Chapter 9.1 : Not Mrs. Marin (part 1)

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I'll meet you at the suite. 7pm. Santino will take you in my car.

I stare at the text message from Raul. I haven't seen him since I left for the office, having been in meetings with his two other assistants all day. His only assistants now, I have to remind myself. Someone else will be doing the work I've had for the past five years.

Oddly, this thought bothers me less than I thought it would. I liked my job. Keeping Raul's office running smoothly and efficiently so he could run the company well gave me the satisfaction I didn't get anywhere else. What will I be doing now? We haven't discussed me taking another job somewhere else, although I'm almost sure he won't try to stop me if I do. He's a busy man, and this isn't a real marriage. I only need to show up to family events and parties where he's expected to have his wife with him.

As for sex, well... He isn't expecting that from me. Why would he? He could have his pick of dozens, probably hundreds of other willing women. Not that he's breaking our agreement anytime soon. I know him well enough to know he'd stick by it. We are allowed one lover a year. He's probably already setting up a mistress at a nice, posh, discrete apartment somewhere in the city.

No, Raul won't care what I do. People might find it strange for the wife of someone so ridiculously wealthy to be looking for work, but that's fine with me.

There is no one in the suite when I got in. Not a surprise— Raul would be late to everything if I didn't remind him to get moving. What is unexpected is the large bouquets of lilies all over the place. There is a white box tied up in silver ribbon beside the biggest of the bouquets on a table, a card attached to it with my name on the outside written in a strong, familiar hand. I unfold the card and read the note.

I hope you like it. See you in an hour. - R

I undo the ribbon and open the box, catching my breath at the sight of the purple silk under several layers of tissue. A dress. Raul got me a dress.

With trembling hands, I lift it out the box — only partly because it's a full-length dress — and stare at it in confusion. Do we have some kind of function we have to attend tonight? If we did, no one told me.

It's an elegant dress, with a simple sheath cut. I like simple, but I never wear a neckline cut so low or anything that showed off so much of my back. Sighing, I bring the box with me into the bedroom. Whatever. It's not like anyone else will be seeing me in this anyway.

My plans to take a quick shower change when I find a steaming bubble bath waiting for me in the ensuite. It had actual rose petals scattered all over the bath foam and the marble floor. Scented candles surrounded the huge tub, along with a box of matches with the hotel logo on it. A bottle of red wine and a glass is on a small side table by the tub.

I sigh, taking in the lovely scent of lavender and orange blossoms wafting from the hot water. I can never resist a bubble bath. How the hell did he know this?

It doesn't take long for me to strip out of my grey suit and shoes. I pour myself a glass of wine before lowering myself in the water. Shit that feels good. I didn't realize how exhausted I am until the hot, scented water envelops my body. I take a sip of wine and lean back against the side of the bathtub, a smile on my face.

I thought it was odd that Raul's note said he'd be here in an hour, but now I know why. It's just enough time for me to enjoy the bath and get dressed. It never takes me long, especially since the only makeup I have on hand is lipstick and face powder. None of my sensible underwear, however, suited the dress. A bra is out of the question. And it takes me an agonizing minute to decide to not wear panties if I want to avoid lines marring the flimsy silk dress. No one else is going to see me, I remind myself as I slip back into my grey pumps.

There's a soft knock on my bedroom door.

To my horror, my heart is racing as I make my way to the door. Jesus, I need to calm down. It's dinner, that's all.

If I already feel half-dressed wearing no underwear, the way Raul's gaze slides over my body makes me feel completely naked. He must sense my sudden impulse to run away because he takes my hand.

"You look beautiful, Mrs. Marin," he says, giving my hand a comforting squeeze.

"Thank you." My words come out in a half-whisper and I resist the urge to lower my eyes to avoid his searing gaze. "You know I'm not taking your last name, right?" I blurt out.

He laughs. "I know. But you're free to call me Mr. Berano any time you like." He gives me another once-over. "It's a pity I don't get to show off my new wife to the public tonight."

"We're not going anywhere, are we?" I must sound desperate because he gives another low chuckle.

"No, room service just brought up dinner. Come."

His hand is warm as he leads me to the dining room. If he can hear the furious beat of my heart, he doesn't show it. He's wearing a white shirt under a light grey suit, but no tie.

"I feel a little overdressed," I blurt out.

"You're perfect." He leans close as he says the words and the scent of his cologne makes me catch my breath.


Next update will be on Wednesday, August 3. Please don't forget to vote for this chapter if you're enjoying the story!

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