Home > The Marriage Mistake (Marriage to a Billionaire #3)(8)

The Marriage Mistake (Marriage to a Billionaire #3)(8)
Author: Jennifer Probst

“Sure, boss.” He gave her a wink and left. Carina held back a satisfied smirk. Not bad. Her first full day on the job, and she had a possible date. There was nothing like a little male appreciation to help a woman focus on her new life.

She filed her papers neatly in her briefcase and headed for the door.

Max stood in front of her, arms crossed, blocking the exit. Irritation pulsed from him in waves.

“What’s the matter?”

“Don’t get involved with the employees, Carina. We don’t like to mix business with pleasure.”

Her mouth fell open. “Excuse me? I had a nice conversation. He offered to show me around. Lighten up.”

A muscle worked in his jaw. His disapproving stare set her off. Would he ever get over his instinct to protect her like some baby? “Edward is well known for his womanizing ways,” he said gently.

Humor and horror mingled. She settled on sarcasm and flung her hands out. “Oh, thank God you told me! Dating a man who likes to wine and dine women is a horrible fate. At least I know if I go out with him it will only be for a short affair.”

He flinched. “I’m trying to tell you he’s not your type.”

Carina glowered. “You don’t know my type anymore, Max,” she drawled. “And you never will. But thanks for the tip.” She pushed past him. “I’m taking a quick break for lunch.”

He grasped her upper arm. Heat burned through her jacket and set off her temper. Damn him for pushing her like this. She was sick to death of being coddled by every man in her life. Perhaps it was time to prove her own independence in the most basic way possible. Her tone turned frosty. “Is there something else?”

“Men are different here.” He frowned as if about to give her the sex talk. “They may want certain things the men you dated back home didn’t badger you for.”

Oh, boy, this could be fun. She scrunched up her face as if confused. “You mean sex?”

His grip tightened. “Yes, sex. I don’t want to see you put in an uncomfortable position.”

“I see. I’m glad you pointed that out. So if we go out to dinner they may want to—fool around?”

Actual red stained his cheeks and she smothered a hoot. “That’s right. American men may be used to a woman sleeping with them right away, and may not understand your background.”

Carina burned with humiliation, but the payoff would be worth this conversation. “So I shouldn’t go to dinner?”

“Not with Edward. Maybe you can meet some nice men at church on Sunday? They may have one of those singles groups.”

“Oh, that won’t be necessary, but thank you. Now that you’ve cleared things up, I know exactly what to do.”

His hold slipped away, and he took a step back. Relief carved out his features. “Good. I don’t want to see you hurt or misled.”

“That won’t happen. You see, besides learning the family company, I came to America for one reason.” She gave him a dazzling smile. “I came to have an affair. On my own terms. I’m not looking to get married or settle down, and in Bergamo if you sleep with someone you have to get married. You know how restricting that is. Isn’t that one of the reasons you left to work with Michael?”

“Umm.”

“Right. I’ll have my own apartment, my own lifestyle, and I can finally engage in some hot, smoking, no-commitment sex. Nothing more, nothing less.” She patted his arm. “I’m going to take Eddie up on his offer to show me around. He’s quite my type.”

Carina left him standing in the doorway with his mouth hanging open and never looked back. She greeted employees along the way as she walked to the lunchroom and grabbed her turkey on rye. Was it so wrong to want to have her own intimate experiences without someone looking over her shoulder? She’d had dates at university, but her mama and Julietta kept a close eye. When she hit the big drinking parties, she always ran into a friend of a friend who knew her family. The reputation of La Dolce Famiglia and her big brother’s long reach strangled her all the way to Milan and back.

Deep down, she was a bad girl trapped in a good girl’s body.

She got some water from the cooler, unwrapped her sandwich, and brooded in the back corner of the lunchroom. How did Max know her type? He probably thought she was a trembling virgin with no experience, swooning at the thought of a man’s erection.

Hah. He didn’t know anything. Sure, she was still a virgin, but she had had experiences. Deep experiences. The only reason she had stayed away from fully consummating a relationship is she hadn’t found the right man to make her want to get naked and get serious. Most of them were so polite and gentle, she’d been afraid she’d nap through the whole thing. And she certainly wasn’t throwing away her virginity on a drunken encounter or a fling. She wanted an engaged, adult, sexual affair. On her own terms.

Her fantasies revolved around a man a little rough to command her body in a variety of delicious ways. She may be technically innocent, but she craved a lover to push her in every direction. Physical. Emotional. Now that she was in America, she intended to find him. And maybe Edward fit the bill.

Her fingers trembled at the thought of Max’s suggestion to meet a man in church. Dio, he was pazzo. He certainly didn’t meet his dates there. He didn’t engage in chaste encounters either. Besides being a Page Six regular, all tabloids loved the single billionaire; many shots clearly showed his weekend conquests. Her heart panged at the thought, but she had long ago accepted she’d never be enough for Maximus Gray.

The night of her humiliation flickered past her vision. Home from her third year at the university, Michael and Max were visiting, and Max stayed overnight. The plan had been simple. More worldly, better equipped with her physical appearance, she set out to seduce him. She carefully dressed in a sexy black dress, killer heels stolen from her sister’s closet, and stalked him at the fancy cocktail party. The night went beautifully. Max paid attention to her the entire evening. He laughed at her jokes. Touched her arm. Those deep blue eyes stayed engaged for hours. He made no move to socialize with other people, and her spirit soared as she prepared for the second half of her plan.

With two glasses of wine in hand, she walked out back to meet him on the grounds, hopefully to share their first kiss. Of course, she hadn’t planned on standing in the arched trellis while he kissed another woman. And it was no ordinary woman. No, this one wore a similar black dress as Carina, except her body was long and thin and perfect. Carina watched in horror as Max murmured in her ear, and his hand cupped her rear as he lifted her against him. Arousal blended with a raw jealousy she never experienced—a need to be the woman Max held, the woman he loved.

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