Who Wants to Marry a Billionaire Online - Emily Stone

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