Authors: Eve Montelibano
“I wonder why you’re making an issue out of something that’s irrelevant to our situation?”
He sounded like he really didn’t know about her very public shit with Brigitte. Maybe he truly wasn’t aware at all? He was European. He had his own stellar career in car racing. Why would he care about American celebrity gossip when according to Nusha, he was practically royalty? A Medici, for crying out loud! He was elite in Europe. Why would he even bother about her dirt in the rags? Really, like who the hell did she think she was in Gianfranco Zoldatti’s world?
She was terribly embarrassed now for an entirely new reason. How presumptuous of her.
Biting her bottom lip, she dropped her eyes to the floor again, feeling too vulnerable. Foolish. Oh god, she must have sounded like a shallow, insecure bubblehead. This kind of lameness had no words to describe. Silence was the best recourse.
Earth, open up and swallow me whole. Now!
“You seem to have this thing with Brigitte. Whatever it is, it’s none of my business and I really don’t care. However, I’d like to assure you on that score. After we shot that commercial, we never saw each other again. Our association was brief and purely business. I don’t know what it will take to convince you and I don’t see the point in doing so but I’ll not allow you to renege on our deal because of such petty reason. You have to give me a better one.”
He was right of course. Oh frosh, what was she thinking? Why was she sabotaging her own show because of that woman? It only showed Brigitte still owned her.
So what if he’d had sex with that maneater? Was she not up to the challenge of topping that bitch in this man’s score card? Anouska was right. He bought her cherry for fifty million dollars. That should reassure her how “precious” she was to this man. The same man who all but declared himself the winner to the press! If that was not a display of how much he wanted her, she didn’t know what was.
But still she wanted to make sure, since he’d denied it anyway, for the sake of her ego. “You did not…you never had…sex with her?”
“If I did, does it matter? It was not included in your rules. Was I supposed to list down my past lovers? For what reason? Health? I assure you, that medical result Damon sent you was up to date. I’m an athlete involved in one of the most dangerous sports in the world. I get tested regularly, before every race. That means every month or so.”
There was no smart come back to that practical logic. She evaded his eyes again, feeling too stupid and too relieved. Joy suffused her entire being she wanted to shout to release the pressure in her chest.
In fact, she was so happy she wanted to jump him right there in the hallway.
“I didn’t know Brigitte makes you feel insecure,” he teased her.
You have no idea
, she nearly blurted out.
He stepped toward her and planted both his palms flat on the wall on either side of her face, bringing his body just inches from hers. “Look at me.”
Slowly, she lifted her lashes and met his gaze. He smelled so good and she felt so small compared to his towering height.
“You’re so beautiful,
I’m gone. Gone in ten seconds.
“I want you. Very much.”
Totally gone. Poof!
“Don’t you want me?”
Okay, goodbye cherry pie. Hello, lover.
His smile practically melted all the insecure bones in her body. She had yet to deal with the embarrassment of letting him in on her Brigitte shit but let tomorrow take care of that. With any luck, she won’t be seeing him again after tonight.
Giane accompanied Valenna
to the restaurant at the rooftop of a luxury hotel where her other four bidders were waiting to meet her.
“Why do you even need to meet them? Just ask one of your people to tell them you’ve chosen a winner and that’s it,” he told her as Baba drove them in her rented limo to the venue.
“Rules are rules. I owe them some words of appreciation for posting their bids which were no measly sums, and my apology for wasting their precious time. These are billionaires.”
He grunted. “Make it brief. Lest you forget, I’m the only billionaire who should matter to you right now. They’re wasting my precious time worth fifty million dollars. The night is mine, not theirs.”
“You’re not a gracious winner.”
“Actually, I’m usually humble in victory but arrogant in defeat. However, I haven’t claimed my prize yet and they’re delaying my pleasure.”
She blushed. “Will you shut up?”
He grinned. “Just guarding what’s mine.”
“Just for tonight.”
There was no way he’d let her out of his sight tonight even for a minute.
Valenna charmed the men the moment she entered the private room in that exclusive restaurant and shook hands with each of them. He silently stood back in the background with Titus and Baba and let her do her business.
He was repeatedly glancing at his watch, impatiently counting every passing minute. Tonight, every second had value. He was relieved the meeting didn’t last longer than necessary. They were back in the limo after thirty minutes.
“You should have met those guys, too. They’re all cool!” she said.
He snorted. “Of course. They were all lusting after you, hoping you’d choose them.”
“Too bad Kim didn’t make it. I was really hoping to meet him.”
“Kim Jong Un. He made it to the top 5.”
His eyes widened. “That guy?”
“Yeah. I was gonna choose him if you didn’t bulldoze your way into my presscon.”
“Really?” he scoffed. “You’d prefer him over me?” She was joking, right?!
“Yeah. One, he’s probably richer than you. He practically owns an entire country. Two, he adores me. Three, he’s more famous than you. Obama must have his face on his desk at the oval office to remind him of Kim’s huge presence every day. Four, he’s so cute! He’s got some stylish swag. Love his haircuts! What’s not to like?”
He stared at her, stupefied.
Then she burst out laughing. “Oh god, you should see your face right now.” She took a snapshot of him on her phone.
“Valenna,” he warned her.
“Are you always this serious?” She showed him his face on her phone screen. “C’mon, chill!”
Okay, she got him there, the mischievous witch. She was cracking him up, obviously. “Not funny,” he growled. Kim’s nuclear-powered empire in North Korea which was capable of causing NATO some major headache would make his own Impero look like a pug next to a fucking pitbull. Shit, he was actually threatened for a bit there. Just a bit.
“But I’m glad you crashed my presscon.”
“Really now? Why?”
“Because you’re way cuter than Kim. And...did I tell you that I have your Z-10?”
Now THAT surely made him chill. No, hot. “Really?”
“Yeah. It’s my favorite car in the world. I’m so excited to drive it every time.”
He couldn’t help it, he grinned widely, his cock swelling even more with desire, his chest expanding with pride and...joy.
“That’s better, cherry-popper.” She winked at him.
, how did she do that? Make him feel so damn good? And they were not even having sex yet.
“Would you believe I got a million dollar donation from each of those guys for my school?” she happily informed him.
“For artistically gifted poor children from around the world.”
“Is that where my money is going too?”
“Uh-huh. Thank you so much. My school is gonna be one of the best in the world. Your money will be well spent, I promise.”
“Oh yes, my money will be well spent tonight.” He hauled her onto his lap. She squealed like a child and laughed out loud, burying her face in the crook of his neck.
She felt so good in his embrace, soft and warm and smelling like heaven. She was making every fiber in his body vibrate with life and yet her warmth gave him a comforting sense of belonging.
These were alien feelings to him.
“Valenna Jones,” he murmured in her fragrant hair as his arms tightened around her.
He linked their fingers together. “Your suite or mine?”
She squeezed his hand. “Yours.”
THE PRIVATE ELEVATOR
opened into the grand foyer of the Chairman’s villa.
“No wonder this was unavailable when Nusha called for reservation. You beat me to it,” Valenna commented.
Next time we’re in this hotel together, I’ll gladly share it with you.”
She smiled at him. As if that would ever happen again. It was just a coincidence when her concert happened during the Australian Super Grand Prix, as well.
Hand in hand, they walked into the very spacious living room that gave them a spectacular view of Melbourne at night. She felt like floating, the feeling of anticipation making her a bit lightheaded.
Finally, they were alone.
“Would you like some wine?”
“That would be nice, thank you.”
He left her to go to the bar.
She walked toward the expanse of panoramic glass windows and sat on a plushly upholstered armchair. The butterflies in her tummy won’t settle down. A glass or two of some alcoholic concoction was definitely needed.
He came with two flutes of red wine.
“Thanks.” She accepted the long-stemmed glass and took a sip. It was a very good blend she hadn’t tasted before. The liquid traveled warmly to her stomach, making the fluttering down there calm down a bit.
He sat on the armchair opposite her.
They stared at each other, smiled at each other.
She was nervous as hell but she decided to discard her modesty. Reminding herself once more just to amp up her self-confidence, this man purchased her cherry for a ridiculous amount. There was no doubt how much he wanted her. She should focus on that fact— his desire to have her. There was a bit of drama earlier that nearly sabotaged her goal, but thanks to his persistence, he’d saved it from her momentary idiocy.
The auction was a monumental decision on her part and the result went even beyond her wildest expectations. It resulted in this superhottie sitting in front of her. All hers tonight. Yes, she should quit thinking she was the one who was about to be taken. It worked in reverse, too. She will take him, have him.
No more drama tonight. She would own this night. Own him, too.
“You’re wasting time there staring at me.”
“You’re very beautiful. Staring at you is never a waste of time,” he replied softly, his gaze, marveling. Male admiration was something she’d long ago taken for granted given her line of profession, but she felt like a shy teenager under his blatant, masculine appraisal. She finally understood the phrase “panty-melting look”. Not even Kerion had caused her to get wet by a mere possessive stare.
“That does wonders to my ego, you know?”
He grinned. “Good. But I’m wondering...Were you really going to choose Kim over me?”
She rolled her eyes. “Oh, he won’t let that rest. Men!”
“Well?” he persisted.
She turned serious. “You were my first choice, Giane. I had no second choice in mind, but I’m a woman of my word. I hosted that auction, I must fulfill my responsibilities to the bidders. Yes, I was going to choose from the top 5. If I hadn’t chosen one, I would have extended the time for the selection and checked the other five bidders in the top 10, but you crashed my presscon and totally altered the course of history and here we are now. You know what I call such events occurring within perfect timing?”
He was silent. His Adam’s apple bobbed in a tell-tale sign of discomfort, clearly not knowing how to respond. She almost laughed. Men! So eager to have sex but balk at the idea of romance. She couldn’t blame him though. Destiny. Big word. Of course, she was just teasing him. She grinned and took pity on the poor man. “Don’t be nervous, darling,” she drawled in her most seductive voice. “It simply means you’re the one destined to have me tonight and no one else. And have I ever thanked you for crashing my presscon?”
She saw how his chest heaved the slightest sigh, but she knew he was pleased with what she said.
Damn, he was really...
Words failed to describe how divine he looked at the moment. She felt like she won the super jackpot at a lottery. Her cherry’s highest bidder looked like Santa’s grandest present and fairy godmother’s granted wish. Not only that, he kissed like New Year and the Fourth of July. What were the odds? The One above loved her, no doubt about that.
“Can you give me a few minutes to prepare myself?”