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Prologue

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PROLOGUE


ENRIQUE MONTEIRO started to lose his patience, his lips thinned with irritation. He kept on glancing at the top of the carpeted grand staircase of the Castello Mansion then back to his Rolex watch.

Where in the hell is she? It's already been fifteen minutes since we arrived here and still no sign of her. Damn girl, she's wasting my time. He gritted his teeth and raked a frustrated hand through his unruly dark brown hair.

He stood up and shoved his hands deep in his pockets, emphasizing his tall, lean yet muscular frame. The rich outline of his shoulders strained against the fabric of his Armani gray suit and white shirt, displaying power and confidence.

He strolled nearer to the full-size portrait that hung in the center of the living room. His brilliant blue eyes studied the portrait sharply. It was a picture of a beautiful young woman wearing a peach off-shouldered dress. Her dress was almost the same color as her skin. Her captivating hazel brown eyes, framed by long dark lashes, stared back at him intensely, so compelling and magnetic. A sudden gush of desire overwhelmed him.

Dammit! What is wrong with me?

Denying the effect of the stare to his senses, he blinked his eyes forcefully and stared at the portrait again. Her hair was as dark as midnight, long and wavy that fell in graceful curves down to her waist. She was wearing a set of diamond stud earrings and a crucifix necklace that settled between her firm high-perched breasts. She looked like an innocent princess in a fairy tale movie. His mouth twisted unpleasantly.

This picture is a sham. Everybody knows that she is not innocent. Sophia Castello is reckless, a spoiled brat and a socialite. She is fortunate to be the sole heiress of multi-millionaire Fredo Castello, who owned the biggest agribusiness exporter in Brazil.

Enrique wanted the day to be done. Meeting Sophia Castello, his future bride, was not an anticipated event of his life. He was not ready to get married because he was still at the peak of his bachelor life. He could not just give up dating different women every week and having mistresses all over the globe. However, he had no choice. He had to obey his father's wish: to marry Sophia Castello.

Enrique's father, Joaquim Monteiro, became so forceful in fulfilling his promise to his childhood friend Fredo Castello, to unite their families' wealth through the marriage of their children. His father asserted that the Monteiros were men of honor who fulfilled their promises.

Against his will, Enrique agreed but pledged to himself that he would not be faithful to this marriage. He had the freedom to pursue the lifestyle he enjoyed and continue keeping his mistresses.

Go to hell, Sophia Castello!

He recalled the first time his father opened up the issue of marriage seven years ago. He was still twenty years old, studying Business Administration at Harvard University. His father showed him a picture of fifteen-year-old Sophia Castello, who looked so young and pretty in her blue school uniform. Her long black hair was braided, and she was smiling at the camera, showing her braced teeth. Enrique found her very beautiful but still so much a child.

Joaquim explained to Enrique his friendship with Sophia's father, Fredo. How they fought to defend each other when they were young. He even owed his life to Fredo for saving him from a blazing fire. Each became a protector, confidant, and best friend to the other. They were like brothers. Now that they were older, the desire to protect their wealth became their main objective. They agreed that the marriage of their children was the only way to achieve such an aim.

"Fala sério! You're out of your mind, Pai. An arranged marriage doesn't exist anymore."

"Filho, I gave my word to Fredo. His wife Marcella can't bear another child anymore because of her heart condition. There's no chance for them to have a son to inherit their fortune. Their daughter is a spoiled brat, reckless and irresponsible. She prefers hanging out with her friends rather than studying her lessons." Joaquim shook his head with disapproval. "They have to choose a good husband for her, who is trustworthy and capable of running their business in the future."

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