Shackled by Diamonds

By: Julia James

His eyes flicked across to the two chairs on the other side of the orchestra. The blonde was there, looking more uptight than ever, but the chair beside her was empty.

Leo felt his mouth tightening again.

Definitely a troublemaker.

He’d had confirmation. He’d sent for his aide, Justin, who was taking care of the publicity side of the Levantsky launch, and told him to check that the black-haired girl was this time obeying orders. Justin had looked nervous, and muttered something about her agency warning him that she had a bit of an attitude issue.

Leo had just looked at Justin. ‘Not while she’s here,’ he’d said.

Justin had scurried off.

Leo took his place beside the minister’s wife. The orchestra went on tuning up.

The girl cut it fine. Very fine.

The audience were finally quietening; the conductor was at his podium.

She came gliding in, whisking into her seat. Then she just sat there, hands folded demurely in her lap.

She had the tiara in her hair, long drops in her ears, bracelets on both arms, and the necklace of diamonds.

Looking exactly like an illuminated Christmas tree.

Leo’s mouth tightened.

He hated being wrong. About anything.

Or anyone.

Anna’s feet were killing her again. It was the worst aspect of modelling, she thought—apart from the boredom and the sleaze.

But she stood, politely attentive, while a stout German industrialist regaled her with the healing properties of spa waters. Across the room, Anna could see Leo Makarios talking to someone. She hoped he was happy with the Christmas lights.

They were certainly getting enough attention from the guests, that was for sure. She’d been on the receiving end of countless inspections by both men and women—though the male ones had been liberally blended with lecherous looks as well—speculating about the price. And not just of the jewels.

That was why she was sticking where she was. Spa cures might not be the most fascinating subject in the world, but the German industrialist was treating her with great courtesy. Better still, he was keeping other men away from her.

All except one.

‘Hans, wie gehts?’

The deep, accented voice was unmistakable.

Anna felt herself tense automatically, vivid with awareness of who had just approached.

The industrialist’s face lit into a warm smile and he launched into German. As Leo Makarios answered him in the same language, his voice rich and smooth, Anna could feel him looking at her, taking in the ostentatious display of diamonds she was showing off.

As he regarded her she kept her face expressionless, her eyes blank.

For a moment Leo thought of telling her that she’d been right, that wearing the entire parure was overkill, detracting from the exquisite beauty of the rainfall necklace.

Then Hans Federman was asking a question about his experience of doing business in the former Eastern Bloc, and comparing it with his own company’s experiences.

Taking advantage of the diversion, Anna was about to drift off. But as she started to move, without pausing a beat in what he was saying, Leo Makarios snaked his hand out and fastened it round her wrist.

Anna froze. Entirely opposite reactions flashed through her. One was an instinct to yank her arm away from his restraining hold. The second was a bolt of hot electricity that shocked her to her core.

Then, abruptly, her wrist was dropped. Leo Makarios stopped talking and turned his head to her.

‘Don’t wander off, please, Ms…?’ He cocked an eyebrow at her, pointedly waiting for her to supply her name.

‘Anna Delane,’ she said reluctantly. She wondered why she was so unwilling to let Leo Makarios know her name. All he had to do was ask one of his scores of minions, including that obsequious toady Justin Vennor, who’d lectured the four models for half an hour on how they must behave impeccably in such august and glittering surroundings.


It was just her name, that was all. She’d heard it said all her life.

But not like this…

A shiver went down her spine. She could feel it. It started somewhere at the nape of her neck and shimmered down the length of her back.

For a second Leo’s gaze just rested on her. She felt it like a tangible weight. Assessing her.

Then it was gone. Leo Makarios turned back and resumed his German conversation.

Mutely, Anna stayed at his side.

He kept her there for the rest of the evening.

It took all her professionalism to keep going. That and a dogged, grim determination that she was not going to let this get to her.

Let Leo Makarios get to her.

Because he was.

She could tell herself all she liked that to a man like Leo Makarios, surrounded as he was by chic, elegant, rich and aristocratic women from his own world, she was nothing but a walking jewellery display.

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