An Heir to Bind Them

By: Dani Collins


THEO MAKRICOSTA BLINKED sweat out of his eyes as he glanced between his helicopter’s fuel gauge and the approaching shoreline. He was a numbers man so he didn’t worry at times like this; he calculated. His habit was to carry twice the fuel needed for any flight. He’d barely touched down on the yacht before he’d been airborne for his return trip. A to B equaled B to A, so he should have enough.

Except in this case B stood for boat, which was a moving point.

And he’d made a split-second decision as he lifted off the Makricosta Enchantment to go to Marseille rather than back to Barcelona. It had been an instinct, the type of impulse that wasn’t like him at all, but uncharacteristic panic had snared him in those first few seconds as he took flight. He had wheeled the bird toward what felt like salvation.

It had been a ludicrous urge, but he was committed now.

And soaked in perspiration.

Not that he was worried for his own life. He wouldn’t be missed if he dropped out of the sky. But his cargo would. The pressure to safeguard his passengers had him so tense he was liable to snap his stick.

It didn’t help that despite the thump of the rotors and his earmuffs plugged into the radio, he could hear both babies screaming their lungs out. He already sucked at being a brother. Now he might literally go down in flames as an uncle. Good thing he’d never tried fatherhood.

Swiping his wet palm on his thigh, he pulled his phone from his pocket. Texting and flying was about as smart as texting while driving, but if he managed to land safely, he would have a fresh host of problems to contend with. His instincts in heading north instead of west weren’t that far off. The perfect person to help him was in Marseille.

If she’d help him.

He called up the message he should have deleted a long time ago.

This is my new number, in case that’s the reason you never called me back. Jaya.

Ignoring the twist of shame the words still wrung out of his conscience, he silently hoped her heart was as soft as he remembered it.

                      CHAPTER ONE

Eighteen months ago...

JAYA POWERS HEARD the helicopter midmorning, but Theo Makricosta still hadn’t called her by five, when she was technically off the clock. Off the payroll in fact, and leaving in twelve hours.

Ignoring the war between giddiness and heartache going on in her middle, she reminded herself that normal hours of work didn’t confine Mr. Makricosta. He traveled so much that sometimes he couldn’t sleep, so he worked instead. If he wanted files or records or reports, he called despite the time and politely asked her for them. Then he reminded her to put in for lieu or overtime and thanked her for her trouble. He was an exceptionally good man to work for and she was going to miss him way beyond what was appropriate.

Staring at herself in the mirror, packed bags organized behind her, she wondered why she was still dressed in her Makricosta Resort uniform. She gave herself a pitying headshake. Her hair was brushed and restored to its heavy bun, her makeup refreshed, her teeth clean. All in readiness for his call.

After everything that had sent her running from her home in India, she never would have seen herself turning into this: a girl with a monumental crush on her boss.

Did he know she was leaving and didn’t care? He’d never overstepped into personal, ever. If he had any awareness that she was a woman, she’d be shocked.

That thought prompted her to give a mild snort. If she hadn’t seen him buy dinner for the occasional single, vacationing woman, always accompanying her back to her room then subsequently writing off her stay against his personal expense account, she’d have surmised he wasn’t aware of women at all.

But he hooked up when it suited him and it made her feel...odd. Aware and dismayed and kind of jealous.

Which was odd because she didn’t want to sleep with him. Did she?

A flutter of anxious tension crept from her middle toward her heart. It wasn’t terror and nausea, though. It wasn’t the way she typically felt when she thought of sex.

It wasn’t fireworks and shooting stars, either, so why did she care that she might not have a chance to say goodbye?

Her entire being deflated. She had to say goodbye. It wasn’t logical to feel so attached to someone who’d been nothing but professional and detached, but she did. The promotions and career challenges alone had made him a huge part of her life, whether his encouragement had been personal or not. More importantly, the way he respected her as useful and competent had nurtured her back to feeling safe in her workplace again. He made her feel like maybe, just maybe, she could be a whole woman, rather than one who had severed herself from all but the most basic of her female attributes.