Home>>read The Arrangement . free online

The Arrangement .

By:Delaney Diamond

Chapter One

“I’ll do it, but there are conditions,” Leonardo da Silva said.

His name meant “strong as a lion,” and he was aptly named. He had the strength and cunning of the large cat, and he never hesitated to tear apart his rivals in business. His ruthlessness was not a personality trait that made him well-liked in the business world. It made him a worthy adversary, feared more than respected.

Alexa da Silva held her breath as she stared at the broad, muscular back of her soon-to-be ex-husband. Her eyes were drawn lower to his butt, shown to advantage because he’d chosen to shove his hands into his pockets, which stretched the tailored trousers taut against his firm posterior.

She lifted her gaze, reminding herself why she was there. She had just asked him to help her brother, Xander, out of a financial debacle. She’d known there would be a catch, of course, but what exactly he would demand in return remained to be revealed.

It had taken every ounce of courage she’d had to walk through the doors of the high-rise building he owned in Atlanta and ask for this favor, buoyed by her brother’s pleading request.

“Lexie, please, you’ve got to ask him. Leo is the only person I know who has enough money to get me out of this.”

“I haven’t seen Leo in months,” she’d explained to her brother. “It’s only a matter of time before he files for divorce. I’m surprised he hasn’t done it already.”

“All the more reason to ask him now, before he does it,” Xander had offered helpfully. As if it were as simple as merely asking for Leo’s help.

Sighing, Alexa had shaken her head. “I don’t know if I can do that, Xander. I left him, and now you want me to go back and ask him for money?

He’s not going to just hand it over to me. There’s just got to be another alternative.”

But there hadn’t been, despite leaving no stone unturned. No one else they knew had the kind of money Xander needed, and given the financial straits he was in, getting another loan was impossible.

Now here she was, sitting across from the modern, minimalist glass desk and the floor-to-ceiling windows Leonardo was staring out of, hoping he wouldn’t laugh her out of the office because she had the audacity, after all this time, to come ask him for money. This was a low point in her life, but she and Xander were close, and she would do anything for him.

With trepidation, Alexa asked, “What are your conditions?”

She stiffened her spine, ready to negotiate on whatever point her husband would bring up. Even as she thought about it, she almost laughed at the idea that she could negotiate on the same level as him. Leonardo was a shrewd businessman, having expanded his family’s multimillion-dollar telecommunications enterprise into a multi-country empire that worked on projects across the United States and Europe.

He turned, as if suddenly remembering she was in the office. Alexa braced herself. When he faced her, she noted how the angular lines of his face looked harsher, more pronounced than they were before their separation. Still, he was handsome, despite the hardened square jaw and unwelcoming charcoal eyes.

Half Brazilian, he had his mother’s dark coloring and spoke with a slight accent because he’d spent thirteen years of his life in Brazil after his parents divorced when he was five. His wavy dark brown hair, which he tended to wear a little too long, curled along the collar of his shirt. He was a big man, with a powerful chest and large, muscular arms.

His mother had married the eldest son of a wealthy Georgia family who owned the number one telecommunications company in the South. Proud of her heritage, she had insisted he should be born in Brazil. After the divorce, she returned to Brazil with him. She resorted back to her maiden name and changed Leonardo’s as well. It had been a crushing blow to his father.

Leonardo returned to the States at the age of eighteen to go to school and work at his father’s firm. As was expected, when Leonardo’s father retired, the reins of the company were turned over to him. At thirty-three years old, he was already a seasoned professional. He’d taken Radiant Communications from a regional powerhouse and transformed it into one of the largest firms in the industry.

“First, he has to agree to hire an office manager to help him manage his bills and payments.”

Alexa nodded in agreement. No argument there. It was something she herself had told Xander on more than one occasion he needed to do, but he was the stubborn, creative type, more concerned with the culinary arts than managing the business side of things. That explained how he’d gotten into this dire situation.

“Second, I want you to come home and resume our marriage.”