That intuition was what led me to even consider this entire, stupid idea, but now that I saw my next business partner admiring the urban landscape from my empty, gilded tower top…I couldn’t help but feel that perhaps I had missed something crucial all along.

“Your wine, mademoiselle,” I offered politely.

“Why, thank you,” she replied, turning her gaze and gratefully taking her glass from my fingers. While she waved the glass beneath her nostrils, her eyebrows arched and a small, seductive smile slipped effortlessly across her lips. Closing her eyes, she sipped from the glass, savoring the taste before swallowing.

I joined her, briefly swirling my own glass before pressing the lip against my own.

“How do you find it?” I asked a moment later, curious to see how deeply her constant transformation extended.

“Delightful,” she answered modestly.

“Good.” Kiona didn’t gush, nor did she show any but the slightest inclination that she wasn’t used to this kind of treatment or that potency of wine. She was controlled, constrained, and careful with her answer.


“How do you find the view?”

Kiona glanced back over her shoulder, exposing her delicious mocha neck for a moment as she scanned the horizon. “Excluding your private little palace, this is the most incredible sight I’ve ever seen.”

An answer not meant to impress, but to show her gratitude. I could accept this.

“I’m glad you appreciate it.”

“Do you?” She asked suddenly, turning back to me.

“I am…I mean, of course I do.”

Curse this woman’s perception.

Kiona gave me a sideways glance. “Nice little castle you have up here.” Her lips curled into a soft, confident smile. “Perhaps we should get down to me moving in.”

“Oh, you are…definitely not moving in,” I chuckled.

“I’ve heard of separate bedrooms, but separate altitudes? Oof,” she chuckled. “That’s going to be a tough one to sell to your people.”

“You let me worry about that,” I replied. “We should probably discuss the nature of this arrangement, though…after all, you’re not actually going to be my wife.”

“Am I not?” She tilted her head.

“No…you are going to sign a document first.”

“Signing a document for a relationship with a billionaire? I’ve heard of that kind of thing, mister. I’m not really a whips and chains sort of woman.”

I didn’t get the reference, but I smiled politely anyway. “It’s a legally-binding document annulling the marriage in advance. It is a page that legally restores both of us to our present state, as if it had never happened.”

“You just don’t want me holding out on the divorce and then taking half your money,” she said with a smile.

“If I thought you were going to stab me in the back, I’d have never discussed this with you in the first place. Trust me, Key, I don’t plan on spending my time checking every glass of wine I drink for poison…”

We shared a laugh. It feels good to laugh this often.

“So, tell me exactly how that’s legal,” Kiona segued. “I mean, what judge is going to honor that?”

“My judge,” I answered.

“Your judge?” Her eyes narrowed.

“The judge who helped draft up the document up for me. With significant input from my legal team, that is.”

“This is so very wrong all around. You realize you’re basically tricking someone into buying your company with a fake bride and a silly contract…written by a judge in your back pocket…that’s supposed to magically undo the marriage when you’re ready...”

I grinned, letting a glint of mischievous enter my eyes. “Well, when you put it that way, you do make me sound bad.”

“You’re the worst…”

We smiled, sipping our wine.

“…But for the right reasons, maybe.”

“What’s that?” I was curious about the remark.

Kiona averted her gaze, staring out across the open sky. “I just don’t see you doing something like this unless it was really important, you know? To be so desperate that you’ll pull out all the stops to make this deal go through…it doesn’t line up at all with your history. You’ve trail-blazed your company with a clear vision. Maybe I was just trying to get inside for the wrong reasons, but I worked there and I saw it first-hand. You’re not struggling. In fact, things at your company are fantastic…it just doesn’t make any sense to stoop down to this when you’re firmly in your prime. The world’s yours, Cole.”

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