Deadly secrets, p.1
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       Deadly Secrets, p.1
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           Angel Sefer
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Deadly Secrets


  Deadly Secrets

  A novel of

  The Greek Isles Series

  Angel Sefer

  Booktrope Editions

  Seattle WA 2014

  Copyright 2014 Angel Sefer

  This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

  Attribution — You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).

  Noncommercial — You may not use this work for commercial purposes.

  No Derivative Works — You may not alter, transform, or build upon this work.

  Inquiries about additional permissions should be directed to: info@booktrope.com

  Cover Design by Shari Ryan

  Edited by Jacy Mackin

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to similarly named places or to persons living or deceased is unintentional.

  Print ISBN 978-1-62015-430-4

  EPUB ISBN 978-1-62015-420-5

  DISCOUNTS OR CUSTOMIZED EDITIONS MAY BE AVAILABLE FOR EDUCATIONAL AND OTHER GROUPS BASED ON BULK PURCHASE.

  For further information please contact info@booktrope.com

  Library of Congress Control Number: 2014908423

  Table of Contents

  Cover

  Title Page

  Copyright Page

  Dedications

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Epilogue

  Note from the Author

  More from Angel Sefer and Booktrope

  Dedications

  In memory of my late mother, Helen, a wonderful mother and my best friend. She will always be remembered for her love, kindness, and wisdom, and will live in my heart forever…

  In memory of my late grandmother, Lili, whose unconditional love and encouragement inspired me throughout the years.

  Dedicated to my beloved family in Greece and the USA for all their love, guidance, and support; and especially, to my wonderful husband Bill, my loving father Dimitris, my amazing Aunt Angie, and my adorable son Dimitris.

  Many thanks to my publisher Booktrope and my wonderful team: my editor, Jacy Mackin; my proofreader, Jennifer Gracen; my cover designer, Shari Ryan; and last but not least, my amazing book manager, Sarka-Jonae Miller.

  Chapter One

  HELENA SQUEEZED THE WOODEN SHIP railing until her knuckles whitened. Trying to control the turmoil of her emotions, she took a deep breath of fresh, salty air and let it out slowly. Her heart still thundered in her chest... Am I really going through with this?

  An eerie feeling washed over her, making the hair on the back of her neck stand on end. She scanned her surroundings uneasily. The ship deck was full of people—mostly families. What about him? she wondered, and releasing the railing, turned on her heel. A tall, slim man dressed in black, standing on the other side of the deck, stared at her intensely with piercing eyes. Helena swallowed hard. Pushing back the fear, she stared right back at him. Being among so many people gave her a sense of security. The man hesitated for a moment and then walked away.

  Stop being paranoid! she reprimanded herself. There’s nothing to worry about… then again, what was that last night? she shivered, thinking of the night before when someone accidentally bumped into her on the pavement in front of her hotel and pushed her right in front of a speeding car. If the hotel concierge hadn’t pulled me back at the very last minute… She closed her eyes and shook her head to clear her gloomy thoughts. Everything is going to be all right, she tried to persuade herself. I need to do this… I need to do it for my father… I need to do it for myself…

  A little girl’s laughter brought her back to reality. She turned and looked at the happy, little face... I could have been happy like that, if only…

  Closing her eyes, she leaned her head back and stood still, enjoying the caress of the warm sunlight on her face and the revitalizing sea breeze blowing softly through her hair. What an amazing sensation! She opened her eyes and let the captivating scenery fill her vision. It took her breath away. This is how Dad must have felt every time he stood on the bridge of his ship. She leaned against the railing, mesmerized by the magnificent view of the crystal clear, sapphire waters of the Aegean Sea. Her thoughts flew back to cherished memories of her childhood, and she was overwhelmed. She could hardly wait…

  Feeling restless, she looked around her, wondering how much longer it would take them to get there. Mykonos was only a few hours trip from Athens, but it seemed like ages to her.

  It had been thirteen years since she last saw the amazing, blue waters of the Aegean and the beautiful island where she was born. She had been only eight years old when her father was declared dead, and her mother, heartbroken, took little Helena to England.

  Since then, the shadows of the past kept her mother away from the island she used to adore. Only after her mother’s death had Helena decided to come back to meet her only living relatives, and to try to unravel the mystery surrounding her father’s death.

  Now, as the ship approached the shores of Mykonos, Helena closed her eyes and saw her mother’s pale face, staring at her with eyes wide open from anxiety and fear. Don’t go back! Don’t ever go back! I want you to promise me… Helena could still hear her soft, trembling voice whispering while she was squeezing her hand tightly.

  Helena swallowed hard, feeling her heart flutter wildly. I have nothing to worry about, she tried to reassure herself. All she needed were some answers, and after that, she would head back to England, and go on with her life. However, deep down inside, she knew it wasn’t going to be that simple. Deep down inside, she had this eerie feeling that destiny was waiting just around the corner for her…

  ***

  Thinking back, she could vividly remember her happy childhood. They used to live in a big, white house on top of a cliff, overlooking the Aegean. She would wake up in the morning and run to her balcony to enjoy the breathtaking view.

  Her parents were so happy back then. The main offices of her father’s shipping company were in Piraeus—the harbor of Athens—but he ran the business mainly from the island, in order to spend as much time as possible with her mother and her.

  Mykonos was a beautiful island, which took her mother’s breath away when she stepped foot on it as a young bride twenty-two years before. The beauty of the land and the kindness of the people kept her captive for a long time. Erin, Helena’s mother, was hopelessly in love with her husband, Captain Angelos Sistakis, and never regretted following him to his homeland, or leaving London, with its cloudy days, behind.

  The sunshine in Greece warmed people’s hearts; something about all these islands spread across the Aegean captivated their souls, and they never wanted to leave.

  That’s precisely the way Helena felt when her mother told her they were leaving. She’d cried and pleaded to stay, but her mother’s decision was final. Her father’s mysterious disappearance had broken her mother’s heart, and the place had lost its magic touch. Her mother just wanted to get out of there as soon as possible and leave the memories behind.

  However, her mother never forgot th
e love she and Angelos shared and the happy moments at their house on the island. She spent the rest of her life bitter and miserable. Two years ago, she became sick. Helena watched her slowly fade away and wondered if she even tried to recover.

  For the last thirteen years, her mother hadn’t been the same cheerful and lively woman she used to be. She never got over her husband’s tragic death, but deep down inside, Helena knew it was a lot more than that… her mother feared for her little girl’s life. She was convinced Angelos’ death wasn’t an accident, and that Helena was in grave danger, as well…

  ***

  The beauty in front of her interrupted her thoughts. She took a deep breath, staring at the shores of Mykonos with the scenic coves and the golden sand beaches. Welcome home, Helena… Her heartbeat accelerated, and anticipation washed over her like a cold wave. Tears filled her eyes, seeing her homeland… the land of her adorable father… the land of her ancestors. She was finally home—the home she’d been deprived of for so long…

  She wiped the tears with the back of a shaky hand. It was so unfair to lose her father at such a tender age, and to be deprived of everything and everyone she ever knew. Helena, however, knew her mother was scared; she was scared to death. She lived the rest of her life with a threat hovering over her, every step of the way. Was it real? Helena wondered, and the scene of the previous night’s near miss flashed before her eyes. Was any of it real? Helena had thought about it a million times. The only thing she was sure about was that the threat felt real to her mother.

  And what about Grandma’s diary? Helena wondered. According to her mother, Eleana—Angelos’ mother—had a gift of foreseeing future events and had written them down in her diary. A lot of important events that affected their lives were written down in her diary… years before they happened. If only I could find that diary, Helena inwardly wished. She needed to find it, not only to get some answers, but to verify it actually existed. Sometimes, she was worried about her mother’s state of mind. Maybe the pain and years of bitterness had affected her and made her imagine things. Finding that diary would prove her mother wasn’t hallucinating, and this was essential to Helena, since her mother had been the center of her world since they left Greece. And now, she was gone, too.

  ***

  As the ship came around a small peninsula, Helena held her breath, looking at the cubed-shaped, white houses of Chora—as the town of Mykonos was commonly known—glowing in the sunlight. Picturesque windmills and countless churches were scattered higher up on the hill, composing a breathtaking picture.

  The port was overflowing with life. Numerous ships and colorful fishing boats were anchored everywhere, while dozens of little shops were scattered all over the waterfront. People strolled along the dock, enjoying the beautiful, sunny day.

  The ship moved closer, and Helena’s heartbeat accelerated. Conflicting emotions of excitement and anxiety made her feel dizzy and disoriented. She felt as if she were floating loose in time and space…

  Helena saw people sitting at tables outside the cafes in the shade of pergolas, lazily drinking their afternoon coffee while kids attacked their ice creams, piled to the top with fruits and nuts. She was so impatient; she could hardly wait for the ship to dock. Squeezing her way through the numerous passengers, she managed to be among the first ones to walk off.

  Once she stepped foot on the ground, she felt lost with so many people around—passengers disembarking the ship and workers running back and forth, carrying luggage and boxes.

  She stood undecided, letting her eyes wander over the colorful surroundings and listening to people talking in Greek… so fascinating and so different than speaking Greek at school.

  Helena had been bilingual since birth. After they moved to England, her mother had sent her to a Greek school in the afternoons, so she continued her education in the Greek language, as well. Speaking Greek helped her remain connected to her late father and the life she was forced to leave behind.

  Suddenly, she realized people were staring at her. She could see admiration mixed with curiosity in their glances. She knew she had inherited her mother’s tall and slim stature along with her long, silky blonde hair and expressive blue eyes. Among the dark-haired Greeks with the bronzed by the sun bodies, her pale complexion left her out of place.

  Where is my ride? By now, they knew she was coming. She hadn’t written from England, as she wasn’t sure whether she was going through with this visit. When she arrived in Athens, though, she called her Aunt Sophie and told her she was on her way to the island.

  Sophie Sistakis was her father’s younger sister, and Helena remembered her kind face with warm, brown eyes surrounded by long, black hair. Her aunt was only eight years older than her and used to take her for walks on the beach, play games with her, and read her stories. She felt ashamed she hadn’t talked to her aunt in all these years. Though her mother didn’t have the right to keep her away from her family, Erin had been scared and heartbroken.

  Somehow, Aunt Sophie understood, and she never tried to invade their privacy.

  The surprise in her aunt’s voice wasn’t unexpected, but the pleasure and excitement she expressed helped Helena move beyond her uncertainty. She didn’t have to explain anything before her aunt had made her feel loved and welcome, simply telling her to catch the next ferry home. Home. Yes, she was finally home.

  “Miss Sistakis?” She jumped, hearing a deep, sensual voice with a thick Greek accent directly behind her.

  She turned to face a tall, seductively handsome man with jet-black hair shining in the sun and the most amazing dark brown eyes she had ever seen. She always considered herself tall, being five feet eight inches, but she felt like a child in front of him. He stood at least five inches taller than her, but his size didn’t intimidate her. The way his dark, captivating eyes looked at her made her feel small and vulnerable, though.

  The handsome face with the strong jaw, and the well-built, muscular body under the sun-tanned skin, accelerated her heartbeat and caused her mouth to go dry.

  Helena hadn’t realized she was staring until she saw the amusement in his eyes and a smile appeared on his inviting lips. He’s laughing at me, and he has every right to do it, she reprimanded herself.

  “Yes, I’m Helena Sistakis… and who are you?” she questioned in English, her voice nothing more than a whisper.

  The man seemed to hesitate for a moment, searching her face. “I’m Dimitris,” he replied finally. His name struck a chord somewhere deep inside her. Bewildered, she studied him for a minute. No, she thought. If we had met before, I would definitely remember such a hunk.

  As his captivating gaze roamed over her, Helena felt butterflies in her stomach. Nervously, she licked her lips and dug her nails into her palms.

  “Has my aunt sent you to take me home?” she inquired, straightening her back and trying to steady her trembling voice.

  “Yes. I’m ready to go when you are. My car is just around the corner,” he replied in Greek, obviously aware she spoke it fluently.

  She reached for her suitcase, and her hand froze on the handle. The man from the ship stood a few feet away, staring at her, seeming totally unaffected by everything going on around him… Helena noticed the round face with the small, piercing eyes that reminded her of a snake. Her blood turned to ice. “What on earth?”

  “Is everything all right?” Dimitris questioned.

  Helena didn’t respond, totally absorbed by the hostile expression on the stranger’s face.

  “Helena…” Dimitris’ voice next to her ear and his warm hand on her arm brought her back to reality.

  She glanced at him, puzzled. Dimitris’ eyes were fixed on her, searching her face. Then he peered at the other man.

  “Who’s that? Do you know him?” he asked.

  “No,” she whispered. “First time I saw him was on the ship. He seemed to be watching me…”

  “Wait here!” Dimitris ordered her and strode towards the man dressed in black.

 
; Helena watched as the man hesitated for a moment, turned on his heel, and rushed towards the street. Dimitris swiftly took off right after him, like a panther going after his prey. He was closing in on him when a black Mercedes appeared speeding out of nowhere. As the brakes of the car squeaked right in front of the man, he opened the back door and jumped inside. He had barely closed the door when the car launched forward. Dimitris arrived at the street right at the moment the Mercedes was disappearing around a corner.

  Helena took a deep breath, unable to move. What was that all about? Who was he? What did he want?

  Immobilized, she watched Dimitris reaching in his pocket and getting out his cell phone. He spoke on the phone as he was heading back to her.

  “Is everything all right, Captain?”

  Helena looked at a young sailor who was rushing towards Dimitris.

  “Yes,” Dimitris replied. “Everything is under control,” he added, glancing at the street for one more time.

  The sailor hesitated for a moment, then gave Helena a polite smile, and walked away.

  “We should be going,” Dimitris said, arriving next to her. He picked up her suitcase and pulled her by the arm, leading her on the whitewashed cobble pavement towards the street. She had to run to keep up with him, as he didn’t seem willing to slow down.

  As they came around the corner of a cafe, she stopped dead in her tracks. An impressive Porsche Cayenne Jeep was parked right behind the building, its black color shining in the summer sun like onyx. Helena took a deep breath… her dream car…

  Her thoughts were interrupted as he had already put her suitcase in the vehicle and was holding the door for her to get in. She blushed as their eyes met, and hastily climbed inside. Sinking into the soft leather seat, she admired the luxurious interior and the impressive dashboard. A thrill washed over her. Riding in a Jeep like this was a dream come true. She drew a deep breath and watched Dimitris walk around the vehicle and get in on the driver’s side.

 
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