The Billionaire's Christmas Proposal

By: Victoria James

He dropped his keys in the silver bowl on the hallway table and turned to the woman who always seemed to be on his mind. He hated to think how close she’d come to getting hurt.

“You sure you’re okay with this? Danielle can be very endearing, but most of the time she enjoys being a pain in the ass,” she whispered, scrunching up her nose. Allie was the only woman who’d ever managed to consistently intrigue him and appeal to him on every level. After she’d turned him down—three times—he’d expected his attraction to her to go away. It hadn’t. In some ways, it had only increased, because he’d gotten to know her even better. And she was everything he’d ever wanted. Allison was nothing like the women he knew, and because of that she had effectively ruined all other women for him.

“Are you sure it’s okay for Hook to stay here?”

He looked down at the dog who was pretty much the size of an overgrown gerbil. Hook was looking up at him with that one eye. What could he say? “Of course.”

“C’mere, Hook!” Danielle yelled. Hook ran off in the direction of her voice, his nails scraping against the marble entry tile until he gained traction.

She unbuttoned her god-awful raincoat, and he took it from her hands. He told himself he shouldn’t be checking out a woman who’d just been in a fire and was now vulnerable, but he’d worry about what kind of a man that made him later. Right now a little admiration was fine. And he did admire. Allie came up to his shoulder, all curves and sweetness that he wanted to sink himself into. She was beautiful in a way that could be subtle or striking depending on what she was wearing, but she was always gorgeous. Even this morning, standing in his foyer with rubber boots up to her knees, reindeer pajamas, and a threadbare University of Toronto T-shirt. She sneezed three times in a row then blew her nose after fishing for a tissue in her coat pocket.

He had never wanted a woman more.

“Bless you,” he said.

“Thanks, I think I caught a chill out there.”

He frowned again, thinking about what she’d been through. “You shouldn’t have walked all that way to my office. I would have picked you up.”

She waved a hand and pulled off her boots. She was wearing red and green polka dot socks. “You’re already doing more than enough. I know you need to get back to the office, and I need to get to work—”

“You can’t go to work today. You should call in sick.”

She pushed off a clump of wet hair from her forehead, and he resisted the urge to offer her a hot shower, preferably with him. “People need me. I can’t bail.”

“What about clothes?”

She groaned as her sister emerged at the top of the hallway. “I was thinking the same thing. Also, I don’t think I should have to go to school today. I’ve been traumatized.”

Ethan grinned at Dani’s suddenly forlorn look. “I’ll give you a credit card, Dani. Go buy some stuff for yourself and Allie while she showers and gets ready.”

“Uh no,” Allie said, shaking her head and putting up her hand to silence her sister. “We can’t accept—”

“Sure we can.” Dani sidled up next to him.

“No, we can’t. Oh my God, Ethan, don’t give her your card,” Allie said, her voice rising to a screech when he handed her sister his Visa.

Dani grabbed it and stuffed it in her jeans after asking for his PIN. Her hand was on the doorknob, and she yanked the door open. Allie shut it before she could get out and then whipped around to look at Ethan. Her blue eyes narrowed. “You cannot give her access to this kind of money. We may never see her again.”

“You’re too funny. I know how to be responsible. I’ll get the basics. Boring work clothes for you and some cool new stuff for me. I really do need to insist on taking a personal day.”

“Buy only what we need to get by for the next week. Then if you are really wiped you can take the rest of the day off to relax here.”

“Well, I think I might stop by school to get some homework assignments…and let everyone know what happened,” she said, suddenly looking excited at the prospect of reliving her drama.

“Dani, I think I’m too tired to even argue.”

She gave a little shrug and then held her hand out, palm open in his direction. “Can I have the keys to your Porsche?”

He choked out a laugh as Allie gasped. “Sorry, kid. Take a cab.”

“Subway, Dani.”

“I think I like Ethan’s way of thinking.” With that she was gone, and he was alone with a furious Allison and Hook, who happened to be attempting a jump on to his sofa. Sadly, it didn’t look like it would happen anytime this century.

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