“Maria…”

But he had only taken one step towards her, and she had tried to claw his eyes out, her nails raking down an angry, bloody slash down his cheek. “I hate you,” she had hissed at him.

And then she had left.

The next day, all the major newspapers and tabloids in Italy had talked about his family’s downfall as well as the news that his wife was cavorting in a bikini with his business rival Piero Palumbo. The photos showed the couple on Palumbo’s yacht, with the sixty-year-old millionaire squeezing his wife’s bottom.

“Luca?” Angelo’s quizzical tone brought him back to the present with a jerk.

“Scusa,” Luca apologized stiffly.

Angelo’s gaze narrowed at the look on his cousin’s face, saying disapprovingly, “You are wasting time thinking about her again, aren’t you?”

Luca shrugged but didn’t bother to deny the truth. Angelo was one of the few who knew the complete story behind his divorce, and the younger man had also been one of the few people who had insisted on taking the risk of investing a majority of his fortune in Luca’s startup.

With the divorce taking what little assets he had left in his name, prospects had been extremely bleak. Although Luca was not afraid of poverty, he did not want it for Letitia and the rest of his family, and most of all, he did not want his precious daughter to suffer such hardship.

And so he had taken a risk. He sold his remaining shares in the family winery and had used the money to start his own software firm. Technology had always been fascinating to him, but being a dutiful son, Luca had always known his future lay in the winemaking business.

Now, however, he had a chance to discover whether he had what it took to succeed in a field he had long been interested in.

Fast forward years later, and his baby had grown up into the most adorable five-year-old girl, the youngest heiress to a fortune worth billions because Luca’s risk – as well as Angelo’s and a few of their closest friends – had paid off. Ironically, Luca was also a hundred times wealthier than Maria’s aging lover, who even now – if gossips were to be believed – refused to marry his ex-wife.

You reap what you sow, Luca thought grimly. But his amusement was minimal because Maria’s selfish actions had also left their daughter motherless. She was at that age now where she was beginning to ask more and more questions he found increasingly difficult to answer.

“I’ve been thinking of marrying again,” he heard himself say and was unsurprised when his younger cousin’s head turned sharply towards him.

“Marry?”

“But this time, I will be more…methodical. I will have a list of women drawn up, perhaps start with those already employed by my company, and consider their skills and assets as if I were looking for an employee to hire.”

Angelo slowly shook his head. “You’re crazy.”

“On the contrary, I’m actually taking a logical approach to what most people tend to view with foolish sentiments.”

“Did you not hear a single word I said?” Angelo said exasperatedly. “Every undesirable moment in my life happened because I had been too blind—-”

“It’s all good and well that love has worked out for you,” Luca drawled, “and while I am honestly and completely glad that you have been blessed by the heavens to find true love—-we cannot all be dreamers, and not all of us can afford to wait. My daughter needs a mother, the sooner the better, and what she needs, I am determined to give.”

Angelo threw his hands up. “You have clearly made up your mind, and you have clearly not learned a single thing from what I’ve shared with you.”

Luca simply shrugged off the younger man’s concerns. “It will work,” he murmured with absolute confidence. “Most marriages start with unreasonable expectations, but this one will be different. My wife will understand that her role in my life is no different from any paid position, and of course, she will also have the assurance that the public will never know it’s purely business between us.”

Angelo started to speak, but another voice interrupted them.

“Sorry, but I need to break this whole bromance thing going on—-” Steel March motioned for his best friend to get out of his seat. “Your surprise has arrived.”

Angelo frowned, but his friend’s blue eyes yielded no clue.

Luca stood up as well. “I need to go anyway. I need to fly back in time to have breakfast with my daughter tomorrow.”

“Sure you don’t want to stay?” Steel asked.

“Tempted, but…responsibilities await me back home.” The truth was, he had a feeling whatever “surprise” had arrived was somehow going to backfire, and he would rather not be present when that happened.

If he had heard correctly, Steel’s baby sister Saffi had much to do with said surprise, and, well…that young woman always often ended up causing an amusing amount of trouble.


Tags: Marian Tee Romance
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