The Billionaire's Proposal(5)

By: Avery James

“Thank me with a beach selfie. I want to tan vicariously through you,” Abby said.

“I’ll see what I can do. Though if you wanted me to go outside, you shouldn’t have upgraded me to this suite. I think it has its own zip code.”

“First-world problems,” Abby said. “Gotta run, though. Crisis on the Hill.”

“I wish I could be there to help,” Maggie said, but Abby was already gone. Maggie wondered what the scandal was. She loved the mad rush of creating a plan and setting it in motion, but now her plan was to do everything except rush. She headed inside and changed into her bathing suit. She pulled a sundress over it, gathered her phone and room key and headed down to the beach.

The beach was a long stretch of white sand that gently sloped up from the aquamarine water. There were lounges and umbrellas lined up in pairs along the curve of the beach, and Maggie chose the lounge farthest from anyone else. Almost all of the lounges were occupied or had been claimed with towels, but she found one that looked free. She looked it over for a moment to make sure it hadn’t been claimed, then slipped out of her sundress and snapped a quick picture of herself looking unimpressed in front of the ocean for Abby. As soon as the picture was sent, she put her phone away and turned her attention to the water.

She couldn’t remember the last time she’d gone swimming in the ocean. Her family had vacationed on Cape Cod one summer, and the water had been so cold that she’d barely gotten in before she had to get out again. She had a feeling this would be different. She walked down to the water and let one of the small waves wash over her feet. The water was warm, almost as warm as the air, and she walked in until it was deep enough to slide beneath.

When she resurfaced, she let the warm sunlight wash over her. She relaxed her body and floated in the water, letting her concerns wash away with each lolling wave. Maybe she didn’t have everything figured out yet, but that was fine. Abby had been right. For the next two days, she was going to forget about work and enjoy herself. As she swam, the sun sank lower on the horizon and the sky started to take on the deep red of dusk. She felt the first rumblings of hunger in her stomach and realized it was probably well past dinnertime.

She got back out of the water and headed toward her lounge, except she couldn’t find it. It took her a moment to realize that her spot had been taken. Ring Tan and his mistress were sitting side by side and her phone and dress were on the table between them. Ring Tan was wearing a neon yellow Speedo. Maggie stood at a distance and considered just coming back for her stuff later, but she wouldn’t be able to get back into her room without the key.

“It’s quite the fashion statement, isn’t it? I’m thinking of asking where he got it,” someone said from behind her. Maggie spun around. It was Charming. He was in a much more tasteful bathing suit, and he looked even better without his shirt on.

Maggie tried to remember what she was doing, but her mind went blank as soon as she faced Charming. After a moment, it came back to her. “He took my seat,” she said.

“Maybe it’s just me, but I’m not sure you want it back,” he said. “I have some serious concerns about coverage with that bikini bottom he’s wearing.”

“My stuff is over there,” she said. “Phone, clothes, towel etc.”

Charming shrugged and headed over to the couple. They said something back and forth, and both men laughed. A moment later he was coming back with all of Maggie’s belongings. “He said you have an open invitation to join them if you’d like. I might have insinuated that you were here with me to keep him at bay. Instead of taking the hint, he invited both of us to join them. I politely declined.”

“Thank you for that,” Maggie said, trying to hide her horror at the idea of being propositioned like that.

“Walk this way with me,” he said. She walked with him a ways down the beach to another set of lounges, separated from the rest. “I’m about to head back, but you can have my spot if you’d like.” He handed her a towel. “I’m Harry, by the way. I think I saw you earlier today.”

“Maggie,” she said. “I’d hate to displace you just because someone took my seat. Seems a bit too chivalrous, anyway.”

“I’d rather be displaced by you than Speedo Guy any day,” he said. “And I was getting ready to head out anyway. I’m heading over to the bar in a bit,” he said. “I’ll be down the end. If you want to thank me, you can come over. Otherwise, I might end up spending the night talking about men’s fashion with Speedo Guy.” He laughed as he spoke.

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