Who Wants To Marry a Millionaire?

By: Nicola Marsh

CHAPTER ONE

‘WE HAVE a problem.’

Four words Rory Devlin did not want to hear—especially at his first Devlin Corp Shareholders’ Ball.

He glanced around the Palladium ballroom, ensuring everyone was engaged in drinking, dining or dancing, with no visible crisis in sight, before acknowledging the waiter hovering at his elbow.

‘What kind of problem?’

The kid, barely out of school, took a backward step and he belatedly remembered to temper his tone. It wasn’t the waiter’s fault he’d been dealing with non-stop hold-ups on the Portsea project all day.

Attending this shindig was the last thing he wanted to do but it had been six months since he’d stepped into the CEO role, six months since he’d tried to rebuild what had once been Australia’s premier property developer, six months of repairing the damage his dad had inflicted.

The waiter glanced over his shoulder and tugged nervously at his bow tie. ‘You better see for yourself.’

Annoyed at the intrusion, he signalled to his deputy, who saluted at his ‘stepping out’ sign, and followed the waiter to a small annexe off the main foyer, where the official launch of the Portsea project would take place in fifteen minutes.

‘She’s in there.’

She?

He took one look inside the annexe and balked.

‘I’ll take it from here,’ he said, and the waiter scuttled away before he’d finished speaking.

Squaring his shoulders, he tugged at the ends of his dinner jacket and strode into the room, eyeballing the problem.

Who eyeballed him back with a defiant tilt of her head, sending loose shoulder-length blond waves tumbling around her heart-shaped face.

She wore a smug smile along with a flimsy blue cocktail dress that matched her eyes.

He hoped the links around her wrists and ankles were the latest eccentric fashion accessory and not what he thought they were: chains anchoring her to the display he had to unveil shortly.

‘Can I help you?’

‘I’m counting on it.’

Her pink-glossed lips compressed as she sized him up, starting at his Italian handmade shoes and sweeping upwards in an all-encompassing stare that made him edgy.

‘Shall we go somewhere and discuss—?’

‘Not possible.’

She rattled the chains at her wrist and the display gave an ominous wobble.

‘As you can see, I’m a bit tied up at the moment.’

He winced at her pitiful pun and she laughed.

‘Not my best, but a girl has to do what a girl has to do to get results.’

He pointed at the steel links binding her to his prized display.

‘And you think chaining yourself to my company’s latest project is going to achieve your objective?’

‘You’re here, aren’t you?’

What was this? Some kind of revenge?

He frowned, searching his memory banks. Was she someone he’d dated? A business associate? Someone he’d slighted in some way?

If she’d gone this far to get his attention, she wanted something. Something he’d never give, considering the way she’d gone about this.

He didn’t take kindly to threats or blackmail—or whatever this was.

Having some bold blonde wearing a dress that accentuated rather than hid her assets, her long legs bare and her toenails painted the same silver as her chains, bail him up like this…no way in hell would he cave to her demands.

She wanted to sell him prime land? Put in a tender for a job? Supply and interior decorate the luxury mansions on the Portsea project?

Stiff. She’d have to make an appointment like everyone else. This kind of stunt didn’t impress him. Not one bit.

She chose that moment to shift her weight from one leg to the other, rattling the chains binding her slim ankles, drawing his attention to those long bare legs again…

His perfectly male response annoyed him as much as the time he was wasting standing here.

‘You wanted to see me specifically?’

‘If you’re Rory Devlin, CEO of the company about to ruin the marine environment out near Portsea, then, yep, you’re the man.’

His heart sank. Since he’d taken over the reins at Devlin Corp six months ago he’d borne the brunt of every hippy lobbyist and environmentalist in town. None that looked quite as ravishing as the woman before him, but all of them demonstrating the same headstrong fanaticism.

Eco-nuts like her had almost derailed the company. Thankfully, he had a stronger backbone than his father, who’d dilly-dallied rather than making firm decisions on the Port Douglas project last year.

Devlin Corp had ensured the rainforest in far North Queensland would be protected, but that hadn’t stopped zealot protestors stalling construction, costing millions and almost bankrupting the company in the process.

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