The Italian Billionaire's New Year Bride

By: Scarlet Wilson

He’d be paying her a quarter of a million dollars. Was it wrong to expect a little more deference? His insides cringed at the thought. Was he being archaic—or sexist even? In this day and age, neither would be acceptable and both could earn him a slap around the back of the head from his very feisty sister.

She nudged him. “Eat up, or I’ll start to think my instincts are off. Now, we’ve got a bit of time. Give me some history about the house.”

Matteo finally took a sip of the coffee. Surprisingly good for a street vendor. He opened his mouth to speak just as his phone rang. He glanced at the caller. Vittore. His brother. Doubtless this would be another fight.

The interruption clarified things in his mind. He turned to Phoebe. “I’m not going to give you any background information on the house.” He tried not to look amused. “Let’s just see what your instincts tell you.” He settled back against the seat as he pressed the phone to his ear.


* * *

She’d spent the last hour staring out the window at the passing view, desperately wanting to talk. But Mr. Bianchi appeared to conduct most of his business on his phone. Something she’d find depressing on a good day.

Right now, she could be in the middle of Macy’s searching for the best bargains.

Maybe the purple coat her mother had admired would be half-price. She could have bought that as a “getting better” present. She’d like to get her mom something to put a smile back on her face. It certainly would be better than spending an hour in forced silence.

The city view had changed rapidly to an even more snow-covered landscape. There was a reason the Hamptons was famous. The popular seaside resort was a historical summer colony on the south fork of Long Island. It featured some of the most luxurious and expensive real estate in all of New York and was regularly featured on TV shows and films.

Phoebe had visited here as a child and a teenager. She’d even spent a semester at the university campus out here and seen exactly how the other half could live. It was almost as if the whole atmosphere changed the further away from the city you got.

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?

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