Millions of book lovers–and this unashamed romance addict–will agree that there’s nothing quite so…um… “exhilarating” as a good, old-fashioned enemies-to-lovers romance. Because, let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a bad boy?
If you’re like me, and constantly on the lookout for your next binge-worthy romance (preferably with a gorgeous bad boy), look no further. S. S. Sahoo’s The Arrangement–one of the hottest new enemies-to-lovers romance series. Another reason why this epic slow-burn romance will be your next book obsession? It’s available as an immersive story on the Galatea app, meaning you can dive straight into the story world with visual, sound, and vibration effects. (Or experience the classic ebook or audiobook, of course!)
Meet Xavier Knight, New York City’s most scandalous playboy. He’s the only child of Brad Knight, the wealthiest billionaire in the city, and soon to inherit Knight Enterprises. That is, if Xavier doesn’t self-destruct first…
Known for his explosive temper, appetite for supermodels, and wild parties, Xavier Knight is every NYC tabloid’s favorite billionaire. But after one too many public scandals, Xavier’s father gives him an ultimatum… Marry penniless nobody, Angela Carson, and clean up his public image, or lose his inheritance forever.
I don’t know what came over me when I decided to pay Angela’s family a visit for Thanksgiving.
Maybe it was morbid curiosity.
Maybe I wanted to see what a shameless social climber’s family looked like.
Maybe I wanted to get dirt on her so I could run her out of the city before our dreaded wedding day came.
But all I found was an awkward time around the dinner table and a terrible meal.
I took another bite of turkey, somehow managing to keep a straight face.
No matter how much I drenched it in gravy, it still felt like taking a bite out of the freaking Sahara Desert.
I looked up to find the oldest brother offering me another spoonful of muck. He was obviously trying to be polite, but I knew he was forcing it.
I could feel the straight-up hostility rolling in waves off of them all.
“Please,” I said, holding out my plate for more tasteless stuffing. “My compliments to the chef.”
“At least someone remembered to bring the pie,” the other brother commented. He was trying to fill the silence. “You could’ve just told us you were bringing him along, Angie. About the engagement. The wedding…”
“I-I wanted it to be a surprise,” Angela choked out.
“Well it sure as hell was a big one,” her dad muttered. He stared at me, and I plastered a fake smile on my face in return. He was definitely wearing his years pretty heavily. It looked like he’d just gotten out of the hospital.
“So, how did you two meet?” he grunted out.
“It’s a funny story, actually.” I gave my supposed fiancée a razor-toothed smile. “But Angela tells it better than I do.”
She immediately turned beet red. Her face looked like it had been cooked in an oven for way too long. I poked at the dry slab of meat on my plate.
I’m sure you can relate.
“We kind of met unexpectedly…”
I sat back and listened as Angela spun some nauseatingly romantic tale of how we met at a hole-in-the-wall dim sum place. I contributed with nods and smiles and a chuckle or two at the appropriate times.
I’m not sure what I’d expected to find by going to Angela’s house.
A den of snakes?
A traveling gypsy family of scammers?
I’d expected them to try and butter me up. To suck up to me, to try and flatter the big fish that their daughter had caught on her string of lies.
But as far as I could tell, they looked like a boring, regular old family. They were overprotective and worried about their precious daughter and sister. In their eyes, she could do no wrong.
She was a saint.
But this angel was lying through her teeth.
I watched her with narrowed eyes.
Speaking on a completely superficial level, Angela was a stunner. There was no denying that. She had luscious blonde hair, bright, intelligent eyes, and the type of body that would have any man daydreaming.
She was girl next door meets Playboy magazine.
“Sounds like you two are moving real fast,” the dad said. “What do you like about Angela? What made you propose to my daughter?”
“Dad!” she protested.
I glanced at Angela. Her doe eyes were wide and pleading.
I could have just spilled out the truth of it all right then.
Told her family her dirty little secret.
But that wouldn’t have done me any good.
All I knew was that if I married this woman, Dad would guarantee me my position at the company. That I would eventually be given my birthright as CEO of Knight Enterprises.
And if that meant fooling this hick family from New Jersey, then so be it.
“What’s not to like?” I asked. I gazed into Angela’s eyes. “Your daughter is beautiful. She’s compassionate, and the kindest woman I’ve ever met. And I know that she’s going to be honest and loyal for the rest of our lives together.”
Angela flinched, and she had the decency to look down in shame.
“Hmm…” Her father grunted and shoved a spoonful of mashed potatoes into his mouth.
He didn’t look entirely convinced, but he let it drop for now.
I felt Angela’s hand squeeze mine underneath the table. She glanced over at me and mouthed a silent thank-you.
For a split second I felt the tension in my shoulders relax. My annoyance and anger faded away underneath her touch, and I found myself lost in her eyes.
But then the rational part of my brain curbstomped the stupid, sentimental side.
I pulled away from her, angrier than before.
Don’t fall for her tricks.
All women ever want is your money.
And if you let your guard down even for a second, they’re going to rip your heart out.
“Looks like the game’s back on,” one of the brothers said. The men jumped at the opportunity to escape the awkward dinner conversation. I didn’t blame them.
“I’ll take care of the dishes,” I said as they began to pick up their plates. “It’s the least I can do, being a surprise guest and all.”
“Thanks, Skip,” her dad said. He began to wheel himself over to the living room before he stopped and looked at me. “You a football fan?”
“Of course,” I said. “Screw the Eagles.”
He grunted his approval before disappearing into the living room, his sons following him.
But the most problematic of the bunch decided to stay.
She silently helped clear the table, refusing to meet my gaze.
“What’s in this for you?” I demanded.
I nearly dropped the plate I was holding.
“Do you have some dirt on my dad or something?” Xavier continued. “Why does he want me to marry you?”
“I’m not blackmailing anyone,” I said.
“Then why is he doing this to me?” He stepped closer and towered over me. But he wasn’t trying to intimidate me.
For the first time since I’d met Xavier, he looked sincere. His open, confused expression wasn’t an act.
“Be honest with me,” he said, his voice low.
Butterflies fluttered in my stomach.
My heart pounded in my ears.
This was a glimpse of the man behind the cruel mask.
He was extending an olive branch.
Will everything be okay if I tell him the truth?
Will he hate me less? Hate me more?
Will we be able to have an actual relationship?
I opened my mouth, but the words wouldn’t come. The truth was sealed behind the contract I’d signed with Brad.
“I…I just really like you, and I thought we could have a happy life together.” The words sounded flimsy and weak, even to my own ears.
Xavier’s face darkened, and I watched the olive branch catch fire before me. He withdrew from me, that cruel, cold mask slipping back into place.
“You’re wrong about that,” he said, his words as sharp as a knife. “Our life together is going to be anything but happy.”
“THIS ISN’T REAL! THIS CAN’T BE REAL!”
Em mirrored my thoughts as she kicked off her shoes and ran across the heated marble floors.
I looked around at the bridal suite of the Knights’ Tribeca hotel. The place looked more like a museum than a room. It was all so picture-perfect.
But I couldn’t even muster the slightest bit of excitement within myself.
In the week between Thanksgiving and the wedding, Dad had had another stroke.
They’d put him into a medically induced coma a few days ago. I’d wanted to rush to his side, but Lucas and Danny told me there was nothing I could do. He was stable.
And they didn’t know how long he’d be in a coma for…
I felt tears welling up in my eyes.
Dad wouldn’t be there to walk me down the aisle.
Em returned from the grand kitchen and handed me a glass.
“Mimosas?” I frowned down at the drink. “It’s barely past lunch.”
“Girl, if there’s any day you can drink a bit earlier, it’s today.” She sipped at her own cocktail. “You’re getting married.”
I’d told Em the same story I told my family. I’d been telling the lie so often I was almost starting to believe it myself.
“A toast to you,” Em said, clinking her glass against mine. “I’m so happy you’re happy.” She looked right at me as she said it, her eyes searching mine. It was almost like she was waiting for me to confirm it.
A knock at the door saved me from answering. Em scurried over and opened it, revealing a gaggle of fabulous-looking women in all-black uniforms.
“We’re the bridal team,” the one in front said. I noticed Sky, the makeup artist from the photo shoot, among them.
The women marched into the room and began setting up their stations in the bedroom-sized bathroom. One of them pointed at me and, with a rough flick of her chin, gestured for me to follow.
They worked on me for what felt like hours. The women were like a quartet of angry fairy godmothers, whipping Cinderella up into shape before the ball.
I wasn’t used to being pampered. Whenever I lifted a finger to adjust something, I’d be scolded with hard stares and sharp hisses.
They used beauty products on me that I’d never seen before in my life.
Apparently my dress was personally designed by somebody named Alexander Wang.
I felt numb. Almost like I was having an out-of-body experience. But when they were all finished with me, when I saw myself in the full-length mirror, everything came into sharp focus.
That isn’t me. There’s no way.
But it was. My skin was wrapped in a gown meant for a queen. The way it draped and clung, the way the ivory made my skin glow, the way the corset hugged my figure and the train fell straight behind me on the floor, it was all perfect.
“OHMYGOSHOHMYGOSHOHMYGOSH,” Em squealed and ran toward the reflection, ogling the dress.
“You look so beautiful. You look so royal. What is this dress? Where can I get one?”
“Em,” I said after a few seconds, my eyes still locked on myself in the mirror. “This is happening. I’m getting married.”
She stepped closer to me and squeezed my hand. “You are, Angie. You are.”
Em had gone to take her seat in the front pew—while she was my maid of honor, Brad had insisted only Xavier and I were to stand on the raised platform. The bridal team had left, too, so it was just me, alone, in the too-big suite. In the dress that I shouldn’t be wearing, with my hair all done up, and my face contoured and highlighted.
This was it.
I took a deep breath and another gulp of champagne, and then I opened the door and stepped outside. The second I did, I heard my name called from down the hallway. I turned to find Danny, looking all dapper in a tux. I knew that he didn’t own a tux, and it was probably rented or borrowed from a friend, and that made me smile. That felt normal.
“Hi, Danny,” I said as he bear-hugged me.
“You look stunning,” he said. “This is crazy.”
“I was hoping to catch you before…you know, your big moment,” he said, and he couldn’t quite look me in the eye. “Lucas is holding our seats in there, but… Look, sis, I know we’ve given you a hard time about this. But you gotta know, Angie, we’re proud of ya. Dad is too.”
“You think so?”
“He’s proud of everything you do, you know that. You’re the smart one,” he said. And I knew he meant it, which weighed on my heart even more. “But if that son of a gun ever does anything to hurt ya, you know we got a crowbar the size of Kentucky in our shed.”
I couldn’t help the tears welling in my eyes. “I know, Dan,” I said, trying to look at the ceiling so the tears wouldn’t drop and ruin Sky’s hard work. I wasn’t feeling very smart. “Thank you.”
He squeezed my shoulder in that brotherly way. “I’ll see you in there.” And then he was walking back down the hall.
I took a gulp of air. Now it was all on me.
“Hey,” he shouted, almost at the door.
“Don’t trip,” he said. And then he walked inside the room where my future would be decided. And, step by step, little by little, I did too.
The nerve of that girl. I couldn’t believe she was going through with the wedding after what I’d said to her. That sealed the deal. She was definitely in it for the money. No self-respecting, normal, nice girl would ever marry the man who told her he hated her. At the wedding photo shoot, no less.
I’d basically spelled it out for her on Thanksgiving that our life would be a living nightmare.
I looked out at the room in front of me. Dad had planned everything down to a T. The biggest ballroom at our hotel in Tribeca, white lilies covering every surface. Five hundred people there to watch the spectacle, to see his only son turn into a man.
If this didn’t prove how much I wanted the job at the company, then nothing would.
And then her face filled my head. The other her. The one who had made me think I was capable of love and then smashed my heart right in front of me, laughing all the while.
Just as I was starting to get worked up about my past, the violinist started playing. It was time.
I saw my dad in the front pew looking as pleased as ever. I had to admit, it was nice to see him like that, smiling and having fun. He and Mom had been so in love their whole marriage, right up until she passed. He’d become more stoic after, more reclusive. But there, in the pews, he was laughing and hugging everyone.
The grand doors opened, and my eyes shifted to the back of the room. The people in the pews rose to their feet. I thought of my parents’ marriage, and how beautiful it was. This wasn’t going to be that.
This girl better be ready for the worst marriage of her life.
This hypnotic romance smash-hit has left its millions of readers breathless and desperate for more. It’s available exclusively on the Galatea app in ebook and audiobook formats. Or, check out the immersive story version for a revolutionary reading experience!