The Marriage Arrangement

By: Jennifer Probst

A Marriage to a Billionaire Novella





One Thousand and One Dark Nights



Once upon a time, in the future…



I was a student fascinated with stories and learning.

I studied philosophy, poetry, history, the occult, and

the art and science of love and magic. I had a vast

library at my father’s home and collected thousands

of volumes of fantastic tales.



I learned all about ancient races and bygone

times. About myths and legends and dreams of all

people through the millennium. And the more I read

the stronger my imagination grew until I discovered

that I was able to travel into the stories... to actually

become part of them.



I wish I could say that I listened to my teacher

and respected my gift, as I ought to have. If I had, I

would not be telling you this tale now.

But I was foolhardy and confused, showing off

with bravery.



One afternoon, curious about the myth of the

Arabian Nights, I traveled back to ancient Persia to

see for myself if it was true that every day Shahryar

(Persian: شهريار, “king”) married a new virgin, and then

sent yesterday's wife to be beheaded. It was written

and I had read, that by the time he met Scheherazade,

the vizier's daughter, he’d killed one thousand

women.



Something went wrong with my efforts. I arrived

in the midst of the story and somehow exchanged

places with Scheherazade – a phenomena that had

never occurred before and that still to this day, I

cannot explain.



Now I am trapped in that ancient past. I have

taken on Scheherazade’s life and the only way I can

protect myself and stay alive is to do what she did to

protect herself and stay alive.



Every night the King calls for me and listens as I spin tales.

And when the evening ends and dawn breaks, I stop at a

point that leaves him breathless and yearning for more.

And so the King spares my life for one more day, so that

he might hear the rest of my dark tale.



As soon as I finish a story... I begin a new

one... like the one that you, dear reader, have before

you now.





Prologue



“All endings are also beginnings. We just don’t know it at the time.” –Mitch Albom



“You have to marry her.”

Rip Savage stared at the man who’d been like a father to him over the past year. Even now, with worry lines bracketing his eyes and mouth, the older man retained a sense of elegance and grace befitting someone of English descent, even royalty. With his thinning silver hair, thick black framed glasses, and penchant for designer black suits, he cut an intimidating figure, even before one stared into those pale blue eyes that could turn steel grey with stubborn defiance. Of course, Edward Winsor had a reputation to live up to. Within the cliques of vineyards and winery owners in the Hudson Valley, he was well known for his quality vintage and a tightly knit family-run business that competed with Brotherhood Winery for the oldest run winery in the state. His estate was small but mighty, and one of the sought-after blue-bloods that many admired.

Rip had been the only one to know Winsor Winery had been almost bankrupt. Beneath the flawless surface, something rotten had flourished. When Rip was hired to pull the business from ruin, he’d been focused on success no matter what the cost. He hadn’t expected to develop such affection for Edward, or be treated like a son rather than a hired associate.

Therefore, instead of panic, he regarded the older man from across his cherrywood desk with a frown. “I don’t understand. What does Caterina have to do with the winery?”

Edward gave a long sigh, tapping his elegant finger against the etched crystal highball glass that contained his usual two fingers of Scotch. He shifted his weight in his chair, causing the leather to squeak slightly. They were in Rip’s favorite room—the library/study—decorated in bold, rich wines with a hint of Tuscan gold. The fabrics were decadent, from the expensive dark leathers to the Oriental tapestry rugs, and burgundy velvet couches. Bookshelves lined the wall, the scents of old paper and leather bindings with a touch of wood polish drifting in the air. The large bay windows overlooked the acres of rolling property with the view of the spectacular Shawangunk Mountains.

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