Tiger Tamer | By: Diane Greenshaw | | Category: Short Story - Love Bookmark and Share

Tiger Tamer


Time had run out for June, she was lost and the map she had sprawled out onto the seat beside her did not even show the road on the battered old sign outside. She needed to know where she was or else she would be late for the most important event of her twenty-five years on this planet. She assessed the map again but it was to no avail Minaupi Road was not on her map.

"Arfghhhhhhhhhh!" she screamed as flung the worthless map out of her hands.

Se got out of the vehicle, the sun was setting, and it would be dark soon. She looked around her; there was a huge expanse of green brush for miles. The dirt road she was on lead to a desert of nothingness. How could she have veered off the highway and ended up here? About twenty minutes ago, she had decided to look for a small inn or service station where she could rent a room for the night, her plans seemed alright until she took a turn to the left, it had seemed the most logical choice since the other road was almost inaccessible to vehicles.

She got back into the 15-year-old truck that she had borrowed from the clerk at the gas station in the last town after her two front tyres had been punctured because he had spilled nails in front of it when she was moving out of the gas station.

 She made a decision.

"Okay, since I am here I will just keep on driving" she said to herself, "I am sure some one from this wasteland will be around soon."


The engine started with a hushed tone as if it was expecting her not to continue. She eased down the dusty road bumping along with the potholes. Tomorrow she was expected to be in Spakane but if she could not make it she would lose everything, everything she had worked hard for the last six years. Her mind wandered to her sisters April and May. Her parents had named their daughters after the months in which they were born. June was the eldest followed by April. May was the baby of the family. She was just seventeen with her whole future ahead of her. As a senior in high school, May was contemplating college options, she was an A+ student who had a strong conviction about herself, and June felt that a career in law was her sister's destiny. May was captain of the debate team and often challenged their father on political statements as well as being editor of the school newspaper.  May had been approached by several Ivy League schools and was in the process of choosing the 'least politically motivated one' according to her.


April was the rebel, she had dropped out of college while majoring in Drama after two years and gone off to Paris with her artist boyfriend Pierre, and she had recently celebrated her 21st birthday, and had sent them pictures of her decked out in a silver sequined gown on a restaurant balcony in the Eiffel Tower. April enjoyed an undeterred life; she was a carefree and light hearted person. Their parents had been shocked by April's so called 'betrayal and waste of a future'. Her parents had not spoken to their middle child for seven months until they realised that she was not going to return to college. So they had reluctantly forgiven her and given their blessings as long as she was pursuing her happiness. Currently, April was a model; she had been spotted three months ago by an agent at an art show with Pierre. Although April had both the body and style for modelling, she was easily bored and who knew what she would be doing next week?



June had always been the conscious one. The 'dependable' one, who her parents leaned on to solve all of her siblings' problems. She had always been careful in her choices. As a teenager she had managed her younger sisters' lives and money especially April's and had realised that she had a flair for management. So when she graduated from high school she had decided that she would be a management executive. After graduating from college with a degree in Management studies, June had gotten employment with the Hemusk Organisation as a junior assistant in the Marketing department. Five months ago she had been awarded her MSc in Business Management and Marketing after doing it part time for two years. She had her whole career ahead of her, and today she had been offered the position of her dreams: Senior Marketing Officer in the marketing department. She loved her job and now as a senior officer, she had her freedom to develop products and execute them with no interference from the twenty-eight other members of the department. She did not hate her colleagues but 20 of them were over fifty and had not moved with the times.  


However, today she was going to be late for her big chance if she could not find her way out of this empty space. The sun had gone down but a few embers of light still illuminated the cloudy sky. June kept going along her route hoping to see some life form before it got too dark. Suddenly, a large deluge of rain exploded from the heavens. A rainstorm! "No!" she screamed banging onto her steering wheel. She knew that travelling alone would have been treacherous but not like this not now when things were finally going her way, when she had decided to let her hair down and to relax and to take a chance. She had no qualms about an adventure but not when she finally had her dream job.

 The heavy rain made her visibility poor so she had to inch across the horrible road that was now a spit of gluey soil, not fit for even a worm to crawl in. she had been driving for nearly an hour in the downpour when she saw a light in the distance. She inched toward it but son found out that there was not direct road to get to it. What was she to do? She gathered her important stuff and hauled her overnight case, brief case and handbag out on the truck. Her shoes would be ruined as well as her hair and clothes but at least she would not have to sleep in the dirty musty truck.

She trudged slowly and carefully along a wooded and grassy path that she could not see because of the weather and the darkness and because she as was making it she passed through. Finally, she saw the cottage it was just beyond a clump of trees. She just had to go a little further and then she would be safe. She stopped for a minute safe! What if a rapist lived in that cottage or drug dealers? Come to think of it, why was this cottage so excluded? She stopped and took a deep breath what now? Either she trudged back to the truck and hoped to find it in this mess or she went to the cottage. June offered a silent prayer and ventured forth. This day was the full of first times. She had made more risky decisions to day that she had in her entire life.


She made it to the front door. There was a light burning in the well-built cottage. It was no poor man's out put from the feel of the wood beneath her fingers this was expertly crafted she was even more curious as to who lived here! She pounded a bit louder but no one came forth she peered through the window next to the door and saw a roaring fireplace at least inside was warm. The place looked well kept and large. She tried the door again, still no response she turned the doorknob and it opened. She walked in slowly scanning her new surroundings. It was a new place. The furnishings were exquisite like those from the glossy fashion magazines. The living area flowed into large kitchen/ dining area.  The bar stools propped in front of the divider of the two areas had plush brown leather seats fitted into real deep mahogany wood. The whole place had woodcarvings from the sparkling wooden floors that covered the entire area to the huge wooden pillars that stood imposingly in the small foyer leading to the stairs. June had always wanted such a natural looking place but it was pricey.


She scanned to her left and saw a short flight of stairs, which probably led to the bedrooms upstairs. She placed her things on the mat hoping they would not wet he polished wooden floor. June decided to ascend the stairwell, may be who ever lived here was upstairs she glanced at the huge clock over the fire place it was barely 8 o'clock. She arrived on the landing. There were five doors, two on each side, directly opposite each other and the final one directly across from where she was standing. She knocked on the first door on her right but after no response she opened it and realised that it was a den, with a huge oak desk and a sofa lining the left wall and books lining the other wall; sadly, it was also empty of human life. She did the same to the door adjacent; it was a bedroom, immaculately furnished but also empty. The four rooms, three of which were bedrooms, were all empty except the last door, which she had not entered. She opened it slowly so far no one had answered her calls.


She entered what was definitely the master suite. The huge king sized bed dominated the room with its mahogany four-poster stands. There was an armchair, a Plasma TV, a small balcony off on the right, plus one of the huge closets that lined the room was open, and she could make out clothes hanging there and to be more specific male clothing. It was a male room, from the rich burgundy sheets to the deep mahogany furniture. Plus the male clothing hanging in huge wooden closet made that fact real.

 The door adjacent to the bed was open and light streamed through it.  She walked tentatively towards it. She stopped just shy of the door and called out once more,


"Hello? Is anyone there? Hello?" no response.

 As she stepped into the room, she could hear a shower running and some other muffled sounds. The noise, it sounded like singing, she smiled, the voice was quiet sultry and deep and definitely male! She stopped; she didn't want to walk in on a man in his shower. What if he came out naked, now that would be embarrassing! The best decision would be to wait downstairs. She turned and started to creep slowly toward the bedroom door. She was almost to the door when she heard,


'Stop!' she froze and turned around slowly.

She came face to face with the sultry voice's owner. He was standing stark naked in the bathroom door way.  She looked straight at the chest in front of her and then she looked down automatically, which elicited more shock from her at the absolute beauty of the body that was exposed in front of her. This was an elite specimen of the male anatomy. June looked up guiltily; her face flushed red with the shock at seeing a man naked and a real well proportioned one at that. His olive skin was glistening from his shower; it was tanned and looked smooth and lean all over. June's eyes travelled slowly up his frame from his strong muscled feet to his well defined chest and then to his face. She was jolted out of her admiration look by a very angry face staring at her.


"What are you doing in my house?" spoke the Adonis before her. She noted that his voice was deep and heavily accented. His handsome face was clouded by a scowl and his eyes looked almost black as they pierced into her.

June stood there speechless, her voice had deserted her, her eyes were shining like a deer caught in headlamps and although her brain told her lips to speak they refused to move.

"I asked you a question?" the man made no move to cover himself she noted and that kept her mesmerized. He took a few steps forward, held her arms, and shook her. This helped her come out of her temporary paralysis.

"I-I-I ju-st wanted a place to sleep," she stumbled out.

"Who are you? Who sent you?" he seemed very angry now and his scowl deepened.

"I- I "she stumbled, cluelessly.

He shook her again and his wet jet-black hair sprayed water all over her. "Answer me woman!"

"No one sent me, I am lost and I saw the light!" she ventured feeling like a schoolgirl caught skipping class.

He stretched for his towel wrapped it around his waist all the while dragging her with his free hand. She was like a rag doll as he dragged her out of the room and down the stairs.

"You're hurting me!" she screamed as she tripped on the stairs. He ignored her and only stopped at the front door where her rain-drenched things lay on the floor. He put her to stand in front of him and started to go through her bags. Her senses started to come back as he started to throw her things all over the floor.

"You can't do that!" she said struggling to pull her purse from him.

His obvious 6 ft plus height and muscled body was no match for her 5 ft 6" frame.  He sidestepped her efforts and emptied her bag onto the floor. Her purse, cosmetic case, pens, tissue pads all crashed to the floor. She rushed to pick up a rolling lipstick, by the time she had gathered the strewn items he was delving through her case. Now her clothes were scattered all over the floor in front of him. Her efforts to pull them out of his hands yielded no fruit as he shoved her aside like a sack of potatoes and continued his search. June did not give up and scrambled to gather her stuff.

'Hey leave that!' she screamed and pulled her panties out of his grasp. Finally, he stood up and to her horror she realised, that he still had her purse. He was now taking out her cards and reading them. When he reached her drivers' license, he held it up and looked from it to her.

'Satisfied!' she said trying to grab it from him but he held her arm away from him.

'Let me go you freak!' she kicked him and attempted to pull her purse from him but somehow she only held his towel in her hands. He had the gall to stand there totally naked and continue reading through her stuff as if, nothing untoward had just happened.

'You're crazy,' she finally said and flung his towel at him.


He caught it, wrapped it around his waist and now stood in front of her ensuring that she resembled the photograph he held "So June Stapleton, tell me what you are doing here?"

  She was angry now how dare he treat her like a vagrant.

"I already told you I was lost." She repeated stonily through her clenched teeth.

"This is a remote area, how did you get here?' his gaze was unrelenting as he stared at her waiting for a response. He made her so nervous.

"A- a- truck,' she stuttered, not fully recovered from his harsh treatment of her. She felt like an errant teenager who had been caught climbing out of the window at an all girls boarding school ran by nuns. He raised his eyebrow disbelievingly and then opened the front door. He stepped out onto the porch and looked out into the black and stormy night. "So where is it?" he was looking at her now. This man was the ultimate suspicious Joe, why was he so afraid? He stepped back into the house and shut the door, the scowl on his face deepened as he assessed her attire.

"Listen mister, I am wet, hungry and tired, the old truck is somewhere behind those woods. As you can plainly see, I am also dirty from trudging through thick woods because this cottage was the only light I saw for miles. If I had known that you would be so hostile I would have slept in the truck instead."

"That is still an option." June looked at the speaker of those cold words in shock. The man had the audacity to say that to her after all this. What kind of monster was he? June lost it she picked up a nearby vase and hurled it at him but he sidestepped as it crashed into the wall behind him. There was utter silence for a moment except for the rain pelting on the cottage roof. June was heaving; this creature in front of her was callous. He stood there menacingly ready to deliver cruelty. He was a man who yielded power and arrogance. He expected to be obeyed and she hated him in that moment. She wanted him gone. Why couldn't she just have found a simple person who would want to offer her a bed for the night?


They studied each other like opponents sizing up the competition. His eyes changed and he dropped his shoulders as if admitting defeat. He walked towards her and stared into her eyes as he said,

"I will give you a room for the night, you will leave in the morning, but I still do not trust you."

 He picked up her travel case and walked up the stairs. For the second time that evening, June was left speechless. Did that brute just offer her a bed or a prison cell?

She turned round and belatedly followed him up the stairs; he had placed her in the room closest to his: control she thought. She entered the room to find him unpacking her case, no correction, searching through it. He had her stuff strewn all over the bed as he searched through her clothes.

"What is it with you? I am not spy, you already went through my wallet, and you know where I work, live, what I do, so get over yourself?' she rushed to pull her panties out of his hand.

'I don't even know your name and if I wasn't so criminal I would not have announced myself when I first entered this place!"

He merely stopped his search and stood satisfied after placing her white thong back in the suitcase. He looked at her strangely as if concluding that she did not have any weapons. He strode out of the room and to her utter amazement, she heard a key turn in the lock. She rushed to the door and turned the knob, it did not budge. He had locked her in! Who was he and why was he so suspicious, he could be a drug dealer or worse an assassin but something about him showed that he was neither, he was ruthless that much she had gathered; her arms still bore his prints. June sat on the bed, what could she deduce about her captor?

He had a Spanish accent so he wasn't American but he was rich, this room alone had more wealth that her entire savings, the question is why was he in such a secluded cottage? Was he escaping from someone or hiding from something? She questioned all these things in her mind, as she tidied her clothes. She at least would get a bath. The water was glorious; it warmed her chilled bones and brought some life back to body. She put on a pair of sweats and a tank top. DISCUSS MORE HERE OF BATH She was hungry and she was not going to remain locked in this room until the next day. She started to pound on the door and shout.


After what seemed like an eternity, her captor opened the door. He did not even look at her but turned and walked down the stairway. He entered the kitchen area; from one glance around, she noted that he had cleaned up the broken vase and that her briefcase was on the dining room table wide open. The limit of this man was too much to bear! She went to her case. He had studied every document in her case.

"Here is a sandwich and there is some hot coffee in the pot."

She whirled to face him and cocked her eyebrows, "Satisfied that I'm who I say I am?"

He did not even acknowledge that he heard her, instead he poured himself a cup of coffee and stalked off to the sofa and flickered on the TV, she was too hungry to go after him.

"What hospitable service, your mother sure would be proud that she raised a son with no manners!" she said loudly. The slight twitch of his jaw was the only reaction he gave to her words. She poured herself some caffeine and ate hungrily while he watched CNN Headline news. That man was so handsome and visually appealing but he had the personality of a truck driver. He had beautifully chiselled cheek bones with ooh so full lips what was she thinking, this man could be a murderer for all she knew but just looking at him sitting so tense on the sofa, she knew he wasn't. He was strong and foreboding but he was not such an evil person. She did not want to alarm him any further so she quietly washed her dishes, gathered up her stuff, and made her way up the stairs. To her surprise, he was following her.

"What is it with you?"  She turned around, "You haven't even told me your name."

He seemed to sign off, and then he said in hushed tones "Dmitri."

"Dmitri, what a nice name for a monster." she whispered and saw his lips twisted into a sneer.

"Let me make myself clear, I do not know what your problem is but I did not deliberately seek you out, I was genuinely lost and stumbled upon this place and as you well know this area is vacant."

"I believe you June Stapleton but no one can be too careful these days." His eyes were blank what had happened to make him so cynical and sad. She pitied him, her life had been filled with rules, but she was happy; he looked like he had few scenes of happiness in his life.

"Well thank you for escorting me to the door but I will be fine and for your information I will be locking the door from the inside. He said nothing just put his hands into his pocket. She entered her room astounded as to what had happened to Dmitri to make him so sad. As she closed the door she heard the lock turn, that man was too stubborn for his own good. The door had a dead bolt lock on the inside. She turned it and placed the lone chair behind the door. He was right we could not be too safe these days.


June remembered that she needed to call Jay to tell him of her dilemma, but as she dug through her handbag, she realised that her cell phone was missing, because Dmitri must have taken it. Finally, after so many long sleepless nights, she was handed the biggest account of her life and everything was going wrong. How would she inform her assistant that he would need to commence the presentation without her if she had no way of contacting him? That dratted man called Dmitri was the cause of these new turn of events in her already horrendous day.


First of all, all flights at Augier Airport had been either delayed or cancelled due to a thunderstorm, so she had decided to drive to Spakane instead. Mistake number one. She sat down on the bed exasperated glancing casually around the room, for a bedroom with all modern amenities it was surely lacking in the most essential, a telephone.  She flopped back onto the crisp sheets going back over the day's tragic events. Then the doodle head, Morris, at the gas station had punctured two of her tyres while he had been washing them, and in her haste or maybe shock she had taken his ancient truck. He had promised that 'Old Misty' was the most reliable vehicle in town.  Mistake number two. She had been driving to the next airport to get a flight but what was supposed to be a three-hour drive had turned into a nightmare. She had taken the wrong turn along the plentiful dirt country roads. The map which Morris had supplied her with was outdated, and that was mistake number three.


After getting stuck in the ditch with old Misty she had stumbled upon this house and entered it. Mistake number four. Now she was stuck in a room, in a house belonging to the coldest hearted man on the planet. Mistake number five. How would she get back tomorrow, would he even help her? She was tired but she did not want to sleep.  She needed to contact Jay tonight and it would be Dmitri's fault if he felt that she was bothering him. She undid the deadbolt of the door only to realise that it was still locked. The bastard had still locked her in, even after researching her! The gall of that man, he was insufferable. June started to pound on the door loudly and then she began to scream like her life depended on it...well technically her job did! She could hear him bounding up the stairs.

"Stop it!" he shouted from the other side of the door.

"When you open this door I will!" she rebutted. She almost fell forward as the door was forcefully swung open. She righted herself and fixed her clothes before staring into the coldest pair of eyes she had ever seen.

"Okay, Mr. Suspicious Joe," she began counting on the fingers of her left hand, "Listen carefully to what I am about to say:

1.    I am not here to kill you in your sleep.

2.    I detest the fact that you feel the need to lock me in when I am totally harmless.

3.    I need my cell phone right now."

She finished her list and put her hands on her hips. The lout had the audacity to smirk. June was so furious she raised her hand to slap him but he caught her hand before it struck his face.

"Not harmless?" he said sneeringly. June lost control and kicked out as she struggled to free her captured arm. He twisted her arm behind her and she fought him with all her strength. She kicked and pushed and somehow they ended up on the floor with Dmitri straddling her as she lay on her back with her arms crossed over her chest and held down by his hands. Her chest was heaving from the struggle as Dmitri sat there calm as the breeze.

"Unhand me, you lout!" she screamed, as she tried to get her breath back.

"Calm yourself, woman!" he said forcefully. June stayed still for a few moments as her captor made no move to release her.

"Okay, all I want is my phone!" she pleaded to the monster holding her down.

"I will release you only if you promise to behave yourself." He responded calmly.


Did he think she was a petulant five year old, who needed to be corrected? June wanted to explode but one look at Dmitri's face prevented her from doing so, so she held her tongue in check and said meekly,

"I promise as long as I get my phone." He got off her and stretched out his hand to help her get off the floor. She scrambled to her feet totally ignoring his hand.

He walked down the stairs and she followed him silently wishing she could give him a swift kick in the derriere and see him rolling down the stairs; the thought brought a smile to her lips as she descended after him. If only she wondered, she did not know what happened to her but her foot was raised and she just kicked him then and there. Dmitri stumbled forward but regained his balance quickly as he clutched to the banister. June was smiling wickedly, he so deserved that a pity though he was not flat on his face. Her captor turned around with eyes full of fire. June straightened her shoulders and just brushed past him saying,

'You know you deserved that!' as she sprinted down the remaining stairs. She spotted her phone on the sofa next to where he had probably been seated until she had called him upstairs. The television was showing the weather report so she attuned her ears. The weather man stated that the storm would soon be over and advised that only a few scattered showers were possible tomorrow. 

'Great,' she said turning around to see Dmitri casually leaning on the banister,

''I will be out of your hair tomorrow, sleep well!' she sang sweetly as she swept past him and bounded up the stairs.

She liked having the last word and the fact that he did not follow her showed that he had relaxed enough to accept her presence. She bolted her door and sat Indian style on the bed to call Jay.


'Hello,' he answered groggily.

'Jay, are you asleep it's barely 10 pm?' she inquired

'Just tired, where are you June, I have been waiting all afternoon?' he demanded

'My wonderful Jay, I am stuck in Spakane and from the look of the weather; I will not be coming out until late tomorrow morning.' There was complete silence on the other side of the call.

'Jay, Jay you there?' she asked worriedly.

'June, the meeting is at 9 am tomorrow, you have to be here!' his voice was high pitched and he seemed to be shouting.

'It seems I won't be so you will need to start of the proceedings I-'

Jay cut her off rushing in to add, 'No, no, June I can't do this on my own this is your baby!'

'Breathe a minute Jay, you can, in fact you have to, we have no other choice, I am stuck here.' She could hear the panic in her assistant's voice as he rumbled on decrying their present situation and his impending 'promotion'. He was a good worker but in the seven months that they had worked together, he had never led a meeting of such a magnitude but he had the ability. He was timid but very forceful in a small group. If she had not seen his potential she would have had him relocated to another department months ago. Now, he had to shine and she would be screwed if he failed.

'Come on Jay, you can do this.....' her voice trailed off as he sighed for the umpteenth time.

'Oh no June, I need you here, can I send a helicopter, a private jet? Please don't do this to me now I am not prepared!' he was hyperventilating.

'Be a man Jay!' she spoke strongly as she got off the bed and walked to the window, it was still pouring outside, and she hoped the weather man would be correct for her sake and her job. 'If I believed that you could not do this then I would have told you to cancel; now you listen and listen well.'

'But June, I can't do this, its you, oh no!' she heard a plopping sound and figured that he had rather ungracefully flopped onto the bed.

'Now listen, you have the presentation notes right?'

'Yes' came the soft reply

'Plus we went through the presentation yesterday and there no glitches right?'

 'I need a drink!' Jay finally said defeatingly.

'No Jay you have to be level headed......... it all depends on you now.'

'I don't want it to!' his voice was resigned but she knew he had made the decision to take this on. He was now trying to fight it like a man hanging onto straw.

'Okay, listen to me, we have been working on this for two months now right?'

'Yes!' came the feeble reply

'Good you know every step as well as me, 'kay?'


'Great, so now all you need to do is go over the presentation tonight, everything is on the pen drive, you have a copy plus there is a back up CD so just go through it, you will do fine Jay, I have the utmost confidence in you.'

'You really think I can do this?' he asked softly

'I know you can, Jay you are my assistant if you weren't good you would not be working with me.' She said confidently knowing that he valued her opinions greatly.

'Thanks June, that means a lot to me.'

'Good now just shape up and go over the presentation, when I arrive tomorrow, I know it will be okay just explain the reason for my absence on the weather situation and I will join you later.......okay.'

'June, I will not let you down.' His voice was beaming now, with renewed confidence. June smiled, art least the presentation was one less worry she had to deal with tonight.

'You had better not,' she said jokingly 'I know you have the ability to do it, so be brave and have a good night's rest, I will see you tomorrow.'

'Oh June you are indeed the best, see you tomorrow.'

'Goodnight Jay.'

'Night June.'

She closed her phone and stared out at the stormy night, this was an important meeting but she was positive that Jay could do a good job. It would be the first time in her five years at the company that she would miss a presentation., she was pretty hands on and liked to do her work herself but she was forced to release it because of the weather, what it had in store for her she did not know but she hoped that it was a positive sign. She had not had a vacation in two years. Not because she could not but she had not wanted to go anywhere. Her work was her essence; it completed her and made her feel important. She would sleep and hope that she could leave here by six a.m., she did not want to be to late for the presentation. She trusted Jay but it was still her baby, she had fought had for the deal and when it had come her way she had relished in the fact that she was the youngest person: woman or man to be working on such a deal with Gyrish Incorporated.



June finally conceded that she could only do so much tonight. The rain would stop and she would be on her way out of here tomorrow. However she still had to deal with the host from the crypt.

She needed to be alert for Dmitri, he had not ascended and was probably still doing a background check on her.  What would he find, she had a modest two bedroom flat in Bershire, a nice suburban place. She lived alone and was a workaholic with no boyfriend or husband. She was stuck in a rut, no a drought. Her work had been her number one priority and looking back she had not had time to date or even entertain a guy. The last person she had been out with was two years ago and he had been an upcoming attorney. Grant Patterson was pompous and egotistical. His only reason for dating her was that 'she was from good stock'. She had dumped his behind as soon as he had uttered the words. He wanted a wife to improve his image since he was vying for partner in his firm. The louse was handsome but cold and calculating. He had told her that he was the best man in town that she would ever find and her response had been to tell him that if he was the best then the town had surely disappointing.


She changed into her night clothes and snuggled under the lush satin sheets. Whoever had furnished and decorated this place has very expensive tastes was it his lover, wife? She wondered about him. She stilled her self that she had to stay awake but as soon as her head hit the pillow, she was fast sleep. The next day she could not move, she was cold all over and her throat felt closed up. She tried to speak but her throat was so raw she could not, she tried to open her eyes, but they were too heavy. Her whole body ached. Was she dead? Did Dmitri kill her?

She could feel a warm cloth on her forehead and a voice was telling her to open her eyes. It sounded like Dmitri's but she could not be sure because she was hurting all over what was wrong with her? She felt her head being lifted and some liquid was being pushed inside her mouth, she could not swallow because her throat was like a scorching desert. She felt herself being sucked into a vacuum and she was too weak to resist it.


Dmitri stood staring at the woman on the bed below him. She had been like this for the past two days. Her fever had been over 100 degrees. She had been having cold sweats and coughing profusely. It seems her trudge through the woods in the rain had done her in. Luckily, he had checked on her about nine the previous morning, and found her writhing on her bed. He was still unsure why she had not gone toward the little village, which was nine miles in the opposite direction. Instead, she had fallen onto his doorstep to disturb his tranquillity. He had found her ancient truck yesterday afternoon, lodged in mud. She had been telling the truth from what he knew she was who she had said she was but in his position, he knew the lengths people had gone through to penetrate his life. He could take no more chances, once was lesson enough.


He had moved her to his room because she needed a soak in the tub to relieve the heat within her body. Her body was exquisite. She had full ripe breasts, just longing to be suckled by him. Her hips were well proportioned. She was by no means skinny but full everywhere. He had never been attracted to women like her before but holding her, bathing her he knew that how supple she would be in his arms. Her legs were long and she had pretty ankles and such beautiful toes. Her hair was short and black. If she let it grow, she would surely be a catwalk model. He knew she was a professional from his one phone call he got all the information he needed about her. She came from a close knit family was the eldest all three sisters who were all named after months of the year. He wondered why? She moved onto her side exposing her left breast. He had left her naked under the sheets because she was sweating so much. He had never had a woman in his bed without having sex with her but June Stapleton was a first, she had barged into his life and taken it over. No one had ever stood up to him but she had and seemed very unafraid to face him. Most people were afraid of him because he knew his demeanour was unapproachable plus his 6  ft 4" height did little to aid matters but June had stood up to him from the onset. Something flittered in his gut. He wanted her and he intended to have her. After all, he was nursing her back to good health. He fixed her sheet and left to get more warm tea for her.


June opened her eyes, she felt tired and weak. Her limbs felt like jelly but she could barely remember where she was, she looked up and saw Dmitri seated on the armchair near the bed. His head bowed while he was reading a magazine, her memory flooded back to their first encounter. Her cheeks flushed he was a monster and what was he doing in her room. The last she remembered was falling asleep after he locked her in. what was he doing here? What time was/ it she needed to leave. She tried to sit up and moaned. Dmitri stood up and walked toward her. He sat on the bed and touched her forehead,

"You're feeling better I see," he said and for the first time he smiled and the sheer beauty of the man blew her away. She flinched at his touch.

"What are you doing here?" she asked her throat feeling raw and painful.

He continued to smile while touching her throat, "You have been sick,"

"Sick? I have never been sick in my life, what did you do to me?"

He raised an eyebrow, now whom was being suspicious? "You have had a high fever and almost succumbed to hypothermia."

She did not want to believe him but her body was too weak and aching for her to deny that he spoke the truth.

"I need to use the bathroom," she said hoping he would leave but to her astonishment, he pulled away the covers to reveal her naked body and gathered her into his arms. She screamed," Let me go!" trying to cover herself.

"No need for modesty now June I have seen it all for the last three days."

"Three days I have been sick for three days!"  She squirmed in his arms as he brought her to the toilet and put her on it. She had modesty and she bowed her head as she stared at her feet; did he want her to ask him to leave?

"I will leave you to it when you're done just call me... He turned to leave but before he said, "just look at it as if we're even." he left her alone in the spacious bathroom. It was then that she realised that she was in his room. June was in shock, this callous man had taken care of her for three days? He was different though, he seemed happier not the monster she had encountered three days ago. She put her head in her hands, she was screwed, and her boss would surely fire her over this she had no way of contacting her or vice versa. Was there a search party for her? Her parents would surely be worried. She had not been sick since she was a child. She had taken ample care to ensure that she never fell sick, because her job demanded it.

She tried to lever herself up and head to the shower because her skin felt clammy. It was difficult but she made it by holding the wall and scrambling on her knees. She would not give him the satisfaction of calling him for assistance. She got into the shower and turned on the spray, ooh this felt good but she so weak she had to lean against the wall. Before she knew it Dmitri was there holding the soap.


"Why didn't you call me?"

She gave him a glare and he smiled totally reading her expression.


"It's okay I've seen it all already." she flushed but he scrubbed her down efficiently. She was too feeble to oppose his gestures. He dried her and carried her to the bed that had fresh blue satin sheets. He dressed her in a large t-shirt of his and dried her hair while she leaned against his solid chest. She remained quiet while he dressed her, too embarrassed to speak.

He fitted the sheets around her as he would a five year old.

"I'll get you some thing to eat, you must be famished."

"Thank you," she whispered hoarsely,

 He smiled, "You're welcome" was all he said as he disappeared out of the room. June scrambled to get up, she had to get out of here and get her hands on her mobile. She saw his coat hanging on the hook across the room. She searched it but no mobile, she crawled to the bureau and all she found were his clothes. He found her on her knees crawling to the bed.

He put down the tray and picked her up.

"Just where are you going to?" he said almost lovingly as he carried her like a child

"Please I need to contact my family, I need my phone. I need it please!" she pleaded with him as he placed her under the covers.

"Your family knows that you are okay."

"What! How?" she was puzzled.

"Your parents have been phoning regularly to check up on you, they know that you were sick and well then...," he said nonchalantly letting his voice drift away as if he did this every day.

"But... How?" she was still unsure how he had contacted her family.

"Your mobile is a pretty busy one; your family seem to be concerned?" She sat up straight, "Wouldn't you be? Where's my phone?" he took it out of his back pocket and handed it to her, she hurriedly dialled her parent's number as he stood watching,

"Mom, yes, yes, I'm fine, no I am feeling much better," she breathed deeply answering her mother's rapid fire questioning.

Dmitri could not hear what her mother was saying but by the way, she was glancing at him every few seconds, she knew that he was part of the conversation. He retreated to the bathroom to give them some privacy as he tidied up. 

"Honey we are so happy that you're recovering so fast your young man is a keeper."

"My what?"

"No need to be shy honey he told us everything how you two met, we are so happy for you?"

"But Mom?"

"Honey we know you love your work but this sickness just shows that you need to relax stop trying to save the world!


"I know I love you get better take all your time we love you.

I love you to mom." her mother rang off leaving her with more questions than answers. She called Jay next.

"Hey, you're feeling better I see."

'Oh Jay I am so sorry about this how did the presentation go?'

'It was cool Mr. Hamilton was so impressed,' he thoroughly appreciated all our hard work

He wasn't mad about my absence?'

'No, he totally understood especially after your boyfriend spoke to him,'

"My boyfriend?'

'Yeah he had a very long conversation with him and the old chap was a darling afterwards. He even said that you were in need of time off.'

"Really?" her monosyllabic responses were all she could muster as shock seeped through her brain.

She rang off and spoke to her boss next

'Mr. Hamilton, I am so sorry about this...'

'Hi, June there's nothing to worry about Jay is capable of handling this, you have done all the ground work anyway, so how are you feeling?'

He was actually asking about her health she was shocked.

"I'm not all there yet still weak but I should be fine by tomorrow, I will fly down to Spakane first thing in the morning?'

"No!" he vehemently rejected, "You take the next two weeks off, plus you are entitled to a vacation."

June was speechless

"Well dear get better and see you soon."

She sat there holding the phone with her mouth open as Dmitri walked back into the room, she stared at him pointedly,

"Just what did you say to everyone?"


"What do you mean?" he said carrying the tray to her.

"Everyone thinks that you---that I--- that we are a couple?" She finally managed.

He had the audacity to look sheepish... "It was the best explanation that I could give, your mother would have been mortified to know that I was a complete stranger to her daughter."

"But you are, I barely know anything about you but you have rearranged my life in three days."

"You should be grateful from what I have learned you have not had a break for a while maybe this was your body saying that it needed rest."

"Thanks Doc" was the cold response from her, the soup was delicious, she drunk it quickly but he stopped her.

"Slow, your body has not had much in it for a few days so take it slowly." he guided the mug to her mouth. She closed her mouth and pulled away.

"I am not a child!" she screamed, Stop trying to control me, I can drink on my own!" he stood up straight put his hands on his hips and smiled at her.

"The tiger is unleashed I can safely conclude that you are back to your old self." he walked away.

"Wait, I'm sorry but I hate people to interfere, obviously you were thinking of my interest, thank you." the words were torn from her.

He turned around and his eyes pierced hers,

"You're welcome, now you need some rest."

He was right she was still tired but she needed some more answers.

"Yes but first tell me who you are?"

He was contemplating what to say so she added, "I think you owe me the whole truth since you know very detail about my life!"

She was intuitive he realised, but he was going to lie, he was not comfortable releasing information about himself but this time he would tell her who he was albeit partly, because she was right and he wanted her so badly his loins ached every time he touched her looked at her in his shirt her nipples tight against the cloth.

"I am Dmitri Bergano of Sicily, I am involved in investments."

"Sicily, what are you doing here in a secluded cottage in Montana?" he gestured as he strode to the eastern balcony which had a breathtaking view of the morning sunrise and the mountains which were looking so calm and inviting.

"This is my home; I come here for peace and quiet."

"I love the mountains the hills and the woods, it is very peaceful here, a quiet retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life."

June was dumb struck this big strong man had a heart after all.

"It's beautiful here but how did like you find it?"

 He turned to her and smiled I stumbled along this property a few years ago while I was headed to a city out west. I was lost like you and decided that I would buy it some day. As you can see, I did. This place was only completed a few months ago. June could tell that the plush wood and furnishing had barely set in; she guessed he was in his late thirties and probably had saved a tidy sum to build this place.

"How old are you?"

"I can see that you are calculating June in your head but, I worked hard for many, many years and now I can relax a bit, as you should be doing.

"You never answered my question," he smiled. I am thirty-seven.

Wow, he was 12 years older than she was.

He bent to take the tray from her and she could smell the masculine scent of his body.

 She inhaled and he looked at her, for a moment, they were suspended in eternity and she pulled his face toward her. As his lips captured her own, her mind was screaming no but her body was getting warm all over. His lips were full and so soft that she opened up her mouth for his tongue, which slipped, into her mouth. As their tongues mingled, June spiralled; her hands pulled him closer to her. This was pure bliss, she had never wanted to be kissed by a man like this before, he was her nectar, he slowly released her mouth as she opened her eyes and let her hands fall away from his face. His eyes were full of passion and she could feel the heat coming off him. She shyly lowered her eyelashes. She had never wantonly given herself to a man like that before. He picked up the tray and walked out without saying a word.

June exhaled what had come over her. What must he think of her? She was too tired to move although she wanted to high tail it out of the room. Instead, she sank under the covers and promptly fell asleep. She woke up a few hours later. It must be afternoon. She had no idea of time.

She needed to get out of here, sick or not. She scrambled out of bed feeling stronger. She needed her clothes. She found her case in his closet and her clothes neatly folded in his bureau, did he expect her to stay forever?


She hurriedly packed her stuff into her case and dressed in a black striped pants suit with a white camisole. She wanted to regain any manner of formality. Her head felt a bit light but she had to muster all her strength since her packing had fairly taken all out of her. She went over to the bathroom and tidied her hair into a ponytail. Her face had shrunk, she had lost some weight, and her clothes were loose about her body. Her makeup made her look decent again and hid the dark circles around her eyes and red blotches in her cheeks. She tidied the bed and descended the stairs. Dmitri was not in the house and since the kitchen door was open, he must be outside.  She would call a cab to pick her up. Outside was a welcome sight. The gardens were immaculate with roses and carnations; there was also a good-sized kitchen garden, with herbs and vegetables. Dmitri it seemed was an avid gardener. He was not in the immediate back yard so she followed a stone path which led to a lake. He was on the jetty near a boat. This man was full of surprising, he indeed had his own slice of paradise here. He was talking quickly in Spanish to someone into his mobile. She came up to him and the creak of the boards made him turn. His eyes showed that he was shocked by her appearance.


She tried to look confident as he gazed at her scowling. He was obviously displeased to see her ready to go. He ended his conversation abruptly and came toward her at the end of the pier.

"Well, since I'm feeling much better I must get back to my world," she was deliberately avoiding his gaze, " but first I must thank you for all that you have done these past three days I know it was an intrusion but I am totally grateful."

She put some distance between them and walked a bit further to the stone path. He was just standing there with his hands in his back pockets. She faced him now "I do not know how I can repay you for your help but "she handed him her card "here is my card on it has my work, home and mobile number. Anytime you're in Chelsea please feel free to call me." she stretched out her hand for him to take the card, he hesitated before he reached out to take it. However, he stepped forward and grabbed her hand instead, pulling her closer to him.

"Stay with me tonight." he said quietly holding her in his arms. She tried to break free,

"I can't." she cried weakly.

"You asked what you can do to repay me... stay tonight." June was distressed. She did not know what to say. He was asking her to stay with him. She looked at him and the expression on his face showed her the passion he had for her. They both knew what would happen if she stayed the night.

"I-" she stuttered

"Just say yes," he whispered against her lips.

"Yes" she released as his lips captured her words into his mouth.

She relaxed in his arms as their kiss deepened, he moulded her to him and she could feel the hard presence of his erection pressed against her stomach. She warmed up all over as she let herself be drawn into the essence of their kiss. He was a skilled kisser, he was passionate yet fierce and she had no doubt how much he wanted her. She had never felt so consumed by such intense passion before. Did she take a chance and stay or leave and forever regret the one time she had to fulfil her own passionate feelings.

She wrapped her hands around his neck as his hands went under her white camisole. His hands were electric against her skin as she felt a tremor pass through her entire being. She crushed herself closer to him as his hands moved to the undersides of her breasts. His hands were caressing her as he pushed up her bra and let her breasts spring free. She moaned into his mouth as his fingers gently squeezed her nipples. June was mesmerized by the forceful desire coursing through her. She had never been kissed like this, not even by Gary who she thought was the best kisser in high school.

She was floating on a cloud until she felt empty, and slowly realised that Dmitri was no longer kissing her although he was still holding her. She slowly opened her eyes and found him staring at her his hair was mussed and his lips were so full and pink. She tried to regain her standing but he kept her close to him. She could feel the rock of his length against her chest and she stiffened.

"Come with me," he commanded as he led her back to the house. She fixed her bra and followed him silently. He entered the kitchen and told her to go freshen up.

" Dmitri" she said trying to tell him that this was all new territory for her.

He smiled and said "Go on," sensing her hesitance. She had made her decision. She climbed the stairs anticipating the evening's events. The sun was setting and it cast a golden glow into the house. She took her case to her former room, unsure what to do. She took off her suit and put on her jeans and a tank top.  He came back down with a heavy lump in her stomach. He was humming a popular song along with the artist on the radio. She joined him to prepare their supper; there was light conversation as they manoeuvred their way around each other in the kitchen. She was nervous but strangely, she knew that Dmitri would treat her right.

They sat to eat a meal of tossed salad, steamed vegetables, pasta and stewed beef. It was very sumptuous meal because Dmitri was a great cook. She also loved the kitchen and when she had time baked pies and cakes for her family.

"So what do you do apart from cooking and gardening?" She asked quietly

 He was sipping some of the expensive 1976 bottle of red wine. "I fish, I fly, and I cook."

"Fly as in a plane?

"Yeah I learned ten years ago, it has a feeling of freedom in it."

"I always wanted to learn but I never found the time."

"When was the last time you had a vacation?" he asked staring at her the heat barely contained.

"I don't know if a few days to see my sister graduate could be counted as a vacation."

"You are in need of some really serious down time... I used to believe that work was the beginning and end all until I found this place and I could escape anything.

"Why were you so angry when I came here?" she changed the topic from her.

He smiled, "Well, you did invade my home and catch me rather nude if I remember correctly." she bent her head and blushed.

"You were pretty nasty, if I remember correctly," she countered.

It was his turn to smile, "I had just come in after a long and arduous two weeks of tough business dealing. I thought you were an intruder and I guess I was frustrated that you had invaded my space but now," he held her hand in his, "Now, I totally welcome your invasion."




June was still unsure about his life. His answers were too direct, he was hiding something and she was hoping that he would feel comfortable to reveal it to her soon. She too had her secrets but the sadness he had shown when they had first met was too raw maybe for him to admit. He was hiding from something; she hoped that this time away would heal whatever wounds he was holding.


They finished dinner and he led them to the living area where they watched some news and snuggled while being entertained by a sitcom. She knew that tomorrow they would be back to their own worlds but tonight she would savour this experience with Dmitri, at least she would be alive for one night. She snuggled into his chest and hugged him closer almost drifting into sleep as the rain started to fall. The air became cool. He lit the fire and the flames leapt up. He knelt on the carpet and beckoned her to him. She moved as in a trance into his open arms. They knelt before each other on the soft rug, their lips joined and the fire exploded within them. The heat escalated to a point of no return. June pulled him to her and they collapsed on the floor with him onto top of her.


He nibbled her ears as she ruffled his hair. His hands were doing magic with her hips as he squeezed her to him. She arched and his hands slipped under her top and pulled it over her head, she lay before him exposed; she went up on her elbows and unclasped her bra as he pulled off his shirt. His eyes were smoky as they gazed at her ripe breasts. Her nipples were dark pink and hard. His head descended and he captured one between his lips. She moaned as she sucked his fingers. He kneaded and lavished her breasts with his tongue, they were soft and supple in his arms, every graze of his tongue emitted a moan from her as the ecstasy of what he was doing made her go over the edge.


He slowly unzipped her jeans and pulled them down her legs. He threw them to the side and his mouth slowly ascended her left leg. His tongue dipped and turned, she arched as her control began to slip. He lifted her legs and his head moved to her privates. She was already wet with want as his tongue lapped into her core over her panties. He eventually slid her panties off and his tongue did further magic down there, no one had ever touched her there and he was making her feel ooh so erotic. She felt her control go as she arched her back and convulsed with passion, her moans caused him to dip faster and faster. June screamed and shuddered as her orgasm riddled through her body.


She lay spent on the floor in amazement, what an experience and they had not even gone all the way yet. She breathed deeply as he removed the rest of his clothing. He knelt before her a model of a man. His male member was firm and full, she opened her eyes wondering how he would fit, and he looked at her worry expression and kissed it away. They were lost in each other, as he ravaged her mouth, her scent strong on his lips. His fingers entered her pushing in and out, she felt her temperature rising again, and it was unbelievable that she could orgasm again but she did. She was limp as he continued to caress her and the temperature rose within her again. He slipped on a condom and guided himself into her. She wrapped her legs around him to accommodate his length; her body was expanding to let this fullness enter.


He felt her tightness and it made him even harder, she had already come twice and they had not even began yet, she closed her eyes as he pushed in.

"Open your eyes, I want to see you," he said

She opened them just as he was slowing down.

"Don't stop," she said

Pulling him closer and kissing him. He pushed in slowly but her tongue against his lips spurred him on that he penetrated the obstruction forcefully, she whimpered and a tear slipped from her eyes. He stopped to lick the tear with his tongue. He wanted her to enjoy this, so he slid out of her, but she tightened around him, holding him in place.

"Please go on, I want this," she stated firmly.


He kissed her and re-entered more carefully, she tightened again and he almost came, he continued to move as she arched trying to take all of him. Her action incited him as he developed a rhythm and she rode with him, this was like a volcano getting ready to erupt, he pushed and there she was right beside him. They moved in tandem and he soon felt that she was nearing her completion as she began to tighten involuntarily around him. She arched and jerked as she screamed with pleasure. He thrust once more as his semen exploded from him. He collapsed on her. They lay like that for several minutes too replete to move.


She squirmed and he fully withdrew from her, there was blood on them both. He picked her up and carried her upstairs to the shower. He washed her as if she was still feverish knowing that she was sensitive. He felt honoured that she had put all aside and afforded him the pleasure of being her first. He would have never thought that such a dynamic woman would still be a virgin.


He felt the soap taken from his hands as he started to lather his chest. She looked him in the eye as she moved the soap from his fingers. He let his hands drop to his sides as she worked down one leg then up the other. She gently held his member in her hands as she lavished it with soap. Then the soap fell from her hands as she held him caressing his length between her hands. He moaned and fell back against the shower wall as her hands did wonders to him. He could not stand it any more so he turned on the water and pulled her to him as they kissed deeply and he lifted her up against the wall and entered her swiftly, the moan of ecstasy from her was so raw, so real that he pushed deeper as she opened for him wiggling. They rode fast and furious each fuelling the other with their movements. Her hands clawed his back as she took him all into her. Dmitri had never wanted a woman as he did June, and now having her, it was every thing he had dreamed of and more these past few days. She moved in unison with him, they were in sync their bodies in tune with each other's rhythm something no other woman had ever done.

They slid to the shower floor each too weak to stand. June still clung to his neck as he was on his knees; his orgasm was so deep that he was weak with satisfaction. Her hair was plastered to her head and her face was red from their lovemaking. Minutes later, they left the shower and retired to the bedroom. They dried each other sensually but as he dried her left leg, she used the other one to draw patterns across his belly and that was all it took for them to re ignite the passion again. They made love once more in the early morning when the air as still and quiet. Afterwards they slept fitfully in each other's embrace.


June awoke feeling tired, a bit sore, but so pleased and so complete that she did not want to move. What she had experienced with Dmitri had not come close to her earlier attempts at lovemaking. She never knew that sex with a person could bring such utter wholeness and contentment. She turned onto her side away from Dmitri's warmth knowing that this was the decisive moment. The sun had already risen way above the trees; she needed to start her departure. She looked across at her lover... ooh it felt good saying that about the Adonis at her side. He was the perfect lover. She sidled her way to the edge of the bed trying not to disturb his sleep. She crept out of the room not before glancing at him one last time. His lashes fell so tenderly against his cheeks; he was beautiful man and an excellent lover.

She went to her room where she bathed and dressed. She found a telephone book and called a cab but the driver refused to come such a distance to pick her up. Frustrated she flung the phone on the bed, "So much for a clean get away." she murmured to herself. She looked up and noticed Dmitri standing in the doorway. His head was mussed and she remembered running her fingers through it. He had on a pair of jeans but his chest was left exposed and she could clearly see the marks of her fingernails on his sides, she gulped.

"Morning," she offered, "I figured I should make a start."

He leaned against the door jam and shrugged.

"No convincing you to stay."

She closed her eyes, and took a deep breath, if she did not leave now, she did not think she ever would.

"I must leave," she said steadily as if trying to convince herself of her decision. "The night is over."

He straightened and entered the room "If you believe that you must," he was towering in front of her. She nodded unable to speak. He held her head in his hands and lifted her chin.

"Thank you for giving me a special part of you, I enjoyed it too," she almost died then, was he for real?

She smiled as he kissed her but broke it early as he retreated to the door "Let me shower and I'll drop you off in town."

She stood there hugging her self, afraid to speak. If she stayed she knew exactly how hey would spend their days but she had forgotten her life for too long vacation or not she had to move on this diversion was just that a diversion from reality they both had their own lives and she needed to return to hers and he needed his peace and quiet.

Twenty minutes later, they were on their way to town in another of Dmitri's secrets a brand new black truck. ; those huge trucks that took the whole road. He drove it as he made love passionately yet fiercely. She glanced at his hands holding the wheel and remembered how he held her last night.

"Stop it!" she cajoled her self.

"What did you say?" he asked.

"Um... nothing" she was too embarrassed at having spoken her thoughts.

They arrived at the town using the road she had discarded on her way. It was a small place with few streets but still modern enough. They had arranged for a local towing company to deliver the truck to the gas station clerk. She thought it would be expensive but the towing man told her that he knew the guy and would do it for free.

Dmitri offered to drive her to the nearest airport but another ride with him and they would be making love in the cab of the truck she could barely control her libido on the ride to town. She opted for a train ride instead they stood on the terminal waiting for the train; the overhead sign was showing that it would arrive in eight minutes. The train would bring her directly to Spakane airport so there would be no hassle after the hour train ride.

"Dmitri," she announced " I do want to thank you for all that you have done and well last night was magical but I'm sure our lives are too separate for us even think that this will go further."

She paused, he was staring at her with his hands folded across his chest and his feet apart, she was intimidated not knowing what he was feeling.

"I do not regret meeting you but I guess if we ever meet gain it will be great to see you again."

She offered her hand and he laughed,

"We will meet again and maybe then we won't be too busy for just one night." she stepped back but he stepped forward and pulled her to him and ravished her with his mouth.  They kissed oblivious to the onlookers around them. The train arrived and he put her away from him. She touched her lips which were sore from his lovemaking. She put on her coat, picked up her case, as the conductor put on her carry case. "Bye." she said as she stepped on board the train.

"Adios mi cara" he said as she disappeared. He stood there hands in his pockets thinking.

He remained there until the train pulled away before he returned to his truck, pulled out his mobile and made an important phone call.


June sat in silence. She hoped never to meet Dmitri again, their encounter would be a secret she would cherish all her life. She had never felt like she did in his arms but circumstances have driven them apart. He had a life he needed to escape from while she had one she needed to escape to. Wow what a night! Dmitri had been so skilled so precise. April had spoken highly of sex, losing her virginity at the age of sixteen. She laughed, she had totally forgotten about her family while she was with Dmitri, he consumed her and that was one of the reasons that she needed to escape him. The train ride was uneventful but it gave her a lot of time to think. Her whole life was centred on making people around her happy and comfortable. She needed to start thinking of her self. If Dmitri had desired her so much as a woman imagine how other men felt. So many guys had been interested in her but she had spurned their interest and consumed herself in her work. Dmitri had shown her to desire herself, and love it. Hey, she was going to do so, stop living for everyone else and start living for herself. Her mobile rang, it was her mother.

"Hi, Mom, what's up?" she said chirpily,

"You're sounding better, how's the recovery going?"

"Great actually, I'm heading home for some more r & r."

"Where are you?" her mother asked

"I'm on a train headed to Spakane Airport." she answered looking at the aforementioned town in the distance.

"Is Dmitri with you?"

"Mom, Dmitri and I well, we need some time apart."

"But you have just started something..." her Mother sounded flustered.

"I know, but things didn't work out as I thought." she said feeling it in her heart.

"Well honey, I do hope you can work things out he seems to be a good man!"

"Well, we'll see." the train had stopped and the passengers were getting off. "Mom, I have to go the rain has arrived and I must disembark, I'll speak to you later, give Dad my love." she spoke quickly as she manoeuvred her way off the train. The air was chilly so she pulled her coat closer to her body. She proceeded to the airport terminal looking forward to her future.


For the first time in her life June felt reckless abandonment. Her holiday to the beautiful island of St. Lucia was exceptional. She sunbathed, shopped and went on countless sight seeing trips around this island paradise. At the end of the week she was relaxed and happy. Dmitri would never know the influence his encounter had caused her to break down the walls she had erected arounf her self for years. She had kept herself in check trying to follow the rules in being the first born/ the realisation that she had the freedom to explore was great. She now had a confidence to move on and to take risks. Maybe she would date more, get a boyfriend whoever said a career woman can't have both.


June walked into the office building refreshed and energized the past week had purged her. She was ready for a whole new approach to her life. The receptionist Debbie greeted her cheerfully as she walked past. Her boss was outside of her office as she approached.

"Welcome back Ms Stapleton ," greeted Mr. Hamilton, " You have surely brought new business to this company."

She smiled," Thank you sir, it feels good to be back."

He held the door open for her, as she entered her office. This was once a room in which she had spent more time than her own apartment.  DESCRIBE ROOM. She vowed never to do that again unless it was an absolute necessity. She put her things down, and sat down, "So sir, how may I help you this morning."

He sat opposite her, "Last week we received a call from the international conglomerate company Breusk Shipping, that is the parent company, but it is made up of several smaller ones. The owner is a Greek tycoon Demetrious Tzarch von Kanaredes who made his wealth from being street smart. He started with one boat and now fifteen years later he owns a hundred times that amount. One of his companies contacted us to prepare a proposal for them."

June barely was listening another rich person wanting to invest and be pampered. She was tired of the same theme.

"So what do they want?" she asked obligatorily.

"They are starting a small retreat complex for pampered executives, a cottage type of resort with individual cabins but with golf courses and the likes. A retreat away from the workplace, really." He stood up and poured himself some coffee that her secretary Wilma always had prepared. "They want us to prepare a marketing proposal on the area to set up such a retreat ...etc... "

She breathed in deeply, "Good, how much time do we have?"

"Three weeks." she raised her eyebrows, typical rich folk, expecting the earth to stand still while they are served.

"I'll get started on it right away." she was ready for this challenge. "I'll get Jay and Minoa on the team since they were excellent the last time."

"As long as you do the ground work, anyone can follow it up." He walked to the door; "Good to have you back, we all missed you." he left on that note.

Things were changing she realised her boss had never been very personal with her, he was not harsh but he had never been so interested in her welfare. Looking back, June realised she had never let anyone get involved in her personal life in the office. This was sure going to change she needed to open up to be freer, to explore and be her own person and that involved leaving the office at normal hours. She would be a model employee but still take time for herself. She brooded over Dmitri but if she never saw him again she never regretted her encounter with him, she would cherish that experience for a life time. She sighed deeply and pushed her chair closer to the desk, enough rendezvousing time for some serious work. She picked up the phone and dialled an extension number.


"Jay," she spoke into the receiver.

"Hey, you're back, how was the time off?" he asked sounding genuinely interested.

"Great, I have to prove it." she was smiling, it sure felt good be so free.

" Wow, so what's new?"

"Hamilton wants us to work on a new account, a real international one this time, can you make it here in fifteen minutes." she shuffled her papers on her desk.

" Sure see you soon." he rang off and she dialled her next associate. Her day had began.


She researched Greek tycoon Demetrious Tzarch von  Kanaredes, from all accounts he was filthy rich billionaire and all from sweat and tears. He was not a regular rich guy but rather a recluse who shunned the limelight and the fast life. He was pretty private individual and rarely ventured to social events although he was very generous and donated heavily to charity namely cancer research since his mother who had raised him and his sister single-handedly had died from it a few years ago. His sister was a medical doctor who was married with three children. There were few photographs of him and those that were in print had him shadowed or wearing sunglasses. He reminded her of Dmitri but that could never be the same person. Kanaredes was Greek whereas Dmitri was Sicilian. What was she thinking, there was no way. The man who had nurtured her back to health lovingly captured her heart and was an avid gardener was by no means a shipping tycoon.


The three weeks passed quickly and June was tired, but this was her mission and she completed it. Her mornings were clouded with nausea and outright fatigue by the end of the day; she would have to drag herself home on most days. Her mother recommended that she take some vitamins to replenish her body which was obviously tired and still recovering from her bout of sickness. She would surely do that after her presentation with this new client. June was worried after her bout with hypothermia, she realised that she was not invincible, her body was reacting to years of extensive strain, she needed to take everything easy.


She had been on five dates during the last few weeks. She had let herself explore a new side of dating. Currently she had settled on Gared Thompson, a thirty-four year old accountant. He was pleasant and very jovial. He had a good sense of humour and made her feel at ease. She had met him in the foyer of the office building on several occasions. She had shared an elevator with him twice before he had asked her out. They had been dating for the past week and a half. Her parents were pleased she was dating; according to her mother, she thought she would never have put her career on the side for her love life. Her sisters on the other hand were shocked and more scandalous, they had nicknamed her "the career" and now they had to swallow their words.





June dressed exceptionally formal today. It was presentation day at 3:30 pm she and her team were due to make a presentation to this new client. They had completed all work yesterday and this morning would be to tie up some loose ends. She wore her power suit as she called it. It was a black pants suit with a pink wrap around camisole to complete it. She had let her hair grow, something she rarely did but Dmitri had mentioned that he face was made for long hair. Her hair now brushed her shoulders and already it had softened her face. She had gone to the hair salon the day before and had put in highlights which softened her dark hair. Today however she twisted her hair into a knot and put it in a Japanese style chopstick pin, small wisps of her flowed around her face and completed the effect. She wore her highest work heels.


 Although her stomach was queasy she had a glow about her. She looked at her reflection and she was blooming, she didn't know why but she was happy and her face always had a flush. Gared had commented that she looked real maternal. June had laughed, she was not ready to have children not until she met her prince. She wanted to meet her real life prince who would sweep her off her feet, she was turning into an utterly hopeless romantic.

She turned way from the mirror and prepared to leave, a sudden wave of nausea hit her. It was getting worse each day. She rushed to the toilet and heaved up the cup of tea she had had for breakfast. She needed to be free of this bug, it was draining her totally.

June arrived at the office to find it buzzing.

"What's going on?" she asked her secretary

"The Greek tycoon is coming to the presentation, Hamilton is all bothered by the fact." June was surprised. She had thought he would be sending a lower minion. It was a good thing she always poured out her best when she worked.

"Wow, I guess the red carpet will be rolled out!" she commented ad Wilma smiled. She entered her office and immediately Mr. Hamilton was on the phone.

"Good morning, sir," she greeted.

"Good morning, June, have you heard the news as yet?" he asked

"Yes, the boss will be over for the presentation." she took off her coat.

"Indeed, ensure that the conference room is set up by midday and have a final run through by eleven."

"Will do sir," she acquiesced as her stomach lurched "I'll get on it right away."

"I know you will ace it, you're one of the best June." he rang off as she headed to the toilet. Her stomach was really acting up today, she was more nervous than she thought. Wilma gave her some antacids but she only sent them back up.

"June, maybe you should go to the nurse." Wilma suggested after her third visit to the toilet.

"I am just anxious about this meeting and need to get through it. I'll be fine." she was adamant but after her fourth visit to the toilet, she knew she needed help from a medical person. She trudged to the nurse's office and explained her dilemma. The nurse's response shocked her speechless.

"Ms. Stapleton, are you okay?" was she okay? After dropping a bomb like that, she could never be okay again. Her hand went automatically to her stomach. She never thought that she could be pregnant. Pregnant!

"Do you want to do a test?" the nurse inquired.

"Yes" she stumbled to respond. Dmitri had used protection every time except in the shower, the wonderful memories of the shower. She knew the results would be positive before she saw them. She was pregnant and she knew the exact date of conception. June took several minutes to compose herself before she could leave the office, the nurse suggested she visit her doctor soon and gave her some crackers to help stabilised her stomach. She walked in a daze to her office. Wilma was eagerly awaiting her arrival.

"June, are you alright?" she asked kindly

"Yeah, I'm okay, just a passing bug." she lied as she went directly into her office and shut the door. She leaned against it and sank to the floor. She was pregnant with Dmitri's child, the shock was insurmountable. How would she cope? She wasn't ready to be a mother, yet, she wasn't angry. The thought was not repugnant to her, it brought a flush to her skin. She would now have a piece of Dmitri forever, forever she was carrying a baby, hers and Dmitri. He would never know but she would and she would cherish his life inside of her always. She touched her stomach and smiled. It took the sound of her phone ringing mercilessly to get her off the floor. It was time for the final prep meeting. She was on a high. She was ready for the afternoon meeting. The time drew near and she was spilling over with happiness. Thanks to the nurse's advice, her stomach had decided to give her an ease so she could only eat a light sandwich for as brunch.


June entered the conference room and did another check of the room. Everything was in place. She went over the sitting arrangements. Her boss would seat at one end of the 25-seater table with the Great tycoon on the other. She would be on Hamilton's right side, Jay next to her and Minoa on the boss's left. The time dwindled down to and soon the phone rang to inform tem that the team from Breusk Shipping was in the building. June greeted their guests by the door. As each one entered the room they were escorted to their seats by a junior assistant. There were six of them in total.


Mr. Hamilton was escorting the great man himself to the room; they were all standing around the table when Mr. Hamilton entered the room with Demetrious Tzarch von Kanaredes. They each went to their designated positions and June was stunned into paralysis. She sat down dazed. The impeccably dressed tall Greek tycoon was none other than Dmitri, her Dmitri. He regarded her coolly and gave her a warm smile. She was blank, no way, there had to be a mistake. She could not sit comfortably in her chair. Her mind was fuddled as she tried to remember her presentation. She had to compose herself; she took a deep breath and shuffled her papers. She could do this. She barely heard Mr. Hamilton's preamble speech and looked up from her papers to try to fit into the proceedings but her gaze clashed with Dmitri's who was watching her intently. She could not read his eyes but they were fixed on her which made her even more uncomfortable. She had to do this because now she was angry. He had lied to her about his name that he was everything had been a lie and she hated him for it plus... she was pregnant. What a mess? A day that should have been so memorable was turning into a nightmare. She closed her eyes and stood up as Mr. Hamilton invited her to take over. She blindly went through her presentation. She was mechanical; she remembered what she had to do and did it. She did her best to avoid Dmitri's glances through out the meeting and answered his questions as unemotionally as she could muster. It all fit why he was so supercilious of her presence and how he contrived to rearrange her life by making one phone call. He was used to his dominating power, when he spoke people scurried to do his bidding. No wonder he felt her disobedience a challenge, he wasn't used to being defied.


At the end of the meeting she hurriedly gathered her papers; she needed to leave the room because she was feeling very claustrophobic by being stared down by Dmitri. He was stifling her. She made excuses to Mr. Hamilton, thanked her associates and dashed out as Dmitri was making his way to their end of the table. The elevator doors were just closing when she saw him exit the room and stare at her in her moment of escape. She rushed to her office; the corridors were basically empty since most of the staff had already left to go home including her secretary. The clock there showed it was a quarter to six. The meeting had been long and very thorough. She normally stayed to socialise but today she was emotionally overwrought to face Dmitri, she could not, not today, not now. She sank into her chair to breathe before she left the office. She put on her coat, gathered her handbag and briefcase and pulled open the door and run into a solid chest. She knew exactly who she had collided with and her stomach churned. She took a step back and looked up at him. Dmitri's face loomed over her.


"May I come in June?" he asked politely.

"It's late and I have to go home," she said not moving out of the way.

"We can either do this in the corridor or inside your office?" his voice was calm and controlled. The look on his face was serious and he was man in control who did not back down easily. June was tired and she wanted this whole confrontation to be over, the sooner the better.

June made the choice to step away from the door; the serious look on Dmitri's face was one she had seen before on their first meeting.

He closed the door quietly and stepped further into the room. His imposing presence made her queasy, she wanted to throw up but she couldn't, he could never know that she was pregnant. He would believe that she was just what he first thought another woman trying to capture him in a paternity suit.


She turned away to hide her discomfort from him, but it was too late.

"Is knowing who I am so disgusting to you?" he inquired grudgingly as she put her stuff on the desk.

"Yes, you lied to me." she accused him openly.

"I did at first because I had no choice, you were a stranger, an invader of my privacy. I had to be careful." he was standing at her desk gazing out of the window.

"Really, you had ample opportunity to tell me the truth after you checked me out." she admonished. He turned to face her.

"I had to be careful," he repeated.

"This is crap and you know it everything was a lie. I hate you Dmitri or should I say Demetrious!" she flung at him pulling her coat closer to her for some form of comfort. He stared at her for a long time and came to stand in front of her. "My mother called me Dmitri." He touched her cheek lightly and she turned her face and moved away.

"We had something special." he went on.

"To me it was, to you it was just a game with the poor folk."

"Come on June, is knowing who I am so bad?" he was so calm that it grated on her nerves.

"What makes me mad is that you lied to me."

"We all lie June," he was staring at her, "we all have secrets, and sometimes we have to lie to protect our secrets."

"I never did." she screamed losing control, " I was completely honest the entire time and you let me ..., you let me...." she could not voice it. She had surrendered her virginity to him after all these years she had lost it to a man she thought was her prince instead he was a fake.

"We had a great time June it was a beautiful time we shared don't sully it with bad thoughts."

"It is already too late. Now I am repulsed by the whole thought." she was really repulsed because at that moment, she wanted to throw up.

He read the look on her face and his own features clouded up. "We cared about each other June, and now we move on to a new dimension." was he mad? Had he lost his crackers, did he expect her to just saddle up and forgive him so easily?

"A new what? You want exactly what now from me?" she stared him down.

"I want you to be with me, June." he did not just say that. After lying to her he expected them to just move on without any thought, all in a day's work she guessed.

"No!" she responded easily.

"I missed you," he stepped closer, "we don't have to end because of who I am."

She moved away from him when he was close she could not think. The memory of their time together was so raw and vivid in her mind that she fought hard to push them out of her mind.

"I can't, my life here doesn't allow it."

"June," his hands were on her shoulders he pulled her to him and she could feel his desire rock hard against her back. She wanted to just melt into his arms but she could not, she had too much at stake right now. She stepped out of his clutches.

"I have a date," she said turning round to see his reaction. Gared was taking her out to see a musical; he had gotten the tickets last week. She had been excited since she had never been to one before. This musical was a Broadway hit and was continually sold out and since she had always wanted to see one when Gared got some tickets from a client she was overjoyed. "I am going to see the Prairie Tree and I do not want to be late.'

His brows were pulled together in a deep scowl, "Break it!" he commanded.

"I'll be late." she moved to pick up her stuff. "I have my own life Dmitri one which does not include you."

"June you want me and you just felt how much I want you, let's stop all these games and come back to my hotel with me." he was reaching out to her, she sidestepped him. "Stop pushing me away, don't deny us."

"Is that all I am to you a lay, a sex doll?" she reproached as his face contorted in anger. She pushed on realising that he was getting angry with her.

"You know you're not." he was seething she could see.

"If I leave with you, we both know what will happen but tomorrow, you leave and then what? Huh? You go back to your high tech life and what?" she pressed on feeling really energised by the look of shock and anger on his face. "Every time you're in town you ring me up? Is that how it will go? Hey June care for some sex tonight?" Is that how it will be?" she stopped her chest heaving. There was utter silence as he stared at her she could see the muscle in his cheek twitching sporadically but his face was devoid of emotion. His hands clenched at his sides repeatedly as he tried to control the urge to throttle her. She was deliberately antagonising him.  He got even more furious as he watched her. She was standing tall as she faced him. She was unafraid and although she had melted in his arms she was acting as if he did not mean anything to her. Had she really moved on with someone else? Was he too late? He doubted it. She had been untouched until their encounter at his cottage. She would not have moved on so quickly, he was sure. She was just trying to pay him back for not telling her his real identity. He unclenched his hands and stepped toward her. She was his and he was not going to let her slip away this time. Their short association had left him wanting more, much more and he wanted her. June Stapleton was his and would have her.

June had she hit the nail on the head, by his stance it seems the truth being spilled so openly was ugly but he needed to know that she was no easy lay. She turned away from him.

"I need to go home. I am sure we will meet again but only in a business way." she moved to the door. "You may control an empire and had your jolly old laugh making fun of me but once bitten is a far as I go. Never again. I thought the time we had was precious but now looking at you, learning just what kind of man you are, you just disgust me and I hate you for what you did, just remember that!" She stormed out not glancing back. She headed straight to the lift. She only breathed when the doors were closed, this time he had not followed her.

Dmitri let her go. She was a tiger alright and he would her leave this time but he knew that it was just a matter of time before he had her in his arms again. He smiled; let her feel that she had won. he was excited just thinking how he was going to enjoy taming his tiger woman.

She rushed to her apartment and tried to relax but how could she? Dmitri was here in town, in her life their companies were on the verge of signing a very lucrative business deal which she was in charge of. How was she going to hide her pregnancy? Would he admonish her if knew?  Dmitri would be furious, he guarded his life so well, and he was overly protective of his family? She was not going to be the woman who disturbed his quiet world. She wanted this child and if she knew Dmitri he would never let her raise this child alone. He would and to take full control that is why she was not going to let him find out about the pregnancy. She didn't know how she was going to execute her plan but she was determined to do it. 


However tonight she was going out with Gared, it was a sweet guy and soon she would have to tell him the truth but until then she would savour the thought of being with a normal man and not the fantasy of Demetrious Tzarch von Kanaredes. She dressed carefully not wanting to bring any undue glamour to her abdomen. Although she was barely a month she was conscious of it and so she chose a simple powdered blue chiffon dress. It was floor length with a short trail. The deep v neck was highlighted by a silver brooch at her waist. The v continued down the back as well but in small ruffled waves. She had bought this dress along with six others after her shopping spree to rejuvenate her wardrobe. It made her torso look longer and lengthened her height.


Gared was impressed by her appearance. He was blown away by her.

"You look gorgeous!" he said kissing her on the cheek.

"Thank you." she answered as he put on her coat.

"You look pretty dashing yourself," He was dressed in a tuxedo which enhanced his physique and made his blond hair look golden. Gared had a great sense of humour he bowed to her.

"Glad to please you oh pretty lady." He bowed to her and they laughed as he helped into the car. The conversation to the Royal Theatre was light and airy. Gared was a great conversationalist, for an accountant he wasn't stuffy or outdated but laid back and relaxed.


There were a lot of people in attendance tonight. Everyone was decked out in their most formal wear. Gared escorted her inside, she felt like a princess with her dashing knight beside her. It was unfortunate she had met Dmitri first and that she was pregnant because Gared was a real great guy. The first half was magical. The performers were excellent. They sang, danced, and moved so gracefully and intelligently on stage that she had to wink to ensure that she was actually watching a play and not involved in a fantasy. The resounding applause at the interval revealed that everyone in attendance was just as appreciative as she was. Gared left her to get some refreshments. She was busily viewing the people milling around her. They were from the echelons of society. The dresses were expensive and all designer labelled and the hairstyles were all coifed and styled to perfection.


She turned around and found her self being stared down by none other than Dmitri, he too was formally dressed in a tux that must have been tailored for him. It fit him splendidly. She had not wanted to be reminded of him, after walking out on him she was determined to keep him out of her head. It was a struggle but now seeing him here, it was no use. He made no move to approach her so she simply turned away. He had been conversing with two older gentlemen. He had been staring at her coolly; she took a deep breath, and promised herself that he was not going to spoil her night. Gared came back shortly and handed her some sparkling water. She was grateful for something to do. They continued to mingle with the crowd, since some of them were clients of Gared's they welcomed him warmly. June tied her best to forget Dmitri's presence but she could feel him staring at her as she tried her best to relax. When Gared saw an executive from his company, he guided her to have a chat with him. He had his hand lightly around her waist as they walked toward his colleague. He introduced her and they began a short conversation. Mr. and Mrs. Wilkins were probably in their fifties and were easy to get along with. Mr. Wilkins worked as a Chief Operations Officer at Gared's company and was commenting on the artistic qualities of the musical. June sipped her drink and chatted with his wife while the men switched the talk to work.

"Mr. Wilkins, pleased to see you again." came a voice June had started to resent.

"Mr. Kanaredes, always a pleasure," Dmitri was shaking hands with Mr. Wilkins looking so sure of himself. What was he doing here? Why couldn't he leave her alone? She stared at him coldly as he wormed his way into their small clique.

"Mrs. Wilkins you look extremely lovely tonight." Mrs. Wilkins was actually blushing. Ooh she wanted to puke.

Mr. Wilkins turned towards them and introduced Gared and herself. Dmitri squeezed her hand a little strongly that she wanted to kick him. She gave him a plastic smile as Mr. Wilkins started to roll off Dmitri's great accomplishments. She rolled her eyes and he glared at her when she did so.

"Ms. Stapleton and I are already intimately acquainted." Dmitri uttered his voice sensual as he spoke.....what was he trying to do? She choked on her drink. Gared was attentive and patted her back,

"Are you okay?" she was embarrassed for causing a scene thanks to the lout Dmitri who was glaring at her with a smirk on his face.

"I am fine, I just drank too fast, sorry." She apologised gaining her composure. Gared fussed over her a bit longer than was necessary.

"Are you really okay Ms Stapleton?" Dmitri inquired smugly still basking in his victory but a little perturbed by Gared's over attention.

"Thanks but I am fine, a little incident like this will not set me back from our business meeting tomorrow." She smiled sweetly as she countered his statement.

"Business?" asked Gared interestedly. All eyes were now on her.

"Yes, our company Thompson Global has just started on a campaign with Mr. Kanaredes' corporation."

"You chose well Kanaredes, as always, Thompson Global is one of the best companies that deal with business promotion and management in fact we do a lot of business transactions with them." Mr. Wilkins added and June smiled, she had cleverly diverted the innuendo Dmitri had tried to insert by his statement.


"So what did you think of the evening so far?" June was not interested. She leaned back and Gared tightened his hand around her waist. She noticed Dmitri's eyes darken so she snuggled closer to Gared. She whispered to Gared that she wanted to excuse herself. Dmitri's eyes were trained on them.

"You must excuse me, but it was a real pleasure meeting all of you." she said as she left the group. Gared held her fingers and kissed them, she gave him her most dashing smile as she moved away. She glanced in Dmitri's direction his face showed that he was none too pleased. She was happy, did he think she was only his? She went to the ladies room and composed herself. Dmitri was making her do strange things. Blah! She screamed mentally. On her return the intermission was over so they entered the theatre immediately. She did not see Dmitri for the rest of the evening although she knew he was around and probably throwing daggers her way with his eyes. She totally encouraged Gared's flirtations hoping that he would get the message and bugger off. It was not difficult since she enjoyed his company so she just let herself enjoy the evening. Let Dmitri stew on this!


Gared escorted her home and she let him kiss her at her door. He was a good kisser and he left with longing. However she could not enter into a sexual relationship with him. She would have to tell him about her pregnancy soon because she did not want to keep leading him on. He was too nice of a guy to be bogged down by her and her situation. She collapsed against her door; Gared did not bring out any passion in her and she was furious. She wanted to hurl something at Dmitri, he had spoiled her for other men. How she wanted to hurt him for what he did. He must never know about this baby, never, and she would do anything to make sure he never did.

She took off her shoes and drank a glass of water. She undressed slowly and put on her pyjama shirt because she was feeling a bit warm. It was almost eleven but she didn't feel sleepy, she was wound too tight. She flopped onto her bed and started to read a novel.


The phone rang piercing the quiet night, who could be calling her so late? She picked up the receiver,


"Good you're awake, open the door!" Dmitri's voice had invaded her senses.

"What!" she responded.

"I am standing outside, open the door!" he commanded.

"It is late, go back to your hotel." she was adamant.

"June open the door we need to discuss things."

"It is late, I have to work tomorrow if you need to discuss anything, call during normal office hours." with that she slammed the phone down. Soon after, she heard loud pounding on her front door. The guy was not going to give up. She lived in a quiet apartment building and loud noises were never heard so late. Dmitri was not letting up. She trudged down her short flight of stairs and flew open the door. He stumbled forward, she wanted to throttle him. He was still dressed in his tux but he had a long black coat over it. He righted himself and walked in. He removed his coat and stood there waiting for her to close the door. She did but very slowly.

"Say it quickly so that you can leave." she stood by the closed door defiantly with her arms folded in front of her.

"I will not stand insolence from you." he spoke with a look of determination on his face.

She raised her eyebrows uninterestedly.

"Have you slept with Thompson?" he asked pointedly.

"That is none of your business." she replied, she walked up the three steps to the kitchen area and put on the kettle. He was right behind her, she mistakenly turned around ill judging how near he was. He now put an arm on either side of her pining her to the counter.

"We said goodbye, I never thought I would see you again."

"June, it was never goodbye for me, I knew I wanted you, I waited for the right moment for us to meet again."

"Why didn't you tell me?"

"I wanted you to want me for who I am was and not what I have."

June was annoyed, "I did but you still didn't trust me. I bore my soul to you Dmitri." he stepped back and run his hand through his hair.

"I was in complex negotiations selling one of my companies, I had to be careful." she shook her head, he was giving too many excuses. He bowed his head and shrugged like he was tired. She wanted to put her arms around him but stilled herself.

"Be honest you didn't trust me and now it is too late!" he looked into her eyes quickly.

"Is he your lover now?" he was too close. She couldn't breathe. He held her shoulders, and stared at her, she bent her head and flinched from his touch.

"He is, isn't he? Is that why you no longer want me?" he stepped back forcefully. He run his hand through his hair.

"So that's it then, you've moved on?" he was staring at her like a dejected man. June had not uttered a word, she was too shocked to do so. Let him think that Gared was her lover, serves him right for lying to her.

"Yes, I have moved on." she said softly remembering his earlier words that sometimes we need to lie to hide our secrets. She raised her head and the anguish she saw on his face wrenched at her heart. She wanted to take back her words for a moment but she stopped her mouth from opening. She had to keep her pregnancy from him and if this was what it took, so be it.

"You moved on quickly, I thought...." he stopped himself and turned away from her.

"You thought wrong, when we parted to me it was over. I never thought I would see you again." she repeated not making sense of his reaction.

He was leaning against the cupboard with his hands in his pocket.  He seemed to have aged ten years his shoulders were drooping and his eyes were cloudy.

The kettle tinged off and she attended to it. She tried to speak as normally as possible.

"Do you want a cup of tea? I don't have coffee..." She offered opening her cupboard to take out two teacups. She heard shuffling behind her as he said,

"No thank you, I guess it's good bye for good then..."she turned around and found him putting on his coat.

"I can't say I wish you the best but if you are happy...good luck with him." his voice was raspy filled with raw emotion. June wanted to run to him and beg him to stay but she instead held tightly to the cup in her hand.

"Good bye Dmitri." she said softly as he opened the door and left.


June cried herself to sleep that night. The next morning her eyes were puffy and red. To make matters worse her stomach had not eased its wrenching. She had an appointment with the doctor, so she would be late in for work. The doctor gave her a list of things she could do about the morning sickness but overall she was okay and if she continued to follow her regimen she should have a healthy baby in the next few months. She paused outside the doctor's office to stare at a young couple the woman was probably about seven months pregnant and her husband was diligently helping her to get out of the vehicle. She kissed him and they proceeded towards her. She fiddled with her bag as they greeted her when they passed. She was filled with emotion, her eyes welled with tears. She would never share this with Dmitri, they would never have this loving togetherness. She knew that it was going to be tough, just raising a baby alone but she had no choice. Dmitri was a closed chapter she now had to move on.

She proceeded to her vehicle, the next couple of weeks were going to be rough, and she had to tell her family and Gared. Well it was her bed and she had to lie in it. She was deep in thought all the way to the office; the couple had really affected her. She was yearning for such comfort from a man but that man was gone. If only Dmitri was a normal guy not some billionaire. If only she had met Gared first. There were too many "if onlys" in her life. She cruised to work, because she was still early. The appointment before hers had cancelled so she had gone in earlier than she was scheduled. She drove to a baby store and started browsing the shelves. All the stuff was so cute and adorable. She had not even thought if she wanted a girl or a boy...in fact it didn't matter, just wanted a baby. Hers and Dmitri's. She was going to cherish this child, this reminder of her liberation, of the one man she would love forever and never have.


She picked up a small pair of booties; they were brilliant white with white lace and ribbon. She put it back in the tray but on second thought she decided to by it. She continued to go through stuff and realised that baby stuff was just so adorable. She had never been close to children partly because none of her friends had any. Or those who did weren't close to her. By the time she left the cashier she had purchased two pairs of booties, one white and one blue, a white newborn jumper, three vests, a white coat, a blue cap, a pink bib and a white blanket. Well at least she had a start. If she didn't have to go to work she would have not left so soon.

She breezed into the office feeling on top of the world, Wilma was pleased to see her back to her old self. However her morning started to crumble as soon as she was summoned to Mr. Hamilton's office.

His door was open so she entered. She found Dmitri and his personal assistant Franco Mendez already in audience. She greeted everyone and took a seat. She did not glance at him but busied herself with her skirt.

"Good, everyone is here." Mr. Hamilton began, "June we have been discussing the new marketing campaign and Mr. Kanaredes would like you to have a more in depth view of the proposal by visiting the business in question."

June sat there shell shocked, he wanted her to do what!? She raised her head and their glances clashed; hers with disbelief and his with triumph. What was he up to she thought?

"Sir, I do not know what to say," she stumbled out and saw Dmitri smile, the jerk had something up his sleeve, she was going to play the game until she found out what it was.

"Great, you have to fly to Sicily to have a better view of the operations, you should be there for a few weeks or until you finish the proposal. We thought it would be better if you did this one hands on." 

"We" June thought it was more "He." Dmitri wanted her to come to Sicily, he was forcing her hand, if she went over there she would have no choice but to be on his turf and acquiesce to him plus Gared would not be in the picture. If she had to keep the pregnancy away from him she could not do this. She was stuck, the deal was a splendid one, with so many perks, but it had so many consequences. She was truly stuck.

"The details are all here in this." stated Franco handing her a large brown portfolio. She took it hesitantly.

"I need to go over this," she said trying to buy time.

"Good, so you take the rest of the day to pack, you will be leaving tomorrow morning with Mr. Kanaredes on his plane." June was truly angry now the man was manipulating her. Did he want her so bad or was he just a man who wanted control? She shakily fixed the portfolio on her lap.

"Okay sure, thank you sir." up to this point Dmitri had said nothing, the casual way he was leaning in the chair spoke volumes to her, he was like a cat that had eaten the canary. She could not glare at him because of the positions in which they were seated. He had a better angle and was using it to give her all these victory looks. She wanted to strangle him. How was she going to escape this? She loved her job but she wasn't going to quit but how was she going to hide her pregnancy when they would be in such close quarters.

Her only hope was that she would not be showing until she was about four months along. She stood up shakily, holding the portfolio as a life line. She wanted to escape from this nightmare, she slowly turned around to leave, but the following words halted her exit:

"May I have a few words with Ms Stapleton alone?" Dmitri asked softly. She wanted to scream but just held back quietly.

Mr. Hamilton left his office with Franco. The click of the door was like a nail in her coffin.

She stood with her back to Dmitri still clutching the portfolio.

"I want to see your face June," he commanded

She refused to turn she was so angry she wanted to cry.

"I thought it was polite to face a person when they are speaking to you." he continued saucily. She still refused to face him fighting back nausea and tears. This pregnancy was making her so emotional and right now Dmitri was not helping her. The smugness of his voice just made her more nauseous and sick. She was struggling to compose her self when she felt his hand on her arm forcing her to face him. He used his other hand to lift her chin to face him. The look he saw on her face brought him to a halt because his mouth closed when he looked at her. Instead of continuing to berate her, he guided her to a chair and took the portfolio from her hands.

He then got her a glass of water. He cajoled her to drink it. June was in shock she barely remembered what he was doing, her mind was blank.

"Now breathe, you're having a bit of a panic attack." she could barely hear his voice it seemed so far away. "I said to breathe, June she was losing him, "Come on breathe." she could not obey his command because her body was getting sleepy she needed to close her eyes for a few minutes until her head felt better. Yes, just a few minutes, and she would be fine. Dmitri was speaking to her his voice filled with urgency but she could not make out the words as her mind drifted away and her body let the faint overcome it.

When she re-opened her eyes, she was lying on Mr. Hamilton's couch. Dmitri was kneeling next to her. She looked at him disoriented, unsure why she was there.

'Are you ok?' he asked and it all came back to her. She tried to sit up but he kept her down. "Just remain as you are."

'You will be alright Ms. Stapleton, just relax, this is common for someone in your condition.' Dmitri leaned back and the company nurse came into view, she bent down and continued speaking, "I guess you need to be more careful, the first trimester is a delicate one.''

June was upset, the nurse, the baby, she put her hand to her stomach instinctively,

'You just need to have a bit of a rest,' the nurse continued as she made her way to the huge oak desk in the centre of the room.

June wanted to disappear, the nurse had just revealed that she was pregnant. She avoided Dmitri's gaze as she struggled to sit up, he helped her as she swung her legs off the couch. She was further mortified by Mr. Hamilton's presence in the room. He was studying her strangely. She could only imagine what he was thinking.

June just wanted to get away, out of this place, away from all the questioning eyes around her. She could not handle the curious glances.

'I feel much better now' she offered weakly her voice sounding like an echo to her ears.

'I will just get my stuff and be on my way.' she stood up, conscious of Dmitri helping her. She fixed her clothes and thanked the nurse,

'Mr. Kanaredes was very worried when you refused to regain consciousness, he said that you had been pale before you fainted.'  Mr. Hamilton said. June cringed inside at those words,

"I was a bit light headed but I feel fine now."

"When I checked you I realised that it was just your condition. You need to be more careful and let him take care of you."

The nurse probably thought that Dmitri was her partner. The nurse smiled at Dmitri, " Just ensure that she does not work too hard." She excused herself and left.  June was left with her boss and the one man she didn't want near her right now.

"Ms. Stapleton, I guess I must congratulate you on your pregnancy."

'Mr. Hamilton, I...' she stopped aware that Dmitri was now standing immediately behind her. She felt his coat brush her back as he moved. She froze.

"Well it is a happy time especially the first one." Mr. Hamilton had no idea; she could feel the tension emanating from Dmitri's body it was ice cold.

'I remember when my wife had our first she had a miserable first few months but afterwards things were okay, so be strong enjoy this wonderful time.' he continued going to his desk.

June followed his movements avoiding the volcano that was standing behind her.

'In light of this, June take the rest of the day off." He directed the next statement to Dmitri, "May I suggest that we get someone else to go the Sicily tomorrow.' her boss said looking behind her for confirmation, she held her breath waiting.

'Actually Mr. Hamilton in light of this I think it is imperative that Ms. Stapleton be in Sicily tomorrow,' Dmitri said forcefully and Mr. Hamilton looked puzzled back and forth at them.

June cringed further, the monster was about to pounce, he held her arm bit too tightly, "The sooner Ms. Stapleton can finish this the better especially in regards to her condition."

"Very true Mr. Kanaredes, I agree Ms Stapleton can have a smooth pregnancy in her later months if this is completed in the next couple of weeks." Her boss seemed relieved and asked her, "Are you feeling much better?" she shook her head in agreement and he smiled, "Good, then I will leave you two to discuss the finer details but you can have the rest of the day off Ms Stapleton."

'Thank you Mr. Hamilton, in light of Ms. Stapleton's condition we should probably continue our discussion elsewhere." Dmitri guided her taut body out of the room, Mr. Hamilton looked at them quizzically, wondering what was up but he said nothing just nodded as they vacated his office. Dmitri guided her to the elevator, she numbly followed him trying not to bring any undue attention their way. He said nothing as he punched the button for the ground floor. She knew that he was waiting for a private place to unleash his fury, she was gearing herself for it.  She was silent all the way to her apartment. She entered her apartment and rushed to the kitchen to get a drink of water. Dmitri took off his coat and immediately went to the clear glassed drinks cabinet and took out a bottle of bourbon. He drank one shot before he turned to look at her scathingly.

She took the initiative 'Don't hold it inside any longer just let it out.' he poured another glass his shoulders taut with unreleased fury.

'I suppose, I wasn't going to be told?' he asked rhetorically.

'Why would I have to tell you about my pregnancy?' she challenged him, he drank more slowly this time.

'It's mine June, my child growing inside you and I have a right to know!' he slowly raised his voice and slammed the glass down.

'How long have you known?' he continued coming toward her like a tiger stalking its prey. She cowered behind the kitchen counter holding the surface for support. She stood there staring at him, his eyes were alive with fury as he walked up the steps.

'I am waiting for an answer June, how long have you known?'

She tried to skirt away but he was already beside her his fury emanating him from in droves.

'Answer me' he said softly, she was afraid to speak this man before had so much power and control what would happen to her now, her life would never be the same, she would be his, her child would be raised as his heir taken away from her. She shuddered to think how she would have no influence on her child. She wanted this baby to be hers, she had that right not him with his power and influence. She wanted a normal life not one ruled by Demetrious Tzarch von Kanaredes.

She mustered up all her courage as she said, 

'It's not yours Dmitri.' she responded

His eyes turned almost black 'What!'

He held her shoulders tightly, 'I said it's not yours.'

'June we are talking about a baby here, my heir.'

She shook her head, 'No, I had my period after we met.' she closed her eyes unable to look him in the face. Upon hearing her words he dropped her like used newspaper, she reopened her eyes to see him pacing.

'It can't be yours because .....' he looked disgusted with her his lip was turned up in a sneer of derision.

He came to her, 'So, is it Thompson's, is it? Is it? Tell me!'

'So you ran from my bed to his? All this pristine white image was just one for show,' he was mad, she could she the various stages of comprehension dawn on his face he felt slighted,   ' Is that the way it's going to be? You pretend to everyone that you're this great person but instead you're a slut!"

She slapped him then, 'I am not and you know it! Gared is a wonderful guy, he cares for me, I wish he was my first, I wish I had waited for him instead I threw it away on you!'

There was utter silence in her apartment after her outburst. Dmitri's face was devoid of emotion now.

"Gared cares about me, he has been up front with me from the first time we met and he is just so gentle and so considerate." she added indeed Gared was all of these things.

A changed look came over Dmitri, "So Gared knows about this child no wonder he was overly attentive last night....."

"Gared is a real man; one who knows how to treat a woman, at least one thing perfect came out of this situation." She said as she walked away from him.

Dmitri's face clouded over as he stared at her, the phone rang breaking the tension filled atmosphere. June went to answer it.


"June, are you okay?" came Gared's concerned voice.

"I am fine, Gared." She answered a bit shaken trying to ignore the stare Dmitri was currently directing her way.

"I called your office and they said you had the day off since you had an incident."

"I am fine now, really,"

" I can come over now,"

"There is no need to come over now, I am positive I am okay," she stressed.

"Okay well I will come over after work, we can watch a movie and I can cook you that meal I promised." June was smiling Gared was just too charming.

"It's a deal then see you later." She agreed, maybe a quiet evening with a good friend was exactly what she needed to forget her present crisis.

"Relax and be careful, later then."

"I will, bye." she was smiling as she replaced the receiver. She hoped her performance had convinced him that she and Gared were a firm couple awaiting the birth of their child.

She turned around and casually walked to the door, "I need to rest, Gared doesn't want me stressed out especially in my condition." She said as she opened the door, I think you should leave and furthermore I will not be going to Sicily tomorrow, I will get a medical paper to ensure that you can't wrangle me away from Gared."

Dmitri walked to the door silently and passed her but he stopped on the threshold and turned to stare at her piercingly with a deadly gaze and in the calmest voice possible he stated, 'I do not expect you tomorrow, or see you ever again, I hope you never regret the choice you have made today, June."  


June crumbled to the floor, and crunched up into a ball. She cried her heart out, Dmitri was out of her life isn't that what she wanted, then why did she feel like her heart had been ripped out of her and thrown away. She felt sick of what she had done, she, was crazy for lying to him, she got up her mind confused, should she run after him but.. He would never believe her, she had gone too far, she held her stomach as she lurched over into the sink and spilled out everything in her stomach.


The rest of the day was no better, she felt wretched inside knowing that she had made the wrong decision but she just wanted to hurt him  and she wanted her baby, she was in a dilemma she wanted the man not his power. Her baby would grow up without a father and she would give it everything, she could survive without Dmitri, she had for 25 years. June told her parents about her pregnancy the following day. Her parents were shocked but not disappointed in her which was a plus. When they asked about the father she told them the truth that he didn't want her anymore. They accepted that and were very supportive. 


Work wise was filled with work. Jay had replaced her in Sicily and from his reports he was enjoying it immensely. She deliberately did not ask about Dmitri and avoided any talk of him.

The months rolled by and, she had broken up with Gared, he wanted to remain together but he totally understood why she didn't want a relationship with him. He remained her good friend and was very supportive of her. He was now dating someone else but regularly called to check in on her. She was now six months and blooming, her baby was a darling after her morning sickness was gone. She had swelled in many places. Her breasts were full and ripe. Her stomach was huge and she felt like a whale most times. Her hair was longer and all her friends told her that pregnancy agreed with her. Indeed it was, she had practically bought everything for the baby. She had even sold her apartment and bought a small cottage. She wanted to work until the last minute and would take all her leave after the birth. Today she was due to get an ultra sound to know the sex of her baby, she was ecstatic. She left the office buoyed by the day's upcoming events.


The doctor turned to her and said; 'You have very health and active baby Ms. Stapleton,' June could see the baby moving and stretching his legs, 'Indeed Dr. Montgomery, he moves all the time especially when its time for meals.' the doctor laughed and told her to look closely at the screen, June was lost.

'What am I looking for?'

The doctor pointed to the baby's lower body and said, 'As you can clearly see, you are having a boy!'

'A boy, she murmured, 'a boy who would be strong and virile like his father.' She had often thought of Dmitri but she knew this was for the best she would have a better life without him she would have to explain to her son about his father but with so much support from family and friends she was not worried that he son would miss out greatly.

She realised that she was crying, 'I don't know what came over me, I am so happy, a boy.

'It's ok June emotions are uncontrollable at this time,' she continued, 'for now everything looks fine, a few more months and he will be in your arms,;

June was crying heavily now the tears rolled down her cheeks, her son hers and Dmitri, she took a deep breath, they were going to have a son. She left the office drained from her emotional upheaval, she decided to go baby shopping since she had the afternoon off.

She was about to hail a cab when her phone rang

'hello/' she answered

'boy or girl/' asked her curious mother

' a boy mom' she responded and could her father on the next phone whoop

'yeah, football, here we come,

'no dad he will choose whatever sport he wants,

Her father was not listening as her parents totally ignored her and started to rant about things they would do with their grandchild.

'mom, dad, enough already,

'sorry dear just got carried away.

'I'll say," she added

Okay see you this evening, remember the get together at Sheila's

Okay mom, dad, see you guys later,

She rang off, Sheila lived three houses away from her parents, she was 80 if she was a day and was finally retiring from her job at the local library, she was a every resilient woman. She was kind and mellow although she was tough. Everyone in the neighbourhood knew her and that's was why she would make the effort to attend because these days she was an early sleeper, she felt so tired at nights all she did was eat read and sleep. This baby was draining her but she loved it she was going to have a son. She hailed a cab and got off at an upscale baby store, in the centre of town. There was an adorable navy blue jumper she had seen there a few weeks ago. Now she new the baby's sex she would buy it if it was still for sale.


She got out of the cab and paid the driver. As she turned round she felt someone looking at her. Sure enough Dmitri stood across the street glaring at her rudely. The cab pulled away and his eyes widened as he took in her swollen belly. He turned away sharply and entered the building behind him. June stood there for a few moments trying to compose herself. The shock was too much.

'Lady are you alright?' a woman asked her nicely

'Yes- yes' she stumbled, 'I'm fine now.' she smiled and continued on her way.


June would never the forget the look in Dmitri's eyes as he assessed her. It was not pleasant or kind far from it, it was filled with loath and hate. She numbly carried on with her shopping trying to forget the father of her unborn child.


As her due date approached June was filled with a sense of longing. It would have been great to have Dmitri as her Lamaze coach instead her sister May was filling in.

When June delivered her son it was on a bright Friday afternoon. Her family were all in attendance it was a careful delivery because her son weighed 8lbs 10 ozs. June stared at her baby lying next to her in his cot. He was definitely his father's son. A full head of dark hair, long limbs and the same patrician nose. He would be tall and handsome, so far the only thing of hers he had were her blue eyes. He had an exact birth mark like Dmitri's on the lower side of his left buttock. It was shaped like the sun. she remembered when she had lavished her tongue over Dmitri's own in the shower. He was sleeping soundly after being fed ten minutes ago. Breastfeeding had felt strange at first but the sensation was filled with pride as her son suckled from her. His small eyes were open and bright. She knew she would love him for life.

She had named him, Jonathan Zack Stapleton after her father and his own father. He was just adorable. She fell asleep watching her son.


June returned to work two months later on a part time basis. She didn't want to leave little Zack alone for too long. Her parents babysat while she worked two days a week at the office. Gared was his godfather and her two sisters doubled up as godmothers. Zack was spoiled and fussed over. She had gone into consultancy work in order to devote more time to motherhood. Mr. Hamilton was loathing losing her so he was agreeable to let her choose her work times. Her son was growing rapidly, he was a good baby most of the time but he had a temper and he had not gotten that from her she was too pliant. He had a great appetite again not from her. It was remarkable how strong Dmitri's genes were. She saw him in all of Zack's movements.


It was a normal Wednesday morning and June was eager to finish this assignment when her boss told her that he wanted to see her.


'please have a seat, June'

She sat wondering what was up

'the elberg account has been going well but I want you to over the final overview, personally.'

The elberg report was stationed in NEW YORK

'sir, you want me to go to new york'

She said amazed

'yes only for a a few days

'a few days' she had never spent a day away from Zack since his birth seven months ago.

' I know that you don't want to away from your son, June but its only for a short time and I need you to take this over, jay is in the Bahamas and Minoa is in Athens, '

She knew this day would come but she had to face it now

'okay but only for a few days;' she insisted


June hated leaving Zack but her parents promised he would be okay with them. She felt like her heart was being pulled out when she kissed him goodbye. He gave hr one os his slerpy kisses and cooed. She loved her son so much.

On the plane ride she tried to concentrate n her work but it was tough.

She missed Zack already.

She called her parents as son as she was in her hotel room

They told her not to worry and she tried not to but that was like telling the sea to stop being salty

She went to the Elberg building the next day, they were expanding their clothing line into lingerie and June just loved their ideas. They were a young company but their ideas were fresh yet traditional so their products appealed to a large range of women and men. The day was spent finalizing the evening's gala celebration. June went shopping for a new dress since Zack's birth her breasts were much fuller and her hips rounder. She looked motherly. She loved her new figure and she needed a dress to add to that.

She chose a red design with a plunging v neck line and a high waist. The skirt swirled around her legs. She added a slim diamond bracelet with matching earrings and a single looped pendant chain.

She let her hair fall around her shoulders. Her hair was much longer now and she liked it Dmitri had been right. She hated thinking about him and felt guilty about lying about their son's paternity to him but Zack was hers Dmitri would move on. He probably had already it was over a year since she had seen him and from Jay she had learnt that he was dating  a rich heiress from Italy. She wished them the best. She had her son. She was selfish but for all the right reasons.


She entered the ballroom to see that the party was just beginning


Sergio the assistant who was assigned to her came running

'ah senorita you look bellisima' she laughed

'thank you' he was noted for being melodramatic

'let's begin'  and the moved to ensure that this evening would be perfect.


She was having a great evening when she spotted Dmitri. What was he doing here? She became flustered. She wanted to avoid him at all costs. She did not want one of his scathing looks, not now, her guilt ate inside of her making her feel so raw.

Willaim elberg took the stage and introduced the line. He gave a marvellous speech and introduced Sergio who would mc the ceremony. The might was filled with entertained including a performance from a popular musical group.

The models came and strutted their stuff. The audience oohed and ahhed. June was pleased. She kept in the shadows ensuring that Dmitri did not spot her. He was not alone she registered. He had a gorgeous brunette with him; she was tall, lithe and elegant. Her silver gown looked fabulous on her. They suited each other both rich and beautiful. June's heart gave a pang of regret but she tried to keep face. She had made her bed. At the end of the ceremony she heard her name

She looked at the stage Sergio was stretching his hand out to her

She shook her head and mouthed 'no'. the applause got louder, she reluctantly walked onto the small stage and bowed.

'ladies and gentlemen, Ms. June Stapleton.' Sergio introduced her. She smiled as he took her hand and she gave a small curtsy.

'what were you thinking/' she asked as they got off the stage

'you deserved the accolade, this was all your doing.' he added

Several board members came to her afterward to echo Sergio's praise. She was pleased with the evening's events. She was in the ladies room when Isabella Rossini entered. She was even more striking up close. June smiled at her and quickly left. She wanted to escape this place. She would say goodbye to Sergio and leave. She would take the red eye back home she missed Zack. She was blindly walking when she collided with a hard chest. She stumbled back but strong arms supported her. She steadied herself

'I'm so sorry' she mumbled fixing her dress she looked at her rescuer and remained speechless it was Dmitri, he gazed at her blandly, 'you need to be careful June.'

'I did say I was sorry'

She turned to leave but he held onto her arm

'far from home today?'

She stopped ' just doing my job,

'A  good mother would not want to part from her child' he drawled

' you know nothing about me, Dmitri, '

'I do know that you're deceitful' he sneered

'Takes one to know one,' she rebuffed

'Daggers June? mother hood has not tamed the tiger I see.'

'Motherhood has been great'

'Yet you are here, miles away from your child'

'My son is fine and for your information, I am a good mother who knows how to balance my time' how dare he judge her

' A son, his father must be proud.' his grew more husky as he said those words, her heart sank she turned away.

' Yes, he is in fact he is overjoyed to be taking care of him while I am away...he understands me.' she turned away

' June--- ' he was cut off as Isabella came to rejoin them, she linked her arm possessively around Dmitri's own.

'Hello' Isabella greeted looking at the beautiful woman now stuck to Dmitri's side. Isabella was looking at them strangely sensing the tension in the air.

'Hi, hope that you are having a pleasant evening' she added putting on her hostess face.

'It has been splendid, isn't that right darling?' she purred touching his chest with her free hand. He took her hand and kissed it sensually,

'Any time with you is splendid darling.' he stated looking at June while he slowly rolled the words off his tongue. She felt sick.

'Enjoy the rest of the night' she walked away feeling her insides ripped to shreds. She had to calm down, she gave him up, it was her decision, she did it for Zack she had to remember that but the pain of seeing him with another woman was too much for her to bear.

She left the gala heading for her hotel. She needed to be in Kansas with her son.


June had been having a traitorous few weeks. Zack was ill, he had a high fever and an unsettled stomach. The doctor could not diagnose what he had a labelled it as a stomach bug which was going around. June was not convinced her now eleven month old son losing weight. Her heart was wrenching was she being punished for keeping his father out of his life. She did not know what to do anymore. She had not been in the office the whole week. Zack needed her care, she was awaiting some test results sent to a lab to pinpoint her son's illness. When the results came back June was heartbroken her son had a rare blood disorder. Although it could be corrected he needed a blood transfusion from a family member. Zack had been admitted and she was at his side 24/7 she had lost weight and was not eating or sleeping properly. She told her family the news and they all came to the hospital to help.

June went in to conduct a compatibility test, she waited nervously as her blood was analysed.

She remained in her son's room as he lay connected to machines. His tiny hands were clenched, she knew he was in pain and she wanted to take that pain from him. The doctor came in two hours later.




' well, can we do the transfusion?' she asked expectantly

'I'm sorry Ms. Stapleton but you are not a match' June crumbled at the news. He father reached out and caught her before she fell. She started to sob

'can we test as well/' asked her mother quietly

'definitely,' the doctor answered, 'there have been cases when the grandparents have been a perfect match.'

June looked at her mother lovingly, her parents went in to get tested. June remained by her son's bed hoping that her parents could come through for Zack. The day was not a good one her parents were not a match.

June wanted to die, her sister May and April tried but no match. June spent a sleepless night pacing the hospital room. Her son barely woke up now. He was heavily sedated to help him combat the pain. June blamed herself for this she was selfish to keep him to herself and now he was being taken away from her. She looked at her son in a drug induced sleep and she knew what she had to do now. He had one more chance, would have to go to Sicily and face Dmitri. He was her son's only hope now. She would have to swallow her pride and her lies as she needed him now, Zack needed him even more.


The next day June flew to Sicily, she had not wanted to leave but when she told her parents where she was going they encouraged her to go.

It was mid morning when she arrived at Dmitri's office building. She had dressed and undressed more than five times. She was nervous. She did not have an appointment and hoped he did not refuse to see her.

She headed to the receptionist on the ground floor and inquired on which floor Dmitri was on. She was sent to the 21st floor. The elevator ride was long and treacherous as she contemplated her next step. She hoped that he would not throw her out in one of these humiliating scenes. She deserved it though but right now she was desperate, forget pride.


His secretary was a middle aged woman who looked homely

June introduced herself

'Is it possible to see Mr. Kanaredes?'

She asked politely with her hands shaking

'He has been in a meeting all morning, do you have an appointment?'

June was afraid, 'No, but I really need to discuss a matter with him urgently.

The secretary, Mrs. Nikolos as her name plate said smiled' I'm sorry but Mr. Kanaredes is a busy person and I do not know when he will be free.' she went back to her work dismissing June.

June turned ready to flee but no her son was sick and he needed her to be strong now . She turned around. 'Mrs. Nikolos, it is a matter of extreme importance that I see him can you call him out of his meeting?'

'Miss I already told you---'

'I know but I need to see him.' she cut off the secretary.

Mrs. Nikolos picked up the phone and called security

June was appalled

'Please don't do this I need to see Dmitri,'

She was screaming now.

People had started to stare and gather around. June kept her stance, she needed to see Dmitri before security got to their floor. She turned around and rushed to his office, Mrs. Nikolos was shouting for her to stop. She pulled open the door but it was empty. She was disappointed, where was he?

She turned around and saw two uniformed security guards coming towards her. She dashed into the room next to her.

'What is going on here?' she turned around and saw Dmitri standing at the end of a conference table with several other people.

' I -- I- ' she started as the door was opened by the two guards followed by his secretary

'We are sorry sir but,' explained Mrs. Nikolos

'June what is going on?' Dmitri asked her directly.

'I need to speak to you.' He looked at her for what seemed like an eternity, then he nodded to the guards to leave.


'It's okay and gentlemen will you excuse me?' The seven men around the table stood up gathered their papers and exited with curiosity etched on their faces.

'Please hold my calls Mrs. Nikolos,' The secretary left. When the door closed after the final person, June breathed deeply.

Dmitri was standing with his hands in his pockets. He was not wearing a jacket and his grey tie was slightly undone over his blue shirt which sleeves were rolled up to reveal his arms.


'What is this about June, what are you doing here?'

He was angry, she did not blame him, but she had to see him.

'Out with it!' he demanded as she stood there open mouthed staring at him.

'I need your help,' she said softly clutching her bag tightly 'I need you to come to Kansas with me today.'

He laughed, 'You expect me to just up and go with you because you want me back? What happened June, lover boy not up to scratch?'

'No it's not like that...' she drifted off so scared of what he would do when she told him why she was here.

'Then tell me why you want, and you do want me June don't you?'  He was in front of her now and she was backing to the wall behind her. He stared at her cruelly laughing, 'You must be hard up to come here, what has you all hot and bothered missed me in your bed is that it?' he was laughing at her; she felt defenceless.

She escaped him. 'No!' she shouted

'You have every right to be mean to me Dmitri but not over this. I need your blood.'

'My what?'

She did not know how to say it, so she just let it out.

'I lied to you, I  made you believe the worst of me because I was selfish, so selfish and now I am paying for it' she was crying now, he came to her but she pulled away, 'Please , Dmitri I lied when I said that ..... about my pregnancy.' he looked at her his eyes narrowing as comprehension started to dawn.

'Explain yourself.'

'I lied, I was already pregnant.' he looked at her closely

'Just what are you telling me June,' she closed her eyes because she had to say it since Zack's life depended on it.

'My son,' she corrected herself, 'Zack, is our son, he is yours Dmitri.' he looked like he wanted to explode.

He grabbed her shoulders and pulled her to face him.

'I have a son June, is that what you are telling me!' he shook her furiously. 'Why now?'

'What happened the real father ran out on you?' he dropped her with a disgusted snort and turned to the windows overlooking the bustling city below.

'Dmitri please my- our son, his name is Zack,' she mustered up the courage to state his paternal rights.

'He is sick, very sick, he has a rare blood disorder, and he needs a blood transfusion and new bone marrow.' Dmitri's shoulders were taut. His hands balled into fist at his sides.

'I would like you to test to see if you match his blood type.'

She stopped, he was still facing the window, but now his hands were folded across his chest.

'Please, I know I was wrong, Gared, I- I never slept with him and you can hate me all you want. I denied our son his father, I was wrong but Zack.....'

He turned then,

'You are right, what kind of person would deny a child his father, how could you do that to me?' he fumed; she had last seen him so angry on the day she had denied their son's paternity. 'Now you need me and you have come crawling back,' He looked at her scathingly, 'Why should I believe you? Why should I even return with you...huh? Huh? Tell me why?' he was shouting now. His face red with fury and his hands balled up into fists. June stood there still as she watched the raw emotions cross Dmitri's face.

She pulled out a photo of Zack taken when he was six months old and showed it to him. Dmitri took the picture and stared at it closely. Zack was smiling in the photo with all the innocent glee of a child but his features were clearly evident. There was no denying that the child in the photo was not his son. The resemblance was too much. He was now angry as the realisation that he was a father bowled him over; then the fact that his son, his own flesh and blood was ill was even more tremendous. He had been denied his son and now when it was the eleventh hour June had decided to tell him. He wanted to throttle her; she would have kept him apart from his child forever if the child had not fallen sick. He looked at June, his eyes raw with emotion. He came toward her slowly; the look on his face was frightening. His walk resembled a person with murder on his mind. She was frozen with horror at what he would do but right now but there was no escape. Their son was more important than her life and since she had opened Pandora's Box she had to be ready for any consequences that followed. He stopped just in front of her and fisted his hands at his sides. He was fighting with himself to not touch her because if he did he was unsure what he would do. 

 'Let me tell you something woman, I don't like this one bit but I will go back with you and whatever happens from now on is on my terms, on my terms you hear!' he bellowed as she cringed and nodded. She was in no position to question him. She would take whatever he dished out their son's life was more important right now. Dmitri walked away from her because he was so furious that he could not look at her anymore. She was the mother of his son but he wanted to kill her right now.

'How dare you do this to me, June? How dare you? Deny me my son, keep him from me, he is mine and you took him away from me,' He continued, looking at her scornfully as he ranted. He was pacing but the look in his eyes was murderous. He approached her with his fists swinging; she cowered further into a corner. She had never seen anyone so angry. Dmitri looked at the picture in his hand again and with a scowl he punched the wall beside her. June had closed her eyes awaiting his blow. She stood still afraid to open her eyes and face Dmitri's murderous glare.

'Look at me!' he demanded, 'Face me!' she slowly opened her eyes and looked at him. He was standing in front of her, the picture in his left hand and his right hand fisted against the wall beside her. She was trapped and afraid. Dmitri was like a loose canon. She never thought that he would react like this and now she really regretted denying him the right to share their son.

'That is just cruel and vindictive woman. Now look at this, I have missed everything!' he had this real pensive look in his eyes which tore her heart in two, 'Now, two years later, you're telling me he is mine, and why? Because he is sick, sick enough to die, is that true?' Can he die from this?" he yelled and she nodded solemnly.

'How long has he been this way?'

'A - about...'

'Just spit it out!'

'A month.' Dmitri backed away from her and ruffled his hair, as he paced around the room. He looked at the picture again, touching their son's face gently and lovingly, and then he spun round and gave her a lethal glare as he spat out the words,

'If he dies June I will blame you, it will be your entire fault, and his blood will be on your deceitful hands!'


June relived the wounding comments repeatedly in her head all through the plane trip back to the US. She was to blame. He was right. He had barely spoken a word to her after they had left his office. They were flying on his private jet. She had caught him looking at her throughout the flight and she winced every time, hate seemed too mild a word for what he was feeling toward her.

He had been on the phone for most of the flight arranging to have a specialist, a colleague of his sister's, flown to the hospital to evaluate Zack. The whole case was out of her hands, Dmitri had taken over, and again it was all her fault. The drive to the airport was filled with even more tension and expectation.


Her family were shocked to see Dmitri walk in with her, especially Gared. Dmitri walked with an air of purpose not acknowledging the woman walking beside him. Dmitri introduced himself to her family totally ignoring the woman at his side.

'Mom how is he?' she asked running into her mother's comforting embrace.

'Oh June,' her mother's voice was filled with hope.

'Mom is he worse?' she asked panicked.

'No sweetheart he is the same.'

'Where is he?' Dmitri asked, she looked at him his face was blank. She walked briskly to Zack's room. She opened the door of the children's ICU unit and saw a nurse checking Zack's temperature. The nurse smiled on her way out. June rushed to her son's beside and held his tiny hand. He was so small and frail and he was hooked up to machines and wires. Dmitri stood staring at his son for ages. She saw the muscles of his jaw tighten as he took in the whole scene; the room, machines, the wires and the small delicate body breathing lightly. June let him have his moment; he walked close to the bed and held his son's hand, the huge one totally enveloping the other. Her son twitched, feeling the contact with is father. June wanted to die; she had denied her son his flesh and blood because of her own foolishness.


Tears filled her eyes as she watched Dmitri break down in tears. He held onto Zack's hand and wept. He looked like a shell of the strong man she knew, his shoulders slumped and dejected as he gazed at his son laying unconscious on the small bed. She stood back and watched as this man met his son for the first time. June hated herself so much, how could she do that to the these two beings beside her, they were so precious to her and now, if Zack, oh no she had to have hope but if anything happened it would be all her fault for unwisely keeping them away from each other.

 The doctor came in and Dmitri questioned him mercilessly, also discussing the specialist who was flying in that same night. He eventually left with the doctor to conduct the compatibility tests. He did not acknowledge her but kissed his son before he left. Her mother came in and hugged her lovingly feeling her anguish.

'It's ok honey, he hurts just like you do, and it will be okay.'

Dmitri returned later and went straight to Zack's side. He spoke to her father and ignored her completely; she guessed she deserved whatever he was dishing out.

Since it was late the results would come through the next day so her family and friends had retired for the evening. June did not want to leave her son's side so she remained at his bedside.

June was smoothing her son's hair when Dmitri returned to the room. Dmitri had not wanted to leave. He had gone to get some coffee. She looked up and he stared at her coldly. He walked over to the window ignoring her. She went to him.

'Thank you for coming.'

He said not looking at her, 'I didn't do it for you I did it for my son,' she got the message and retreated to her son's bedside.


The specialist doctor arrived later that night and started wheels in motion. He checked everything and said that Zack should have a good chance of pulling through if Dmitri was a match. If not then they would have to get a donor from the national registry and that could take time. June hardly slept that night. She had slept partially in an armchair in an adjoining room, Dmitri had taken the other one. They were up early. Her parents had brought her some fresh clothes. She had showered and changed. When she came back to the room Dmitri was there. He too had showered and changed.

'Mr. Kanaredes,' the doctor entered the room, 'you're a match.'

'Yes!' Dmitri shouted, she flew to him and hugged him but he coldly pushed her away from him.

'When can we start' he asked moving closer to the doctor.

'Now, we need to prepare you for surgery,' the doctor continued, 'You must remember even if you are a match your son may reject your tissue so it is still touch and go,' June curled up inside.

'Follow me.'  he walked away. Her parents had walked in while the doctor was talking and over heard the good news.

'Dmitri, thank you, all will go well.' her mother was saying as she hugged him.

'Indeed,' her father shook his hand. He walked off with the doctor and June followed

'I want you to know that I am truly sorry but I do hope that this will work out.'

He looked back at their son's room, 'It had better June ...' he said as he continued to walk away. The next few hours were a killer. The doctor told them that Dmitri's surgery had gone on well but the recovery part was not over yet. Dmitri was still unconscious and Zack was still in surgery.

June went to Dmitri's room. He lay there so handsomely on the bed.

She walked over to him, the doctor said that he would be awake in 30 minutes or so.

She brushed a lock of hair off his forehead. Like this he was so calm, she touched his cheek lovingly.

'I am so sorry Dmitri for all this, you are right I am to blame for selfishly keeping our son from you.' She paused ' I was so ecstatic when I found out I was pregnant, it was the same day that, I found out who you were, I was so angry, with you then. But I still wanted you so much. I lied to keep you away from me.' she stopped her voice choking. 'How could I want someone who had treated me so badly. That day I lied to you about Zack's paternity I will never forget it. I wanted to take the words back then and there but I was too full of pride. When saw you again in the street I hated the look you gave me I wanted you to look at me with love pregnant with your child but I ruined it.'


She touched his nose, which was so much like Zack's.

'Zack is so much like you, he has your nose, your hair even your temper' she laughed softly.

'He enjoys food like you do, I think he is going to be wonderful cook.' she was smiling through her tears. She loved this man, she had never stopped.

'He even has the birthmark on his bum, I am so sorry for keeping you from him I would like you to love him as I do and to play with him, I will never keep him from you again.'

She held his hand 'I promise you that if we survive this I will not keep you from him, ever. He deserves to have you in his life.'

He moved; she froze, she didn't want him awake just yet.

After a second he made no more movement she calmed,

'Zack should be finished now I will go and check on him, I never stopped loving you Dmitri, I don't think I ever will.' she kissed him lightly on his mouth and left the room more relaxed than she had been over the last few days.

Zack was out of surgery, the doctor was hesitant to say anything, he just said that they had to wait. She looked at her son through the glass door unable to comfort him. Her heart wrenched. She stood there for ages until her mother pulled her away to eat something. She had no appetite and barely registered the sandwich she was offered. She decided to check on Dmitri to see if he was awake.

He was more than awake he was dressed and putting on his shoes when she walked into his room.

'What are you doing?' she asked surprised

'I am not sick.' he stated matter of fact.

'You can't be released as yet Dmitri, you need to rest.' she insisted but he ignored her

'Is Zack awake yet?' he asked pointedly.

'No he is in recovery, the doctor was non committal about anything.' she added

'I want to see him.' he was pulling a sweater over his head.

'Okay, are you sure you're all right?' she asked

'Fine.' was all he said as he moved out of the room.

She followed him sedately, he was still angry with her. She led him to Zack's room and they stood outside watching their son breathe through a tube; his tiny chest rising up and down. She was being punished. She sighed thinking that this has to work, if it didn't... she would not think of it, it had to; she loved Zack so much he was her life, her joy. A tear slipped out and rolled down her cheek. She was not going to give up and she was willing her son to fight, fight for life and for his right to live. She wrapped her hands around her body and closed her eyes.

Dmitri was standing behind her; he squeezed her shoulders lovingly and she leaned back into him. He pulled her into an embrace, holding her body tightly against his. They stood like that for ages each feeding off the other willing their son to fight.


Zack did not wake all night long but his condition did not worsen which was a positive sign that his body was accepting its new tissue. June woke up in Dmitri's arms, they were seated on a sofa opposite their son's room. Her head was on his chest as his arms enfolded hers and their hands entwined. Somehow, they had reached a truce. She was happy for Zack's sake.


She pulled out of his embrace to find him staring at her.

'Morning' he said softly

'Morning' she replied shyly

She unconsciously reached forward to push back his hair from his face but she stopped and pulled back her hand, he caught her hand and she stilled.

'I heard you yesterday' she opened her eyes widely, 'When I was recovering I heard everything you said.'

She bent her head, 'I was wrong to blame you,' Dmitri continued, 'I was hurting and I needed to make you hurt like I was.' she was speechless; Dmitri was apologising and forgiving her. 'What happened to Zack wasn't your fault; I don't want you continuing to blame yourself.'

She opened her mouth to speak and he kissed her, for a moment, she did not respond from sheer shock but his lips were soft and she opened up to him. This felt so good. Dmitri was holding her and kissing her so passionately that she forgot everything else. The clearing of a throat beside them, sprang them apart like guilty teenagers.

'Your son is responding to the tissue transplant.' The specialist doctor said smiling, June flew up.

'Great, when will he be awake?' she asked unable to contain the joy bubbling inside her. Her son was going to live; he was going to be all right.

'We will slow the sedation, he should be awake later today.' the doctor added carefully.

'How long before he is in the clear?' Dmitri asked pulling her into his embrace where she felt so secure.

'We will keep him under observation for the next few weeks but if he fully recovers we need to check on him regularly.'

After a few more questions they went to check on Zack. They touched him. Dmitri had never left her side, he stood with her looking at their son. When her parents came to visit later on, they were pleased with the news about Zack.


Around four o'clock that afternoon Zack opened his eyes; they were so blue and so alive.

'Oh my baby' she cried as he stretched out his hand to her. He was still connected to the respirator but she held hugged him gently.

'Mamma' he said smiling,

'Yes mama is here,' she was laughing and crying at the same time. Her son would be okay.

Dmitri was standing beside her, he had stiffened when Zack had awakened.

'Honey, there is someone I want you to meet,' she held Zack's hand and put it into Dmitri's own, 'This is your daddy Zack,' the two looked at each other an assessing look on their faces.

Dmitri was bemused and Zack looked the same way until he said 'Dada.'

'Yes, I'm your Dada,' Dmitri bent and kissed his son's cheek. Zack put his arm around his neck, June started to cry. How could she have denied the two most precious people in the world to her this moment, this love?

'Dada.' Zack repeated and Dmitri started to laugh.



 'Where are the glasses?' asked June's mother, she was busily searching through the kitchen cupboards.

'Mom, we have enough glasses, why don't you just sit down and relax.' June protested as she walked into the kitchen.

'You know I hate to be waited upon,' her mother protested.

'It's Zack's third birthday and you know Dmitri has pulled out all the stops, the caterers will look after things.' her mother came over to her as she touched her stomach lightly.

'You look like you need to put your feet up too.' Stated her motherly lovingly.

'I will, later today,' she said thinking of lying in her husband's arms. They moved out of the lavish kitchen and into the back yard of their home. She and Dmitri had married eleven months ago in a small ceremony and she and Zack had moved to Sicily with him. Her parents had flown in the week before and had pampered their grandson mercilessly.

She looked at the guests milling around the yard. Their home was huge but beautiful overlooking the beach. There were relatives from both sides of their families. She had met Dmitri's sister who had fast become her good friend. Her sisters attended the ceremony now their lives were back on track. April was finally marrying............and May had enrolled in college much to her parents' relief and delight. They had finally accepted her choice of major and her course in life.

'Mamma!' Zack shouted. He had stopped treatment six months ago and so far he had never had a relapse. The doctor said that he was fully healed and would lead a normal life. Now an active three year old he came running toward her in his navy blue short pants suit. He was looking more and more like his father every day. He barrelled into her legs full of energy and exuberance of any toddler.


'Dada says that I can ride my car!' Zack totally treasured his father.

They had developed a firm bond between them. He literally had his father's blood flowing through his veins, the two were so similar in personality and demeanour, and she could imagine their bonding to last forever.

'Yes, you can, now be careful!' she warned but her son had already ran off full of excitement.

He careered off into the direction of his bright red sports car that Dmitri had custom made for him. June smiled at her son who was healthy and happy. She felt arms wrap around her waist and she leaned back into the supportive body of her husband. Dmitri kissed her neck,

'You have made his day!' she said lost in the comfort of her husband's arms.

'Shouldn't you be sitting,' he asked inquiringly rubbing her stomach gently. Their marriage was a happy one. They had been back to the cottage of their first meeting twice, in fact, they had now added a new memory there seven months ago. Dmitri was a totally, devoted husband and father. He ensured that his work didn't interfere with his time with his wife and son. She loved him completely. She did not have to work but Dmitri understood her need to do what she loved, so she did consultancy work now.

'This little one has decided to give me a reprieve for the afternoon.' she said as their seven month unborn daughter decided to move around in her womb.

'I guess she agrees,' Dmitri said laughing and holding her tighter. 'I love you and our family.'

'I love you and our family.' June repeated as they stood there looking at their healthy son, who was running around with shouts of glee and joy. Her family was beautiful.






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