Bound by the Millionaire's Ring

By: Dani Collins

“What can you possibly do at this stage?” he growled. “The cat is out. Why didn’t you prevent it?”

“Prevent your sister’s pregnancy?” Her pulse hammered once, hard, as she met his gaze, but she managed to tilt her mouth into a facetious smirk. “Not in my bailiwick, if you can believe it. I’ve had three discussions with her, suggesting we leak the news in a controlled way. She chose to stay mum.”

Pun not intended. Trella was tall and a wizard with cutting cloth to create the effect she wanted, but she was five months along. She couldn’t hide it forever.

“You should have had a fourth discussion. And a fifth. Your father had the contacts to keep these things under wraps. Why don’t you?”

Her heart stalled. Oh, he was not going to bring her parents into this, was he? That was such dangerous ground.

At least it flipped her out of defensive mode into a willingness to go toe-to-toe.

“Even my father can’t control every person with a social media account. The photo was posted by a woman visiting her mother at the hospital. You took Trella there yourself—in that car everyone notices. Of course people watched to see who got out.”

She punctuated with a look that said, “Take some responsibility for a change.”

“The only reason it took this long for the trolls to call it a baby bump was because they were having so much fun shaming her for gaining a few pounds.” Then, as she remembered his sister-in-law had delivered twins by emergency cesarean a few days ago, she asked, “How are Cinnia and the babies?”

“Fine.” He pushed off the desk, expression blanking to aloofness—it was the way he and all his siblings reacted when questioned about their family, even when the inquiry was sincere.

The Sauveterre twins had become media sensations the minute the second pair, Angelique and Trella, came along. Born to a French tycoon and his Spanish aristocrat wife, the children had been mesmerizing in their mirrored resemblance and elegantly perfect lives.

Then, when the girls were nine, Trella had been kidnapped. She was recovered five days later, but rather than give the family breathing space, the media’s microscope had focused even more intently on their slightest move. The pressure had sent their father into an early grave and the fallout had continued for years.

Angelique—Gili to her family—seemed to have found some happiness, though. She was secretly engaged to her soul mate, Kasim, which was why the family had convened in Spain.

Their celebration had been cut short when Cinnia was rushed to hospital.

Trella had jumped into Ramon’s distinctive Bugatti Veyron to chase the ambulance with him. Not content with the limited edition Pur Sang, worth millions, Ramon had had one custom-built to his own specifications. It was fully carbon this and titanium that, didn’t have a lick of exterior paint and topped out at a speed of over four hundred kilometers an hour.

Isidora was dying to ask if it had air-conditioning.

Worried for Cinnia, Trella had leaped out of the car without taking due care over how much midsection she showed.

Any casual snap of a Sauveterre went viral. And one that allowed the public to speculate on a secret pregnancy and the identity of the father...? There was no containing such a nuclear bomb.

Isidora knew all this because she had grown up with the girls. Her father had worked for Monsieur Sauveterre. She’d had tea parties with the girls before Trella was taken and still had slumber parties with them. She cared deeply for them and wanted the best for the whole family.

That was why Henri had hired her. He trusted her with his sisters and all of the family’s most delicate PR announcements—most recently a statement that he and Cinnia had spoken their wedding vows in the hospital with their newborn daughters in attendance.

None of that mattered to Ramon, however. To him, she was an outsider, not entitled to anything more than criticism and a pat. Fine.

Fine. It didn’t hurt. She was so past yearning for his positive regard.

“I was hoping you were Henri.” For a million reasons. “I was going to suggest taking the family portrait with Cinnia and the babies sooner than planned. I’m inundated with requests. Releasing photos might divert this focus on Trella.”

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