Claiming the Drakos Heir(4)

By: Jennifer Faye

Apollo slammed the door on the bad memories. But no matter how many times he turned his back on the past, the door would eventually creak open once more. He’d heard it said that you can’t outrun the past. He should know—he’d been trying for years and it was still just a blink away.

He needed to concentrate on the here and now. Everything was such an utter mess. If only he’d have come home when his brother had asked...

But being away on a two-month hiking expedition in the Himalayas, he’d been out of contact with the entire world—including his older brother, Nile. At the time, Apollo found it so freeing. A chance to let go of the ghosts of the past and embrace the present. At the time, he’d had no idea how much that freedom would cost him.

When he’d returned to civilization, he’d been unconscious, injured and alone. By the time he’d been able to speak on the phone, he’d had no one to call about his accident because his brother had been furious with him during their final phone conversation. After surgery and therapy for his broken leg, a private investigator had tracked him down at the hospital. It was then that he’d received the worst news of his life.

His big, strong, protective brother was dead.

Apollo’s footloose and carefree life had come to an end in that moment.

All of the things that he’d put off—all of the words that he’d hesitated to say to Nile—the overdue apology, the thank-you, the I love you, brother—the chance to say any of it had slipped through his fingers. His brother would never know what he meant to him—how much he longed to mend their relationship.

In that moment, Apollo had never felt so alone in his life.

And then in the next breath, the investigator had informed him that he had a niece or nephew. Apollo’s heart had leapt. There was another Drakos in this world. He wasn’t alone.

He had one last chance to make it up to his brother for cutting loose and leaving home all those years ago. He’d let Nile deal with all the Drakos’ business and their father. But on one sunny afternoon, his brother’s life had been cut incredibly short, as was his sister-in-law’s.

A boating accident. Who dies while boating?

It seemed unreal. So implausible. And yet the sharp pain of loss was quite real. And to add salt to the wound, it had happened almost two months ago. His brother and sister-in-law had been laid to rest and Apollo hadn’t been there for any of it because no one knew where he was...except his brother.

He’d once again let down Nile. But that wouldn’t happen again. He was on Infinity Island to retrieve his niece or nephew...even if it meant he had to wait for its very precious arrival.

Apollo’s thoughts turned back to Popi. He knew she’d been through a lot—he knew better than anyone. How would she react when she learned he was there for the baby?

Maybe she’d filed for custody of the baby because she didn’t think he’d want to take responsibility for the baby. Maybe once he explained things to her, she’d realize the baby belonged with him, where the child would be groomed to take over the Drakos empire. Could it really be that simple? Would Popi hand the baby over to him like she’d been planning to do with his brother and her sister?

Apollo thought about following her to the back of the bungalow and reasoning with her. But then he recalled that little pink robe. He swallowed hard. Did she realize it barely covered her? It was so tantalizing, hinting at the curvy goodness that lay beneath. But the robe never really revealed anything scandalous. It was more the knowledge that she didn’t have a thing on underneath that turned his blood red-hot.

He tugged on his shirt collar. It was a bit warm out, even with the sea breeze. His mind was still replaying the images of Popi. He’d gotten a good view of her shapely legs. They were long and smooth. His mouth grew dry. Why did this woman have to be so good-looking? It was a distraction that he didn’t need or want.

His back teeth ground together. He had to get past the superficial. His purpose for coming to the island couldn’t be forgotten. If he stayed focused, he would soon forget about Popi’s finer assets. At least he hoped so.

Apollo walked back out the front door. He started down the steps with no particular destination in mind. He didn’t even know anything about this island, except that the woman who was carrying his last living relative lived here.

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