Home > The Billionaire's Holiday Bride

The Billionaire's Holiday Bride
Author: Nadia Lee

Chapter One

Ceinlys Glazier wrapped her slim hands around the cup of macchiato. She’d fallen in love with this particular brew on her honeymoon, when Salazar had taken her to Italy. The whole trip had been perfect, but what she remembered most was sitting together in a small café near their hotel as the afternoon sun slanted over Florence, changing the city’s yellow walls and red roofs to amber and russet, the three dusty lines of hills fading into ever more pastel shades of ocher in the distance. The coffee there had tasted like liquid gold, and had an incredible zing. Since then macchiato had been her favorite.

Her life was peaceful now. Or so she told herself as she sipped the dark java and listened to Debussy, her favorite composer. She’d never particularly liked classical music, but Clair de Lune had a soothing melody.

She closed her eyes. No matter how she thought things through, it was for the best that she was divorced. At least she didn’t have to stay up late wondering where Salazar was…who he was with or what sort of…activities he was engaging in.

But a small part of her hurt anyway.

She took another long swallow. It was none of her business what—or who—he was doing. They were divorced—the outcome she’d wanted. After hearing her son Iain’s confession about how deeply her dysfunctional marriage had impacted him, she hadn’t been able to stay with Salazar. Even though Iain was the only one who’d told her, she suspected the rest of her children had felt it too. And the hurt it had caused her oldest, Dane…

A breath shuddered out of her.

The intercom at the door buzzed, and she arched an eyebrow. Who could it be? She rarely had visitors, which was how she liked it.

She went to the door. “Yes?”

“Hi, Ceinlys. It’s me. Jane.”

Iain’s fiancée. What could the girl want?

Ceinlys unlocked the door and looked at the petite brunette with bright brown eyes and a big smile. She wore a simple sleeveless dress in the shade of a cloudless summer sky and a pair of ballet slippers. Her long hair was pulled back into a ponytail, and her only make-up was a bit of lip gloss.

What would it be like to be out and about so casually? Ceinlys couldn’t remember the last time she hadn’t put on full makeup and the most fashionable outfit before leaving home. And while she was out, she’d check her makeup constantly to make sure it stayed flawless. That had been expected of Salazar Pryce’s wife.

“What a surprise,” Ceinlys said, her tone neutral. The girl had had a lot to do with Ceinlys’s reconciliation with Iain, but that meant she also had the capacity to create a huge, irreparable rift between her and her son. Ceinlys didn’t trust people with that much power over her. “Do come in.”

“Thank you.”

Ceinlys let the door close behind her and led the girl to the living room. “Anything to drink? I just made myself some macchiato, if you want some.”

“Um. I already had coffee. Maybe some juice, if you have any?” Then Jane hastily added, “Or water.”

Ceinlys went to the kitchen, poured a glass of OJ and handed it to Jane.

The younger woman looked around. “This is really nice.”

“Thank you.” Ceinlys took a seat in her curved white leather chaise longue. The couch was one of the first things she’d bought when she’d moved out of the Pryce family mansion. The piece was the perfect size, both for her and the room, and it had been liberating to purchase it without having to consider whether it would please anyone else, especially Salazar. Liberating, but oddly hollow at the same time.

She gestured at Jane to sit. “So. To what do I owe the pleasure of your visit?”

Jane flushed. “Is it that obvious?” When Ceinlys arched an eyebrow, she squirmed. “That I need something?”

“You’ve never visited me socially, so it wasn’t difficult to guess.” Ceinlys kept her diction precise and crisp, the way Shirley Pryce had insisted. When Salazar’s mother Shirley had wanted something, she almost always got it, and Ceinlys had changed the way she spoke to suit her late mother-in-law.

“Oh.” Jane shifted, then placed her juice on the table. “I, uh… Well. Iain and I set the date for the wedding, and we thought maybe it’d be best if we asked for your help planning it and all. I know Hilary and Mark had to delay their ceremony.”

Ceinlys tilted her head, doing her best to hide her surprise at the girl’s request. “Hilary was busy, and there were…logistical challenges,” she said carefully. Her third son had wanted a June wedding. Madness, when he knew so many people and had wanted to give his bride a fairytale wedding. If either of them had thought things through, they would’ve realized June was entirely unrealistic. “When do you plan to get married?”

“Christmas Eve.”

“Well, you don’t need me, my dear. There’s plenty of time still.”

Jane shook her head. “Iain doesn’t want to wait that long. We’re talking this Christmas.”

Ceinlys blinked once. “It’s already October.”

“I know.” Jane bit her lower lip. “It’s my fault, because I kept pushing back on making the decision. I wanted a special date, and then…” She sighed. “It sounds bad, but I was busy with my career, and testifying at the trial and all.”

That was true. Jane had had to testify at the trial of the lowlife who’d tried to kill her and Iain. Thank god he could take care of himself. For the first time in her life, Ceinlys had actually been glad her son knew how to conduct himself in a fight. Still, her mouth thinned. “It’s not going to happen this year, my dear. Why don’t you try for a different date? You’ll need at least eight to nine months to plan something that befits Iain’s social standing.” As the words left her mouth, she winced inwardly. But it was too late to take them back.

Jane flinched and looked away for a moment. When she met Ceinlys’s eyes again, it was as though somebody had kicked her puppy. “You think so?”

“Yes,” Ceinlys said, hating that she was making the young girl feel bad. But there was no way to sugarcoat the situation. Iain was a Pryce, and simply couldn’t have a plebian, run-of-the-mill wedding. “Unless you want to elope.”

“We don’t.”

Ceinlys sipped her coffee. “Why Christmas Eve?”

“My brothers sent me my mom’s journal. I didn’t know she’d kept one, but it had entries about her wedding to my dad. They got married on Christmas Eve, surrounded by close friends and family, and it was an event full of hope and love and festivities—everything that’s right about the occasion and time of year. So Iain and I thought it would be really nice to recreate it for ourselves.” Jane twisted her hands together, fingers tangling like sailors’ knots.

Knowing how Iain felt about holidays, Ceinlys doubted he cared that much about the season. But her son did love Jane, so he would agree to whatever she wanted to make her happy. Still, that love didn’t extend to waiting another fourteen months to make her his wife.

Love was indeed blind…to logistics.

“I know it’s not a lot of time,” Jane continued. “And I know I’m imposing, but I don’t know who else to ask for help. My mom passed away when I was five…and my best friend’s in West Virginia, and she can’t take much time off.”

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