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Accidentally Married to the Billionaire 1(7)

By:Sierra Rose

The email she’d received from HR indicated a seven pm report time for dinner at the Italian place downstairs at the hotel. That gave her about twenty minutes to get ready. She plugged in her flatiron and wriggled into the size six deep blue cocktail dress of dreams. It was better to call it that than the deep blue dress of debt, which it had more claim to.

Marj decided this was an occasion for false eyelashes, and she applied them neatly from long practice, then did a credible cat eye with her felt tip liner. A soft nude lipstick with a touch of gloss at the center of her full lower lip completed the look. She stepped into the navy suede stilettos she’d bought and surveyed her reflection. Sophisticated enough to attend a business dinner, sexy enough to attract a guy. Satisfied, she snapped a selfie to send to Britt and headed downstairs. The elevator was crowded, but notably absent was the hot guy she’d seen before. She wouldn’t have minded running into him again, dressed like this.

The Italian restaurant was lovely, wide planked floors. Her work party was seated in the private tasting room with a long high table and leather stools perfect to perch on and cross her long legs, to dangle one stiletto off her toes provocatively as she sipped a rich cabernet. Sylvia from the Manhattan office was also there, and they whispered about how beautiful everything was.

Sylvia was fortyish and married, no threat to Marj’s half-baked plan to snare a husband from the bar. She didn’t seriously believe she’d meet anyone special this weekend, but it was fun to formulate a wild plan and imagine success. The thrill of anticipation, the pounding of her pulse. It was like buying a lottery ticket, a really expensive one with matching suede pumps.

Power Regions, Ltd.’s delegation was composed of an executive vice president called Mallory, a pair of lawyers and the notably absent COO—the soon-to-be dethroned son, the predecessor of the Wicked Queen. In the absence of desirable members of the opposite sex, Marj talked with Sylvia and flirted a little with Rob, one of the lawyers, just to get warmed up. Surely the endless dinner would eventually be over, and she could check out one of the clubs and meet a high roller worth her time.

Rob was boring. He liked to talk about fly fishing. A lot. The VP spent most of her time making excuses as to why Brandon, the absentee COO, hadn’t been able to make it to the dinner. He had an emergency meeting with...someone. Marj picked at her pasta with artichokes and tried not to over consume carbs. She did, however, enjoy a glass or two of wine. It kept her hands busy, felt elegant and kept her away from the crusty bread. She hadn’t had crusty bread in so long it was nothing but a seductive memory.

“Have you tried these olives?” Sylvia asked her, indicating the extravagant plate of antipasto that sat before them otherwise untouched.

Marj shook her head and eyed a sliver of Parmigiano-Reggiano with the greed of a Roman emperor. Darting her hand out, she snatched it and took a salty, melting nibble. The flavor seemed to explode in her mouth—being, as it was, neither salad nor a damn Healthy Choice frozen meal. She shut her eyes for a moment and popped the rest of the paper-thin sliver in her mouth. It coalesced, heavenly, on her tongue. It had been so long since she let herself enjoy something like this—a beautiful dress, new shoes, good cheese. It felt indulgent and made her crave more indulgence.

After considering the seemingly non-existent upside to this merger/acquisition and narrowly managing to decline more than a single taste of tiramisu, Marj disengaged herself and headed out to the casino floor with a forty dollar budget. Hell, maybe she could win rent money! She played roulette, betting it all on 26 (her age) and winning. With eighty dollars worth of chips, she headed to the craps table where she lost thirty of it almost instantly. She ordered a tall blue cocktail, a signature of the casino apparently, judging by the quantity of them on the table rails. It was some sort of kamikaze, she decided when she took a taste of the sweet, potent mixture. One more roll and she was up ten more dollars. A man sidled up to her and hooked an arm around her hips. She turned her dark eyes on him, half suspicion.

He was older, sixty perhaps, and balding, but he had a stack of chips beside him worth thousands.

“Would you be so kind as to blow on my dice? You caught my eye and took my breath away, so it’s the least you could do.”

He said it slyly, knowing it was a line, and she laughed. He placed his bet. She blew on his dice and he won, another stack of chips pushed toward him. He took a five-hundred dollar chip, thick and silver, and pressed it into her hand.

“For my good luck charm,” he said, and she thanked him.

Marj clutched the chip and nodded.