The Millionaire's Unexpected Proposal

By: Jane Peden

But when he sat in an empty room in the courthouse, waiting for the jury to return, he let his thoughts entertain the puzzle of Camilla Winthrop showing up at his office. Clearly the woman had lost her mind. It was a pity, because she was even more attractive than he remembered. He’d been surprised at how strong the impulse had been to walk around the desk and take her into his arms to find out if the chemistry between them was really as strong as he remembered. Fortunately, reason prevailed. He was not going to take any chances with a woman who obviously had delusions about marrying him.

She had to be running some sort of scam, but he couldn’t figure out what her angle was. The sugar daddy she’d latched onto after Sam returned to Miami had apparently left her high and dry, and she’d decided to find out what had happened to that young lawyer she met once upon a time. Sam wasn’t that same kid anymore. He cringed when he remembered how he’d let his guard down, opened up to her, shared his plans and dreams. And apparently Camilla had found out he’d actually surpassed his own expectations.

When he’d started the firm with Jon and Ritchie, he’d expected to be successful. He just hadn’t imagined how successful they would be. It had been his idea, which was why his name was first on the door. But it hadn’t taken much to talk his law school buddy Jonathon Berrington, an associate at another of Miami’s major insurance defense firms, into trading in the long hours and associate’s salary for a chance to own their own firm and bring in million-dollar verdicts for plaintiffs. They would change people’s lives and make themselves rich in the process. As the plan began to take form, they’d added Ritchie Perez, a hotshot young prosecutor in the state attorney’s office, whose handling of high-profile drug and gang violence cases had catapulted him into the public eye as the champion of the underdog, a man who got justice for the little guy. It was exactly the image they wanted.

The three of them had agreed from the beginning that there would be no fender benders, no dog bites, no slip-and-fall cases handled by the law firm of Flanagan, Berrington & Perez. And no clients with dubious claims, no scammers in neck braces faking injuries. They weren’t ambulance chasers, and they wouldn’t take a case for a client who didn’t deserve to win. They would be the ones who stood up for the innocent victims of drunk drivers and of unscrupulous companies that ignored the warnings in their own product safety tests and caused needless suffering. They would specialize in wrongful death, serious bodily injury, and million-dollar verdicts.

And that’s exactly what they’d done.

“The jury’s in.”

Sam looked up, nodded to the bailiff, and went into the courtroom.

“You mean you didn’t tell him?” Camilla’s sister stared at her. “How could you not tell him?”

“He’s different now.” Camilla paced across the room, stopped, and looked out the window at the Atlantic Ocean.

“Well, duh,” Olivia said, stretching her long limbs and leaning back on the bed. To all appearances, she was the typical 15-year-old, obsessing over the latest pop star, the coolest fashions, the hottest boys in school. Thank God, Camilla thought. She would never let a single day go by without remembering to be thankful. If this had been the only thing Danny had given her, it would have been enough.

“So what did you say?”

“That I wanted him to marry me.”

He sister stared at her, mouth gaping. “Well, that’s an original opening.”

Camilla shrugged. “It bought me a meeting with him. Dinner. Tonight.” She looked at her watch.

“So where’s he meeting you?”


“Here?” Olivia glanced at the closed door across the suite. “What about JD?”

“Well, since JD’s the whole point…”

“Look,” Olivia said, her brilliantly blue eyes turning a deeper shade with intensity. “Let’s just leave now. We can go anyplace. There’s enough money—you don’t have to do this. We’ll just…we’ll go live in Italy!”

Camilla shook her head. “We’re not going to start running.” Arguably the only thing of value her mother had passed on to her and her sister was dual citizenship in Italy, a result of her mother’s paternal grandfather, who immigrated to the United States in the 1930s, dying a few years later without ever having renounced his Italian citizenship. It seemed to Camilla to be a tenuous link, but her mother had investigated it and obtained dual citizenship for herself and both her daughters, claiming it gave them “an international flair.” Camilla, however, had no desire to live in exile from the only country she considered her home. Compared to that, a marriage of convenience to the father of her child seemed like not such a big sacrifice at all.

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