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The CEO's Proposition (Sebastian Brothers)

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Powerful. Steadfast. New York’s most eligible bachelor. Rafael Sebastian had been labeled every good and wicked thing in the corporate world. At the stage of my heartbreak from my crumbling marriage, I literally ran into him as a s*xy stranger that hit my hot buttons at first sight. He left me breathless with a single word and an irresistible smile. But there’s more to Rafael than meets the eye. He was an enigmatic force with more secrets than answers. So when we got caught in a media scandal that’s unintentionally my fault, the huge business deal he was trying to close almost plummeted to the brink of failure. To escape the rumors that trapped us, he had a proposition—a tempting solution that could save my pride and his tarnished reputation. But could I really live a life painted with lies? I know this was a bad idea, but that was something I’d just think about later...

Chapter 1

SAVANNAH

My husband didn’t love me anymore. His love burned out for some time now, leaving me with a void in my heart and an ache in my body that I believed would be filled with new flames when the old spark returned.

But the coldness remained. Our usual bond had faded, and the lovemaking didn’t feel as good as it used to. It was hurried and robotic. I tried several times to figure out what had gone wrong.

I married Edward after we graduated from NYU. We’d been together since we were eighteen, so we decided it was time to settle down. I was crazy in love and nothing else mattered but him.

First, he had stopped telling me he loved me. Second, he didn’t want a child. I understood we were busy, but we had been married for five years. Finally, where did he go on Saturday nights, and why did he often change his phone password?

Edward stepped out of bed after our loveless s*x, letting the blanket fall to the floor. “Would you like to join me in the shower?”

“No, I’m still not feeling my legs,” I lied.

“Okay.” He shrugged and proceeded to our bathroom.

I quickly dressed, turned on my computer, and searched for similar questions about what I’d been through.

Is marriage without love still worth keeping?

I deleted the text. That wasn’t the right question. How about...

How do couples stay married?

What? No. I erased the text.

What’s the point of staying married if there is no affection?

Is this my fault?

Do we still love each other? Nope. These weren’t the right questions.

Is my husband cheating on me?

Two weeks later marked our fifth wedding anniversary. I decided to stop worrying about the things that could end our marriage. Maybe things would return to normal after what I had planned for us.

After dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant, we’d rekindle our lost love by looking through old photos and rewatching wedding videos. Then we’d keep our dead romance alive in bed all night long. I had some enticing foreplays planned that would drive him crazy. And maybe, if it all went well, I’d have a mind-blowing orgasm.

My two-week business trip to Los Angeles helped me clear my head. Maybe I was just expecting too much.

I was walking through the airport terminal trying to book an Uber when I bumped into someone, and my phone fell.

“Err. Sorry...”

I’d squatted to reach my phone when I came across a pair of Testoni brown oxfords wrapped in custom gray slacks. I waited for the man to step aside, but he didn’t. Instead, he sank into a gracious crouch to reach for something in front of me. As he stood, I got a glimpse of his S cufflinks and the Rolex on his wrist.

My gaze was drawn to him. His musk and sandalwood perfume made me shiver, but his impossibly handsome face and tall, powerfully built body in a three-piece bespoke suit triggered a tight ball of desire in my stomach.

Whoa. He was breathtaking. Heart-stoppingly breathtaking.

“Are you okay?” he asked as I stood.

I still hadn’t recovered from the shock; hearing his sophisticated voice made my stomach churn.

I was married and only loved one man, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t appreciate incredible male beauty. I could only stare at all that exquisite masculinity.

Dark hair, ocean blue eyes, strong jaw, chiseled cheekbones, and a firmly etched mouth characterize him. There was a hint of softness in the s*xy stranger’s features behind his impassive expression.

“Yeah, sure, thank you.”

I closed my eyes. Get a grip, Savannah.

His brow furrowed at me. “Be careful.”

I couldn’t move after a beat, even though he was already out of sight. I could still feel his powerful pulling force. What the hell was that?

I shook the thought away.

God! I knew I was going to be late. Only then did I rush outside to look for Uber.

My phone’s screen lit up, but the face unlock failed. A strange dark wallpaper appeared.

What’s this? It’s not mine.

The realization made me gasp. Oh, no. This was his phone.

I dashed back to the terminal, dragging my suitcase as hard as possible. I looked around and grabbed a man’s shoulder, but it wasn’t him. He wasn’t everywhere. The s*xy stranger had already left.

D*mn. I only had about an hour for my date. Edward hates it when I’m late, so I ran to the taxi bay and waved for a cab instead.

***

I arrived ten minutes late. Normally, Edward would have complained, but not this time. He maintained his cool.

Thank God!

“I’m sorry for being late.”

Edward quickly leaped up and planted a peck on my cheek. “That’s fine. You just got off a six-hour flight. Oh, this is meant for you.” He took the bouquet from the table and handed it to me.

“Thank you.” I smiled as I sniffed the petals. I couldn’t recall the last time he gave me flowers. He assisted me in sitting. “Have you placed your order?”

“Yes, your favorite. How’s your trip going?”

“Exhausting as usual, but enjoyable. On Monday, I have good news for your aunt.”

I’d worked as a marketing executive for his aunt, Amara Reed. She was the current chairman of New Star Media, a Midtown-based record label. Edward’s only parent was Amara. After their parents died, she raised Edward and his brother Brett.

“I’m sure you did an excellent job. You always do.”

As we discussed my trip to Los Angeles, an Italian full-course dinner was served with a bottle of champagne.

“That’s it! Lily Paige, a singer-actress, will join our company. Amara will be happy because she has always wanted Lily. So...” I raised my champagne glass. “Here’s to our success and our anniversary.”

Edward, too, raised his glass. “Thank you for those years, Savi.”

We took a sip of champagne.

As we ate, I told them more about my two-week trip. I told Edward that I had a good time with Lily and her staff. We took a tour of Hollywood, went to the spa, danced all night at an exclusive nightclub, walked by the bench, and went shopping.

My husband was attentive but unusually quiet tonight. I wasn’t sure if he was even paying attention. I didn’t mind, so I continued.

It was time to give him my anniversary gift.

“Hey, I’ve got something for you.” I reached for my purse, but Edward stopped me.

“Wait.”

“Yes?”

He fixed his gaze on me.

“Let’s talk.”

I stuffed the present back into my purse. “What is it?”

“I was about to cancel this date, but you didn’t answer your phone, so I waited.”

“I lost my phone.” I scowled. “Wait. Did you just say cancel?”

“I know how much this means to you, but—”

“Are you okay? You seemed a little tired. Sure, we can celebrate at home.”

He exhaled. “Please let me finish,” he started yelling.

“Whoa! Okay. You’re making me nervous right now.”

He reached into his breast pocket for something. It was a small blue velvet box. He pushed it towards me as he placed it on the table.

My eyes widened with wonder. I knew it! Edward still had feelings for me.

“Is this for me?” I took the box and sat it on top of my heart. “What is this?”

“Open it.”

I giggled as I untied the blue silk ribbon and lifted the lid. He probably wanted to see how I’d react.

The box contained a ring. His wedding ring. I didn’t realize he wasn’t wearing it until now.

My heart broke. Something was going on between us, but I wasn’t expecting this.

I shut the box and returned it to him. “Why are you giving that to me?”

That was a stupid question. Of course, I already knew why.

“I filed for divorce. I’m sorry, Savi.”

Momentarily, the time froze. With the pressure rising in my chest, my eyes started to water.

“So you really did it. On our wedding anniversary. Is there someone else?”

“It’s not like that. This is not working anymore. We got lost along the way. You felt it too. Look at us. Look at yourself. You’ve... neglected yourself. You didn’t even try to dress.”

I lowered my gaze to myself. Sure, I could’ve dressed better than black slacks and a white dress shirt, but he understood why, and it was never an issue.

“I don’t know you anymore,” I mumbled as tears streamed down my cheeks. I immediately wiped it with my palm. His excuses were lame.

“This is always me, Savi. You only looked at the version you wanted to see.”

No. This isn’t the Edward I knew at all. “In the last eleven years, Ed, we’ve fought and reconciled numerous times. I fought hard. How dare you do this to me when we should have talked about it first?”

“This is why I’m talking to you right now.”

“You said you’ve already started the divorce process. Without speaking to me. You’ve already made your choice.” I hurled the pitiful bouquet at him. “And what are these for?”

“I didn’t want to come off as an *ssh*l*. Look. This didn’t have to be difficult, okay? You’ll get the divorce papers, and all you’ll have to do is to sign.”

Oh, God. He used to be so smart; how did he become such a f*ck*ng idiot? Did he really think that was all I cared about? Did he have to wait until this point to crush me this way?

“You know what?” I got to my feet and grabbed my suitcase. “You are an *ssh*l*.”

“Savannah!” he yelled, but I ignored him and stormed out of the restaurant. My heart shattered into a million pieces.

Chapter 2

SAVANNAH

Eleven years ago...

“Excuse me, Ms. Morris,” Mr. Ward interrupted our literature class. “I need Ms. Gibson at the main entrance.”

I checked the clock. There were only thirty minutes left before the period ended. Did I do something wrong? Or did Michael come home? But my brother said he wouldn’t be home until Thanksgiving.

I excused myself to my literature teacher and followed Mr. Ward to the main entrance.

No one was there.

“Mr. Ward?”

“These kids.” He shook his head. “Well, look at that.”

I wasn’t sure what he was referring to while looking at the wall until I pictured a drawing of a huge pink heart. It had my name scribbled unsightly in the center.

I love you, Savannah Gibson.

My mouth dropped. What the hell?

“Who do you think did this?” my teacher asked.

I shook my head. “I have nothing to do with this.”

“Yes, but this is your name. If you can’t point out anyone, you m

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