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Stay The Night
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Building an empire comes first.
Or it did until I met her.
My family’s billion-dollar hotel chain has been my life for as long as I can remember.
Travel. Women. Wealth.
That’s all I know, until fate grabs me by the throat and decides to not let up.
She’s a beach body, a beautiful, curvy California girl who hasn’t found the right person to give into yet.
I would have felt the same, but something about her has me pacing the floor at night.
And my father sent me out to her hotel specifically. The sly dog knowing that she’s exactly the woman I need in my future.
But it’s not that easy. It never is.
Not until our love produces a little one. Then everything changes.
Now I want more than just one night.
I want forever.
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“Excuse me, could I have one of those?” I asked. The flight attendant glanced down at the stack of newspapers in her arms, a surprised expression crossing her features before her pink lips curled into a flirtatious smile.
“There’s a news channel on board, number fifty four.” She bent down lower than necessary, giving me a glimpse of the lacy black bra underneath her uniform. Her breasts brushed my bicep as she reached for the controller in my armrest. “Here, let me help you with that.”
A couple of years ago, I would have leaned into it. I would have smiled back and taken her to a hotel room as soon as the plane touched down. Not anymore.
Shifting a bit so my arm wasn’t in the way of her ample chest anymore, I smiled politely and nodded at the newspapers. “I prefer getting my news from the papers.”
The flirtatious smile faltered before she straightened up. “Of course sir. The Times?”
“One of each, please. Thank you.”
She shuffled through the stack, then handed me three different papers.
“Anything else I can get for you today, sir?” She batted her long lashes, thrusting out her hip a little. The name tag on her uniform told me her name was Carol.
Carol was pretty and clearly interested, but I wasn’t. “I’ll take a Macallan on the rocks.”
It was after lunch. Still too early to be drinking, but I needed it. Carol nodded and walked down the narrow aisle to get my drink, handing out more papers to the other passengers in first class as she went.
Settling back in my seat, I unfolded The Times. The paper rustled as I snapped it open. I paged past the gossip section, but not fast enough to miss my brother’s face smiling up at me from the page.
The headline was one that I saw at least once every couple of months. Danny loved the attention that went along with being who we were as much as I avoided it. Today’s headline speculated about my brother dating Madeline Thompson, a hotel heiress in her own right.
I shook my head. Danny, Maddy and I all grew up together. Our fathers, despite being rival property magnates, had been friends for years. Danny and Maddy both adored being in the public eye. I knew there was nothing between them, but I also knew they thrived on headlines and society gossip.
Carol delivered my drink and I gulped half of it down, relishing the smooth burn of the alcohol. My brother was going to be insufferable later. No doubt being the subject of an article in The Times had made his already enormous head swell another size or two.
“Aren’t you too young to read newspapers?” Carol asked, hovering near my seat with another welcoming smile.
Sighing inwardly, I nodded. “I’m an old soul, I guess. Thanks for the drink.”
My eyes drifted away from her brown ones back to my paper. Taking the hint that I wasn’t in the mood to be social, she frowned and took off.
I scowled at Danny’s picture for a second, then went in the search of the real news. For the next three hours, I devoured the papers before pulling out my laptop to get some work done.
Too soon for my liking, the Captain’s voice crackled over the speakers. “Good afternoon folks. We’re going to be starting our descent into Florida in the next few minutes. We hope you enjoyed the flight with us today and that you’ll choose us when you travel again.”
I was already booked on this airline for a flight out tomorrow, much to my father’s chagrin. He never understood why I preferred to fly commercial instead of taking the company jet. Neither my dad nor my brother understood why I chose to stay under the radar, out of the public eye, keeping mostly to myself.
Luckily, they’d given up on trying to talk me into changing my mind. As the Chief Financial Officer of one of the biggest hotel groups in the world, they thought I should enjoy the perks more. But being CFO was enough for me. I didn’t want or need the rest of it.
Heat and humidity hit me in the face as soon as I stepped out of the airport terminal. “Fucking Florida,” I muttered under my breath, heading toward the rental car company I always used. Why my dad chose Tampa for the company headquarters never made sense to me, but he loved it here.
Something about being able to work and still live the retirement lifestyle. It made zero sense, but it wasn’t my logic or my decision. At least he didn’t expect me to live here, or even to spend a lot of time here.
I spent my time traveling between our hotels all around the country. I worked from hotels and planes, hardly ever sleeping in my own bed. It suited me perfectly.