Billionaire's Revenge

By: Marie Kelly
Chapter One

Sara Balfour stood in the large elegant ballroom, feeling uncomfortable and awkward as her eyes scanned the room; her teeth savaged the softness of her bottom lip as she waited. Time and again she had been approached by men, their suave smiles barely hiding the lecherous looks in their eyes as they tried to engage her in conversation, each and every one having to give up as she brushed off their well-practiced pick-up lines. Flicking a look at her watch, her stomach clenched into a tight knot of nerves and tension as she waited - waited to see the one person who held so much power over her family’s future.

Movement on stage finally heralded the main event of the night: the keynote speech of the CEO and main shareholder of the Garelli Corporation, the man she had come to see that night. Sara had researched the head of the Garelli Empire, an older stately man, his online pictures portraying a handsome distinguished man in his sixties, her eyes that evening scanning the area continuously for him in the hope of being able to talk with him prior to his speech.

The emcee moving forward had once more brought her attention to the stage as he began his introduction, giving a brief history of the CEO and his many accomplishments. Sara was not really listening as she flicked her look around the side of the stage, a small frown knitted onto her smooth forehead. Stepping back she took a deep steadying breath, not concentrating on those around her as she collided into the arms of a man moving forward. Quickly spinning round with an apologetic look on her lovely features, she was aware as the man pushed out a steadying hand, his fingers warm as they wrapped around her arm, his handsome features smiling down at her as he mumbled a soft apology back, his voice deep and sensual. She took in the way his eyes slid down her with interest, appreciating the stunning woman before him before they reached her lovely face. His look changed, a note of confusion entered the darkest eyes she had ever seen, eyes familiar to her as she stared back at him in stunned disbelief.

“Darius?” the soft almost inaudible name escaped her shocked lips as he looked more carefully back, his warm eyes becoming cold and hard as recognition finally hit him. “Sara!” her name bitten out contemptuously as the speaker finished his introduction, his voice hardly registering to Sara as she stared back at the man she had known so many years before.

“So give a big hand for the Chief Executive Officer of Garelli Corporation, Mr Darius Garelli” A spontaneous eruption of applauding hands broke through the mesmerized way the two stared at the other. Pulling his eyes from her, his body stiff, he moved forward, quickly ascending the steps at the side of the stage. Sara stood in stunned shock, nausea filling her as she watched Darius Garelli - a man she had known as Darius Larosa - take his rightful place before the throng of rich partygoers.

Lifting a shaky hand to her forehead, she felt the despondency roll over her, the despair of knowing that it was finished, that her family’s last hope had been dashed away. She swallowed hard to hold back the tears which burned the back of her eyes. They were doomed, there was no salvation to be found at the hands of the man who after talking to one of his security guards moved with all the grace and confidence of a panther to begin his speech, as Sara once more flicked a stunned look down his wonderful body.

With a definitive movement she tore her eyes from him, turning with determination, defeat sitting heavily on her, as she pushed her way through the multitude of bodies which swarmed forward to hear the great man talk. Sara needed to be out of there, needed to put as much distance between herself and Darius Garelli as she could. Reaching the door, the security guard she had witnessed him talking to moved before her, blocking her way, his stance foreboding as he politely but firmly spoke to her. “Mr Garelli would like you to wait for him in his private office Miss”

Shaking her head firmly Sara refused to be intimidated by the tall man, her hand reached out to pull open the door. “I don’t think so. Please tell Mr Garelli that I politely declined his offer”, moving forward as the security man continued, a small almost unperceivable twitch of his lips the only real sign he heard her. “I was told that if you felt that way to say to you: ‘Paxton Holdings’”

The two words froze her to the spot, her eyes flying around to stare in disbelief at the man on the stage. A short video was playing and while the throng watched it, his eyes were focussed solely on her, their eyes colliding, his look unwavering and cold. Sara felt the pain wash through her. He knew. He knew everything. Pulling her look from him, her shoulders sagged in defeat as she nodded to the security guard, her posture and expression an admission of surrender as she allowed the door to close, before moving behind the guard to another entrance, the sounds of the presentation disappearing as she was led to the elevator.