The Billionaire's Christmas Proposal

By: Victoria James

He took a step closer to her, noting the way the pulse at the base of her throat quickened, liking that it did. He would have liked even more to pull her into him, feel her, taste her, and then keep her safe, and hell if that wasn’t a first for him.

“I should probably get into the shower and start my day. I don’t want to keep you, either.” She took a step back and stumbled on to the bed. He had to force his gaze off her. He could think of a few good ways to start the day, and for once none of them had to do with the office.

He adjusted his tie, the feeling that his life had just become a hell of a lot more complicated jostling him. Time to go. “I’ll find out about the shelter. I’ll do whatever I can to keep it open.”

“If we win the bid, we plan on closing the shelter and putting up a condo.”

Ethan schooled his features, not giving anything away, as he stared across his desk at his brother. “What shelter?”

His brother rolled his dull eyes. “Haven House or something like that.”

Shit. He picked up his pen and twirled it through his fingers casually, resisting the urge to stab it repeatedly into his desk. He leaned back in his chair and tried to not think of the conversation he’d just had with Allie in which he promised to find a way to keep the shelter open. And here he was less than an hour later sitting in a meeting with his brother discussing the demolition of the shelter she poured her heart and soul into.

“Why would you close the shelter?” He knew it was a stupid question, but he was trying to get his brother to talk and reveal anything that might be useful to him.

Carson scowled. That scowl was probably the only similarity the two of them shared, passed down from a long line of scowling Dane men. “It’s a prime piece of real estate. The landlord wants out. It would be the perfect corner for the condo project.”

“Right. The city really needs another condo.”

“I get you’re not into real estate, but I think you must still have some business sense if you run this company. Okay, so you and Jason—”


“Whatever, you’re tech guys. You won’t know what or even how to come up with a real estate proposal, so you should probably bow out of this before you embarrass yourself. Since when have you cared about the family business?”

He didn’t care about the Dane building empire, not one bit—from a financial perspective. What he and Jackson had built was more than enough, but he did care about the family business on a very personal level. He’d never let on, but it was there, in his gut, in the back of his mind, always. He’d been pushed out, and that wasn’t something that had ever sat well with him. He didn’t like being dismissed by anyone.

Ethan leaned forward in his chair. “We were both at that miserable brunch last Sunday. You know Dad opened this up to the both of us.”

“Which is a mockery. He set you up to fail. I’m sure Mom put him up to it—pity, probably.”

Ethan smirked. “I think you’re the one everyone pities, Car.” He didn’t get the full joy of seeing his brother’s face go all red, as he was busy in his own thoughts about this disaster. While sitting at their parents’ dining room table last Sunday, their father had presented them this “challenge.” Both sons were invited to present a proposal for what to do with the new property acquisition. Whoever won had first dibs on the business when their father retired. The only complication was that Carson had just revealed that it was Allie’s shelter that was the property in question. He’d have to sort that issue out later. Right now, he needed to concentrate on Carson and shaking his confidence. Their father was a manipulator, and this contest was a fine example of how his mind worked. It was a shitty thing to do to Carson, honestly. Carson had worked with their father from day one, while Ethan had gone out on his own. The company should rightfully go to Carson. He had a sneaking suspicion Carson was right and their mother felt that Ethan should at least be given a chance. Since they all saw the empire he and Jackson had created as inferior, they probably thought “poor” Ethan deserved a shot at the family biz.

“Dad opened this up to the both of us. May the best man win or something like that, right?”

His brother crossed his feet at the ankles and smirked. “Then this should be easy.”

“Then again, I guess if Dad were truly confident in your abilities he wouldn’t have set up this contest. I haven’t had to work a day in my life for Dad. Never had to hear his criticism, kiss his ass, you know, all the fun stuff you do on a daily basis.”

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