Duping the Billionaire
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Eleth was hell-bent on finding out the truth behind her lover's death that she would go far to assume the identity of a dead heiress, infiltrate a business magnate's empire, and seduce its cold-hearted president and owner, Eautiquiano Fauste III or Euthird to destroy him and his empire if she sees fit. Euthird on the other hand was about to marry the love of his life, until his twin brother, Zach, impregnated a woman while posing as him. Now he was set to marry the controversial heiress of a rival company to strengthen their business ties and set aside their rivalry. Will Eleth survive her life as Euthird's wife before finding out about the truth? Will she be able to protect herself from his enemies inside and out of his home and company? Will she be able to protect her heart from falling for the most apathetic billionaire?
I stood before the vast, imposing brown oak door of St. James Parish, breathing raggedly from the constant tightening of my chest as I waited for the main doors to burst open.
I never expected things would go according to my plan. Yet today, I am marrying the drop-dead gorgeous bachelor, magnate, and heir to the Fauste Empire, Eautiquiano Fauste III, popularly known as Euthird— against his will.
'What's taking so long? Did he suddenly change his mind?'
The procession of the whole entourage had started a while ago. They were lined up from the side doors of the cathedral, so I didn't get a chance to see if something had gone wrong inside.
I maliciously gazed up at the pearl-gray skies through the translucent veil swathed over my head, wondering if the One above had something to do with the confusing situation.
I almost scoffed at the sight of the brooding clouds, obviously protesting and threatening to sweep through my special day. The corner of my lips curled into a wry smile.
I had waited years to make this day happen, so yeah, what the heavens would say obviously didn't matter.
'If he doesn't marry me now, everything I had worked so hard for will be over!'
I fanned my face with a hand, my chest heaving as my lungs started to constrict.
I was wearing an off-shoulder, floral-applique wedding ball gown studded with Swarovski crystals, specially tailored by the infamous Josefino Pietro himself, an Italian fashion designer personally acquainted with the Faustes.
My hands had tightly gripped onto the stem of my chic, purple bouquet of peonies when I felt my heart thumping erroneously, gasping for air.
I think I just sniffed the scent of the flowers. My eyes darted to the bouquet in my hands.
'What the fuck?'
"Jenesse, are you okay?" Sally, our wedding coordinator, who was several steps away, didn't hesitate to run toward me as soon as she noticed me wheezing, even though the doors could open any minute now.
I winced not because I was about to die, but because even in my death, I probably wouldn't get a chance to hear someone call me by my real name again.
"My inhaler!" I mumbled as I started to lose the remaining air in me, my sight started to get blurry.
Sally wasted no time and ran away. When she came back, she was clutching my inhaler and quickly handed it to me.
My hands unconsciously dropped the artificial peonies as I grabbed my inhaler from her, shoving it into my mouth, breathing in slowly after firmly pressing it.
As soon as my breath cleared, I pressed it for the second time. I had to make sure this won't happen again within five hours.
"Are you okay now?" Her voice trembled.
I glanced at the worry-stricken face of Sally.
"Yes, I am. I'm sorry for worrying you," I assured her.
Sally sighed deeply in relief. "What happened?" she asked, fixing the train of my dress before picking up the bouquet.
She was about to hand me my flowers back, but before I could touch them, her face went pale as if she had just realized something terrible. "What the heck!"
I peered into her eyes in confusion. "Why?"
She sniffed the flowers. "Someone switched your flowers! These were supposed to be artificial!" she shrieked.
My jaw dropped in bafflement. 'So that's why I almost died!'
She quickly snatched the inhaler from me and scurried away without even giving me time to react. Then I saw her yelling in panic at some of her staff.
'Who would go this low just to stop me from marrying Euthird?' I unconsciously squinted at another realization.
'Could it be? Could it be that someone wanted me dead?'
Good thing I had the presence of mind to let Sally keep a spare of my inhaler yesterday, or else, I would be having a funeral instead of a wedding.
'But who the fuck wants me dead?'
My heart raced at the second clanging of the church bell, as I was obviously not ready.
'So they finally decided to let me in!'
For a moment, I was thrilled to know that I'd still be walking the aisle. But my eyes went round in alarm when I realized I didn't have any flowers on me, not even a corsage.
'Fuck! What should I do?'
The wooden doors would be opening any time now. Then I saw Sally hurrying toward me. She was carrying a bouquet of purple roses, the ones I had initially requested.
My mother-in-law, Brigitta Fauste, had her make a new one with peonies, which according to her, symbolizes a happy and fruitful marriage.
'Did Brigitta switch the flowers? Why in the hell would she want me dead when she was the one who demanded this marriage? No! I don't have time for this!'
I almost forgot about Sally and the flowers as she stopped at the side of the church, gesturing the flowers in her hand, making sure she wouldn't be in the camera's view if the doors suddenly slid open.
She mouthed, "catch!"
Luckily, the flowers were perfectly held together and didn't scatter before the bouquet dropped into my hands. I looked behind me to ensure the gown was still in place.
Then I heaved a deep sigh, fixing my eyes on the ground as the wooden doors began to slide open.
'This is it.'
I squinted as the amber light inside the old cathedral dazzled my eyes, but I froze in my tracks as soon as the instrumental of my song echoed through the church's stone walls.
'One step closer…'
My eyes brimmed with tears as I began to march.
'So this is how it feels to get married.'
Everything felt heavenly. It was like I was marrying for real.
'This is real.'
I painted a genuine, sweet smile on my face as I slowly advanced toward the altar. I walked past a lot of people I didn’t know. I was halfway through the aisle when my eyes caught a few familiar faces who sucked my genuine tears away, drying my eyes in an instant.
Especially that shameless woman clad in a white, halter dress.
The woman whom Euthird loves. She was supposed to be the one meeting him at the altar, but fate had other plans for him, and so did his stepmom.
Brigitta wouldn't allow the heir of their empire to marry a mere servant of their household. Time had literally brought him to me. Yet I admire Amara's courage to come and watch his man be bound to me.
I met Amara’s sullen gaze, nodding at her like a sweet fallen angel.
'Of course, the flowers were from you. But I won't die easily, Amara. Better luck next time.'
I walked past her, my heart swelling with pride. Not because I had successfully snatched his man from her, but because I survived her attempt to kill me. Every ounce of remorse I had for her had disappeared.
Now, I couldn't feel the genuine ambiance of my wedding anymore. I wanted to run toward the altar and get this sham wedding done, but my heart somehow refused to.
'I'm almost there. One step closer…'
I stopped in front of a middle-aged woman in a beige silk gown. She intently stared at the bouquet in my hand for a moment before locking me in a tight embrace.
It was Brigitta, the lady of the Fauste Empire.
"You look beautiful," she remarked, grinning at me.
"And so are you," I muttered back at her. Her brown eyes were compelling. At first, I couldn’t believe she didn’t go under the knife. Her fair skin was supple, and her body was still perfectly fit at fifty-eight.
She had set a graceful example of how a lady in their family should be, and though I was far from being like her, I could always act like one.
I didn't know what her agenda was, but apart from the tiny human growing inside me, she was the reason why Euthird was forced to marry me. I still couldn’t trust her, somehow.
Beside her was a man in his late sixties, sporting a pencil gray suit. It was Eautiquiano Fauste II, the Chairman and CEO of the Fauste Empire. He only smiled and nodded at me, gently touching my hand.
Beside him was another man who quickly extended his arm to me. I almost cringed as I laced my arm on his. I didn't know if my painted smile still looked genuine.
He leaned his head onto mine, smilingly but teary-eyed, like any birth father would do as he delivers his daughter to her groom.
"There's no turning back. Either you ruin his empire or make it mine," my father, Louis Destro Sr., whispered softly as he walked me through my final steps toward my scorching hot prize.
He was wearing a diamond edition of a white tux and pants, also handmade by Pietro. A purple rose boutonnière adorned his left chest.
His undercut brown hair was slicked back, and his face was clean-shaven, emphasizing his distinct jawline.
My groom looked like a rough man straight out of a romantic movie. He just stood there, with his deep set of brown eyes, staring at me— not lovingly, but still, staring at me.
And that was all I needed.
Rivers of tears had once again accumulated in my eyes, and I couldn't stop those as they streamed down my cheeks as we stopped in front of him.
Everything suddenly felt real again.
I embraced my dad in embarrassment before looking back at Euthird.
I was not sure what he was thinking, but yeah, his eyes looked like he would kill me as those regarded me. He didn't even bother taking my hands from my father. He just waited for me to inch toward him. Our gazes locked as I stood facing him.
'I will not let anything take away what's standing in front of me…'
If only I didn't know what kind of person he was, I would have fallen for him— for real.
A pang of pain had run its course through my heart, and I merely flinched. I wanted to ask him many questions but now was not the right time. I had to benefit from his name and empire before I destroy him and his everything.
My lips curled into my sweetest, most loving smile like any normal bride would do, but he didn't at least bother smirking at me.
'This is only the beginning, Euthird. I'll find out how exactly you killed him. Then I'll destroy you, your family, and your empire.'
And then it happened. His lips had finally curled into a wry smile as he spoke. "I'm glad you're still alive."
I was completely shaken up.
'Did he just confess his attempt to murder me?'
I shuddered at the brisk wind piercing through my skin as I looked down at the entirety of San Diego. It was exhilarating to see its night sky, glimmering with bright city lights, from the second to the highest floor of the Fauste Tower.
The two-hundred-story skyscraper was the tallest building in the world, and it embodies the power and wealth the Fauste Empire holds across the globe.
Some regarded it as the largest rook in the world due to its similarities to the chess piece. Its power could touch every single square in a board, it could even restrict the king.
Meanwhile, golden lights glistened all over Forza, the vast banquet hall, just below the helipad of the tower, which allegedly could hold five hundred people despite it being situated on the second to the highest floor.
Lavish events and parties were usually held in here, courtesy of the empire.
Like today, I was in one hell of a bizarre event— a matchmaking party for the elites.
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