“I do need someone like you in my life. And I do have a kid – the most beautiful four-year-old daughter, whom I’d be pleased for you to meet. However, I am not married. Rather, I’m divorced.”
Vivian knew she should react at one point but she couldn’t, her mind still reeling with all these unknown facts being thrown at her.
He wasn’t just Gian, the supervisor she met from time to time at the photocopying room, but instead he was Gianluca Valencia, a billionaire who was also now her boss.
He wasn’t married, but he had been divorced, and he had a daughter.
A daughter he’d like her to meet because—-
“I don’t understand,” she said weakly.
“You do.” He smiled, and his tone was wry and soft as he murmured, “Because you’re a smart woman, cara, smarter than you give yourself credit for.”
Her teeth sank into her lower lip.
“I can see the answer in your eyes already, Vivi. But if it’s your will that I speak of it first then…” His broad shoulders moved in a shrug. “I neither want nor need you to be my mistress. However, my daughter is in need of a mother, and it is for that reason, cara, that I would like you to consider becoming my wife.”
“How much do you know about me?”
The question was asked in a small voice, and when Luca glanced at the woman sitting next to him on the backseat of his limousine, he wasn’t surprised to find her confused and anxious, gnawing on her lip as she wrung her hands on her lap.
“What do you mean?”
She said slowly, “I have a feeling, if you had really wanted me to be—-” Vivian paused, unable to make herself complete the thought.
“My wife?” He smiled at her awkward nod. “I did – I do choose you to be my wife, cara. Is it that so hard to believe?”
“Umm…” Vivian had the strangest urge to laugh. “Yes?” This time, she couldn’t help it, and a slightly panicky laugh escaped her. How could he seriously ask her that?
“Well, I did.” He paused. “Actually, my daughter and I did.”
She jerked. “What?” Vivian shook her head. “Didn’t you mention that your daughter was four years old? Did you tell her you’d buy her a mother or something?”
Luca had to grin. “Actually, she warned me not to do that.”
“She’s not into material things.” Unlike her birth mother, Luca couldn’t help adding silently.
Vivian said cautiously, “She seems like a nice and interesting young girl.”
“Ah, well…” Luca considered lying only for a moment, but in the end he said truthfully, “She’s nice when she wants to be, I suppose.”
Vivian gulped. “I see.” And she did. She was beginning to see that his daughter might just be as cunning and manipulative as her billionaire father. A scary thought, but it was one that she found herself confronting sooner than she was ready. The limousine had slowed down, and ahead of them she saw a pair of automated steel gates opening to a driveway.
Oh, wow. That was some driveway, she thought, taken aback. It seemed to stretch forever, long and far enough that she couldn’t see the end. When they finally reached their destination, Vivian had to do her best not to gawk at Luca’s palatial home. How could someone this beautiful, this stately, exist in Florida? She loved the Sunshine State as much as the next person, but the tycoon’s residence had the kind of majestic atmosphere that was more suitable for a historic European city.
Three stories high, the sprawling mansion boasted of an entirely white façade, impressive Palladian windows, and an elegant brick foundation. It looked like the kind of house one could tour, if that made any sense, and the fact that the man seated beside her – the man who wanted her as his wife – owned and lived in this type of property?
She pinched herself once – twice, thrice – and every instance hurt, proving that she wasn’t dreaming.
After stepping out, Luca offered his hand to her, and Vivian took it hesitantly. A part of her was still urging her to just turn her back and forget about everything that had to do with Luca Valencia, but the bigger part of her wanted to fall deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole.
Everything right now was just strange and wonderful, and she wanted…more.
Even if this turned out to be a dream, she wanted to experience as much as she could before she woke up.
Surely that wasn’t too much to ask?
She tried to tug her hand out of his hold as they ascended the short flight of stairs leading to the entranceway, but his grip only tightened.
“I’m not used to this,” she said awkwardly under her breath.
He glanced at her, puzzled. “This?”
“Holding hands,” she whispered.
Ah. Charmed at the admission, he bent his head and whispered back, “I’m sorry to hear that, but…I’m not letting go.” Smiling at the way her eyes widened, he said in amusement, “It is something you must learn to get used to, sooner or later, if you are to be my wife.”