The Billionaire's Convenient BrideBy: CJ Howard
She moved to take a step back to walk away before she said something stupid, but he reached for her and slid his hand around her waist and pulled her toward him. “Do you know what else he told me? He told me how beautiful you are, and how fascinating you are. What did you two do today, anyway? Huh? Did you tell him that you are my fiancée? Did you? No. You want to know how I know that? Because I thanked him for complimenting me on my fiancée, and he had no idea we were engaged. He congratulated me, and told me what a lucky sonofabitch I am to have you.” He looked down at her beautiful face, her dark eyes, her little rounded nose, and then his gaze fell on her full lips. “But I don’t have you, do I, Emmaline, because you are out running around with my business partner on a lunch date. I wanted to come out here and remind you that you are mine, Emmaline, you are going to be my wife and you are not going to go date other men, especially business associates of mine.”
She furrowed her brow at him. “It wasn’t a date, Peter. I didn’t do anything wrong today, and as a matter of fact, I saved your butt in that office today, even after you insulted me, and yes, it was an insult, you said it in a mean way and you hurt me, Peter.” She looked at him angrily and he blinked at her for a moment.
“I hurt you, today? Well, let me make it up to you, baby,” he pulled her to him suddenly, holding her firmly and grasping her face in his other hand as planted his mouth on hers, kissing her hard and hungrily. Her mouth was soft and sweet, and as soon as he did it, he regretted it. He knew he never should have done it. Hers was a mouth that his had no business tasting; his mouth was for women who partied, who drank and lied and kissed many men, women whose mouths were not tender and precious like hers was. He found himself lost in it for an eternal moment, deeply regretting ever having touched his lips to hers, but knowing that they had never tasted anything like the ambrosia of her lips, he knew that he would probably never taste them again, and for that reason, he lingered through the regret for as long as the moment lasted, until the kiss was broken.
Emmaline was too shocked to move at first, and her heart seemed to stop right then. She had been hurt but that had given way to anger and just as she was going to push him away, she felt his kiss change from one of possessive ownership to the gentleness of a boy’s very first kiss, and it caught her off guard. His mouth then simply caressed hers, as though he was drinking her in, and she could not move for a moment, though his grip on her lightened to a feather touch.
She felt her heart begin to beat again and she opened her eyes and instinctively shoved him away from her. He didn’t fight her and when her hand flew up and slapped his face, she felt the sting of it in her own heart, just as much as he did on his cheek. He looked away from her and said quietly, “I’m so sorry. I never should have yelled at you this morning, and I had no business kissing you just now.”
Emmaline’s heart began to race and frustration flooded through her. The pain she had felt that morning returned and the indignation of him forcing a drunken kiss on her was more than she was willing to put up with from him.
“You disgust me,” she said quietly, and then she turned and walked from the garden and locked herself in her bedroom.
It was three days before she agreed to see him, and when she did he was sober, clean shaven, and extremely polite. He talked with her in the sitting room and they sat opposite each other in an awkward silence as he raked his hand through his golden hair and she twitched her foot anxiously.
“I owe you far more than an apology, Emmaline. I’m so very sorry for the disrespect I’ve shown you today and any other day. I never meant to do anything of the kind. I hold you in such high regard, not that you’d know that from the way I’ve behaved, but I’ve come to see you as a friend, and I don’t have many friends, as I’ve said, so I’m not willing to lose this bond we have built. It means too much to me. Please accept my apology.” He looked at her earnestly and she felt all the irritation and frustration in her dissolve.
“Don’t ever treat me like that again,” she said resolutely.
“You have my word,” he said quietly, “and as a way of making it up to you, I bought you your engagement ring.” He pulled a box from a little blue bag beside his feet and opened it for her. Inside was a stunning diamond ring set in platinum.
She gasped and took the box from his hands, looking at it with wide eyes. “Peter, you didn’t need to do this!” she said in shock.
He smiled at her. “I did need to do that. It’s the least I can do to make up for being a class-A jerk to you. Also, our wedding needs to be believable, and no one is going to believe that someone as flashy as me is going to put a chip of a diamond on my fiancée’s hand.”
She laughed at him and it felt good to have the tension between them gone. Her friend was back and they were alright again. She pulled the ring from the box and slid it on her finger. “It fits!” she beamed at him.
“Well, yes. I think there is not one piece of information that Nelson didn’t get about you. I have a complete dossier. Ask me what bus you rode in elementary school.”
She laughed again, and then he handed the little blue bag to her. “There’s a wedding gift from me to you in there as well.” He said quietly and smiled at her.
She lowered her eyebrow at him and opened the bag. Inside she found a delicate diamond necklace with a heart on it, and a matching bracelet. “This is so sweet, Peter, thank you!” She moved over to sit beside him and give him a big hug. It was the first time she had ever hugged him and at first he was very careful with her, but then he felt the goodness of it, and he wrapped his arms around her and hugged her back.
“You are so welcome. You’ve definitely earned it. By the way,” he said, letting her go and leaning back into the sofa, “you can keep the ring when we get divorced. It looks good on your hand.”
She laughed at him again and held her hand up so they could both get a good look at it. “You know,” he said with a slight frown, “I’ve never liked a girl enough to give her diamonds before.”
“Well, consider them part of my retirement plan as your dedicated employee. How about that?” she teased him.
He smiled. “That works.”
With the dust from their fight settled, Emmaline and Peter began dating again and made their engagement public. The newspapers and magazines, both in print and online, had a field day with the news, and though they originally started reporting it as a gamble of a marriage, it wasn’t long before so many images and stories of them around town together started producing new articles that were written with more of a love theme than a gambling joke theme. By the time the day of the wedding rolled around, everyone in the community was excited for it and looking forward to the big event. They were the “It Couple” of the year.
Peter’s indiscretion had been all but forgotten and he knew that he owed all of it to the beautiful woman who was always by his side in public. He took her to a wedding breakfast feast at a special restaurant the morning of their wedding and on their way to the restaurant, he sat beside her in the car and watched her. She seemed to be glowing with happiness, as though she was radiating sunshine.
“You look wonderful today, Emma. I’m relieved to see you so happy today. It makes me think this won’t be the worst day of your life.”
“Of course it isn’t the worst day of my life, why would you say that?” she asked giving him a look as though he were ridiculous.
“Well, I remember what you said about wanting your grandfather to walk you down the aisle when you married for love. I know how important that is to you. Today isn’t about love, today is a lie to trick the public and make them think I’m not a complete jerk.”
She shot him a low brow look and said, “You are being completely ridiculous. You aren’t a complete jerk, and it’s time the rest of the world knew it. I wish you liked yourself better. You’re not nearly as bad as you think you are.” She fluffed her dress and looked at him kindly. “Besides, today isn’t a complete lie. I’m marrying a really good friend, and in three years when we get divorced, I’ll be divorcing a really good friend, so it’s not as cold and heartless as you make it out to be. Now, enjoy it and have fun.”
Enjoy it and have fun, he thought to himself, looking at her as she emerged from the car into the bright early summer sun in her stunning wedding gown. It was strapless with a sweetheart neckline that clung to her curves and flared out at the knee in dazzling waves. He tried to stop himself from thinking that he wouldn’t be unzipping her out of that dress later that night, and having a real honeymoon. He had had to stop those thoughts more than once in the last few weeks before the wedding. It always made him feel ashamed when they crossed his mind, and he did his best to ignore them when they came, but then she leaned over and hugged him, kissing his cheek as cameras flashed around them and as his face neared the curve where her neck met her shoulder, he breathed in her scent and felt the soft warmth of her skin, and it mesmerized him for a moment.