Matched to a Billionaire(7)

By: Kat Cantrell

Daniella White was the perfect woman to be his wife.

Their phone calls had sealed the deal. He’d recognized her suitability immediately and everything fell into place. Why wait to marry when they were like-minded and neither cared if there was any attraction between them? It was better to get on with it.

If he had it to do over, he’d add one more criteria—doesn’t make the roof of my mouth tingle. It was Carmen all over again, but worse, because he was no longer a lovesick seventeen-year-old and Daniella was his wife. No woman could be allowed to set him on the same catastrophic path as his father, not when Leo knew how hard it was to repurpose himself. What painful test of his inherent all-in personality had he inadvertently set himself up for now?

His marriage was supposed to be about compatibility and convenience, not a headlong sprint into the depths of craziness. It was important to start it off on the right foot.

“Did my driver get all of your belongings?” he asked her and winced.

That wasn’t the right foot. My driver. As if he regularly employed servants to do his bidding. Was he really going to act that pretentious around his new bride? He usually drove himself, for crying out loud. He’d only hired a car because he thought Daniella might enjoy it.

She nodded, taking it in stride. “Yes, thank you.”

“Have you said your goodbyes to everyone?”

“Yes. I’m ready.”

The conversation was almost painful. This was why he’d rather have a root canal than take a woman to dinner, why he’d opted to skip dating entirely. They were married, well matched and should be able to shoot right past small talk.

Leo waited until they were seated in the town car before speaking again. She crossed her long legs, arranging them gracefully, skin sliding against skin, heels to one side. And he was openly watching her as if it was his own private movie.

Before he started drooling, he peeled his gaze from the smooth expanse of leg below her skirt. “If you don’t mind, I’d like to invite my parents over tonight to meet you.”

“I would be very happy to meet your parents.” She clasped her hands together, resting them in her lap serenely. “You could have invited them to the ceremony. I recall from your profile how important family is to you.”

He shrugged, mystified why it pleased him so much that she remembered. “They’re less than thrilled about this marriage. My mother would have preferred I marry someone I was in love with.”

“I’m sorry.” Her hand rested on his sleeve for a brief, reassuring moment, then was gone. “You have to live your life according to what makes sense for you, not your mother.”

Everything about her was gracious. Her speech, her mannerisms. Class and style delineated her from the masses and it was hard to believe she’d come from the same type of downtrodden, poverty-stricken neighborhood as he had. She had strength and compassion to spare, and he admired her pledge to care for her mother.

So she possessed a compelling sensuality and he couldn’t take his eyes off of her. This was all new. By tomorrow, the edge would surely have worn off.

He relaxed. Slightly.

This marriage was going to work, allowing him to focus on his company guilt-free, while his wife handled wifely things and required none of his attention. He’d paid Ms. Arundel a sizable chunk of change to ensure it.

“Daniella, I realize we barely know each other, but I’d like to change that. First and foremost, you can always talk to me. Tell me if you need something or have problems. Any problem at all.”

“Thank you. That’s very kind.”

Gratitude beamed from her expression and it made him vaguely uncomfortable, as if he was the lord of the manor, bestowing favors upon the adoring masses. They were equals in this marriage. “As I told you on the phone, I have a lot of social obligations. I’ll depend on you to handle them, but you can come to me if you need help or have questions.”

“Yes, I understand.” She started to say something else and appeared to change her mind, as if afraid to say too much. Probably nervous and unsure.

“Daniella.” Leo paused, weighing the best approach to ease the tautness between them. She gazed at him expectantly, her almond-colored eyes bright, with a hint of vulnerability. That nearly undid him. “We’re married. I want you to trust me, to feel relaxed around me.”

A building was only as good as its foundation.

“I do.” She nodded, her expression so serious, he almost told her a joke to see if she’d smile. “You’re everything I expected. I’m very happy with Elise’s choice.”

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