The Billionaire's Christmas Proposal

By: Victoria James

Ethan stood as soon as the door was shut, and he cursed the entire way to the liquor cabinet. His brother usually got under his skin, but today was a whole new level. The competition. The mention of the time of year and his health. But the worst was what this was going to do to Allie.

He had to tell her that he was going to be one of the guys responsible for closing the shelter.

Chapter Three

Allie hung up the phone, relieved she’d managed to contact everyone she needed to. If her sister would hurry and return from her shopping expedition, then she could get dressed and head out to the shelter. She was determined to salvage a little of the day.

The front door opened and seconds later her sister barged into the room carrying what had to be dozens of bags. “Oh my God, it was the best shopping trip evah,” she screamed, dumping everything, including herself, onto the bed.

Allison tried to quell the urge to yell and the looming panic as she spotted all the designer names on the bags. She shut her eyes and tried deep breathing, but it didn’t work, especially when she reopened her eyes and saw her sister pawing the front of a leather Coach purse. She slowly rose. “Dani, you do realize that is going back, right?”

Danielle scowled at her. “Excuse me? Uh, no. Where’s your gratitude? This purse is yours. I bought it for you. It’s large enough for you to put all your work—”

“We can’t afford—”

“I know, which is why it’s so great that Ethan can.”

“I have to repay him, Dani. We didn’t win the lottery. It’s a loan.”

Her sister rolled her eyes and pulled out a pair of UGG boots. Allison shut her eyes and tried counting to ten. None of these useless techniques worked.

“Allie, your problem is that you don’t know luck when it slaps you in the face. Ethan doesn’t need or want you to pay him back. He’s loaded. So why don’t you show a little gratitude because I spent the whole morning giving you a much-needed wardrobe makeover. I bought stuff for work, stuff for play.” She held up a Victoria’s Secret bag and wriggled her eyebrows.

The thought of her sixteen-year-old sister picking out underwear for her was alarming. She didn’t know what the bigger issue here was—the money they now owed Ethan, or a wardrobe picked out by a teenager. She sat on the edge of the bed and tried not to cry. Sometimes it was painful being the only adult. She was her big sister, but she felt more like Dani’s mom. It made their relationship tricky.

“You probably spent two months’ salary.”

Dani paused in her frenzied unpacking, holding a scarf limply in her hand. “Seriously? That’s how little you make?”

Allison groaned and covered her face. What was the point? She’d work out some repayment plan with Ethan later. Right now she needed to get dressed. She had people that depended on her, and the crisis here was over. Her sister had clothes, food, and a roof over her head. Time to move on with the day. “Okay, what did you buy for work clothes?”

Her sister smiled with smug satisfaction and pulled out a pair of dark skinny jeans, a pale blue V-neck sweater, and the UGG boots. “Wait, there’s more,” she said. Allison didn’t breathe. A silver bracelet and necklace followed, then a gorgeous, pale blue push-up bra and underwear.

“Please tell me you bought some sports bras?”

Her sister scoffed. “Puh-lease. You need underwire. It should be mandatory for anyone over twenty-five. I’m aiding in anti-sagging.”

Allison snatched up the clothes and quickly started dressing. “I don’t have time to argue with you. I need to make an appearance at work. I already called your school and told them—”

“Wriggle your hips and then yank them up,” Dani said as she watched her sad struggle with the jeans. She needed to make more of an effort at the gym once she figured out where they were going to live and how she was going to pay Ethan back. And how she was going to save the shelter. Right. So, never.

Dani pulled out a plush terry cloth robe. “I’m going to take a shower in that gorgeous spa bathroom. Then a little pampering.”

“I need to be out of here in ten minutes, so I’m saying bye now. I’ll see you tonight. Ethan left you a key on the front table, but don’t be home late. I’ll help you organize all your school stuff after dinner.”

“Oh, dinner…I wonder what we’re having for dinner. Do you think Ethan has a personal chef?”

Allison opened her mouth, but she didn’t even know what to say. “Do you have cash?”

Dani shrugged. “No, but I don’t need it. I’ll bring this with me to school.” She held up Ethan’s card and flashed it around.

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