Her Lion Billionaire(10)

By: Lizzie Lynn Lee

“Please,” Daniel interjected, “I’d rather not talk about business during a meal. Wait until dessert if you don’t mind. I have prepared our dining courses especially for you tonight.”

“Sorry. And thank you.” Charlotte took another bite. “So delicious.”

Daniel beamed. “That’s only the appetizer, my dear. Wait until I serve you the main course.”

“And what would that be?”

“Sushi night.”

“You,” Charlotte gulped, holding in her laugh, “make sushi?”

“Why, you don’t think I can?” Daniel dabbed his mouth elegantly with the Boutross linen napkin. “From the dossier that my men compiled, I discovered that you’re a sushi aficionado. So I thought to myself it would be delightful if I treated you to a sushi dinner. I was planning to take you to Nobu, but then I was afraid you’d bolt in the middle of the dinner, and there’d be nothing I could do to remedy that situation, so I decided to invite you to my home. In the event you’re compelled to make a hasty exit, I won’t lose face, and the public won’t know the secret we both carry.”

Charlotte blinked. She didn’t know what to say. This guy was unbelievable.

Watching her looking dumbfounded, Daniel laughed softly. “Can you see I’m trying hard to impress you? With the culinary selection, I mean, not the pseudo-kidnapping.”

Charlotte grinned along. “So you admit you kind of kidnapped me here.”

Daniel relaxed, back against the chair, eyes calculating. “I still don’t like that word. Kidnapping is such a vulgar term. First of all, you’re not a baby goat, and secondly, there’ll be no napping involved at all. Can we call this a ‘forced negotiation?’”

She rolled her eyes. “Fine. I wasn’t going to take off in the middle of dinner anyway. I know some basic manners. Kinda.”

“May I take your word as a promise?” Daniel extended his arm and held up his pinky finger. “Promise me you won’t run from me—ever.”

Charlotte just looked at him.

“Come on, for someone who loves Japanese culture, you won’t grant me this little promise?” Daniel wriggled his pinky finger. “You must be familiar with this gesture. Yubikiri genman.”

Charlotte linked her pinky finger with his and sang. “Pinky promise, if I tell a lie, I will drink 1000 needles.”

Daniel let her finger go only to catch her hand.

“How did you know all this?” she asked. Pinky promise was a Japanese children’s pastime they did with their dearest friend. Daniel Addington didn’t show a drop of Oriental heritage in his blood. He was tall, tan and blond—all Anglo-Caucasian.

She’d googled his information and found out that the Addington family came from Pietermaritzburg, a city in South Africa, in the late nineteen century. Harold Addington, the grand patriarch of the Addington family, was rumored to have come to New York a wealthy man. Harold was a mine digger in Kimberley until the diamond strike in 1868. He then squirrelled away a stash of raw diamonds and headed to America. In New York, Harold dabbled in the steel industry and built the family fortune until his golden year. His son, Evan, became an hotelier and opened the first grand hotel on Park Avenue. Daniel was the seventh generation of Addington’s empire and seemed as shrewd as the former family patriarchs.

Daniel rubbed his thumb against the pad of her hand. “Let’s just say, I’ve studied many things that arouse your interests.”

“Including sushi?”

“Including the art of making sushi.”

Charlotte pulled her hand away. “You don’t seem like a guy who likes raw seafood.”

“I must say, I’m not a picky eater.”

“What’s your favorite food, anyway?”

“Steak. Beef and game,” said Daniel without hesitation. “Very rare. Raw almost.”

Why of course. She shouldn’t have been surprised considering what Daniel really was. A lion hunted hot-blooded mammals, not fish or seafood.

Daniel got up and took the plates. “Are you ready for the entrees?”

“Ready Freddy. What are the entrees?”

“Uni and Maguro hand-rolled sushi. I had someone fly the freshest ingredients in from Tsukiji Market in Tokyo. They’ve just arrived this morning.”

Charlotte was deeply impressed. “You’re going to make it now, right? Can I watch? Sorry, may I watch you prepare it?”

“You’re more than welcome.”

Charlotte traded her seat for a high stool by the kitchen counter, watching Daniel work deftly. The uni, sea urchins, still alive, were cooled in the sink. They looked like dust balls, only with long, menacing spikes. She was repelled and yet fascinated by it the first time she saw it. Who would think that kind of stuff was edible? However, she was quite an adventurous foodie and discovered that despite the appearance, sea urchin was delicious.

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