The Italian Billionaire's New Year Bride(5)

By: Scarlet Wilson

She loved New York. She loved the hustle and bustle, she loved the people and she definitely loved living in the city that never slept. But she’d also always loved the Hamptons. Sure, she might not have a billion-dollar bank account. But there was something about this place that made her heartbeat quicken as they passed through one village and hamlet after another. The space. The air. The views. And the houses.

The houses here were to die for.

Her stomach gave a little flip-flop as the road stretched ahead of them and they passed one palatial mansion after another. Each one was individual, styled a little differently from its neighbor. Some had been up for more than a hundred years. A few had appeared in the late eighties with a completely modern design that already looked dated.

Mansion spotting was a popular pastime in the Hamptons. A few house builders had obviously decided not to take part in the game and set their homes far back from the road. Phoebe wrinkled her nose. Those people had no sense of fun. What was the point in house spotting if you couldn’t even see it?

The car slowed a little and her eyes widened. She was familiar with the surroundings. Anyone who watched TV would be familiar with the surroundings. One of the streets around here was nicknamed Billionaires’ Row. Some of the most expensive homes in the US were here.

Phoebe leaned back in the seat and tried to catch her breath. Any minute now they would turn another corner in another direction. She shot a sideways glance at Matteo. He’d told her his home was in Southampton. But she hadn’t really thought he’d meant this street. Did people actually live here?

The car moved toward the oceanfront, glided through a set of wrought-iron gates, then snaked its way down a long driveway. Sitting in prime position on the oceanfront was one of the biggest houses Phoebe had ever seen.

She couldn’t breathe. She actually couldn’t breathe. By some miracle Matteo had managed to finish a call and put his phone away.

Please don’t let him expect me to be able to talk right now.

He seemed unfazed. He glanced upward—a look of indifference.

To a house like this? Really?

She tried to swallow as there was a little glint of yellow from the top of the house. A curve, covered in snow. Was that an atrium?

The question started to form on her lips then she glimpsed a flash of something else from Matteo. Distaste. Or dislike. She wasn’t quite sure which. Really? To a place like this?

Play it cool. The words kept repeating over and over in her head. She hadn’t been joking when she’d said she liked to see a property before deciding if she would take on a job. But she also liked a chance to meet the client. Interior designers sometimes worked alone. Getting a feel for a job and a client had given her a “Get out of Jail Free” card on a few occasions. Safety always came first and on the odd occasion something just didn’t feel right. It had been okay when Jason had been around. He’d always had her back. Clients had taken one look at the strapping ex-Navy pilot and any erroneous thoughts had vanished from their minds. At least that was the way it had always seemed.

But three years ago life had changed in the blink of an eye. Or, more accurately, the stall of two plane engines—something that apparently never happened.

Except to her fiancé. And life would never be the same again.

She’d had to get used to working with no backup plan and part of today had been making sure she felt safe to work for Matteo Bianchi. She shot him a sideways glance. For the most part he seemed like a workaholic typical New York billionaire businessman. An exceptionally handsome Italian workaholic businessman.

And that was interesting. Handsome wasn’t something she’d noticed in the last three years. Matteo Bianchi had all the traditional attributes of every Italian movie star she’d ever seen on screen. Thick dark hair, deep green eyes, sallow smooth skin and straight white teeth. The only thing that marred his good looks was that permanent frown on his forehead.

She got the distinct impression that he really didn’t have time for her. In fact, she got the distinct impression that Matteo Bianchi didn’t have time for much of anything.

The car pulled up outside the huge cream-colored mansion and Matteo opened the door straight away. Phoebe fumbled around, trying to select one of her many jackets, finally settling on a red one. She stepped out of the car and looked up at the outside of the house.

The grounds were pristine. She could imagine how manicured the lawns were in summer, even though they were covered in snow right now. The façade was elegant, if a little faded. The double front door was arched and the front of the house lined with mahogany windows covered by internal shutters. Why was a place as beautiful as this all closed up?

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