The Billion-Dollar Marriage Contract

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Chapter 21 - Surprise

January 18, 2013
Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinic
Athens, Greece


Cassia stared at the pink walls as she waited for the result of the blood test that was done.

For the past week, she’d had nausea and she feared she was coming down with something. But she thought it was also something else. She prayed it was the latter.

Today, she finally had the courage to go to the local pharmacy after Nikos left for work. She bought five sets of pregnancy test kits. All five came back positive.

She felt like she’d won the lottery!

She wanted to jump up and down with joy but she feared it would jar her baby. So she just ran to her bed and screamed her glee against the pillows. Her joy lasted all through the morning.

But then she thought about the implications.

She was pregnant with Nikos’ baby!

Would he be happy about it? Was she ready for them to be a family? Would this affect their relationship?

Having a baby felt very final to her. She was confused about everything else but she was sure about one thing: she was going to keep her baby and raise it well. She did not care about the rest of the world. If Nikos didn’t want their child, then to hell with him. He was not needed in their lives.

Now, it was not a memory that she’d bring with her but a piece of him.

An hour later, she dragged herself out of bed and headed to the nearest clinic for her check-up. Her blood was drawn and so was a urine sample.

“Mrs. Demakis?” She was ushered inside the clinic and the doctor smiled. “The results came back. Congratulations! You are pregnant. We’ll have to do an ultrasound to check how far along you are. Would that be all right?”

Cassia’s grin was wide and she nodded. She was asked to lie down a narrow examination table and cold gel was placed against her abdomen. The probe was placed against her belly and she began to see blurred images.

“There’s your baby. I would say you’re about six to eight weeks along. Everything looks fine but I will be giving you prenatal vitamins you’ll have to take every day. I’ll also give you a list of what to avoid and food you can eat during your pregnancy so your baby will be absolutely healthy.”

Cassia beamed. She felt as though she was floating on cloud nine. This was absolutely the happiest day in her life! Nothing could mar this perfect day!

The doctor gave her paper towels for her to clean off the gel and then went back to her desk and wrote down her prescriptions. She also printed out several copies of the ultrasound and handed it to her. Tears misted her eyes. It was her baby’s first picture!

She sat down and the doctor continued explaining several things regarding her pregnancy. After her prescription was filled out, she returned home with a smile on her face.

She just couldn’t wait to tell Nikos! She hoped that he would be happy about it. If not, then she definitely found her reason to leave him.

Her phone rang and she assumed it was Nikos.

“Hey! Guess what?” she blurted out.

“Cassia?”

It was not Nikos’ voice but Hector’s. In a snap, all her joy faded away.

“Hector? Where are you? Why haven’t you called? I haven’t heard anything in over a month!”

“I’m sorry, Cassia. We do not have time for this. I’ll tell you everything once we’re together. Meet me in Santorini. From there on, we’ll go to Germany. I have a friend there who can hide us. We’ll be safe. But we have to go now.”

“What? Hector, I can’t just leave like that! You don’t call me for a whole month and then you expect me to drop my life and run away with you?”

“Cassia. We do not have time for this,” he spoke slowly and emphasized every word.

“Make time, Hector. I am through being in the dark. I am done acting like your faithful lapdog and I am done with waiting for you.”

“Cassia, what brought this on?” he sighed heavily.

“The fact that I’ve been blinded for a long time, Hector. I thought you were perfect because you stayed with me for the longest time, but that wasn’t the case. Yes, you stayed physically but you were never there for me in any other aspect.”

“I am sorry for my shortcomings. But I will make time for you now, Cassia. Run away with me and I’ll give you everything you want.”

She sighed as pain pierced her heart.

“Too late, Hector.”

There was silence for a long time wherein she only heard his heavy breathing.

“This is about him, isn’t it? You stupidly fell for Nikos Demakis again. He’s using you, Cassia! He’s using your kidnapping as an excuse to protect you, be with you then use you!”

“No. He cares about me, Hector. He’s changed. After I was kidnapped, he bothered calling me, sending flowers and letters to make sure I was okay. I haven’t heard anything from you! You do not care at all!”

Hector laughed.

“You’re as naive as ever, Cassia. You did not learn from your mistakes ten years ago.”

Something changed in Hector’s tone and he sounded so menacing that a shiver of dread slid down her spine.

“Stop this, please, Hector. We’ve been friends for ten years...we can still be friends.”

“No!” he growled. “What is it about Nikos Demakis that the world just seems to bow down to him? Why does he always get what he wants? I thought you were different, Cassia. It turns out you are like them after all...”

“Them? Who’s ‘them’, Hector? What are you saying?” she cried frantically.

“All the others. It’s not fucking fair!” he roared.


Hector Petrides flew into rage.

He remembered everything he ever experienced growing up as a bastard in the slums of Greece. He remembered how his mother died, begging for attention from his father. He remembered the tortures he had gone through trying to survive. He remembered how he vowed to make them all pay.

“You were the only one I’ve ever loved. I really thought you were different...At least tell me why, Cassia. Tell me why you choose him over me.”

“He’s there for me. He protects me. He makes me feel things I’ve never felt with you...he makes me happy! I’m really sorry, Hector.”

“That’s not enough reason for me. I know you’re hiding something. Tell me!” he bellowed.

Cassia sighed and took a deep breath. She didn’t want to lie to Hector especially when she hurt him so much already. But this was just it for them. She couldn’t run away with him now because of her baby. If she did, she’d just endanger both of them.

So she opted to tell him the truth directly.

“I think I love him and I am pregnant with his child!”

Hector felt like the world came crashing down on him.

He closed his eyes as pain washed over his body. It was followed swiftly by anger. Once more, Nikos Demakis took what was his, and his rival won. He always fucking won.

“This is the ultimate betrayal, Cassia.”

“I’m so sorry—“

“I’ve protected you from everything when I should’ve killed you from the start. It was because I thought you were different. Now, you and your bastard will die.”

“Hector, what?!” Cassia shouted but Hector already ended the call.

Fear spiked within her and she walked as fast as she could back towards her bodyguards. She also took several deep breaths to calm herself. Hector just said those things because he was mad. It was nothing to worry about.

But his tone was not one of mere anger. It was one of fury. It was so extreme that it was not something that was just born today. It felt like he’d harbored it for a long time and she could not control the feeling of dread and sense of impending doom that slid down her spine.


January 18, 2013
Unknown Island
Greece


“Boss, we have something interesting to report.”

Sebastian raised an eyebrow and lifted himself from the marble countertop of the bar to look at his men. He dragged the bottle of vodka closer and drank. He was drunk and he was causing a scene but he did not care.

“And what would that be?”

“The men trailing Demakis’ wife reported that she bought pregnancy tests from the pharmacy this morning and then visited a doctor just this afternoon. We think she’s pregnant with Demakis’ child.”

Sebastian threw back his head and laughed. He kept on laughing until people were looking at him as though he’d gone crazy. He already knew that particular piece of information. But for their sakes, he pretended that it was the most wonderful news he’s ever heard.

“Excellent then. Get her and Demakis will pay us anything. Once we have the money, we kill her and let him watch the light fade from her eyes. Then we watch as he loses everything.”

Sebastian grinned after he smashed the now-empty bottle.

A week from now, he’d get revenge.

And everything would be over...




January 25, 2013
Antoniou Winery
Santorini, Greece


She was finally going to tell him.

Hell, it’d been a week but she was really going to do it. She was not going to back out now. Nikos truly had the right to know. Besides, seeing him with little Anton confirmed that he was great with kids and she had a feeling he would be a great father as well.

Besides, the time she spent with him had been nothing but bliss. It’d been an adventure and she was glad that she took that leap of faith and gave him a chance.

She finally had everything she wished for in life!

She wanted to be a designer and have a great career. She had that. Cassiopeia was as successful as ever.

She wanted friends who would never ridicule her because she was different or judge her by her social standing. There were Anna, Jenna, Arlene and Isobel.

Lastly, she wanted a family. Nikos was hers and now they had a child on the way.

Surely, nothing could be better than this!

Now, she was back in Santorini where everything began. This was where their wedding was held and in this particular room was where they first shared each other’s passion. For a week, Cassia planned everything down to the last detail. She wanted her announcement to be really special.

She went behind Nikos’ back to make everything perfect. His friends were all in on it but they were sworn to secrecy. Cassia planned on telling him over a romantic private dinner then there’d be a baby shower with all of their friends after.

Nikos was due to arrive here any moment now and her nerves were eating at her. She was even more nervous now than on her wedding day!

Suddenly the door opened and it made her heart stop.

Nikos strode into the room wearing a huge grin. He quickly went for her and kissed her until she was breathless.

“Is this a second honeymoon, agape mou? I love it. It’s brilliant!”

His eyes danced with mischief as he pulled her closer and began to kiss his way down her neck. Her knees almost buckled but she tried to be immune to his touch for once. She placed her hands on his chest and pushed him away gently.

“I was thinking we’d have dinner first.”

She glanced behind him and pointed at the table laden with food and candles at the balcony.

Nikos raised an eyebrow.

“I really like this day,” he whispered tenderly before he let her go.

Once they were seated, Cassia’s courage ran away and left her behind again. As she stared into Nikos’ green eyes, her mouth ran dry and her well-rehearsed speech vanished.

“Do you want to say something, agapimeni?” He looked at her with a puzzled but amused expression as he ate the salad appetizer.

Cassia, on the other hand, just pushed the food around her plate as she tried to find the words. She sighed.

“You can tell me anything, Cassia. Is this about your decision to stay?”

Shocked, she looked up, “Err...w-well...a bit about that.”

Nikos groaned, “Please don’t tell me you arranged all this just to tell me you’ll be leaving me.” His voice shook, giving away his fear. He reached for her hand and squeezed.

“No! It’s not about that!” she hurriedly comforted him.

“Then what is it?”

She took a deep breath.

“I’m pregnant.”

She handed him their baby’s first ultrasound picture.

His jaw dropped. His knife and fork fell to his plate with a clatter.

He appeared as though he was in a trance as he stood up, crossed the table and went to her. His eyes were fierce with emotion yet his face stayed the same. He just looked at her for a long time.

“Nikos? Say something please...say you don’t want this and I’ll go—“

That snapped him out of his trance and he hauled her into his arms. He hugged her tightly and she realized he was shaking. She pulled back and lifted her head to look at him. For the first time in her life, she saw Nikos Demakis with tears in his eyes.

He grinned, picked her up and twirled her around.

“Thank you, glikia mou! Nothing could have made me happier!” he shouted.

He set her down gently but he still did not let her go.

“Never think that I am not happy about this or that I would not accept our child. I want him or her. You’re stuck with me from this day forward.” Nikos smiled and embraced her tightly.

“I’ll go wherever you go, wife.”

Those words echoed in Cassia’s mind until tears fell from her eyes. She hastily wiped them away with her fingers and looked down so he wouldn’t see her cry. Nikos embraced her again and said nothing. He just let her cry on his expensively tailored suit while he rubbed her back.

“Is everything okay?”

She nodded.

“Can we continue our celebratory dinner now? I really love the food and the place you chose. But I do love your news a thousand times better.”

Nikos led her back to her seat and they ate their dinner with huge smiles on their faces. He spoke animatedly about his plans for their future and she found herself agreeing with everything he wanted. He promised to cut down his work hours and delegate more especially after their baby came.

They only started to argue when it came to baby names.

When their plates were cleared, Nikos stood up and led her to the bed.

“Should I show you how I want to celebrate?” he purred.

Cassia giggled, “No. I still have one more surprise for you.”

She took his hand and led him downstairs to the bigger balcony which overlooked the sea. It was where their wedding and the reception was held. It was also where Cassia asked all their friends to hide and wait for them.

The instant they opened the doors, the lights were opened, confetti was thrown and everyone shouted “Congratulations!”

Nikos laughed as he saw his friends wearing party hats in baby blue and baby pink. He hugged his wife once more and kissed her deeply.

“I said this day couldn’t have gotten any better. I was wrong. What the hell was I doing with my life without you, glikia mou?” he whispered tenderly before they joined their friends.

He grabbed her hand and pulled her towards one of the quiet corners.

“Am I winning your heart yet?”

Before she could reply, he continued, “...You sure as hell won mine, agape mou.”

Tears welled in her eyes again and she blamed it all on pregnancy hormones and not on the fact that her husband was being his charming self once more.


About thirty minutes later, everyone was having fun when suddenly, there was a loud bang!

Everyone looked around and Cassia was the first to scream as the bodyguard beside her fell. There was a bullet hole on his forehead and his eyes stared up sightlessly. It was followed by more gunshots. It was almost drowned by the screams of the other guests as more bodies fell. Those bodies belonged to their bodyguards who were with them in the balcony.

Instantly, everything was in an uproar. Guest screamed and ran everywhere. Suddenly, the door was kicked open and their remaining guards who stood outside entered and ran to her and Nikos. Four of them remained and they circled them with their weapons drawn. Their eyes darted around the room as they herded her and her husband to the exit.

But their path was blocked by huge, burly men clad in black from head to toe. Their faces were covered with masks and they were holding guns. Several weapons were also strapped across their bodies.

Their bodyguards fired their weapons but the men who just arrived were much quicker. Plus they had the advantage of several snipers placed God-knows-where who first killed their guards in the balcony. Cassia whimpered in fear and Nikos held her closer. Slowly, they backed away from the exit.

“Everyone, on the ground now!” one of the masked men shouted.

Their guests immediately complied. Nikos shoved Cassia behind him and looked around. Dread settled in his gut when he saw that none of their guards remained. Antonio and Alex quickly moved behind him. Alex reached for his gun but one of the men kicked it away.

“What do you want from us?” Nikos shouted.

The man in the middle nodded and two of his men moved forward.

“No! Let me go!” Cassia shouted as they grabbed her.

Nikos, Antonio and Alex all tried to fight but the men kicked them back and pointed weapons at their heads.

Cassia’s arms were pinned behind her and a pistol was pointed at her temple.

“We need one billion dollars wired to our account or she dies.”

Nikos choked on his own breath.

“One billion dollars? Where the hell would I get that much money in such a short time?”

“We don’t give a damn. But you should if you want your wife to live.”

He sounded a bit familiar but Nikos couldn’t recall where he heard that voice. Maybe it belonged to the leader of the group that kidnapped them?

“It’s too much! I can’t get that much money in a short span of time!” he snarled.

“Then we’ll be holding on to her until you get the money ready. Don’t do anything funny, Demakis. First your child dies.” The pistol was aimed at Cassia’s belly.

She gasped and so did all of their guests. Nikos had the urge to jump towards his wife but Alex and Antonio held him back.

“No! Let go of her! I swear I’ll get the money!”

Tears fell from Cassia’s eyes and every one of them felt like a dagger being plunged in his heart.

“You have fifteen minutes, Demakis. If we don’t have the money by then, we plunge a dagger into her belly. Then you have an extra fifteen minutes. By the end of that and still no money? She dies.”

Nikos stood there dumfounded.

“Clock’s ticking. I suggest you do whatever you can.”

The man took out his knife and ran it along Cassia’s neck. She whimpered in fear.

Nikos reached for his phone without taking his eyes off her and dialed his assistant’s number. He kept his movements slow so as not to agitate the men.

“James. I need to transfer money. One-billion dollars.”

His assistant gasped with outrage.

“Sir! That’s too much! It will take time!”

One of the masked men approached Nikos and handed him a slip of paper with the account number where the money should be transferred.

“I know. We have a situation. I need it now and I need it fast. Empty as many accounts as you can. Sell my stocks if need be or ask for a loan! Call whoever can help. I need it in fifteen minutes. Listen carefully, here’s the account number...”

Nikos dictated the numbers on the paper and James repeated it to him for verification.

“But sir—“

“Lives depend on this, James. Hurry up,” he pleaded.

“Tell your assistant that if he alerts the authorities, all of you will die.”

His lips pinched in a tight line, he repeated the words to James.

Then, all Nikos could do was to wait. He prayed to all the gods listening that James could find away and beat the odds. He wouldn’t let Cassia and his unborn child die. If they did, he’d die along with them.

Antonio approached him.

“Call my assistant as well. I can give you two hundred million.”

A look of understanding passed between them. Nikos squeezed his friend’s shoulder and breathed a sigh of relief. He called Antonio’s personal assistant and asked for the money to be transferred.

“Eight hundred million to go,” the leader remarked cheerfully.

Something in his voice was really familiar, even if it was a bit muffled by the mask he wore. He also made an effort to make his voice lower but still there was that niggling feeling that Nikos knew the man.

Ten minutes down on the clock and Nikos started sweating bullets. He kept his eyes on Cassia, and Cassia kept hers on his. He saw her love and her fear shining in them. His own eyes started to water for the second time that night.

“Time’s nearly up, Demakis.” There were just two minutes to go on the clock.

Suddenly, his phone rang.

“Sir! I managed to get eight hundred million right away. I emptied one of the Swiss accounts and called in a favor from the bank owner himself. Antonio’s assistant called me and I already had the money wired to the account. Please confirm.”

Nikos faced the men.

“My assistant says the money has already been transferred. Release her.”

The leader tipped his chin towards one of his men. He had a laptop with him and quickly confirmed the money transfer.

“You have what you need. Please let my wife go,” he begged.

“So sure that I already have what I need? Well, not yet. I’ve waited for this moment for a long time, Nikos.”

“Who are you?!” he growled.

The leader pulled off his mask and revealed a mop of sandy-blonde hair, blue eyes and an evil smile. Cassia gasped while Nikos roared with rage.

“Hector? Why?” Cassia whispered.

“Why? That’s a really good question. I’ll tell you why. I was born the year 1975. My mother was from America and she chose to live in Greece. Why? Because she fell in love. She became mistress to Andrei Demakis—your father, Nikos”

Nikos inhaled sharply.

“Stavros Demakis hated my mother. She was an actress from America. It was not a noble profession for him and because of that, he refused to give us anything. Eventually, Andrei Demakis lost interest with my mother. He accused her of cheating and threw her out the street. He treated us like trash and we were forced to live in the slums.”

Nikos paled for he knew where Hector’s tale was heading.

“We begged Stavros Demakis for money. My mother just wanted to go back to her family in America. But he turned his back on us and didn’t even spare a single euro. When I was four years old, Andrei Demakis married your mother and she had you. You became your grandfather’s golden boy and he gave you everything.”

“Hector—“

“Don’t call me that! I am the first born son of Andrei Demakis. Everything should have been mine! All you have is mine! But what did I have? I had a life where I had to eat scraps, beg for coins. Eventually I joined the drug cartel and they took me in. They taught me everything. Most of all, they gave me the instrument for my revenge.”

“Hector...don’t do this, please,” Cassia begged.

“Shut up! You’re one of them now, Cassia! I thought you were the only thing he wanted that he’d never get. I was wrong. You fell at his feet just like the rest of them!” he roared.

Hector took a deep breath and then continued. “I came to your wedding ten years ago hoping to steal you away. I was only supposed to get you away from your own wedding and then discard you. But one look at you and I was lost. I fell for your beauty and your kind heart.”

Hector cupped her cheek and forced her to look at him. “I changed my plans for you, you know. I thought that maybe you’d divorce him and the company will be ours. I thought you’d help me reach my revenge! But I was wrong. Clearly you’re not as immune to his charms like the others. Look at him Cassia! I am so much better for you!”

Hector tugged on her hair and forced her to look at Nikos. Cassia winced in pain.

“I loved you and gave you everything but you gave up a life with me for him!” Hector roared.

“Let go of her!” Nikos shouted.

Hector turned his attention back to Nikos.

“I’ve waited for this a long time now, Nikos. I was the one who had you kidnapped two years ago, you know. I wanted revenge and at the same time I wanted all your stocks at the company to be turned over to me. I should be the one handling Demakis International! It is my right as the first son!” he shouted.

Then Hector shook his head. “But my people were so gods-damned incompetent and you were able to escape.”

Hector sighed and when he looked up, there was a malicious glint in his eyes.

“I will kill your child and then kill your wife. Finally, I will kill you and take your head to your beloved grandfather.”

Hector retrieved his gun and pointed it back to Cassia’s temple while his knife was on her belly.

“Say goodbye,” Hector commanded.

“Hector...don’t,” Nikos begged.

“Don’t call me Hector. My name is Sebastian... and I do what I please.”

He pushed Cassia forward. At the same time he pulled the trigger twice.

Chaos ensued.

Nikos roared and sprang towards him. Antonio rolled to the side so he could catch Cassia. Alex jumped from his crouch and aimed a kick at the man nearest him. The man staggered backwards and Alex wrested his weapon from his hands. He quickly turned around and started to fire.

The guests screamed and hid behind the tables. But in Nikos’ rage, nothing else mattered. He dove toward Hector and the momentum bought them to the floor. He slammed Hector’s wrist against the floor and he dropped his gun.

With his other hand, Hector swiped with his knife and Nikos dodged backwards. Hector was still on the floor and Nikos kicked his other arm causing him to let go of the knife. Nikos aimed another kick and this time it was to Hector’s ribs.

Alex continued firing towards the men. Several of them dropped dead while more were returning fire. Alex ordered the other guests back and told them to stay down and call for help.

“Get down!” he shouted to them.

On the corner of his eye, he saw one of the men approach Isobel. He fired as he dove towards her.

“Get behind me!”

He crouched and crawled to the corner of the room where the buffet was laid out. He pushed her behind it and checked how much bullets were remaining. He only had two.

“Stay here,” he told Isobel who remained silent and shaking from fear.

One of the men pointed his weapon at Nikos while he was on the floor in a struggle with Hector. Alex quickly fired and the man dropped down. Nikos tried to reach for the gun of that fallen man but Hector beat him to it. Alex used his last bullet and fired on Hector but the villain was able to duck.

Alex crawled to the other side of the room so he could get his gun that was kicked away earlier.

On the other side of the room, Antonio was behind one of the tables as he protected Elise and Cassia. Cassia had difficulty breathing and made choking sounds. She spat out blood and Antonio turned her to her side.

“One of her lungs is punctured,” Elise murmured as she removed her sweater. She balled it up and used it to stem the bleeding from her wounds.

“My baby...” Cassia whispered weakly.

Elise removed her hand from her stomach and saw that it was where the second bullet went to. She had to be brought immediately to the hospital or she may never survive. But their exit was blocked by the armed men.

Antonio retrieved his phone and called for help immediately. He detailed their situation and he was promised quick response. He only hoped they came in time before any of those who were injured died.

“Are you really going to kill your own older brother, Nikos?”

“I have no brother!” he spat.

“You’re right. We’re so different, you and I. I’m scum and you’re everyone’s golden boy.”

“Shut up, Hector. You’re scum because you chose to be that way. Because you chose to involve yourself with the drug cartel. Because you chose to do this.” Nikos waved a hand indicating the entire room.

“Not everyone is born with a silver spoon!” Hector kicked Nikos who staggered backwards. Nikos stood up but his side was pierced with agony. It felt as if one of his ribs was broken but he refused to back.

“You could have gone back. You could have introduced yourself and I could have given you what you wanted.”

“I doubt that. I want everything, Nikos. I don’t want scraps. I am the rightful heir of Andrei Demakis and I should have been CEO.”

“That’s your problem then. You’re nothing but a greedy bastard who thinks he has the right to everything.”

Hector roared and charged. He punched and kicked wildly because of his anger. On the other hand, Nikos did not allow his anger to rule him. He knew Cassia was hurt but unless they beat all the men here, they would not be able to escape.

“I’ll kill you. But first, I’ll let you watch Cassia die. I’ll make you watch as I carve her chest open and tear out her heart. That’s the time when I’ll kill you,” Hector snarled.

Nikos saw red.

He jumped towards Hector and punched him in the face. Hector spat out blood but still had the gall to grin.

“Every second you waste fighting me, she dies slowly.”

“Shut up!” he roared.

Nikos charged and they exchanged blows once more.

On the other side of the room, Alex finally found his gun. He waited for the perfect opportunity. While waiting, he took out his phone and sent an emergency message to his team. They were the only ones he trusted and he knew they’d come as soon as they could.

Now, he just had to keep his friends alive.

He saw an opening and fired at Hector. He hit Hector’s shoulder and the man crumpled to the ground in pain. Nikos kicked him in the back and the bastard sprawled on the floor.

“Kicking a man when he’s already down? Going to kill me now, little brother?” he taunted.

“This is for my wife and my child!” Nikos punched Hector’s face again.

Hector’s left eye was so swollen that it was almost shut. He laughed still and tried to rise.

Nikos grabbed his half-brother’s shirt and shook him hard.

“This is for what you did to Antonio and me!” He continued punching Hector even if pain shot up his arm with every swing. His knuckles might be broken but he ignored the pain. Once more, he punched Hector and that last one was enough to bring instant loss of consciousness.

When the men saw that their leader was unconscious, they started to retreat.

“Let’s go! We already have the money!” the one who confirmed the transfer told the rest of the team.

“No one leaves,” Alex snarled.

He carefully aimed his gun and fired. He kept on firing and when he was out of bullets, he rushed into the fray, pulling his knife out of his boot. He rolled to the floor and grabbed one of the scattered weapons.

One man came at him from the side and Alex quickly spun and jabbed him with his elbow. It stunned the man then Alex kicked him backwards before he fired. He threw his knife at the one who had the laptop. The knife hit the man in the back and he crumpled to the floor. The man tried to crawl away but Alex ran to him and slammed the butt of his gun at the man’s head. Instantly, he was unconscious.

Alex quickly grabbed the laptop then retrieved his knife. He turned to help Nikos.

Nikos was about to rush to his wife when he heard Hector speak, “Kill me now, brother.”

“No. That would be a mercy. You deserve to rot in jail.”

“Then, I will kill you,” he laughed.

Hector grabbed the gun nearest to him and aimed. But Alex fired first. Hector took his last breath and Nikos watched the light fade from his eyes.

He tried to feel remorse or sadness but there was none. He even felt as if a burden was lifted off his shoulders.

Finally they were all free.

The one who tortured him finally paid.

The threat to his and Cassia’s life was eliminated.

Every inch of him ached but he forced himself to stand up and limp to the other side of the room. Alex’s team burst in and they finished off the rest of Hector’s men. They took the one whom Alex rendered unconscious. When he woke up, he would be their source of information.

One of them also took the laptop and reversed the transaction so that the money would go back to Nikos’ and Antonio’s accounts.

Minutes after Alex’s team arrived, the police and the paramedics came.

Nikos’ heart stopped when he saw his wife. She was pale and her eyes were closed. Her face was a mask of pain and her body was coated in her blood. Elise, who tried to help her, was also covered in blood. She cried as she held Cassia’s hand.

Dazed, Nikos followed them to the ambulance.

“Sir, we need to see to your wounds as well,” the paramedics told him and pointed at his bleeding hands.

“No. Her first.”

He climbed inside the ambulance with her for the second time in his life. He winced at the thought but it was all over now. She would never be in danger again.

He took her hand and held tight even as the medics tried to do everything they could. They stemmed the bleeding, placed an intravenous line and hooked her to monitors. They also placed her on oxygen to help her breathe. Nikos saw her vital signs on the monitors. Her pulse was too weak and he knew she’d lost a lot of blood.

“Don’t give up, agapimeni. Fight for me. Fight for our child,” he whispered.

Then, Nikos Demakis bent his proud head over his wife’s hand and wept.

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