The Greek’s Cinderella Deal by Carol Marinelli
Costa Leventis barely looked up from his computer as Galen approached. ‘Not now.’
It was Saturday morning, but the day of the week stopped neither working and Costa really wanted to get on. Yet Galen wasn’t budging.
‘Why do you still not have a PA?’
‘Why would I when I can borrow yours?’
It was both a running joke and a bone of contention—they shared a vast office space in Kolonaki, an upmarket neighbourhood in Athens. Or rather Galen’s tech company was run from the same building as Costa’s property empire.
At first they had combined their limited resources for what had been practically a cupboard in the affluent neighbourhood. Their smart address had made their ventures more believable to the powers that be. They were not friends as such—just two poor boys from Anapliró who wanted to do well. For themselves rather than for each other. Their arrangement had worked, for between them they now jointly owned the building and separately each owned much more.
‘Your borrowing my PA is the reason we need to speak,’ Galen said. ‘Kristina will be going on maternity leave soon—’
‘Is she expecting, then?’
‘Jesus, Costa!’ Galen couldn’t help but give a reluctant laugh. ‘She’s nearly seven months.’
‘Well, if you’re hiring a new PA, could I suggest you get one with a warmer personality?’
‘I’m not asking for advice,’ Galen countered. ‘Kristina and I have been discussing what her job will look like on her return and you’re the main sticking point. She loathes running your extensive little black book.’
‘Please,’ Costa dismissed. ‘Occasionally I might ask her to send flowers, or cancel a restaurant booking.’
‘You’ve just called her at home, on a Saturday morning, and asked her to sort out a flight, book your preferred London hotel and organise a private table at the bar.’
‘It was a last-minute decision. Anyway, that’s business and nothing to do with my little black book.’
‘Kristina deals with my business. She’s not on your payroll.’
Both men were formidable in their own way, and neither was prone to backing down.
‘You need to hire your own PA, not constantly borrow mine. You have damned virtual assistants everywhere, yet no single point of contact.’
‘I am my point of contact,’ Costa said.
He certainly didn’t want someone delving into his business and knowing his whereabouts, but more to the point...
‘Hey, for all I’m suddenly the bad guy, why wasn’t Kristina having the same issues with me when she was trying to find a location for her engagement party?’
Costa answered Galen’s silence.
‘It was held in my hotel in Paris and, if I remember correctly, I covered the bill. Then, when she told you she was considering leaving work because of the stress of her wedding, compounded by Difficult Me, didn’t I tell her my staff in Liechtenstein would take care of her wedding?’
Yes, Costa might ask for her help on occasion, but she was extremely well compensated for her occasional reluctant efforts.
‘She has another agenda,’ Costa stated, for while Galen was better with numbers, Costa was an expert at reading people.
‘Just stop asking her to take care of your business.’
‘For sure,’ Costa said. ‘I shall send flowers and apologise.’
Though he doubted that would appease Kristina; he was positive that she was after something.
‘So what are you doing, meeting with Ridgemont now?’ Galen asked.
Costa frowned, for Galen was not one for idle conversation. Certainly they rarely got involved in each other’s line of work. ‘I told Kristina not to gossip.’
‘It was a formal complaint, not gossip,’ Galen countered. ‘It’s signatures next week on the Middle East deal, isn’t it?’
Costa didn’t respond.
‘I’m just curious as to why you’re seeing him tonight when you’ve been stalling for weeks.’
‘We’re Greek,’ Costa responded casually. ‘You know that means we do business face to face.’
‘Ridgemont’s not Greek,’ Galen needlessly pointed out. ‘And you stopped partying with him long ago.’
‘Some things are best said out of the boardroom.’
‘Costa,’ Galen warned. ‘I’m not sure what you’re up to, but—’
‘Let’s keep it that way.’ Costa was brusque now, closing his computer and getting ready to head off to catch his plane.
‘The recent land sale in Anapliró...the unavoidable delays...’ Galen spoke on. ‘If I’m guessing right, then so too might Ridgemont.’
Still Costa said nothing.
‘He’s a tyrant.’
‘You think I don’t know that?’
‘Look, I don’t doubt you have the legalities covered. But for all Ridgemont’s pedigree he’s a spoiled man-child with a temper. If you’re about to shaft him...’
Christ, even Galen could see it!
‘Then it’s just as well I was once kakoúrgos.’ Costa shrugged, for he had survived the streets and, yes, had been a bit thuggish at times. ‘Don’t waste your time worrying about my business.’
‘Keep your guard up, Costa...’ Galen warned.
Except Costa did not need Galen’s warning. His guard had been up for more than a quarter of a century.
Costa had hated Eric Ridgemont with a passion since he was ten. Not that Galen or anyone else knew that.
Now he was headed to London with but one thing on his mind.
It started tonight.