Who Wants to Marry a Billionaire?

BOOK: Who Wants to Marry a Billionaire?
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Who Wants to Marry A Billionaire?

 

Emily Stone

 

 

 

Text Copyright 2013 Emily Stone

 

All Rights Reserved

 

Chapter One

 

       “It’s
absurd!”  Daniel DeVere paced, his hand unconsciously combing through his sandy
hair.  “How can someone turn your private life into a bargaining chip in a
business deal?  What century is this?”

       Elsa
Woodruff, the managing director of the DeVere Foundation, nodded
sympathetically.  She smoothed down her immaculate Chanel suit as she stood,
then clicked her way over to Daniel in her Jimmy Choos.  “Sweetie, how many
times do I have to tell you, don’t get mad, get even?”   She had the predatory smile
of a crocodile getting ready to devour a helpless creature.  “If you want to
pull this deal off and impress your father, you’re going to have to man up a
little more.”

       Daniel
turned his handsome face from the thirtieth story window looking out over
Boston, his normally vibrant green eyes, doleful.  “Do you have any idea how
sick I am of trying to impress my father? Wilson DeVere—inventor, billionaire,
philanthropist—he’s quite enough to give any red-blooded guy a complex.”

       Elsa
patted Daniel on the shoulder, an uncharacteristically maternal gesture.  Her
voice softened, “I know Daniel, it’s a very big shadow to grow up in.  But
you’re not a kid anymore, and it’s time you made your own mark on the world. 
Your father is only going to tolerate you being playboy of the western world
for so long—and I think the…
incident
at Cannes might have been the last
straw.”

       Immediately,
Daniel got defensive.  “How was I supposed to know she was married to the
president of a …” he made quote marks in the air with his fingers, “’small but
strategically important’ eastern European country?  And the business with the
donkeys and clowns and fireworks?   That was all her idea.”

       Elsa
pursed her scarlet lips.  It really had been hilarious.  Well, the ambassador
from Madagascar, and that Bulgarian model, and those two Hollywood directors
hadn’t found it so amusing.   She coughed demurely to stifle a laugh.   “Just
give me a little summary of what exactly happened when you were down in
Panama.”

       “The
resort is amazing.  It’s exactly the kind of business that Dad wants in the
DeVere portfolio—a green business that benefits the local economy in a
sustainable way with minimal impact on the eco-system.  It could be a template
for a worldwide network of resorts using the same methodologies.  Arturo, the
developer, has really done some incredibly innovative things.  The only problem
is that despite being a really forward thinking entrepreneur, he’s worse than
Mom when it comes to his opinion of me being unmarried.”  Daniel flopped into
Elsa’s swiveling desk chair, spinning himself around in it.  “For some
unfathomable reason, he believes being a family man is a prerequisite to being
a trustworthy businessman.”

       Elsa
stopped the spinning chair with a casual hand on the back of it so that Daniel
faced her.  “So those tabloid photos of you with that stripper didn’t sit too
well?”

       Daniel
shook his head woefully, “And the worst part is that it was a total set-up!  I
was minding my own business, just wandering the streets of Panama City looking
for someplace to get a bite to eat, and these two guys jump me, pull me into a
strip club, and that topless dancer threw herself at me while the paparazzi
snapped away.  That shocked look on my face in the photos?  That’s not because
the paparazzi caught me, it’s because I couldn’t figure out what was going on!”

       Tapping
one slim manicured finger on her lips, Elsa thought for a moment.  “And then?”

       “And then
Arturo killed the deal.  He told me to come talk to him when I learned to
behave like a grown-up man—and by that he means, when I’m married!  I was so
freaked out that the deal was going south that I blurted out that I have a
girlfriend that I’m getting ready to ask to marry me.  If my Dad finds out that
I not only muffed the deal, but I also lied to Arturo, he’s going to disown me.”

       Elsa
examined her manicure.  “Well, he might not disown you, but I have a feeling
that your lifestyle will be significantly impacted.  You can bet no more
tolerance for exuberant incidents.”

       His voice
tightened with distress.  “What am I going to do Elsa?  You’re like my second
mom—the one that will listen to me confess all the dirt.  I can’t believe the
paparazzi set me up like that.” 

       “So maybe
what you need is a different kind of set-up.”  Elsa smiled with crocodilian
glee.  “Daniel DeVere, I think I have a plan.”

 

Chapter Two

 

       Nina
dropped her meager bag of groceries by the front door of her flat, as she
hopped on one foot, trying to take off her wet boots.  Her phone was ringing
somewhere deep in her purse, and she dug for the phone while still working at
the boots.  Finally she gave up on the boots and snatched the phone out of her
bag, still a little breathless from the three flights of stairs to her front
door.

       “Hello?”

       “Hey big
sis, what’cha doing?”

       Nina
sighed.  Her brother Reuben had a preternatural gift for phoning at the worst
possible moment.  “Hey Reuben, what’s up?  I’m kind of busy here.”  She tried
to squeeze her cell phone between her ear and shoulder while pulling off the
wet boots. 

       “You
don’t have to be a grouch.”  She could hear him sigh with exasperation.  “I
just had some good news I wanted to tell you.”

       Nina
perked up.  Maybe Reuben had finally gotten a job!  “Yeah?  What’s that?”  She
tried to sound enthusiastic.

       Reuben’s
voice swelled with pride.  “There’s a professor in the art department who
thinks I should be a performance artist.” 

       It was
not the news Nina was hoping to hear.  “Oh, that’s interesting.”  She wasn’t
quite sure what a performance artist actually did.  “But you’re still going to
be a history major, right?”  Nina always thought Rueben would be a great
schoolteacher, if he could just settle down.  In his six years at college, he
had declared majors in psychology, anthropology, music, and then history.  Each
time he changed his major, it meant he had to take more credits to get closer
to a degree.  The tuition fees were ridiculous—and he always had a reason why he
couldn’t get a job.

       “Oh no,
I’m going to the office to declare Art as my major tomorrow.”

       “Do you
think that’s a good idea, bro?” 

       “Mom said
she loves the idea of having a an artist in the family.”

       Nina
fumed silently to herself.  Their mom was a sweetheart, but not very practical,
and seemingly incapable of keeping any kind of real job.  Nina knew their mom
had been traumatized watching their father die behind the wheel of a racecar,
but that had been twenty years ago.  It was time she got on with things. 

       “If you
change majors again, that means another year of tuition and I’m barely keeping
things together now.”

       “Oh,
it’ll be okay, isn’t it time those billionaire DeVeres gave you a raise?  Okay,
gotta go sis.  I’ve got to get ready for my performance tonight—I’m coating
myself in mustard and standing in a gallery surrounded by five hundred packages
of hotdog buns.  Bye!”

       Nina
clicked her phone off.  So
that
was what a performance artist did.  Nina
had a feeling that she was going to see a charge for five hundred packages of
hotdog buns on her credit card.  Worse, Reuben didn’t even give her a chance to
tell him that her witch of a boss, Elsa, had turned her down for a raise the
previous week.

       After
putting her few groceries away, Nina sorted through her mail. The usual
unrelenting bills were there: phone, utilities, mortgage, student loan
repayment—at least in Boston she didn’t have to have the expense of a car—and a
notice from the university that tuition payments were due in six weeks for the
next semester.  She was grateful that her sister Rita had a scholarship that
paid for a good portion of her fees, and she also had a job at a local copy shop
on weekends to cover her pocket money.

       In
between some junk mail, though, was another, fatter envelope.  It looked
mysterious and foreboding, and when Nina read it, she wanted to throw up. 
Somehow, according to the letter and a ream of enclosed computer printouts, she
owed the Internal Revenue Service ten thousand dollars in back taxes.  She read
it again; none of it made sense, but there it was in black and white.  If she
didn’t come up with ten percent of the money in thirty days, they would put a
lien on her home, and if she didn’t pay the full amount thirty days after that,
they would seize her property. 

       Nina looked
around her home, it was the one thing that was really her own.  So what if it
was a ninety-year old, third floor walk-up, in a drafty triple-decker?  She was
right on the bus line that took her to the subway to go to work in downtown
Boston, and the neighbors were sweet, and in the summer, she had window boxes
with flowers, and a little patch in the backyard where she grew tomatoes and
peppers.  She refinished the hardwood floors herself, and repainted every
room.  There was a lovely old round window at the end of the hall that still
had antique bullet glass in it, and the kitchen had a built in ironing board
and china cabinet from the 1920s.  The floors creaked, and the windows were leaky,
but it was
hers—
well, hers and the bank’s—and she loved it.  It was her
refuge.

       Trying to
absorb the reality of her situation, Nina went through the motions of making
dinner, realizing that her sister was due to arrive any moment.  She put water
on to boil pasta, and took some of her homemade spaghetti sauce out of the
freezer, and absently cut up a salad.  How was it possible that she owed the
IRS ten thousand dollars?  And how was she ever going to find the money?

       A tap at
her door, and then her sister’s voice, interrupted Nina’s gloomy train of
thought.  She tried to put on a smile, as her sister rounded the corner into
the kitchen.  Rita came and gave her a hug and a kiss on the cheek, and then
started rummaging through the fridge. 

       “Don’t
you have any avocados to put in the salad?  They’re really good for you.”

       Nina
tried to joke about it, “I would have to kill you and sell your body to science
to afford avocados out of season.”

       Rita
pulled her head out of the fridge and straightened up, looking over to the
stove where the spaghetti sauce was starting to bubble.  Nina thought it
smelled wonderful, but Rita wrinkled up her nose, “You’re making spaghetti
again
?”

        She
tried to ignore the fact she was feeling unappreciated.  “I got some nice baby
spinach for the salad.”

       “Just
baby spinach?  No arugula?” 

       Just then
Nina noticed that Rita hadn’t taken off her rain boots, and had tracked all
over the kitchen floor.  It was taking all of Nina’s willpower to not smack her
sister at that moment. Rita was a good kid; just clueless about what Nina had
to do to keep everyone in the family afloat.  It would be nice if their mom
pitched in once in a while and took some pressure off, but Nina realized, half
the time, she had to take care of their mother too.  Nina swallowed her
frustration and tried to change the subject.

       “So
what’s new at school?’  She channeled her anger into a vigorous stirring of her
sauce.

       “Oh, I’ve
got great news!  I’ve been accepted into the summer French honors program in
Provence!”

       Finally,
something nice, Nina thought.  “I’m so proud of you!  That’s part of your
scholarship, right?”

       Rita
picked a slice of cucumber out of the salad bowl and munched on it.  “Oh, no,
it’s going to cost you four grand.  But it’ll help me get a great job when I
graduate.”

       Just then
Nina’s phone rang.  It was her mother.

       “Hey
honey—I was wondering if you could loan your mom a hundred and fifty bucks so I
can get my heating oil tank filled?”

       Nina
turned towards her spaghetti sauce giving it a vigorous stir that was rougher
than necessary. "Mom, I just work at the DeVere Foundation. I'm not a
fully cashed up member of the family! I'll call you back; I'm just about to
serve up dinner."

       Absently
spooning the spaghetti onto two plates she wondered when she would ever get a
break financially. Of course, she didn't mind helping her family – even if they
sometimes seemed a little ungrateful, but sometimes it felt like all work, work
and not much left for Nina.

BOOK: Who Wants to Marry a Billionaire?
7.9Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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