The Italian Billionaire's New Year Bride

By: Scarlet Wilson

Phoebe smiled as she watched him pull the key from the lock. “You put in a digital alarm but didn’t put in digital locks?”

He shrugged. There was something so juvenile about it. Like a naughty teenager. “Who says I didn’t? I might just be trying to fool you.”

It was the first time she’d seen a spark of something. A glimpse of something other than the very busy businessman. A hint of what might lie beneath the surface.

Matteo stood back and she stepped inside the wide entranceway and sucked in a breath.

The air was still all around her. Silent.

But there was something else. Something almost magical.

She held out her hands and spun around. Light flooded in from the open door, allowing her to see the huge curved staircase with intricate iron railing that spiraled up through three floors of the house. Every step she took on the tiled floor echoed upward to the yellowed glass dome at the top of the house. By the time she stopped spinning and brought her gaze back down to the current floor she finally got a feel for the place. The entranceway was huge.

Matteo was looking at her curiously. There was something odd. He looked uncomfortable. She gave a little stagger and laughed as she put out her hand, grasping onto his sleeve to try and stop her head spinning. Now she could see all the rooms off the entranceway. Most of them had glass-paneled doors, hinting at what lay beyond. Her heart gave a little flutter.

She’d dreamed of getting the chance to do a house in the Hamptons. It had always been an ambition that she’d hoped to achieve. She just thought it was still at least a few years away. Her fingers were itching to touch this house. To run through every room. To suck in the atmosphere. Trying to appear cool, calm and collected was rapidly slipping from her grasp. Even though Matteo Bianchi was staring her down with that disapproving glare.

She looked to the side again. The room directly to her right was practically calling out to her. “May I?” She gestured with her head.

Matteo stopped glaring and glanced toward the room. A furrow lined his brow. “Actually, I want you to let me know what your instincts tell you.”

It was the way he said it. The tone. And the way the glare in his eyes had been replaced by a kind of mischievous twinkle. He was testing her. Or teasing her.

She tilted her chin upward. Matteo Bianchi had no idea who he was dealing with. She met his green gaze straight on. “You know you’re being unfair—but that’s fine.” She held up her hands. “I’ve already told you I think the house is around a hundred years old.” She wrinkled her nose. “About twenty thousand square meters? Maybe around eight or nine bedrooms? Probably four or five bathrooms or half baths. I expect two or three formal rooms. I expect a dining room, a large kitchen, laundry, study and a basement and wine cellar.” She put her hand on her chest. “And I’m hoping there are exceptional views over Mecox Bay from the rear of the property. Am I getting close? Can I actually get in to see the main sitting room?”

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.”

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