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Melody in the Billionaire’s Arms

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He needs a wife. She needs a hit. Can their contract marriage create the perfect harmony? Ethan Steele, music royalty with a tarnished reputation, needs a makeover. Enter Melody Hart, a talented songwriter with a dream. Fate brings them together in the strangest way and working together seems like the perfect solution. But when the lines between reality and performance blur, will their melody turn into a love song, or a heartbreaking discord?

Chapter 1

Ethan’s POV 

The sterile hum of hospital equipment filled the void behind my blurry vision. My head felt like it was stuffed with cotton wool, each throb a dull echo against the stark white sheets. I blinked, focusing on the flickering light casting jagged shapes on the wall. News. The accident. A fractured memory flickered: headlights splitting the rain-slicked asphalt, tires screaming their final protest, windshield blossoming into a spiderweb of cracks. Then, only darkness.

"…Ethan Steele," the anchor's voice boomed through the TV mounted on the corner. My stomach lurched. My face plastered across the screen, hair bright and glossy and lips in a smirk - "…multiple Grammy awards, international chart dominance… miraculously survived a horrifying crash on the 405 Southbound, early Sunday morning…"

Miraculously? My mangled hand, throbbing even through the haze of painkillers, disagreed. The doctor's grim pronouncement about shattered bones and months of physio echoed in my ears. Miraculously felt more like a cruel joke.

The door swished open, a whirlwind of red rushing in. It was Clara, my ever-efficient manager. Her usually pristine hair was a cascade of auburn chaos, her face streaked with mascara tears, the familiar scent of ambition replaced by an earthy desperation. She fell to her knees, burying her face in my hand, her choked sobs a stark contrast to the sterile beeps.

"Ethan!" she choked, falling to her knees beside the bed, burying her face in my hand. My pulse stuttered, not from the pain, but from the raw emotion in her voice. Clara, the iron lady of contracts and negotiations, crying over me.

"Don't you dare scare me like that ever again," she gasped, tears wetting my skin. "You scared the living daylights out of me, you idiot!"

Idiot. A fitting description for the self-absorbed, reckless fool who almost threw it all away in a bid to outrun the demons in his head. I wanted to tell her, wanted to scream that surviving felt like the worst punishment, that I wished the darkness of the crash had swallowed me whole.

But the words wouldn't come. Instead, I squeezed her hand, a weak gesture against the storm of emotions roiling within me. Clara, ever the professional, straightened, dabbing her eyes with a crumpled tissue.

"Okay, enough waterworks," she sniffed, her voice back to its familiar briskness. "You're alive, that's what matters. The world can wait while you heal. No concerts, no interviews, no social media. You focus on getting better, Ethan. That's your only job now."

Her words hung heavy in the air, an unwelcome anchor tying me to this broken version of myself. Clara was right, of course. But surviving felt like a Pyrrhic victory, a gilded cage with the bars forged from my own shattered dreams.

As the door clicked shut, the news drone on about my "miraculous recovery." A bitter laugh escaped my lips. Miraculous? No, just another chapter in the twisted fairytale of Ethan Steele, the billionaire pop star who couldn't outrun his own darkness. And the worst part? It was only just beginning.

Melody’s POV 

"More?" Felix purred, the word dripping with honeyed condescension as he leaned back in his leather throne. His eyes, the same shade of polished platinum as the trophies lining his mahogany shelves, held a hint of amusement, like watching a flea struggle against a jewelled collar. "But darling, you have everything! Recognition, fame, a mountain of platinum discs that would make Midas blush."

I stared across the polished mahogany desk, my knuckles white against the worn leather of my notebook. "Recognition, sure, the kind that comes from ghostwriting for a dozen pop princesses who wouldn't know a melody if it bit them on the nose. Fame? Maybe, the kind that flashes on gossip pages faster than a firefly in a hurricane. And those discs? Tombstones of my creativity, each one a monument to the songs I poured my soul into, songs I'll never get to sing, songs I'll never truly own."

My voice cracked, a tremor in the symphony of his self-assured bluster. The past year, a whirlwind of studio sessions and airbrushed photoshoots, had bled the colour from my dreams. I was a cog in his gilded machine, churning out hits for faceless stars, my own melodies trapped in the dusty corners of my notebook, waiting for a voice that would never be mine.

It s*ck*d to be a songwriter. It was my greatest gift and a curse. 

"Melody, darling," Felix sighed, his voice a silky thread, "you're not cut out for the spotlight. Songwriters are the invisible alchemists, the puppeteers behind the curtain. Let the stars bask in the applause, while you bask in the quiet satisfaction of crafting their magic."

The "quiet satisfaction" tasted like ash in my mouth. I slammed the notebook shut, the sound a gunshot in the opulent silence. "Quiet satisfaction doesn't pay my rent, Felix," I spat, my voice raw. "It doesn't keep Lila's dialysis machine humming, or put shoes on her little feet. You’ve been using me and paying me less than what I deserve but enough is enough. This is daylight robbery now.” 

Lila, my sister, a fragile dandelion in a world of concrete, the anchor that kept me tethered to reality when the music industry's glitter threatened to blind me. Her laughter was my melody, her smile the sun that chased away the shadows.

Felix's smile faltered, a crack in his porcelain veneer. "Don't bring your personal life into this, Melody. We're talking business."

"This is my life, Felix," I snarled, rage turning my voice into a viper's hiss. "Every song I write is a piece of my soul, and you've been bleeding me dry, fattening yourself on my creativity while I starve."

He rose, towering over me, his eyes glinting with cold steel. "You're replaceable, Melody. A dime a dozen in this industry. This contract, this is your lifeline. Take it or walk away with nothing."

I met his gaze, my chin held high. The fire in my eyes mirrored the anger that had been simmering for months, finally boiling over. "Then I walk," I declared, the word a liberation, a severing of chains.

I turned to leave, the polished floor slick beneath my worn boots, but a sudden, primal urge stopped me. I whirled back, my hand stinging with the heat of a thousand unspoken words. The slap landed on his cheek with the satisfying smack of a thunderclap, a tiny rebellion against his gilded cage.

His eyes widened, fury contorting his face. But before he could react, I was out of there, the echoing click of my heels the only punctuation in the stunned silence.

The hospital air, harsh and sterile, was a welcome slap in the face after the suffocating perfume of Felix's office. Lila, my little sunflower, lay nestled in a bed of white sheets, her face pale against the stark pillow. Dialysis had stolen the rosy flush from her cheeks, but her eyes, the same shade as the summer sky, still held the mischievous glint of a pixie who believed in magic. My beautiful angelic sister would be sixteen soon and instead of spending it in school, probably complaining to her friends about boys like everyone else her age, she was here in the hospital. Every time that I came here, I had to remind myself not to cry and to remain strong for my little girl because I was the only one she had and vice versa so despite wanting to  to the ground and weep over my joblessness, I gave her the bright smile that I always had on my face whenever she was near. 

"Melody!" Her voice was a rusty bell announcing spring. "Did you write another song?"

I pulled a crumpled napkin from my pocket, the lyrics scrawled in messy ink, a melody born from the storm in my heart. "Just for you, little one," I winked, humming the tune, my voice a soft murmur against the rhythmic beep of the monitor.

As Lila drifted off, exhaustion painting shadows under her eyes, I stole out onto the rooftop. The city sprawled below, a constellation of twinkling lights against the inky canvas of night. A figure huddled by the edge caught my eye, a silhouette outlined in the distant glow.

"You shouldn't be there," I said, my voice a surprised breath as the stranger remained on the edge and I wondered if I was wrong to be terrified or if the person just liked to live on the edge and really wasn’t thinking of jumping. 

The figure turned, and I gasped. Ethan, the brooding guitarist whose eyes held the poetry of forgotten constellations, stood silhouetted against the moon, his face etched with shadows. No, that was Ethan when he was nineteen years. The person I was staring at was no longer that young boy with stars in his eyes and innocence but a multiple Grammy winning billionaire artist in his late twenties. 

I was looking at the one and the only Ethan Steele in the flesh. 

Chapter 2

Chapter 2 

 

Melody’s POV 

 

My pulse hammered in my throat, drowning out the city's hum below. The moonlight carved harsh lines across Ethan Steele's face, making the planes of his cheeks seem even more sculpted. His hair, as black as a moonless night, was tamed into a loose man bun, a few strands escaping to dance in the breeze. His eyes, though, were what held me captive. Not the clear green I remembered from our teenage days, but a swirling vortex of hazel, flecked with gold and green, like molten amber capturing the dying embers of day. He was impossibly tall, his broad shoulders straining against the thin cotton hospital gown, like a caged panther. Even with the cast swaddling his right hand, I could feel the raw power radiating from him, a potent brew of talent and danger.

 

But danger was the least of my concerns. My stomach clenched as I noted the white cast, stark against his tanned skin. I'd seen the news articles weeks ago, the paparaz

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