The Billionaire's Captive Bride

By: Emma Darcy

CHAPTER ONE




PETER RAMSEY SAW the traffic controller step out onto the pedestrian crossing, brandishing her stop sign, and slowed his car to a halt. A tribe of preschool children, kept in check by a couple of adults, were lined up on the sidewalk, waiting for it to be safe before heading over to the park on the other side of the road. They were all carrying lunch boxes.

Nice day for a picnic in the park, Peter thought, smiling at the happy little faces.

“Nice car!”

The appreciative comment from the traffic controller snapped his attention back to her. She had a wide infectious smile on her face, bright eyes dancing teasingly at him. Macho male in his BMW Z4 sports convertible being stopped for a pack of kids. She was enjoying her moment of power. Peter grinned back. I don’t mind, babe.

She turned aside to help shepherd her flock across the road just as Peter registered a buzz of interest in his mind. He liked the look of her. Her jeans hugged a very pertly rounded backside and long shapely legs. She was tall enough to be a good fit with his height. The scooped neck top she wore showed off a small waist and very attractive breasts, fulsome but not too big to be out of proportion with the rest of her figure. She was a babe all right.

He even liked the fact that her hair was pulled up into a ponytail—dark hair, almost black, the tail swishing as her head turned, keeping a watch over the safe passage of the children. She had a pert nose, too, slightly turned up at the end, and rather pixie-like ears, no lobes. Her skin was clear and shiny with good health. He couldn’t see any make-up except for the light pink lipstick that matched the pink in her top. No artful attraction about this woman. She was a natural. Mid-twenties? Difficult to tell her age.

The last of the children—a little boy—grabbed her free hand as though it was a highly prized connection, determined on pulling her along with him. I don’t blame you, kid, Peter thought, noticing how the boy looked adoringly at her, which probably meant she was one of the teachers from the preschool, briefly taking on traffic control.

She turned to look straight at Peter again, flashing the lovely wide smile as she waved her Stop sign in a cheeky salute to his patience. He raised his own hand in response, his mouth automatically curving as he had the weird sense of a fountain of pleasure bursting through him. He watched her accompany the little boy to the sidewalk on the park side of the road, wanting to follow her, meet her properly.

A car horn beeped behind him.

He drove on reluctantly, telling himself the impulse was stupid. What would a preschool teacher have in common with him? It flashed through his mind that Princess Diana had worked with preschool children before she married Prince Charles. Their marriage might have gone bad but Diana had become the Queen of Hearts. She’d reached out to people, touched them…

What woman had really touched him in recent years? Peter Ramsey, most eligible bachelor in Sydney, heir to billions and billionaire in his own right, and all too familiar with why he could have his pick of beautiful women. Which was fine for his sex life, but he had never been touched deeply enough for any attachment to last beyond an initial rush of lust. Maybe it was his fault. Maybe he had become too cynical about how much he was worth when it came to marriage.

Even the babe with the ponytail…had she smiled at him because of the car he was driving?

Great smile.

The buzz of interest lingered.

Take a second look, it said. You’ve got the time.

And the inclination.

After the deceitful artfulness of Alicia Hemmings—his recent ex—it would be…refreshing…exciting…to have a woman without any artifice responding to him. Especially in bed. No faking it with an eye to feathering her own nest. Smiling that lovely smile afterwards…

Even while mentally mocking what was probably sheer fantasy, Peter turned his car into the next side street, spotted a parking space and took it. A quick button-press and the convertible hood lifted back in position for secure locking up. Preferring not to be connected to the driver of the BMW, he removed his cap, sunglasses, jacket, tie, undid the neck buttons on his shirt, rolled up his sleeves, then stepped out for an idle stroll through the park.

It was possible he could be recognised as Peter Ramsey, given his high media profile, but who would believe it when he was so out of place? Besides, it didn’t matter anyway. The woman would be surrounded by children, hardly an appropriate time or place to make himself known to her in any sense. Pursuing this impulse was ridiculous, yet the compulsion to go on, if only to satisfy a niggling sense of curiosity about her, had become irresistible. She was different to the usual run of women who peopled his world.

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