The Italian Billionaire's New Year Bride(8)

By: Scarlet Wilson

She took a deep breath. This was it. This was where she found out if this really was the dream job. “Tell me, is every room as good as this one?”

Matteo raised his eyebrows. “You mean, is every room in the same kind of time warp as this one? Oh, I can guarantee that, Phoebe.” He was looking at her as if he couldn’t quite understand why she thought this was a good thing. But Phoebe was off. Tearing through the next few rooms of the house to check them out. A dining room. A huge kitchen. A laundry room. Another sitting room. A study. Two bathrooms—they might need a little work. And a phenomenal room at the back of the house with windows and glass doors that looked out over Mecox Bay.

Matteo stayed behind her, following her from room to room. “Phoebe... Ms. Gates. Does this mean you’ll take the job?”

She could hardly speak. Room after room, there were so many thoughts clambering in her brain about how gorgeous she could make this place that she could hardly form words. Her dream job. The job that could change her whole career. A chance to pay off her mother’s medical bills. A chance to move forward. A chance to pull herself out of the fog that had hung around her for the last few years.

“Phoebe.” His voice grew sharp and he gave her arm a pull, tugging her around to face him. Her hands rested on his upper arms. She couldn’t help herself. She almost wanted to give him a kiss on the cheek. She let out a laugh.

“Do I want the job? Hell, yes. Now I’ve seen it, this place is mine. Matteo, I’m going to do such a good job, you’re never going to want to let me go.”

It was the briefest of seconds. A wash of sadness seemed to sweep his face. A whole host of something she really didn’t understand. But as soon as it had appeared, the shutters came down in his eyes again. Matteo Bianchi had the perfect mask. The perfect face for business.

The edges of his lips curved upwards. For the first time since she’d met him, the tension in his shoulders actually looked as if it disappeared a little. “Phoebe, quarter of a million dollars for four weeks’ work, and I will let you go.”

Chapter Two

FOR THE FIRST time in years Phoebe actually felt lucky. It was a strange concept. Unfamiliar.

Lucky had been something she’d taken for granted for so long. Then Jason, her fiancé, had been killed in a freak flying accident. They’d only just got engaged and started to make plans for the future. All of those things wiped out in the blink of an eye—or the failure of two engines at once. She still couldn’t even think about it. But Phoebe hadn’t needed therapy. She was strong. Or so she’d thought. She’d been devastated to lose her fiancé, but she’d picked herself up and continued to go through the motions.

Then her mother had got sick. Cancer. Surgery. Chemotherapy. Radiotherapy. And a million scans. Phoebe had been determined to take her to every appointment, every treatment. And she had. Running herself into the ground while she did it. Forgetting to eat. Forgetting to sleep. And eventually having to hit therapy. Because she did need it. She just hadn’t wanted to acknowledge it.

It was just lately that she’d felt as if she was starting to come out the tunnel she’d been hiding in. Her mom was doing better. They only had to settle the medical bills now. But work had picked up. The apartment near Central Park had been a real coup for her. But this? This was the icing on the cake. Better than that. This was the sugar on the sprinkles, on the chocolate, on the icing on the cake.

She wasn’t the slightest bit perturbed by Matteo telling her he’d let her go. She’d been on a high. She still was. He was somewhere behind her as she rushed from room to room, throwing open shutters and taking photo after photo with her phone. Occasionally she stopped to make a few notes. But only for a second. The essence of this house was invading her senses. The myriad of bedrooms. The bathrooms that could do with a little updating. The totally and completely gorgeous central yellow glass dome. And the kitchen. She could do so much with the kitchen that she almost wanted to start this very second.

Matteo’s mood seemed a little odd. Almost sedated if that made sense. She got the distinct impression he didn’t want to be here at all. It was almost as if he didn’t even like the place.

By the time she returned to the main room Matteo was back on his phone. She should probably be paying some kind of deference to him since he was going to be paying her enormous salary, but she was far too excited for all that.

She walked straight over to him. “I still hurt from where you pinched me.”

He was mid conversation and raised one eyebrow at her. After the briefest of pauses he pulled the phone away from his ear. “I’m in the middle of something.”

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