Home > The Proposal (A Billionaire Romance)

The Proposal (A Billionaire Romance)
Author: Nikki Wild

One

 

 

“Damn tourists,” Danielle Kane muttered to herself as she crept slowly along Highway 30 in her red Prius. Year-round vacationers in their rental cars clogged the coastal roads of Maui, making it nearly impossible for her to drive to work within a reasonable amount of time. Bicycling was her usual mode of transportation, but not on days when she needed to wear a power suit and heels. She was desperately trying to avoid being late for that morning’s important corporate meeting, but as usual the other drivers were leisurely sightseeing at a snail’s pace.

She had no choice but to be patient. There was no escape. No alternative routes. The main highway through the Kaanapali Beach area was locked by the West Maui Mountains on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other. With traffic now at a complete standstill all she could do was wait. She lowered her window so she could breathe in the sweet fragrances of plumeria and gardenia that grew wild on the island. Instead she got a black cloud of exhaust fumes belched in her face from the gigantic dump truck that blocked the view in front of her. She coughed and immediately closed her window back up. Why the hell aren’t we moving? What is going on up there?There’s gotta be an accident….

Finally, the source of the delay came into view. Oh god no….. don’t tell me. The Sugar Cane Train! Oh for Pete’s sake, not the stupid train.

The train blew its loud steam whistle and chugged slowly past Danielle and the rest of the poor souls trapped on the roadway. In her mind it was certainly no justification for traffic being at a dead stop. The train tracks and trestle didn’t even cross the highway. On the contrary, they ran parallel to it. But it was still one of Maui’s most popular tourist attractions and apparently still quite a distraction to many of her fellow drivers.

Her phone chirped in her purse on the seat next to her. Someday I’m going to set up the Bluetooth in my car…. She’d been threatening to do so for months but she just never seemed to get around to it. She dug around in her bag until she found the noisy device, and finally answered it knowing full well it was her friend and work colleague Paolo Santiago.

“Dani, where are you?” he asked nervously. “You’re cutting it kind of close aren’t you kiddo? What’s the hold up? The meeting is starting in fifteen minutes.”

“The island traffic is ridiculous today Paolo. I wish the tourists would stay off the main roads until the rest of us got to work. I can’t believe these people still find the damn Sugar Cane Train so fascinating they have to stop and gawk at it. Anyway, things are moving again. I’ll be turning into the parking lot any minute now. See ya in a few.”

Danielle pulled into the employee lot of the Kaanapali Kai Resort, head on into the same space she’d been parking in for the past three years; the one reserved for the hotel’s marketing director. Before heading inside, she checked her make-up and hair in the rear view mirror: Ugh! How do I always manage to get lipstick on my teeth? She wiped it off with her index finger and took a couple of deep breaths to help her compose herself.

She hated corporate meetings and this one had her particularly on edge. For weeks there had been rumors circulating about “the “Kai” possibly being purchased by a global hotel chain. Her job security, as well as that of her colleagues, monopolized her thoughts. As she grabbed her travel mug of coffee from her car console and her briefcase from behind the seat, she made up her mind to think only positive thoughts. Don’t worry. Everything’s going to turn out fine Dani. It always does.

Upon entering the conference room, Danielle spied an empty seat next to Paolo and slipped quietly into it. It was nearest the door and the obvious choice in her attempt to be as inconspicuous as possible. She leaned into him and whispered, “Has Angela said anything yet?”

“No, you know what a tough nut she is; just the usual icy greetings. I think she’s almost ready though. I don’t mind telling you I’m very nervous.”

“Paolo you’re an awesome hotel manager. I’m sure you have nothing to worry about.” She tried to sound as reassuring as possible, while reminding herself - Only positive thoughts, only positive thoughts.

The managerial staff was mostly engaged in nervous small talk around the conference table while Artemis Hotels big wig, Angela Goldman, set up her PowerPoint webinar presentation. Everyone was well aware of her chilly persona, and in fact usually referred to her as “the cold front blowing in from the east” whenever she flew in from the New York corporate headquarters. Her fiftyish face was perpetually stern and her unyielding bun was never with a hair out of place. She cleared her throat, gave the staff a tight-lipped smile and brought the meeting to order.

Skipping all pleasantries, Angela began clicking her webinar slide show which confirmed the recent purchase of the Kaanapali Kai Resort by global giant Tanner International. She opened the link to the Tanner web page which displayed the company logo along with a photo of billionaire hotel magnate Grant Tanner, and his strikingly handsome son Shane Tanner.

From that point on Danielle didn’t hear another word that Angela said. She sat frozen in a state of disbelief as she stared at the younger Tanner’s face displayed up on the screen. Her confused mind raced backward in time to about ten years earlier, to when she was a student at the University of Hawaii; back to that magical summer when she had fallen head-over-heels in love with Scott Turner, the man of her dreams. The man who romantically and sexually turned her boring little world upside down…….. and then left without a single word.

Getting over him had been one of the hardest things she’d ever had to do and now she was looking up at what appeared to be his face; larger than life and flashing the same hard-to-resist smile that captured her attention on Oahu so long ago. She wondered how it could possibly be? How could Shane Tanner be Scott Turner? And vice versa? But the proof was plain as day. He even had the same tiny scar above his left eyebrow. A wave of nausea rose from the pit of her stomach and up into her throat.

 

 

Two

 

 

Over two thousand miles away in California, a vastly different type of meeting was about to take place.

“Carol, when Moon Lee gets here just send her on in please.” Shane Tanner rubbed the spasming muscle in his neck and winced as he passed his secretary’s desk on the way into his office. Before he entered he quickly added, “And I want you hold all calls; no disturbances; absolutely nothing until after she leaves.”

“Will do sir,” she replied without looking up or missing a keystroke.

Few people would be plagued by stress and muscle tension from an impending trip to Hawaii; but then few people lived the high-flying billionaire life of Shane Tanner.

He stood at the floor-to-ceiling window, and stared blankly out at the sweeping view of Newport Beach and the sapphire blue Pacific that was his daily scenery from fifteen stories up. The lunch he had just had with his father left a bad taste in his mouth; only figuratively of course; the food had been superb. The elder Tanner’s patronizing way of speaking to his son had a way of getting under his skin every single time without fail. In fact, his father’s words were still playing in his head like an annoying commercial jingle:

“It’s imperative that this Hawaiian venture come off without a hitch, Shane. There’s a tremendous amount at stake for our investors and stockholders especially regarding future Tanner development in the islands. I’m counting on you to make it happen exactly according to plan, and if you do I’ll step aside and retire. This company will be entirely in your hands to run as you see fit.” Blah blah blah, same old condescending bullshit.

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