Looking down at her bare feet, Vivian mumbled, “When he practically threatened me about my IOU, he probably thought I’d get mad, but I didn’t really care. At the back of my mind, I was thinking, at least he was doing something about what he wanted. I know it’s bad, but I couldn’t help comparing him to my dad, who blamed everyone but himself for how his life turned out.”
When Vivian fell silent, Maggie was at a loss for what to say. “Viv…” She knew the kind of childhood Vivian had, with her on-off father, who had acted more like an overgrown child than anything else. She could see where the attraction lay because of that, but was that enough reason for Vivian to risk everything on a marriage?
“Did he get you to sign a pre-nup?” Maggie asked abruptly.
Vivian’s lips quirked. “Did you really believe there was a possibility he wouldn’t?”
Maggie sighed. “You’re right, that was a stupid question. And of course you signed it, but were the terms fair at least? I mean, what if he—-” She caught herself in time before saying anything negative.
“It’s okay, Mags. I know ours isn’t exactly the template for the perfect marriage, and to answer your question, yes, the terms were fair. More than fair, actually. It was more like an employment contract, and I get a financial incentive—-” Vivian rolled her eyes. “That was the term they used, for every year I stayed married to him. I had his lawyer change that. It was pretty insulting.” She paused. “Other than that, I only asked for one other change, and that was that I’d have the right to see Eula—-”
“His daughter?” Maggie asked, surprised.
Vivian nodded. “If for whatever reason we had to file for a divorce or whatever, I wanted visitation rights. I just…I just wanted to make sure she would never have any reason to think I’d abandon her—-”
“Like your father did,” Maggie finished, “when he left you and your mother.” With a heavy sigh, she crossed her arms over her chest and looked at Vivian square in the eyes. “Well, that’s enough drama for now. I just have one last question for you. Are you certain this is what you want to do? Because if you feel you need to get out of it, you still can.”
Vivian slowly shook her head. “I know what I’m doing is insane. But Mags, it’s just that – ever since he came into my life, he gave me a reason to look forward to the next day. Even before I found out who he was, he made me happy and excited to wake up because I knew my life wouldn’t just be all about going from one cleaning job to another. I don’t want to let that feeling go.”
Watching Vivian speak, Maggie realized she had never seen her friend this happy, and it was both an incredibly touching…and terrifying sight. “If this is what you want,” she said gruffly, “then we need to hurry up.” Pushing Vivian towards the marble bath at the center, she said, “If your guy’s the control freak you say he is—-”
“He is,” Vivian confirmed.
“Then you need to take your bath now because we’ve just under two hours to make you pretty.”
THE WEDDING WAS A PRIVATE ceremony held at the banquet hall of the hotel where Vivian and Maggie had stayed overnight. The reception area outside the hall was crawling with paparazzi, everyone hoping to be the first to introduce to the world the woman who had been able to bring Luca Valencia back to the altar.
A red carpet had been rolled out over the banquet hall’s mosaic floor, and although it was just a short walk to make it to where the officiating judge and Luca waited, her knees still quaked under her skirt, and Vivian’s face felt like it was about to crack.
It didn’t help that among the small group of individuals invited to attend, Vivian only knew Eula and Maggie. Everyone else at the wedding were Luca’s closest friends, all of them billionaires with their respective wives in tow.
Luca had asked her if she wanted to invite anyone else, and she had shaken her head, too shy and even somewhat ashamed to let him know that aside from her roommate, she had no one else. Making friends was not easy when one was too busy earning a living.
Whatever you do, just don’t trip, she whispered fiercely to herself. She took a deep breath and tried to take a step forward, but she couldn’t.
Her panicked gaze flew towards where Luca stood, and as if her fear had somehow communicated itself to him, the billionaire slowly turned to face her.
Today, Luca was dressed more elegantly than usual, replacing his dark suits with a white formal jacket and a silk dress shirt. But what really stunned Vivian was his oh-so-handsome face, where it appeared Eula had drawn a crooked mustache over his upper lip using lipstick.