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Joshua (The Casanova Club #2)
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January 1st, 2019
The journey has begun—in the frozen north.
All the way to Canada to meet my first Billionaire Bachelor.
Joshua Curtis. Dark hair. Beyond hot. An artist?
How in the world do you make a billion dollars in art? I’m clearly in the wrong business.
This new journey is thrilling. Scratch that. Terrifying.
What does he expect from me? Or think of me?
Probably that I’m a cookie-cutter version of everyone else on their long list of “must-have” qualities. Yikes. He’s about to get a lovely wake up surprise.
Like signing up for a purebred horse and getting delivered a half-ass donkey. Ha!
I’ll just keep my cool and breathe deeply. It’s just a month.
It doesn’t matter. I have to keep my eye on the prize.
There’s a million dollars at the end of the road waiting for me. And it has the power to fix everything.
I got this. I think. Oh hell, I have no clue what I’m doing.
But I just have to survive the month, and then the months after that, and I’ll be right where I need to be.
Accepting the check from Jackson Lee at the end of the year.
Then I’ll walk away. No regrets. Or will I?
What if he’s romantic? The kind of guy that lives out of love and isn’t shy about it?
Oh man. Please let him NOT be that guy. I can’t fight against that kind of guy.
This year is about money and helping the family.
After it’s over, I’ll fall in love. Unless I do before it ends. Ugh.
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December, 2018: New Year’s Eve
“What’s her name?”
I looked up at my father. He had his back to me where I sat on the burgundy leather sofa in the living room. I could see the end of his tobacco pipe jutting out to the side as he took a draw. Then with a slow exhale, a little plume of smoke rose up between him and the glass window. The greenbelt behind the property was heavy with snow that pulled the branches of the trees down to the earth.
“Piper,” I said. “Her name is Piper James.”
My father continued to stare out at the winter wonderland behind his and my mother’s home. I’d grown up here. I had memories of being a young boy sitting under the twelve-foot Christmas tree that stood nestled between the brick fireplace and the winding stairs that led up to the second level of the house.
Some might have called it a mansion. The old logwood house was nearly eight thousand square feet, with eight bedrooms and six bathrooms. It contained a billiard room, a cigar lounge, two dining rooms, three living rooms, and two kitchens. It was completely unnecessary, but my father had inherited it from his father before him, and it would forever remain within the family. The idea of living anywhere else after my parents left this world was preposterous.
It was the home I was raised in, and it would be the one I returned to when it no longer had anyone inside to care for it.
“What do you think about her?” my father asked, finally turning from the window to regard me with curiosity. We’d been talking about the first day of January for the last week and a half. It was all we’d talked about over Christmas dinner, too. My entire family was curious about the whole thing. I couldn’t blame them. I was chomping at the bit with anticipation.
Piper would land in Quebec City on New Year’s Day.
Then, she and I would have the entire month together, and in that time, I would discover whether she was the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with or not. If she was, which was as preposterous of a thought as not coming back to live in my old house, I would have to endure the rest of the year wondering if she was starting to develop those feelings for the other eleven Casanova men.
“I like her,” I said as my father walked from the window to sit down on the sofa across from me. His pipe was no longer smoking, and he set it down on the small tray on the coffee table next to him.
“That’s it? You like her?”
What else was there to say? I’d only spent a grand total of twelve or so hours in her company, and in that time, the other eleven men had been there taking up space and her energy. “It’s hard to tell this early on, Dad. She seems like she’s really kind. And patient. And selfless. But she’s also clever and honest. I don’t know. There could be something there.”
“But you’re afraid,” he said.
“Should I not be?”
My father shook his head. “In your shoes, I would be nervous, too. But you must have faith. Faith in the process. Faith in yourself. Everything will work out as it has already been intended.”
“Maybe I won’t like the intended outcome,” I said.
“No. Perhaps not.”
I sighed and rubbed at my forehead. All this stress had taken a bit of the enjoyment out of the holidays for me. I’d been unable to think of anything else besides her. And there was a lot about her worth thinking about.
I was intrigued by the way she’d handled herself during the interview process. Her answers were genuine and honest, and of all the other women, she’d been the only one who hadn’t rehearsed her answers in front of a mirror for months leading up to the moment where we were all finally face to face. Her responses were organic and said more about her than the cookie cutter answers the other women gave us.
And I’d learned a lot from those answers.
She didn’t scare easily. She wasn’t intimidated by a room full of men who were eyeing her like a cut of meat. She was headstrong, determined, and a hell of a fighter to get herself into the Casanova Club at the last minute the way she did.
Not only was she fierce as hell, but she was equally beautiful. Those big red lips of hers and those dark eyes—eyes so dark a man could get lost in them if he stared too long—captivated me. Her fair porcelain skin and long shiny brown hair complemented everything about her, and her soft appearance was a curious contrast to her bold personality.
I needed to know more about how all the pieces fit together. I needed to have time alone with her to figure her out and, if I was lucky, find out what the core of her driving force was.