Chapter 14

Kiona

The Next Morning



Under a magnificent pavilion in an exorbitantly opulent rooftop garden, sixty stories above street level, Cole Andrews and I stood side by side. The minister recited from the open book in his hands as our witnesses – Aiswarya, who was taking a long, early lunch, and one of the nameless suits from Andrews Enterprises – stood in observance nearby.

Cole firmly squeezed my hand. Although this entire thing was nothing more than some weird business deal, set up to benefit a second, later business deal, there was an odd air of finality to it all regardless.

This arrangement may have been improvised at the last second, but it was the most beautiful wedding spot I’d ever seen. The stresses of producing my birth certificate and getting the papers in order this morning, even with Cole’s resources and ability to get things done, had evaporated upon seeing the fantastic landscaping of the fairytale rooftop. Even the normally gloomy sky had been a stunning, endless blue for us, as if welcoming this little arrangement.

But when I looked into Cole’s eyes at the end, as he placed a gorgeous, silver diamond wedding ring on my finger, I saw a brief glimpse of something more than the typical Cold King Cole treatment. In his eyes, there was…love, compassion, and admiration?

It caught me off-guard, but I didn’t have to improvise a smile in even the slightest. This may have been some mutually beneficial, arranged sham of the act, but I did find myself drawn to this ridiculous man – and I wanted to know more about him.

We exchanged our “I do’s”, and when prompted, he drew me close and planted the traditional kiss on my lips. It was supposed to be for show…

And I felt honest-to-God sparks.

I knew he could feel them too, because his lips lingered against mine longer than necessary, and as he pulled back he was staring searchingly into my eyes, confused but intrigued.

“That was some first kiss,” I whispered, barely audible.

There was minor clapping from the minister and our witnesses, snapping us out of the moment. When we turned, I gazed upon them all in a small daze, surprised by the brief moment of passion that had erupted between us out of the blue. Where the hell did that come from?

After that, we signed the marriage license, complete with witness signatures, and everyone departed. Cole escorted me privately back down to the street level and climbed into the driver’s seat of a gorgeous Audi R8. For a moment, I wanted to laugh. It figured that he’d drive an Audi. Typical billionaire!

“Where do you want to honeymoon, my blushing bride?” He asked nonchalantly as I joined him in the car. It was the first words we had exchanged since the marriage ceremony. It occurred to me that this is why he’d asked me to pack a few changes of clothes to bring, but I still hadn’t gotten over his personal choice of car.

“Cole, are you sure you haven’t been reading any billionaire romance novels lately? There had better not be handcuffs and spanking paddles in the trunk…”

“Key, I assure you I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he replied with a look of misunderstanding and confusion on his face.

“Okay,” I replied, dropping the subject. “How about Venice?” I asked. “I’ve always wanted to see the drowning city…”

Cole paused awkwardly, his gaze turning to face out his window. “Let’s keep it in the States, perhaps.”

“Oh. Okay. How about…” I thought to myself, my eyes falling upon my diamond ring. I began to absentmindedly twist the band along my finger. My thumb brushed across the etched markings along the band as I thought to myself.

“Yes?”

“What about New Orleans?” I asked. “I’ve heard so much about it, but I’ve never been.”

Cole contemplated this, a strong smile sliding across his lips. After a quick nod, he turned the key and brought the engine roaring to life. A moment later we were accelerating onto the freeway as he used the steering wheel controls to place a phone call to his assistant. Her voice filled the cabin of her sports car with congratulations and well wishes. Cole gave her a moment to finish, and finally spoke up.

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