Taming the Billionaire

By: Dani Wade

CHAPTER ONE

Sabatini House. Finally.

Willow stared up at the imposing, impressive castle-like residence through the windshield of her car. The thunderstorm raging around it was only appropriate. A structure as mysterious and unique as Sabatini House deserved an atmospheric introduction.

Unfortunately, since the intercom hadn’t worked when she’d stopped at the gates, Willow now had to figure out how to get inside. It took concentrated effort to relax her fingers on the steering wheel.

The rain pounded her little car, at times completely obscuring the view. Willow had been fascinated with Sabatini House for several years, since she’d discovered mention of its owners, the Kingston family, in her great-grandmother’s journals. But they contained very little about its history, which had only whetted her appetite for more.

According to the rare articles she’d found about the house since then, it was said to have been built by a Spanish pirate for his lover. It featured underground caves that allowed the ocean to actually flow underneath the house to create a swimming cove. In her journal, Willow’s great-grandmother had described the cave from her one and only time sneaking into a party in the house, declaring it a truly magical tie between the land and the sea. As a descendant of pirates herself, that would be something her great-grandmother would have appreciated.

From the outside it still looked like a magnificent castle, with turrets and peaks and arched windows. But Willow was dying for a glimpse of the inside. She hadn’t been able to find any photos or documentation in her research. The current reclusive owner had never allowed anyone else inside besides his caretaker, Murdoch Evans, and the occasional trusted workman.

Until today.

Taking a deep breath, Willow pulled her raincoat around her as best she could. There wasn’t any point feeling wimpy about the rain. She needed to get inside. The sooner she settled in, the sooner she could start looking for clues. As much as the house fascinated her, the secrets it held were what truly drew her here. Secrets about the Kingstons, and one fateful night generations ago, that could change her own history forever.

Her umbrella would be useless in the strong winds blowing off the water. On the count of three, she jumped out of her car and ran for the side door where Murdoch had told her to enter.

With Murdoch gone to Florida to visit his daughter after she’d had a baby, there was no one to cook and clean for the current resident of Sabatini House. She and Murdoch had gotten to know each other well in the year she’d been pestering him for information about the house. When he’d known he was leaving for the summer, he’d hired her to come in on her summer break from teaching at the local college to take care of the place.

Hiring on without even meeting her employer hadn’t seemed that odd at the time. Right about now she was second-guessing that choice.

She’d been due to arrive midafternoon today, but the thunderstorm had blown in early. Packing and driving had become a complicated mess. Living in required she take quite a bit with her, even if she’d be going home to visit on Sundays. Loading the car in the rain had left her and her luggage soggy.

The island would normally have been about a forty-five minute drive from the house where she lived with her sisters in Savannah. Instead she’d been struggling with poor visibility and winds rocking the car for a good hour and a half. So she was now arriving after dark with no warning, since the weather had knocked out the power and phone lines on the island, preventing her from letting her new employer know of the delay.

The rain pelted her with angry pellets as she ran. The flashlight in her hand was her only guide. Reaching the small covered porch was a relief, although not much of one. She fumbled for the key Murdoch had given her.

Excitement shimmered in her belly, even as the effort to get inside exhausted her. She was about to walk into Sabatini House…and hopefully discover all of the mysteries it held.

She knocked hard as she inserted the key and turned it, eager to get out of the rain blowing in under the small porch awning overhead. Giving her new boss a heart attack wasn’t on her agenda, but the heavy streaks of lightning splitting the sky didn’t encourage her to linger. Fumbling with the keys, flashlight and doorknob, she finally got herself inside and out of the blowing rain. Conscious of the unlit alarm keypad on the wall to her right, she allowed herself to lean back against the now-closed door for only a brief moment. Her heart raced.

“Hello? Mr. Kingston?” she yelled.

Considering the constant barrage of thunder and rain, the odds of him hearing her were slim unless he was close by. She hated to burst in like this, but what other choice had she had? The lines had been down when she’d tried to call earlier in the evening, and there wasn’t a cell tower close enough to allow them to work out here. Murdoch had warned her about that. The house was huge, and with the power out there were no lights to guide her.

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