The Italian Billionaire's New Year Bride(7)

By: Scarlet Wilson



Matteo gave a nod toward the door. Phoebe didn’t wait another second; she was through that door in a flash.

It was like a moment out of time. She blinked as a memory of a movie she’d watched flooded through her senses. The hero and heroine had flitted back and forth between modern day and fifty years before. Phoebe felt as if she were currently standing by their side.

She couldn’t help but touch. Tiny slivers of bright light tried to edge their way around the shutters. Phoebe didn’t wait, she walked over to the nearest set and gave them a tug.

Nothing happened.

She tried again. This time there was a creak. A squeak. She slid her hand up the side, checking for any extra latches or bolts. Once she was sure there were none, she pulled with all her might.

Two seconds later she was flat on her back on the carpet as the winter’s day light filled the room. She laughed as Matteo moved above her, holding his hand out toward her. “Are you okay?”

She kept laughing and stayed on the floor, shaking her head. “I’m still dreaming, aren’t I? Because this dream just seems to get kookier by the minute.”

He frowned, staring at his outstretched hand, as if he were trying to figure out what was wrong with it. “I have no idea what you mean.”

“Oh, come on.” She leaned up on her hand, still staying on the carpet as her gaze swept across the room. “You phoned me this morning and offered me a quarter of a million dollars for a few weeks’ work, dressing a home in the Hamptons. Every designer’s dream. Then you bring me here. The house to end all houses.” She was shaking her head again now. “Then, we come in, and it’s a time warp. A perfect time warp.” She held up her hand as her eyes tried not to goggle in amazement at the contents of the room.

“I still don’t know what you mean.”

She pushed herself up onto her bottom. “This place. This furniture.”

Matteo shook his head. “I know. I know. Everything will need replacing it’s all so out of date. Don’t worry. I’ll give you a credit card with no limit. You can buy whatever you need to dress the house.” He waved his hand. “As long as you keep receipts, of course.”

“Are you crazy?” She couldn’t believe what he was saying. She reached out and touched the chair next to her. “This stuff is pristine. Perfect. People would pay an absolute fortune for things like this. And I won’t need to. Because it’s all here. Matteo, don’t you realize how fantastic this place already is?”

He was looking at her as if she were out of her mind.

She grabbed his hand and pulled herself up as she paced quickly around the room. “This—this is why I think I’m still dreaming. See this? This nineteen-fifties chair? I paid over a thousand dollars for one of these last time I dressed a home. You’ve got six.” She touched the L-shaped sofa in the corner. “I might get this reupholstered but the style and shape is just fabulous.”

Her heart skittered across her chest as she took in all the fixtures and fittings. The lamps, the shades, the telephone, the vases. She shook her head again as she murmured, “It’s like interior design heaven. That’s why this must be a dream. Things like this don’t happen to me.”

She spun around and gasped. Matteo had walked right up behind her. He was closer than expected and was watching her with the most curious expression on his face. Her dream from earlier had been filled by Hugh Jackman. If she were still dreaming, wouldn’t Hugh be the man that had brought her to this house instead of Matteo Bianchi?

“Pinch me,” she said firmly.

“What?”

“Pinch me. I have to know this isn’t a dream.”

He was right in front of her. Staring her down with those green eyes. Part of him looked amused, part of him looked annoyed. Or maybe she was just misreading him. The hint of aftershave was distracting her. It was subtle. She’d never smelt it before. Amber, musk and oak moss. People didn’t realize that interior designers knew that scent was everything. Half of all homes sold on scent alone.

“Go on,” she urged. “Just do it.”

He pulled an exasperated face then lifted his hand to her arm.

“Yeowwww!” She jumped backwards, rubbing her wrist. “Okay, then. Turns out I’m definitely awake.” She shot him a suspicious glance. “You’ve got sisters, haven’t you? Or a sister.”

“How on earth do you know that?”

“Believe me.” She kept rubbing her smarting wrist. “A girl can tell.”

He stared at her curiously for a second. “And for the record, I have one sister. One is enough.”

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