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Marriage Before Love: The Devil CEO's Favor

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He was the CEO of the corporate empire, a forbidding titan in the business world, presiding over vast fortunes without indulging in petty laughter. He was a man of austere reserve, to whom no one could stir a hint of tenderness. She was the adopted daughter of the Edwards family, a pawn used in their ambitious game to ascend to the powerful Pierce family. A scheme, a marriage certificate, positioned her as Mrs. Pierce. Lucas Pierce, with his usual disdain, scoffed at this plot. "All women are the same, they only seek to share my bed." "Mr. Pierce, you are mistaken." Sophia cast a playful glance at the man, "I'm different, the kitchen, the couch, the balcony, they're all options!" "..."

Chapter 1: The Embrace

"Help! Someone's fallen into the water!"

"Someone's in the water?"

As water choked her nose and throat, burning with pain, Sophia Edwards felt her strength ebbing away, her body slowly sinking. The screams around her grew fainter and fainter until they blurred entirely. Gazing unfocused at the receding figures on the shore, her lungs convulsed, and bubbles churned to the surface. Her body grew lighter, and the pain seemed to vanish...

She must be close to death...

With downcast eyes, Sophia thought of this, and a fragile smile formed at the corner of her lips. It didn't matter if she died. No one would ever care about her. She'd rather die than continue living as a pawn. In death, perhaps she'd find relief.

Suddenly, a familiar face appeared in her mind, making her heart leap as if struck by a defibrillator. That man...

Why? Why did she think of that man before dying?

Her consciousness fading, Sophia's eyes slowly closed. Just then, a commotion sounded from above, followed by strong arms pulling her upward.

Who was it? Sophia Edwards tried to open her eyes, but her eyelids felt as heavy as lead. Her consciousness slipped into darkness as she was carried ashore.

People gathered around the poolside as Sophia Edwards was lifted from the water by Lucas Pierce. Drenched, water droplets rolled down his handsome face. The man exuded a cold aura, keeping others at bay.

Lisa stood among the crowd, pale and trembling. She never imagined that Lucas would value this woman so much. The recent events played vividly in her mind—Lucas pushing through the crowd and diving into the pool without hesitation to save the woman.

What should she do? If he found out she had pushed Sophia into the water, he would never forgive her! Lisa gritted her teeth, squeezed through the crowd, and approached Lucas.

"You, come here," Lucas Pierce said, turning to a security guard who had just arrived.

"Mr. Pierce..."

The guard trembled, stepping forward, expecting to be chastised for not rescuing the woman sooner. The room buzzed with talk of how Mr. Pierce had jumped into the pool without a word to save the woman, although he didn't know her. Surely, someone who could compel the formidable Lucas Pierce of Pierce Corporation to act must be important.

Lucas merely glared, extending his arms to pass the woman in his embrace to the guard, who hastily caught her. Then Lucas ordered, "Take her away."

Confused, the guard nodded and bowed, carrying Sophia away from the crowd.

A figure entered the throng—Lisa, quick-eyed, rushed to Lucas, clinging to him as if terrified.

With her eyes closed, Lisa leaned against Lucas, her body quivering. She feigned having faced a horrible ordeal: "Madam Pierce asked me to talk to her, then she tried to push me into the pool. I dodged, and she fell in..."

Lucas's suit was soaked, and Lisa shivered as she pressed against him. She initially wanted to explain herself to him, but then she saw how coldly he treated the woman he had saved, handing her over to the security guard. If he truly cared for Sophia, would he have done that?

Considering further, perhaps Lucas was concerned only for Sophia Edwards's social standing. After all, if she drowned, it could tarnish the Pierce family's reputation.

Relieved, Lisa decided that as long as Lucas didn't care for that woman, she needn't fear him discovering her role in pushing Sophia into the water.

Lucas said nothing, so Lisa looked up to find his icy stare fixed on her, sending a chill down her spine.

"You have three seconds to get out of my sight."

His voice devoid of warmth, Lisa felt frozen in place despite the sweltering summer heat.

Forcing a rigid smile, Lisa stammered, "Lucas... what's wrong?"

"I don't repeat myself," he said, his chiseled face drawing near, his eyes brimming with menace.

At his words, Lisa staggered away, her face ashen, her legs weak. But rather than collapsing before him, she knew she must flee from this dangerous man.

When Sophia opened her eyes, she was greeted by the glaring chandelier overhead. She raised a hand to shield her eyes.

"Miss Edwards, you're awake."

The door opened, and Sophia saw a maid, who she recalled after a moment's thought. Surveying the room, she recognized it as a hotel suite.

"Miss Edwards, are you feeling better? Is there any discomfort? Shall I call medical assistance?" the maid asked respectfully.

"No, thank you. I feel okay," Sophia replied, sitting up and throwing off the blanket. Remembering the banquet, she asked, "Has it already ended?"

"Yes, this room was set aside for guests during the event," the maid replied,her eyes flickering. "After the security guard rescued you, we brought you here."

"A security guard?" Sophia asked in surprise. Why would it be a security guard? She clearly remembered someone calling that man's name before she lost consciousness... And that feeling of being held...

"Yes, we rushed over as soon as we heard the commotion. Thankfully, you're alright," the maid said, seemingly unaware that her conversation with Sophia had left her sweating profusely, nervously clutching her own hand so tightly that it left red marks. The thought of the dangerous man who had warned her outside the door filled her with fear.

Yet, she couldn't help but feel puzzled. Why did the man ask her to lie to the woman in bed? It was obvious that he was the one who had saved her...

Unable to understand the situation, Sophia chose to believe the maid's words. After all, why would that man help her? A man who loathed her so deeply would surely watch her drown with cold indifference... But then, what about that embrace?

Chapter 2: First Encounter

Sophia shook her head, unwilling to dwell on her thoughts. She got up, slipped on her shoes, and stepped down from the bed.

"Are you leaving now?" The maid's face flushed with embarrassment. "Mr. Pierce mentioned he left already and asked you to return on your own."

Hearing this, a bitter smile appeared on Sophia Edwards' lips as she nodded. "I understand. Thank you for taking care of me."

"It's no trouble, Miss Edwards. May I accompany you downstairs?"

Taking in the woman's slightly frail figure, the maid couldn't help but feel sympathetic. However, Sophia declined her offer with a shake of her head, choosing to take the elevator down alone.

It must have been late at night, as the heat of the day had dissipated considerably, replaced by a faint chill in the air. As Sophia stepped out of the building, a gust of wind greeted her. Her gown was still damp, and after surveying the deserted street, she began walking towards the seaside villa.

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