Bonus scene for “Quarantined with the Billionaire”

posted in: Book Excerpts, Various Musings | 2

****SPOILER ALERT****

Please know that if you haven’t read the book yet, this has major spoilers!!! If you want to snag it and then come back, you can get details here: Quarantined with the Billionaire. Also, this scene–as of May 10, 2020–will be included in the book. But, for folks who got the book before then, this is a bonus scene!

So why a bonus scene? Well…one of my awesome readers, Doreen F., sent me a message on Facebook, asking me to add just one more scene. She’d said the ending felt a little abrupt (I don’t deny that) and she said she would absolutely love to read Maddox’s proposal to Bailey. She wanted to understand how they got to that point. I loved that idea. Thank you for the suggestion, Doreen! This is for you!

Just to situate you in the book…this scene takes place in the last chapter. Bailey is talking on the phone to her best friend, Elise. I have expanded that scene in the book and including it in its entirety here for context. And so, without further ado, please enjoy this bonus scene from Quarantined with the Billionaire:

The sun’s rays lapping at the deck were warm on my bare legs.  I’d stretched out to enjoy the slightly warm air in between the clouds and sprinkles we’d been dealing with all day.  “So what the heck did you need to talk to me about?” Elise asked.  “And make it fast, sister.  I’ve only got ten minutes before the rest of my shift.”

Elise continued working at home, but she still had to clock in and out on her computer, logging her time.  People were no longer in full-on panic mode.  The stock market had done some rebounding, but it would probably take a long while before it got back to where it had been at the beginning of the year.  Fortunately, our jobs weren’t as crazy feeling as they had been the month before.

“Well…I’m going back to school.”

“What the heck?  The promotion Mr. Steel gave you wasn’t good enough?”

“It’s not that, Elise.  I’m going to be doing even more—but Maddox said I would do better if I got a degree in finance.  Besides, he’s paying for it.”

“He’s paying for it?  Through the Employee Assistance Program?”

“No, he’s paying for it.”

“Wow.”  I knew what she was thinking.

“It’s not just a perk of sleeping with the boss.”  No one else was outside with me, but I still felt the need to whisper.  “Speaking of…how are you and Jack?”

“Still amazing!  I finally canceled my subscriptions to the dating sites I was on.”

“All of them?”

“Yep.”

Holy crap.  For Elise to not have a few irons in the fire…  “Sounds pretty serious.”

“It’s kind of getting there.”

“Speaking of which…I need to tell you something.”

“I knew it!  You’re officially moving in with Mr. Steel, aren’t you?”

“Actually…I already did that last weekend.  I just finished unpacking last night.”

“What.  The.  Hell?”

“I know it seems fast…but he’s the one.  I know it.”

“Wow.  I’m happy for you, Bailey.”

“It’s what I wish for you.  If Jack is the right guy for you, I hope you guys don’t drag your feet.”

“I don’t care.  I’m the happiest I’ve been in forever.  Maybe my whole damn life.”

“You deserve it.”

“And so do you.”

I took a deep breath, trying to figure out how to phrase the question I needed to ask—the one I’d wanted to chat about in the first place.  “Feeling that way, I hope you’ll understand where I’m going with this question.”

“Shit.  What?”

“Would you be my maid of honor?”

What?

“You heard me.  Maddox proposed to me on Friday.  And we picked out a ring last night.”

“Are there even jewelers open?”

“No, not now, but he has friends.  He had pictures emailed to him and I got to choose.  Tonight, someone is coming by with it and some selections of wedding bands that match the engagement ring.”

“Holy shit!  What’s the date?”

“About that…  Did you catch the governor’s announcement?”

“No.  Jack told me that it’s not going to look much different.  Except for he might be able to get his tattoo done now.”

“Tattoo?  Ooh.”  It reminded me of the one on Maddox’s back.  And maybe, after I got my degree in finance, we could fill that empty pink room with a real baby.  Things had been moving quickly enough, though.  I didn’t need to get that far ahead of myself.

“So what date, Bailey?”

“We’re wanting to do it in May.  We don’t have any idea when the restrictions are going to be completely lifted, but we already ordered the license and Maddox has a friend willing to officiate.  We’re going to do it here in the backyard, and we just need a couple of witnesses.  You, of course, would be my maid of honor and witness.”

“So no huge dream wedding?  What good is it marrying a billionaire if you can’t even have that?”

“No one said I can’t.  I can do that later.  But I want to marry him now.  The time is right.  I don’t know how to explain it, Elise, but he’s the one, and I don’t want to wait.”

“Who am I to argue?”  I could hear her let out a long breath on the other end.  “So what should I wear?”

“This is the best part!  Get on your laptop.”

Elise completely thawed when I sent her to a website where she got to choose her outfit—with all expenses on Maddox.  “But…Bailey.  Talk to me, girlfriend.  When we left the office back in March, you…you still hated him.  At least, that’s how I remember it.  And I knew you were starting to fall for him, but don’t you think maybe it’s just because you guys are kind of trapped together?  And you’ve been sleeping together, which doesn’t help.  Walk me through this.”

I laughed hard then and stretched my legs out, appreciating the sun’s kiss on my skin.  “I thought you only had a few minutes before you had to get back to work.”

“Work can wait.  I’m the maid of honor in the CEO’s wedding, so I think I can get away with logging back in a few minutes late.”

“If you’re sure.”

“Spill!”

I almost giggled thinking back to that night.  After all, Elise was right.  It seemed so sudden—but Maddox was unlike any man I’d ever known, and he’d said the same about me.  And under fire in the crucible shaped by the pandemic, we found each other’s souls in the dark.

Deciding to marry?  It had seemed so natural—but it had been a topic we’d skirted around until last night.  Maddox had told me he wanted us to enjoy a special candlelit dinner, but he didn’t want either of us cooking, so he pulled up a menu from a downtown restaurant I’d never been to and we went a little crazy eyeing the menu—until we finally settled on shrimp cocktail and a salad for starters.  We both decided to have a ribeye steak as an entrée, and I tried not to let my jaw drop at the prices, reminding myself this meal wasn’t coming out of my bank account.

Maddox clicked on the desserts link.  “Chocolate chip cookies?  That’s it?  These guys usually have amazing desserts.”

“Maybe because they’re delivering nowadays?”

“No doubt.”  He opened another tab, pulling up another restaurant—and then another and another.  A lot of them were temporarily closed and still others were takeout only—and most of the ones bringing the food to people’s houses offered cookies as the only after-dinner treat.  Finally, though, he managed to find an Italian restaurant with a few options that was also delivering.  “We’ll just get dessert here.”

My mind still struggled with how money was often no object for this man.

“What sounds good to you?”

At first, it didn’t look like there were many choices until he started scrolling.  The first option was tiramisu but, having eaten Simon’s, I didn’t want to take any chances.  Hoping I didn’t slaughter the pronunciation of the next item, I asked, “What’s zuccotto?”

Grinning, Maddox took his hand off the laptop.  “If you have to ask, then you have to try it.  Executive decision.”

“In that case, I haven’t had that, uh, spumoni before, either.”

“Then we’ll get that, too.”

My eyes grew wide.  “We’ll have to run an extra mile on the treadmill tomorrow.”

Turning his head to the side, he gave me a look that made my insides quiver.  “I plan to work those calories off you tonight, Bailey.”  My cheeks turned a little pink but a grin covered my face.  Patting my thigh, he said, “Go get dressed.  I don’t care if I can’t take you to a nice restaurant.  We’re going to celebrate here.”

“Celebrate what?”

His lips curled in a way that told me he had a tiny secret.  “Guess you’ll just have to wait to find out.”

Maddox had yet to disappoint me, so I gave him a peck on the cheek and bounced up off the loveseat before he could drown me in a kiss—and then we’d never eat.

Almost skipping up the stairs, I made my way toward the bedroom I now shared with this amazing man, still amazed at how my life had changed so drastically in the space of a month.  Our world was still altered in a lot of ways.  The governor was working on a new phase of people staying at home combined with partially reopening some businesses with restrictions, but it wasn’t the world I’d known earlier in the year.  More than that, though, had COVID-19 not ravaged our planet, Maddox and I would have never gotten to know each other like we had.  I never would have given the man a chance—and he would probably say the same about me.  I couldn’t say we were from two entirely different worlds but, as adults, our paths had definitely gone in different directions.

Until now.

Maddox had more than enough room in his walk-in closet for any and all of my clothing.  In fact, he’d said I didn’t have everything I’d need.  “If you’re moving in with me, Bailey,” he’d said, “you’ll be my date on many occasions.  You have plenty of business attire, but not much in the way of evening wear.”  That was his way of letting me know he was getting ready to send me on a shopping spree.

Online, of course.

But not online in the way the old Bailey would have done—scanning and browsing sites before settling on a few items within my budget, hoping they’d fit properly when they arrived.  Instead, Maddox had a personal seamstress at his beck and call, and she showed me multiple designs over Skype one day and had me send her my measurements.  If they didn’t fit properly, she said, she’d come over to Maddox’s house (probably wearing personal protective equipment) for alterations.

In the meantime, though, she had a beautiful off-white form-fitting lace dress that she’d designed for a client who decided she didn’t want it after all.  She told me I had the perfect figure for it—and I didn’t learn until after I’d tried it on and Maddox nodded his head in approval that the damn thing cost well over a thousand dollars.

How could I ever grow used to that?  A dress that cost more than my rent, more than several car payments, a nice chunk of my student loans.

But, looking in the full-length mirror at how it hugged my curves, I couldn’t resist.  After all, it wasn’t my money.

So, for our candlelit dinner, I wanted to look stunning for Maddox—and the money he’d be spending on dinner should be reflected by what I wore.  When I slipped the dress on and gazed at myself in the mirror again, I brought my hand to the sculpted neckline that plunged in a V, accentuating my breasts.  My collarbone was also highlighted as the neckline swooped out to the edge of my shoulders, and the long sleeves with scalloped edges made my hands look dainty and fragile.  The skirt, though, was the hallmark of this elegant gown.  It flared at the bottom, grazing the floor, pooling around my feet.  Maddox had promised me dance lessons, because he wanted to tango and salsa with me, and I knew if he twirled me around in this dress, it would swell like my heart.

Even with heels, the skirt’s length skimmed the floor.

I loved it even more now.

When I left the closet, Maddox was entering the bedroom.  “I wish I hadn’t seen you.”

“Why?”

“Because,” he all but growled, “seeing you in that thing makes me want to rip it off you and throw you on the bed.  I don’t have any appetite for food anymore.”  Pulling me into his embrace, he brushed my neck with his lips.  “But I’ll behave myself.”  As he brought his lips to my ear, his warm breath made me shiver.  “Looking at you in this all night will make it so much better.”

I held him close as I felt my entire body clench with desire—but I knew having him remove the gown from my frame would be amazing foreplay.  So I brought my lips to his cheek again and placed a soft kiss there.  “I guess I should wait for you downstairs?”

He nodded, letting me go before disappearing into the closet.  When I went to the dining room, I felt a little disappointed, because he hadn’t even set the table—but then I wondered if maybe he’d decided to eat somewhere else.  Maybe the breakfast nook?  Something I hadn’t realized until I’d been here a few weeks was that he had little twinkling lights on the deck that lit up the space in the evening hours—but he didn’t have them on year-round.  Now that the weather was getting a little warmer, we’d spent one early evening out there just as the sun set, and I’d marveled at how something simple like tiny lights merely enhanced the beauty all around me.  The plants were getting greener every day, reminding me that Maddox had his own private slice of nature in his backyard

So I went through the swinging door to the kitchen and stopped in my tracks.  There at the small table Maddox had created our dining space.  All but one small light over the sink area shown and the area was instead lit up with several white taper candles.  The flames gently flickered and, as I approached the table, I was able to admire Maddox’s handiwork.  The linens were burgundy, but the dinnerware was artistic.  The plates were black with what would be best described as a bubble pattern.  They were as unique as the artwork upstairs in the gallery.  And the flatware was polished gold.  Next to the table stood an ice bucket with a bottle of red wine chilling.  And it wasn’t long before I heard soft music overhead, the sounds of a piano gently raining over the room.

I felt so spoiled, so adored.  God, I loved this man.

Soon, Maddox joined me, wearing a black-and-white tuxedo, but I wasn’t sure if it was the same one he’d worn the night we’d danced upstairs.  He held out a hand and I wondered if he’d read my mind.  “I think we need to dance in the great room until the food arrives.”

And so we did.  But Maddox didn’t make me concentrate on waltzing.  Instead, he held me close and we swayed to the music until the food arrived.

Maddox’s money ensured that our meal, dessert included, arrived together.  After slipping our desserts in the refrigerator, he placed our entrées in the oven to stay warm while we enjoyed the appetizers.  Dipping a shrimp in cocktail sauce, he held it up to my mouth before taking a sip of wine.

And then he got up, pushing his chair back before getting down on one knee.

“What are you doing, Maddox?”

“Something I should have done yesterday.  Or the day before.  Something I should have done the night I showed you Madeline’s room.  I knew then that you were the one, Bailey.  You understand me—on a level I don’t think anyone else ever has.  You never questioned why I still think of that baby girl as someone I’ve lost.  You never asked why I kept her room untouched all these years.  You accepted—no, you loved—me for who I am, the good and the bad…and I will never be able to repay you.”  He opened a small black box to reveal a stunning, sparkly ring with one large diamond surrounded by lots of tiny ones—and the flickering candle flames made it look all the more impressive.

“Oh, Maddox, I feel the same way about you.  Only…I…”  My eyes searched his blue ones, never wanting to look anywhere else.  “You make me feel safe in a way I’ve never known before.  And loved.  And pampered.”

“And I always will.  Give me your hand in marriage, Bailey, and you will never want for anything.”  He acted like he wanted to say more, but instead he removed the ring from the box and took my left hand.  When he slid it on my finger, I once more marveled at how perfectly it fit.

Like Maddox.

“Yes.  Oh, yes!”  Leaning over, I kissed that man like it was the last time I’d ever see him.

As I told Elise my fairytale engagement story, she squealed.  “I think I’m gonna cry!”

“Just promise me you’ll be my maid of honor.”

“I already said yes.”

“You can bring Jack, too.”

I smiled, thinking we might give them a few ideas.  Even with Elise’s plus-one, we wouldn’t be over capacity for our intimate gathering in these crazy, crazy times.

Still…life was good.

I was happy and safe.  I couldn’t ask for more than that.

I hope you loved this bonus scene! If you have a second, please drop me a comment below and let me know how you’re doing during these “crazy, crazy times.” I hope you and your family are safe and well.

2 Responses

  1. LaDonna Pigg

    Love this! Definitely just what the story needed! 💙

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.