The Secret Beneath the Veil

By: Dani Collins

“You may kiss the bride.”

With five little words, Mikolas Petrides secures a vital business merger and finally repays his grandfather for rescuing him from the horrors of his childhood. But when he lifts his new bride’s veil, it’s not the woman he was expecting!

Viveka Brice will do anything to protect her little sister, even pretend to marry a stranger. Her deception revealed, she flees the wedding, but is soon confronted by Mikolas. He is a man who always gets what he wants, and if the marriage is off, Viveka will have to compensate him—by becoming his mistress instead!

“You may kiss the bride.”

Mikolas revealed his bride’s face and froze.

She was beautiful. Her mouth was eye-catching with a lush upper lip and a bashful bottom one tucked beneath it. Her chin was strong and came up a notch in a hint of challenge while her blue, blue irises blinked at him.

This was no girl on the brink of legal age. She was a woman, one who was mature enough to look him straight in the eye without flinching.

She was not Trina Stamos.

“Who the hell are you?”


THE AFTERNOON SUN came straight through the windows, blinding Viveka Brice as she walked down the makeshift aisle of the wedding she was preventing—not that anyone knew that yet.

The interior of the yacht club, situated on this remote yet exclusive island in the Aegean, was all marble and brass, adding more bounces of white light. Coupled with the layers of her veil, she could hardly see and had to reluctantly cling to the arm of her reviled stepfather.

He probably couldn’t see any better than she could. Otherwise he would have called her out for ruining his plan. He certainly hadn’t noticed she wasn’t Trina.

She was getting away with hiding the fact her sister had left the building. It made her stomach both churn with nerves and flutter with excitement.

She squinted, trying to focus past the standing guests and the wedding party arranged before the robed minister. She deliberately avoided looking at the tall, imposing form of the unsuspecting groom, staring instead through the windows and the forest of masts bobbing on the water. Her sister was safe from this forced marriage to a stranger, she reminded herself, trying to calm her racing heart.

Forty minutes ago, Trina had let her father into the room where she was dressing. She’d still been wearing this gown, but hadn’t yet put on the veil. She had promised Grigor she would be ready on time while Viveka had kept well out of sight. Grigor didn’t even know Viveka was back on the island.

The moment he’d left the room, Viveka had helped Trina out of the gown and Trina had helped her into it. They had hugged hard, then Trina had disappeared down a service elevator and onto the seaplane her true love had chartered. They were making for one of the bigger islands to the north where arrangements were in place to marry them the moment they touched land. Viveka was buying them time by allaying suspicion, letting the ceremony continue as long as possible before she revealed herself and made her own escape.

She searched the horizon again, looking for the flag of the boat she’d hired. It was impossible to spot and that made her even more anxious than the idea of getting onto the perfectly serviceable craft. She hated boats, but she wasn’t in the class that could afford private helicopters to take her to and fro. She’d given a sizable chunk of her savings to Stephanos, to help him spirit Trina away in that small plane. Spending the rest on crossing the Aegean in a speedboat was pretty close to her worst nightmare, but the ferry made only one trip per day and had left her here this morning.

She knew which slip the boat was using, though. She’d paid the captain to wait and Stephanos had assured her she could safely leave her bags on board. Once she was exposed, she wouldn’t even change. She would seek out that wretched boat, grit her teeth and sail into the sunset, content that she had finally prevailed over Grigor.

Her heart took a list and roll as they reached the top of the aisle, and Grigor handed her icy fingers to Trina’s groom, the very daunting Mikolas Petrides.

His touch caused a zing of something to go through her. She told herself it was alarm. Nervous tension.

His grip faltered almost imperceptibly. Had he felt that static shock? His fingers shifted to enfold hers, pressing warmth through her whole body. Not comfort. She didn’t fool herself into believing he would bother with that. He was even more intimidating in person than in his photos, exactly as Trina had said.

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