his napkin and placed it in his lap. Then, he picked up his knife and fork as if nothing extraordinary was happening.
But Cassia was livid.
“Nikos. I said I want a divorce! You just cannot say no!” she shouted.
“I can and I will. When you wanted the marriage, I said no but I couldn’t. Now I am saying no because as I told you, there’s been no divorce in my family since the beginning. We believe that marriage is forever. So as with what I did ten years ago, you will just have to deal with it.”
“Why you—you...” Cassia stuttered.
She could not believe the nerve of Nikos Demakis!
How dare he say those things to her after she just told him the entire truth! Ten years forward after their marriage and he still didn’t believe a word she said!
What irritated her more was the fact that he just sat there eating his dinner as though this was the most normal thing in the world.
“Nikos. I don’t think you understand the situation.”
“I do. And my word is final. No divorce,” he replied with a slash of his hand in the air.
“I will not stop just because you said so. I will file this in the courts and do everything I can. I will not stop until I am free of you!”
“Go ahead and publicize our private affairs, agape mou. The media will not let you go and you will not be able to work in the anonymity of the shop you built in another name,” Nikos explained.
“I don’t care.”
“Ah. So this is more important than the business you worked hard on? Tell me, Cassia. Why the sudden change of heart? Have you met someone?” Nikos inquired.
He placed his knife and fork down and looked at her as he waited for her answer. His appetite was gone anyway. He raised an eyebrow as he waited for her reply. He dreaded the answer but at the same time, he truly wanted to know if the reason she wanted this divorce was to go marry someone else.
His chest tightened.
“None of your business! And I want this because I want change in my life. I want to start living a life of my own and this is one of the ties to the past that I still have. I want to get rid of it. Through this divorce, you will have the company secured in your name. You will even have my grandfather’s company. Is that not what you wanted when you married me? You will have all that when we’re divorced! Plus the fact that you’ll now be free to marry someone else! So please just sign the damned papers!” Cassia shouted.
“I will not. And I already told you why. Go ahead and file those papers. Turn our lives into a media frenzy. But know that I will be contesting the divorce every inch of the way. It will take you years before you get rid of me.”
“Years will be better than being shackled to you for life. I cannot believe that you have the audacity to tell me that you are now willing to give this marriage a chance. As if I didn’t have a choice about it at all! What do you think I have been doing for the past ten years, Nikos? Pining for you? Waiting for you to turn around from your mistresses and your wealthy lifestyle and take notice of me?” Cassia snorted.
Nikos opened his mouth to reply but Cassia beat him to it.
“No, Nikos. I tried to better myself. Contrary to what you believed, I was not born an heiress. My grandfather disowned my father for marrying my mother who was a waitress. I grew up in a small family. But then they died and I was fostered from different homes. I lived on scraps to get by. When I was eighteen, my grandfather finally acknowledged me and I knew of the wealth we had. I thought my life was going to change forever but it just turned for the worse. And during the past ten years, I spent it all trying to reach my dream. Now, I am where I wanted myself to be. I think it’s high time that I enjoy my life too.”
It felt as if an ice dagger was plunged directly through his heart.
“Stop lying, Cassia. Your grandfather told me that he could not bring you up himself because he was too saddened by the passing of his son. That’s why he sent you to America where you studied in the finest boarding schools. Stop your sob story for it will not make me sign those papers.”
For what seemed to be the hundredth time this night, Cassia laughed.
“You’d believe my grandfather but not me? You know nothing about me, Nikos Demakis. Talking to you is like talking to a brick wall. Believe what you want about me. No matter how hard I try to explain, you just don’t believe me. Then to hell with you. I will still file the divorce and there’s nothing you can do to stop me.”
Cassia stood up, picked up her purse and the papers. She completely ignored the large bouquet of flowers he gave her and also the expensive jewelry. Without another glance towards Nikos, she turned around and walked out of the restaurant.
And when she was safely ensconced inside the limousine, that was when she let all her pent-up tears fall.
With shaking fingers, she took her phone out of her purse and dialed Hector’s number. She just needed him right now. She needed to hear his voice and hear his reassurance that all would be well and they would work through this.
But he wasn’t picking up and she was going straight to his voicemail.
“Hector, it’s me... It’s been a rough night. Call me please.”
November 17, 2013 (Two Days Later)
The King’s Suite, Royalty (Nikos’ Hotel)
Nikos pored over several papers on his desk and it effectively blocked out the rest of the world again. He did not know how much time he worked but he did it so that he would forget the events that happened during the last two days.
He heard a knock on the door and he lifted his head. His assistant entered.
“Sir, Alex Smith says he is here to see you.”
The corners of Nikos’ mouth turned up in a smile.
Alex was his long-time friend and was the best mercenary, detective, body guard, and spy anyone could ever need. He was ex-CIA and became a rogue agent. They’d been friends since they were young but Nikos wasn’t even sure that Smith really was his last name.
“Show him in,” Nikos instructed.
He stood up from his desk and stretched his cramped limbs. He placed his hands in his pockets and waited for his friend to enter the room. This visit truly was a pleasant surprise and he just couldn’t wait to catch up but at the same time, he was also a bit apprehensive about what Alex’s visit meant.
The man was very tall and he had hair the color of sand. Today, Alex wore a suit but it could not disguise the power in his bulky frame. Beneath that suit were muscles born from perfecting several martial arts and countless hours spent in the gym in order to continue being fit. And he needed to be fit. Especially in his line of work.
“Alex,” Nikos greeted.
“Nikos!” the other man clasped the hand he offered and they embraced like old brothers.
“You didn’t have to come to my suite. I could have treated you to lunch on one of the restaurants downstairs,” Nikos laughed.
“Just have them bring it up here. I think we are overdue on a long chat. We can talk about your work almost anywhere. But you know my work. Your guests will have a heart attack if they overhear what I’ve been up to,” Alex replied.
“True,” Nikos laughed again and then he pulled out his phone and barked several orders for James.
“So while we’re waiting for our food, how have you been?”
“Great. You know how much I love my work. And as of today, there are plenty of people wanting to hire my services. But I am working on a case. That is why I am here in America.”
“That’s what I thought. You weren’t the sort of type that took vacations.”
“Yes. And I agreed to this meeting with you because I believe you know the person I am currently investigating. He is involved with smuggling drugs along with other contraband items into the country. I believe he owes the drug syndicate a huge amount of money and the way they’re asking him to pay is by including their items in his shipment for his business. He also owns some high-end hotels and some dealings take place there.”
“Everybody would suspect the cheap hotels for this kind of things. But never the high-end ones. Sounds like this person is in deep trouble.”
“He is,” Alex agreed.
“And who is this person?”
Alex reached behind him and withdrew an envelope. He then, pulled out some photos and spread it over the desk.
“His name’s Hector Petrides. I believe he’s your biggest competition in the hotel and restaurant world.”
Nikos cursed under his breath. He looked at the photos that were spread on his desk. He couldn’t help but feel smug as he realized his best competition in business and with his wife was basically screwed.
“No wonder he’s made it to the top quickly! It was because he had some illegal help. And no wonder he’s got so much money!”
Alex laughed. “And you play fair and square, my friend?”
“Most of the time,” Nikos replied with a laugh.
“So what do you know about him?”
“Just the usual. He’s one of those rags to riches type.”
“I have intel that he’s now in hiding from the drug syndicate. I think there was a problem with one of the shipments. It was delayed and he lost them a lot of money. Right now, anyone who knows him or who is close to him is in deep trouble.” Alex explained.
Then he peered up at Nikos as though awaiting some kind of reaction from him.
Nikos noticed his intense stare and immediately his heart started to race. He had a feeling that his friend’s next words won’t do him any good at all.
“You have no idea, do you?” Alex scrutinized Nikos’ expression. His friend truly appeared to be clueless.
“About?” Nikos asked.
“About why I really am here...I discovered something. I thought you should know.”
“Go straight to the point, Alex,” Nikos barked.
Alex reached towards one of the photos and withdrew one that looked as though it was taken at some kind of lounge. The man in the photo clearly was Hector Petrides and he was dining with a woman who had her back turned.
Alex gave him the next photo and this one was of Hector’s dinner companion. His heart stopped completely when he realized that it was none other than his wife.
“Show me everything,” Nikos commanded in a hoarse voice.
“Are you sure? You know that I am a thorough man,” his friend replied hesitantly.
“Yes. I know you came here because of this. Now, show me.”
Alex reached behind him and pulled out another folder. This one contained all the research he had done on both Hector and Cassia. He gave it to Nikos and noticed that his friend’s hand shook with anger as he flipped through the photos.
Alex was there during their wedding years ago.
He admitted that he was a different man then. He had laughed along with the others at the thought of Nikos getting married and had laughed equally harder at the catastrophic events. It was public knowledge that Nikos and his wife did not live together and that Nikos carried on having his affairs.
But something must have changed for him to react this way...
Nikos’ jaw almost dropped the moment he saw Cassia’s smiling face in one of the pictures. Then, his heart started to race and fury flooded his veins. His emotions were evident in how his fingers shook as he leafed through the photos. His breathing became harsher and his entire body became rigid in posture.
Nikos flipped through several pictures. One was dated about four to five years ago when Cassia finished college. She was in a toga and smiling beside Hector who looked so proud of her. She waved around her diploma and her eyes shouted her happiness to the world.
The second photo was Cassia cutting the ribbon of her first fashion shop. Yet again, it was Hector who was beside her. Next it was Hector cutting the ribbon to his first restaurant and Cassia was standing right beside him and holding his hand. There were several photos of them throughout the years. Every new shop Cassia opened, Hector was there for her.
Nikos finally understood.
He was right. It was Hector Petrides she was having an affair with. No wonder they kissed like lovers during the auction. This was also the reason she was asking him for a divorce. She said she wanted to move on with her life but the truth was she wanted to settle down with Nikos’ greatest competition.
He snorted when he thought that Hector was still his competition even when it came to his own wife. He hated the fact that he was there through the years with her and he was not. He should have been the one with her during her life’s greatest achievements and not Hector.
But you never cared, Nikos.
He brushed her off ten years ago and was even happy when she left Greece to go and live her life somewhere else. He didn’t even inquire as to what happened to her. He just continued on sending her the money she wanted. He was happy that he still got to continue the playboy lifestyle he loved so much.
Without another thought about her, he had carried on with his life.
So this train of thought about being there during the greatest accomplishments in her life was a big fat nonsense. Maybe he was just feeling a bit possessive of her because technically she was still his wife. Nikos shook his head to clear his thoughts and then flipped through some more photos.
“She’s in danger from this drug syndicate, Nikos. Good thing she’s known as Cassia Adrasteia, the famous designer. That will make it a little harder to find her. But when they learn of her, they will get her so that they could lure Hector in. I don’t know anything about your marriage but I assumed you wanted to know this information.”
“I do. Thank you, Alex.”
“What are friends for?” Alex laughed.
“What do you plan on doing about Hector Petrides?”
“Believe it or not, I’m hired by the government for this particular mission. It’s about the drugs. I have to find their location, how the shipment goes and all those details. For this, I need Hector Petrides. Once I have everything, all his deeds would be exposed and he’d be imprisoned.”
“Do you think your wife knows about all of this?”
“I don’t know.”
“But do you intend to tell her?”
“Of course. She’s convinced herself that she wants a divorce from me. Now I know that it is so she could go with Hector. Can I keep these other pictures for evidence?” Nikos asked.
He picked up the folder that contained pictures of Hector and the drug syndicate. He also took the picture that showed Hector with his back towards probably millions of dollars worth of drugs.
“Sure. What do you intend to do now?” Alex asked.
“There’ll be no divorce. I’ll keep her safe.”
“If you need any help with your security detail, let me know. I know the perfect men for the job,” Alex offered.
“Once again, thank you for this Alex. One more thing though, I have to ask...have you heard anything about the ones who kidnapped me?”
Alex bowed his head.
“I’m sorry, my friend. Not as of yet. I have tried and tried to find information about them but they cover their tracks well. I have followed everything that Antonio’s wife told me but I always hit a dead-end.”
“I understand. It’s all right, Alex. I know that you are doing your best.”
There was a knock on the door and the waiters came in and brought their food. The conversation was much lighter this time. They talked about each other’s work and compared the differences. They also reminisced about their past and how they always got into trouble as teenagers.
As their lunch progressed, Nikos started thinking of the ways that he could use this information over Cassia. Now, he could force her to go with him and insist that it was for her safety.
And if she didn’t know anything about Hector Petrides’ activities yet, then surely she was in for a huge shock.