The Billion-Dollar Marriage Contract

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Chapter 7 - Reality

November 15, 2003
Antoniou Winery
The Island of Santorini, Greece


The signing of the marriage certificates was over.

Cassia was well and truly married to Nikos.

She breathed a huge sigh of relief mingled with embarrassment and horror over her current situation. She cast a furtive glance towards her groom who was now leaning on his best man as he started to fall asleep yet again.

Antonio led Nikos to the middle of the room where the photographer wanted to snap some photos of the bride and groom. Cassia couldn’t help but be amazed as Nikos managed to stand by himself for a few minutes and even pose for the shots. Next came the shots with the family and with friends and with people she didn’t even know. There were also shots with the people who laughed at her. Through it all, she plastered a smile to her face and kept on counting down the hours until this sham was over.

Antonio nudged Nikos and he opened his red eyes and blinked. It was time for them to move to the reception area. The people already formed lines to throw rice, rose petals and salt and sugar over their heads as a symbol of good fortune for their marriage.

Cassia smiled as they walked through it all. Nikos, on the other hand, did his best to try and walk straight as congratulations and felicitations were thrown at them from left and right from their guests. Cassia tried to keep a straight face as everyone congratulated her on her marriage and wished them the best but what she really was thinking was that this marriage would only last for a day.

Tomorrow, she would be free.

Tomorrow, she’d divorce Nikos.

She knew she’d shock the whole world but she cared only about shocking her grandfather and making him lose in his elaborate revenge scheme.

She just had to go through the humiliation of this day and then she’s done. She could go back to America and live her dreams.

The sun started to set and immediately the place looked different. Dozens of lanterns were lit and the pool on the other side of the balcony was filled with floating candles. Servants entered the room and the balcony was transformed quickly and efficiently into a reception area.

The seats were removed and a dance floor was set up. Behind the dance floor, a high table was placed and Cassia and Nikos sat on the middle. The instant Nikos was seated Cassia noticed that he fell asleep yet again.

She let him sleep and just watched their guests silently. Beside the pool the bar was opened and their guests started flocking towards it for drinks. She wanted to go there and get a drink for herself to help her last through the night but then the photographer appeared and wanted to snap a few more photos.

This time, Cassia nudged Nikos and when he opened his eyes, she pointed at the photographer. He seemed to understand and moved his chair closer to hers. She watched him force a smile to his lips and wrap one arm around her.

A dozen flashes went off and Cassia blinked several times to regain her vision. When the photographer moved away, Nikos quickly let go of her and leaned across the table. He stared at Antonio who was now approaching and he had another steaming mug of coffee in his hands.

“Drink this,” Antonio handed Nikos the coffee.

Nikos drank it and he seemed to become a bit more sober after a few minutes. Antonio pulled up a chair, sat beside him, and the two started to converse in hushed tones. Cassia turned to look at the other side of the room and tried to entertain herself.

People started making speeches about them and said their wishes for their marriage. Some were very serious but some were not at all. Those came from Nikos’ friends. They made several jokes about settling down and married life that Cassia cringed with every word of it.

After hearing several derogatory speeches or “jokes” as they termed it from Nikos’ friends, she just stopped listening altogether.

When a waiter passed by with some champagne, she took the opportunity to grab a glass. It was just right in time for it was Costas’ turn to speak.

“To our guests, I bid you welcome. Today is a very special day for it marks a new beginning for all of us. Today, my only granddaughter and heir married one of the most brilliant minds in business. Welcome to the family, Nikos,” Costas started.

Everyone launched into applause at his words and Cassia resisted the urge to roll her eyes.

She heard Nikos snort and she wanted to do the same.

“This day is also important for this is the day that Demakis International merges with Andrade Shipping. For this, I welcome yet another set of family in the form of thousands of employees across the globe. With Nikos and my granddaughter at the helm, I know that it will be a guaranteed success,” he continued and everyone gave a louder round of applause.

“But above everything, what’s important is family. And today, Cassia and Nikos start their life together. Nikos and Cassia, may the company flourish under both of you and I hope that you have a happy and fruitful marriage! Nikos, take care of my granddaughter, eh? If you don’t, you’ll have to answer to me. Also, I am expecting a house filled with heirs in the very near future.” Costas winked and everyone chuckled.

Cassia, on the other hand, tried hard not to gag.

Costas raised his champagne flute and everyone followed.

“To Nikos and Cassia,” he toasted and everyone raised their glasses in salute and drank.

The host took back the microphone and made some more comments that had everyone laughing. Cassia barely heard it because she was too busy counting the bubbles on her champagne to occupy herself.

From the corner of her eye, she saw Nikos stand and offer his hand to her. She looked at him in puzzlement and he just shrugged.

“Time for the first dance as husband and wife,” he said.

She noticed that he didn’t slur as much now and knew that he was probably sobering up. It was great for she did not want him falling asleep on this dance.

She stood up and her heart started to beat wildly inside her chest. The moment Nikos touched her hand and placed it on his arm, her mind wandered back to their first dance. She recalled how much happiness she felt that night that one of the most handsome men in the room noticed her and was even gallant enough to save her from humiliation.

Oh how things have changed.

Last week she thought she was being married because Nikos took an interest in her. When she heard that, she was over the moon! Now, she knew that he was just being forced to wed her. Finding out about that felt like a nail had been wedged into her heart and all her hopes and dreams of a bright future were dashed to shards.

But then again everything was too good to be true and she should have seen that right from the start so that she could’ve avoided herself some heartache.

Cassia and Nikos reached the dance floor and the crowd started to clap.

The first few notes of the song were played by the orchestra and she closed her eyes in bliss. It was just so beautiful! It was one of the songs she loved so much. When she was a child, she told herself that when she married, she’d dance to this particular song: The Way You Look Tonight by Frank Sinatra.

She almost forgot that childhood vow but was glad that whoever arranged her wedding picked that beautiful tune. Well, she wasn’t allowed to meddle with arrangements regarding her own wedding as per her evil grandfather.

Nikos took her hand and she placed hers on his broad shoulder. They began to sway to the music. Nikos looked down at her with an unreadable expression in his green eyes. Curiously, it looked something in between wanting to kiss her and wanting to strangle the hell out of her. Cassia suspected it was the latter. He was being forced into this marriage and he didn’t want it. He never wanted her.

But she was going to correct that tomorrow.

After this wedding, she would talk to him and tell him about her plans. The only thing that she would ask for was help from him so that she could return to America, live there in peace and forget about the past months in her life as if they never happened.

And as per tradition, this dance was called the “Money Dance.” Guests approached and started pinning money on Cassia’s dress and Nikos’ suit. This was an old tradition that signified luck and prosperity in the marriage. Halfway through the dance, they were nearly covered with it.

Someone must’ve poked Nikos with a pin because he yelped and then cursed. And Cassia just couldn’t help it. She threw back her head and laughed. Nikos glared at her and then he, too, laughed. In that moment, Cassia found herself wishing that circumstances were different and that she was getting married to this great man for real.

While they danced, their guests started smashing their plates on the floor. It was another old tradition that signified wealth and abundance for the married couple. The tradition started in Ancient Greece and it was said to signify wealth because instead of being washed and reused, plates were thrown into the banquet or fireplace.

Cassia and Nikos both laughed as their guests truly enjoyed smashing their plates.

When Nikos looked at her, his eyes danced with laughter. She relaxed and smiled back at him. For a moment there, he seemed stunned. But the moment passed too quickly and the cold mask slipped back in place. Cassia’s face also fell and she almost wanted someone to poke Nikos with a pin once more just so she could see the other side of him again.

“Nikos... I need to talk to you.” Cassia finally found the nerve to say those words.

“Hmm? Can’t it wait? We have the rest of our lives after all,” Nikos brushed her off in a sarcastic tone.

Cassia heard the ice in his voice but she forced herself to understand. She placed herself in his shoes and if this was her, she’d be very bitter towards the marriage too. Maybe she’d also get herself drunk to go through with it.

Cassia sighed when Nikos let go of her hand.

The camera flashed and the photographer took several photos. She and Nikos posed for each one of them but her mind was running at a hundred miles per hour. Soon this night would end and she’d have to tell her husband about her plans. She just couldn’t wait to tell him and she was sure that the right words would come to her later this night. Or so she hoped.

The night wore on and Cassia remained in her seat. One time, she went towards the bar and had some drinks with Anna. They giggled over everything and had the time of their lives at pointing out the flaws of Nikos’ bitchy supermodel friends.

Nikos, on the other hand, partied as though he were a bachelor. He was with his friends and they hogged all the space in the bar. They kept on doing shots and daring each and everyone to do some stupid pranks. Cassia and Anna both rolled their eyes. But when she looked more closely, Nikos had this determined look on his face. Yes, he was joking with his friends and they were all drinking...but not him. What he had before him was a steaming mug that she concluded must have been coffee.

“Why is the bride all alone on a night like this?” Antonio drawled lazily and interrupted Cassia’s musings.

Cassia laughed and then slanted a look towards him.

“Maybe because my groom is having the time of his life,” she teased.

“Then maybe you should go get him?” Antonio suggested.

“No...look at him. He’s having so much fun. It would be like grabbing a candy from a baby. Besides, we’ll have lots of time for us afterwards,” she said, referring to the month long honeymoon that her grandfather has planned for the two of them.

“You’re right about that, Cassia...about this day—“ Cassia raised her hand to interrupt him for she knew where this conversation was leading: Antonio was going to apologize for Nikos but it was not his fault so she wanted to hear none of it.

“Save it. There’s no harm done. I should be thanking you. There wouldn’t have been a wedding without you,” Cassia said. And she meant it.

Antonio smiled with relief and decided to let go of the issue. Instead, they watched Nikos and the others in silence.

Hours passed and with each minute, Cassia grew even more bored. Usually, it was customary for the bride and the groom to disappear first because they just could not keep their hands off of each other another minute more. Usually, they’d be eager to start their honeymoon.

But not them.

There was no reason to rush because Nikos did not want his bride. They also did not have a flight booked tonight to go on their honeymoon. Tomorrow, they’d be using the Andrade private jet to fly to Bora Bora and spend a month there for their honeymoon; one that Cassia didn’t plan on having.

If she succeeded with her plan, tomorrow she’d be using the Andrade jet for a different business: flying to America after her divorce.

So she just sat there and waited for her groom to collect her. All the while, she wished that he wouldn’t be so drunk that he wouldn’t be able to understand her plans.

Finally, after what felt like forever, Nikos was dropped before her by his drunken friends.

“Time for me to claim my bride,” Nikos announced.

Cassia’s jaw dropped and she gulped back her fear. Now she knew why he didn’t drink like his friends: he was really looking forward to this part of their marriage.

She stood up and Nikos’ rowdy friends started saying green jokes about his performance in the bedroom. Cassia cringed with every word. If this was really her wedding and it was not arranged and her groom loved her, she’d be looking forward to the events of this night. But that was not the case so she felt nothing.

No excitement, no anticipation; nothing.

Nikos took her hand and led her to his suite with long, quick strides. He kicked the door open and carried her in his arms across the threshold. When the door closed behind them, Nikos pinned her towards the door and his lips swooped down and claimed hers.

At first, she tasted alcohol on his tongue but a few more seconds of being surrounded by his exquisite taste and touch, and all thoughts fled. He lifted both his hands and placed it on the door on either side of her head, effectively trapping her inside as he deepened the kiss.

Her heart started to race.

“Now you’re mine, Cassia...” Nikos murmured as he kissed a path down the side of her neck.

He pressed his body against hers and her belly clenched with desire. Before she knew it, Cassia found her hands wrapped around him. She clutched him tightly to her as if she couldn’t get enough. She felt drunk with his kisses.

Like an addict, she craved more and more.

“Nikos...” her voice was half-plea and half-moan.

Nikos hands trailed lower and settled on her waist. His lips also traced a downward path and he licked and nipped on the skin of her neck. Her breath caught and her brain fogged with desire. She felt herself responding to his expert touch and she also wanted to feel his skin against hers. Her new husband must’ve read her mind for he shrugged his jacket off and pressed his body against hers once more. While he was kissing her, her hands were clumsily fumbling with the buttons on his shirt so that she could touch his bare skin.

“God, I want you...but I know I shouldn’t,” he whispered in between kisses.

Cassia moaned. She felt exactly the same way and it really did not make any sense.

Finally, Nikos was able to remove his shirt and her hands were touching the hard planes of his chest and abdomen.

It was sheer heaven...no man should have a body this perfect.

She felt Nikos’ hands on the zipper of her gown. Before she could react, she heard the sound of the zipper sliding downwards and cold air hit her skin. But that was just for a second before she felt Nikos’ warm hands trace a path in her back. She didn’t even have a moment to feel conscious about her body for his touch and his lips made her feel just how much he desired her.

He touched her as if he could not get enough of her. He touched her as if he worshipped every inch of her body.

“Let’s finish this...” Nikos purred seductively.

That was when fear reared its ugly head and snapped Cassia back to the present. Her body still pulsed with desire but the fog of passion was lifted from her mind. She pushed at Nikos’ chest and he let her go with a moan of complaint.

“What?” he hissed.

“We need to talk,” Cassia said in between deep breaths.

“Now?!” he groaned.

“Yes. Now. This is important. This is about this marriage.”

Nikos lifted his head and his gaze was as hard as ice. Cassia immediately regretted her words and wished that she could bring back time just so he could gaze at her with desire.

“You want to talk, right now?” he breathed. “Then talk.” Then he claimed her lips again.

This time, his hands got bolder and he tugged on the bodice of her gown. She wasn’t wearing anything underneath it so her breasts were bared to his gaze. She sucked in a breath when she felt his hot breath against her nipples.

“Yes. This is important. About tomorrow—“ Cassia began but Nikos held up a hand to silence her.

“I don’t want to hear of your plans for our marriage. Can’t we just take it one day at a time?” Nikos said through gritted teeth. He resumed his attentions and this time went for the other nipple.

“No. Please listen—“

“Just talk, I am listening,” Nikos whispered against her skin.

Truth was, he wasn’t interested in talking. He was more interested in the feel of her skin against his lips, her exquisite scent and the softness of her breasts under his hands.

“Nikos...” Cassia whimpered.

“Hmm?”

Then he moved his head lower and his tongue darted to lick one nipple. Cassia gasped and bucked underneath him. Her soft gasp just served to increase his desire further.

All protest from her disappeared when he took that nipple into his mouth and sucked. He switched to the other breast while his hand continued to tease the other. Cassia’s legs turned to jelly and she would have fallen to the floor if it wasn’t for Nikos’ strength supporting her. When he felt her surrender, he bent and scooped her up and deposited her on the wide bed.

He gazed at every inch of her now that her gown wasn’t hiding all that beauty underneath. What he saw tested his control further. Her skin looked so soft and creamy as though begging for his touch.

As he looked, Nikos also started to remove the rest of his clothing. He started with his shoes and his socks and then shrugged off the shirt that Cassia unbuttoned. He felt Cassia’s eyes on him and when he raised his head to look, he saw that her desire mirrored his.

Her mouth parted on a gasp as he slowly bared his body to her scrutiny. Her hands clutched the sheets in anticipation as he continued stripping. When he didn’t have a stitch of clothing on, her cheeks got even redder. He also saw a hint of fear in her eyes when she looked below his waist.

He joined her on the bed and gathered her in his arms before she could say anything. He melded his lips to her again and kissed all the protest and stiffness out of her body.

“I only get to be married once. We might not have got off to a great start but I guarantee I’ll be giving you a wedding night to remember.”

“Nikos...please...we really have to talk. Stop kissing me! I forget everything when you do that,” she admitted on a groan as he covered her body with his.

“That’s the whole point, agapimeni.”

Nikos kissed a path from her lips, to her throat, then to her breasts. He continued down to her navel and parted her thighs.

“What—“

“Shh...”

“Oh, God...” Cassia moaned when he started his assault on her senses.

He held on to her thighs as she writhed and bucked under his caress. Her pleasure climbed higher and higher until her release slammed through her and she came apart, writhing and crying out his name.

She was breathing heavily as he rose over her and covered her body with his.

“Nikos...” this time she was clearly begging for his touch.

Cassia’s body was on fire and she craved more pleasure from her new husband. Her initial fears were erased and she felt this was truly right. Surely, she could take this night and bury it deep in her memories as her one night with Nikos Demakis, the man who first made her heart beat.

Maybe this one night would be all they had and it would be alright...

Cassia gasped in pain as Nikos entered her but he held her tightly and murmured Greek words of comfort in her ear. He didn’t move for a long time and just let her become accustomed to his size. Then, he kissed her again and ignited her passion once more.

When he started to move, Cassia held onto him like he was her lifeline. She was sinking in this tide of passion and desire and he was the only one who could save her. Her passion also engulfed him and burned him to the point of insanity.

Each movement drove them higher and higher. Each kiss ignited them more. Each touch made everything blaze. Soon, all was lost and only the two of them existed. Nikos plunged inside her over and over.

Cassia screamed his name and her nails raked down his back as she found that pinnacle once more.

“Cassia!” he also screamed her name as his release surged through him.

Afterwards, he was left shaken with the intense pleasure he received but also very much sated.

Nikos breathed heavily.

He knew his wife was a virgin yet from the numerous girls he’d bedded – supermodels, actresses and heiresses – he experienced pleasure with her the most. She was like a breath of fresh air with her open and unabashed response to his touch. She faked nothing and what she felt with him was genuine desire.

He found himself softening towards her and rethinking his views.

Well, what if the marriage wasn’t so bad? What if they can make the most of this and maybe even grow to love one another someday?

Passion was a common ground and it could be a start for them.

“That was exquisite, glikia mou...now, we sleep and rest,” he whispered.

He placed one last kiss on her lips and curled his body around hers and pulled the sheets over both of them. They spent the night peacefully in each other’s arms.




Nikos woke up as sunlight streamed through their window. His stomach rumbled and he decided to get some breakfast. His wife was still asleep but he let her for he knew he tired her out the night before. They made love three more times before dawn.

Now, Nikos felt the aches and pains of that total of four times. On top of that was his headache from yesterday’s hangover.

He needed to eat and drink so he headed down to the hotel restaurant. He sat at a table by the balcony, ordered some coffee and grabbed the morning newspaper. As expected, the headline on the society page was his wedding with Cassia while the headline on the business page is the merger of Andrade International and Demakis Shipping Incorporated along with the announcement of him being CEO of the new mega corporation.

“Good morning, son.”

Nikos looked up from his paper and saw that Costas Andrade sat on the chair opposite his.

He sighed and replied, “Good morning, Costas.”

Costas smiled. “How went the wedding night?”

Nikos felt a spark of irritation at being questioned about something so private.

“As it usually is,” he replied with a shrug.

“Looking at you, I am glad that my granddaughter pleased you.” Nikos almost rolled his eyes but again, he just shrugged.

“I wanted to talk to you about the changes in the corporation. The merger is still fresh and I would need you in the Greece office to finalize more details. I’ll also train and introduce you to the board so that you can take over easily.”

Nikos nodded his agreement. “Anything else?” he asked.

“That’s it. Enjoy your honeymoon but I think it will need to be cut short.”

“No. I guess we’ll be skipping the honeymoon first in order to get everything settled and just have it later this year. I need to be there during the company’s transition. That cannot wait but my honeymoon can.”

“I like that attitude. Business first,” Costas said with a smirk. “Next order of business, I want to know where you’ll be living with my granddaughter.”

“My penthouse in Athens. It’s closer to both companies.”

“Well...she very much expressed her interest that she wanted to live still under my roof. Can’t you give her that? She’s still acclimating herself to Greece after living in America most of her life. It will break my heart also if she was parted with me. She very much agreed that both of you will live with me.”

Nikos clenched his teeth. How dare she agree without telling him about it?

“I’ll speak with her,” he grated in a rough tone.

“She also expressed her disinterest with bearing your heir at this point. I do hope that you will respect that wish. She is young after all and she still has her life ahead of her. Maybe after three to five years?”

“If she wants all of that, why can’t she tell me herself?” Nikos spat as he found himself growing angrier with each word.

“She’s still a bit shy and she doesn’t know how you’ll handle it. I’m really sorry about this, my boy...but there’s one more thing: about your mistresses and your lifestyle. She respects your way and I already explained it to her. I spoke to her before I went down this morning and she wasn’t really big on how your wedding night went. She told me she’d respect it if you still wanted to go with your mistresses. Just that you do it discreetly and keep her in the lifestyle she is used to.”

Nikos finally understood. He stood up abruptly and his coffee spilled on the table. He clenched his fist. How could he believe they could have had a chance when she was one huge liar and schemer just like her grandfather!

“Now I think I know what you are getting at, Costas. Cassia wants to be married to me but she can’t give up her extravagant lifestyle. She’s not ready to work with the company yet that’s why she still wants to stay with you rather than be a wife to me. She does not want to have my son and so she wants me to run along to my mistresses? Also, I have to keep giving her the lifestyle she craves which I think would cost me millions of dollars a year. Do I have it right?” Nikos snarled.

“Well, I really wanted to phrase it delicately...but you are correct. I am really sorry about this but this is how my granddaughter was brought up. I tried changing her but her ways are instilled in her. And I love her too much that I am afraid I also spoiled her.”

Nikos threw his napkin on the table.

“Well if that’s what she wants then that’s what she’ll get,” he whispered in a deadly tone.

Without another word, he turned his back and left.




“Come in,” Cassia said and the door opened.

A chambermaid came in bearing new linens.

“Housekeeping,” she answered and looked at Cassia with something like pity.

Cassia dismissed it and grabbed some water from the fridge.

“Have you seen my husband?” she asked.

The woman’s lips pursed and she turned to Cassia again with both pity and concern in her eyes.

“Mrs. Demakis, he is in suite three. But please don’t say that this came from me,” the woman said.

Before Cassia could ask more, the woman dashed out of the room.

Why did Nikos go to another suite? Was that one of his friends’ suites? Cassia sighed and resisted the urge to pull at her hair. She didn’t have time for these things now. She could not let the events from last night deter her from what she was supposed to do today.

She had to talk with Nikos and tell him about the divorce.

On the way to Suite 3, she encountered her grandfather.

“Good morning, Cassia,” he said with one of his malicious smiles Cassia hated so much.

“Good morning,” she replied tersely.

“Where are you off to little one?” he asked in a mocking tone.

“To find Nikos.”

“I’m so sorry, Cassia...I didn’t want you to find out this way...but Nikos is in suite three.”

“And what about it?”

“It’s not my place to tell you this...but you’re my granddaughter. So you must know the way of things. Men are never going to be satisfied with just one woman. They will always stray. Remember that when you face him.”

Cassia gritted her teeth and ignored her grandfather. She continued on her way towards Suite 3 and refused to think about her grandfather’s words. He knew this was another one of his ploys to kick her harder when she was down. She knocked on the door but no one answered. She found the door unlocked so she quickly entered.

Cassia saw a woman sleeping on the bed and she was naked. Then, the door to the bathroom opened and out came Nikos with his hair still wet from his shower. He only wore a towel around his lean hips.

“Nikos—“ Cassia gasped.

The woman on the bed stirred and Cassia came face to face with one of the most beautiful and famous French supermodels. Her name was Marietta and she was rumored to be Nikos’ latest mistress before he had to marry her.

Cassia gasped in shock and took a step backwards.

“Oh it’s you...” the woman purred.

Cassia’s mouth fell open when she realized the implication of Nikos being here. How could he do this? How could he take her to bed on their wedding night and then go straight to his mistress’ bed after?

Indeed, this was the last straw!

Her heart twisted inside her chest and she felt as if a knife has been plunged through. For a moment, she stopped breathing as sheer agony tore through her whole body. She knew this marriage was not real and she wished for only one night with Nikos before they went their separate ways.

Yet why did she feel like this?

“Please leave. I have to speak with my husband,” Cassia calmly implored.

“Husband, huh? Well, that marriage contract and the ring is all you’re going to get from him anyway. He’s still mine,” the woman said in heavily accented French.

Cassia felt the threat of tears in her eyes so she blinked them away quickly.

Mademoiselle, I am not looking for a fight this morning. I just want to speak with Nikos. So if you could please leave us...that would be great,” Cassia tried to stay calm as she said the words.

The woman inclined her head and slowly sat up on the bed. She shrugged then rose from the bed in all her naked glory. She even stretched before reaching for a robe beside the bed. Cassia saw red when she saw Nikos watching his mistress flaunt her body.

“I don’t really know what he saw in you. Hmm...then again, maybe it’s because of all the money to your name,” Marietta told her with ice in her voice before she started to walk across the room.

“All right. Get out!” Cassia shouted. “Nikos, we need to talk.”

“You don’t have to tell me anything. Your grandfather already said all you wanted to say,” Nikos replied in a bored tone.

“What? What did he say?!”

“That you don’t want to live with me...you don’t want to be my wife. You want to receive a big monthly allowance. Does that sum it up?”

“What? I never said that!”

Nikos threw back his head and laughed.

“Do not lie to me Cassia. I am perfectly agreeable with your terms. I thank you for letting me keep my mistresses. So quit the wounded wife act at seeing me here with Marietta. You practically gave your consent for this.”

“What?! I never said anything like that! In fact, I am wondering how you could jump from my bed to another’s in such a short span of time!”

The man even had the gall to laugh.

He gave her a patronizing glare and spoke, “I have no wish to discuss my personal affairs with you. I don’t even know why you are acting like this when you told your grandfather that I can keep my mistresses so long as I am discreet about it.”

“Nikos...I didn’t say that! Can’t you see that Costas is lying to you like he’s been doing right from the start?”

“As they say, the fruit never falls far from the tree.”

Cassia flinched as if she’s been slapped.

“Nikos...please. Listen to me. I don’t know what happened but Costas must’ve heard of my plans of divorcing you—“

“Divorce? Dear gods, where did you get that idea, wife?” Nikos asked in a mocking tone.

He finished dressing and turned to glare at her. He wrapped his arms around his chest and then casually leaned his hip on the side of the desk.

“Nikos—“

Nikos held up a hand. His green eyes burned with his fury.

“Stop it. There shall be no divorce. I think I know now what this is. You conspired with your grandfather for him to tell me to carry on with my mistresses, with my previous lifestyle. Then minutes after, when you found me in my mistress’ bed, you now want a divorce. I see what’s going on here,” Nikos laughed and strode towards her.

He gripped her arms and forced her to look at him.

“You want the divorce and you want to blame me for it so that my family will lose everything and you and your grandfather will get your greedy hands on what we own!” he roared.

“It’s not—“

“Silence! I will not listen to any more of your lies! I’ve tolerated enough, Cassia! You already have me! You have what you want! You bought me, correct? You just told your grandfather that you wanted me and he bought me for you! I’ve fulfilled the terms of the merger. I married you even though I did not want to! I even bedded you to completely seal the deal! Look at you. Who would go and marry someone like you? Good thing I was drunk or I would’ve run! Now just accept what fate has dealt your greedy little hands. We are married. This is what you wanted. This is what you’re getting. There’ll not be any fucking divorce and you’ll have to deal with me for the rest of your miserable life!” Nikos snarled.

Cassia’s eyes started to fill with tears at his hateful words.

At that moment, Hector’s words came back to her.

“Such a kind heart, princess... Now I know why people step all over you. Just promise me one thing... Never ever allow anyone to do that ever again. Hold your head high because you are better than all of them...”

She promised him she’d never allow that again.

“You are wrong, Nikos. I’m as much a victim of this as you. My grandfather forced me to marry—“

Nikos threw back his head and laughed.

“Save it for someone who’s dumb enough to believe your lies.”

“If you would just listen to me!” Cassia shouted.

“Never ever shout at me,” Nikos said through gritted teeth and tightened his grip on Cassia’s hand causing her to whimper in pain. “If you think you can control my life just because you are my wife, then you are wrong. I will live my life the way I want. No one can tell me otherwise! Once is already enough.”

He tugged on Cassia’s hand and brought her towards the door.

“Stop it, Nikos! I don’t deserve any of this!”

“You signed up for it when you asked your grandfather to buy me. Now, tell me princess: was it worth it then? Am I still the husband of your dreams? Or have you finally woken up to reality?”

This time Cassia’s tears spilled over as she shook her head. She did not want to cry in front of him.

“You don’t know anything about me Nikos. Stop presuming that you have me figured out! I told you that I was a victim of this too...if you would only listen, I can explain everything.”

“I don’t want your explanations! I just want you out of this room!” Nikos growled.

He reached for his bag and his luggage that was already packed.

“Here’s the number of my personal assistant. Call him to ask for anything you need. Honeymoon’s cancelled. I have too much work to do,” Nikos kept on talking as he continued to rummage around his bag.

With each word, Cassia felt her hope and strength draining further.

“By the way, your grandfather told me you wanted to live with him. But if you change your mind, you are welcome to any estate of mine you want, except the one where I am currently staying. Don’t like my houses? Go buy one for yourself. As for money, don’t worry. Even before we got married, I already opened an account in your name. Call my assistant James if you need anything more,” Nikos tossed her the calling card of his assistant.

Again, Cassia flinched but Nikos was beyond caring at this point.

“In case that’s not enough. Here. Sky is the limit,” he tossed her a black credit card.

Cassia ignored the card yet she paled even further at Nikos’ gesture. Her vision blurred as more and more tears drifted down her pale cheeks.

How could he have gone from the tender lover last night into this hateful man before her today?

“Even if this marriage isn’t real, I still can’t believe that you are this kind of person. I thought you were a good man. It turns out I was wrong after all!”

Now it was Cassia’s turn to laugh sarcastically.

Nikos scoffed.

“Yes. You are wrong. I am not the knight in shining armor that you bought with your money. I am just Nikos Demakis. I live my life the way I please. Don’t go flaunting your influence over me and threatening me with a divorce. Whatever you are planning with your grandfather, it’s not going to happen. I wed you because of money. Nothing more, nothing less. One day, I’ll be able to repay every single euro and I’ll throw all of it back into you and your grandfather’s faces!” Nikos shouted.

Cassia flinched from his tone and yanked her hand so that she could free herself from him. However, Nikos grip was like steel.

“Let’s set everything straight right now, wife. I will not let you dictate any part of my life, as I will not dictate yours. Live your life as you please and I will live mine as I please. Right now, what pleases me is to leave this place. I’m taking Marietta with me for she pleases me, not you.”

Cassia opened her mouth to reply but before she could, the door opened and Nikos friends’ including Antonio entered. They must’ve heard all the shouting and came here to investigate. Cassia heard Antonio groan as he saw the scene that was playing out before him.

“Whoah, Nikos! One day and you’re already back with Marietta? Sweet,” his rowdy friends cheered.

They added several lewd comments and did not even consider the fact that Nikos’ wife was here at this very room and that she could hear every word. What added more salt to the wound was that Nikos laughed at the things his friends said.

“Have you no respect?!” Cassia shouted.

Immediately, everyone fell silent and some even stared at her as if this was the first time they were truly seeing her.

“Cassia...come...let us go and leave them be,” Antonio offered as he took her arm.

She yanked her hand back.

“No! This is too much! I told you I was a victim of this marriage too but you did not want to believe me. You have insulted me at every turn when all I wanted was to help! I could have left and you wouldn’t have had the merger but I did not for I felt as if I owed it to you. But I owe you nothing! Nothing! And I sure as hell don’t deserve all the humiliation that you’re giving me! Getting drunk at your own wedding and then flaunting your mistress in front of me? You may all be rich and educated but you know nothing!” Cassia shouted as she reached the end of her patience.

“Take those words back. I will never let you speak ill of my friends and of Marietta,” Nikos snarled close to her ear.

“No! Never! I do not deserve all of this! You do not deserve me.”

Nikos threw his head back and laughed. His friends did the same.

“I think you are living in an illusion. You do not deserve someone like me,” Nikos growled while his friends laughed and nodded in approval.

“To think that I suffered through everything just for this. To think I considered defying my grandfather just to give you back all you lost. But no, you do not deserve even a single penny.”

“So what are you saying? Are you threatening to go to the lawyers and tell them it’s my fault and you want a divorce so that all the money goes to you according to our contract? You can’t do that. You won’t be able to prove anything. I’ll fight you every step of the way,” Nikos threatened.

“No...but I can do something worse. You know, I considered divorcing you today and telling them I had a lover so that all the money would go back to you. You would win and my grandfather would lose his revenge scheme. I want no part of the money and to think I was willing to give all of it up. Now...I don’t think so,” Cassia said in the bravest and iciest tone she could muster.

She smiled when she saw that this time it was Nikos who was stunned speechless.

“I don’t believe you. You are as cunning and as conniving as your grandfather. Like him, every word that comes from those pretty lips is a lie,” he shouted.

“Nikos, stop it!” Antonio ordered. He surged forward and placed a restraining hand on Nikos’ arm.

“Stay out if this,” Nikos growled.

He yanked Cassia back and stared at her. This time, Cassia tugged her hand away and rubbed some blood back to her wrist.

“Go on, Nikos. Go live your life the way you please and I’ll live mine. For all that I’ve been through, I’ll make sure I make your life a living hell,” Cassia said sweetly.

“Get out!” Nikos shouted and he pushed Cassia towards the door.

She stumbled and fell on the corridor and Antonio ran after her. He helped her to her feet but she denied any further assistance. Then, she did what she promised Hector: she drew herself to full height and held her head up for she truly believed that she was better than all of them.

“You made a big mistake, Nikos. One day you’ll realize that.”

Then, she walked away without another backward glance.

Cassia went back to their suite and grabbed her belongings that were already neatly packed for her supposed honeymoon. As she waited for a taxi, she saw Nikos boarding his private yacht with his mistress. His arm was wrapped around her while she was giggling at something he said. He stepped onto his yacht and never even looked back.

Then again, maybe she was not supposed to forget all of it.

She’d remember this day. She’d remember Nikos and the pain he dealt her. She’d remember how much she thought she loved him and how he smashed her heart to pieces. One day, she’d have her revenge.

One day she’d make him pay...

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