The Billionaire's Proposition (The Romero Brothers, Book 4)

BOOK: The Billionaire's Proposition (The Romero Brothers, Book 4)
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2014 by Shadonna Richards


Author Contact:


[email protected]




by Keri Knutson


All rights
reserved; no part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted by any
, mechanical, photocopying or
otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher.

This book is a work of fiction. The names,
characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or
have been used fictitiously. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is
entirely coincidental.



Thank you, God, for all my blessings. To my
cherished son and husband for your unconditional love.
gratitude to my family and friends for your endless support.
To Solomon,
Jermaine, Merdella, Nesitta, Monica, and Percell. To my editor M.M. for always
being brilliant. To M.H. and K.D. for your wonderful support.






Sworn bachelor and sexy
charismatic billionaire, Carl Romero, needs to find himself a wife and child
before he announces his run for mayor—but only for a one-year commitment.
He’s determined to win in the next election but being a young, single man is
his only obstacle to gaining the voters’ confidence. In politics, image is
everything. He has his eyes set on his delightful executive assistant, a single
mom, Venus Jackson. His troubles compound when he realizes winning votes isn’t
all he wants, so is winning Venus’s heart.


Struggling single parent,
Venus Jackson, has a dark secret in her past and too much emotional baggage.
She simply can’t handle any more drama in her life, but when her irresistible boss,
Carl, offers her a proposition to play his doting wife for one year as he
embarks on a political career, her mind is telling her to run the other way,
yet her heart is pulling her in his charming direction.


“They can’t get away with this!” Carl Romero
declared, slamming a copy of
The Hills
newspaper on the desk in the study at Romero Manor. His eyes were just
assaulted with the latest headline: Party Playboy to Join Mayoral Race –A

The shock of the morning headline struck
him full force in the gut like a steel bat to his flesh. A vein throbbed in his
temple. Heat burned through his body while he processed the insulting jab towards
him in the news.

“I haven’t even officially announced my
intention to run yet!” Carl finished. That was true, though he had spoken about
it publicly before when interrogated by a reporter. He hadn’t made an official
announcement but it seemed as if his dirty opponent in the upcoming race,
Dayton Leechwood, was intent on having Carl’s bridges burned before he had a chance
to even cross it. Well, he’d be damned if he let that happen. The current
mayor, Ruben Smith, was plagued by scandal and drug use lately and the city of
ready for a change in power.

“Calm down, Carl,” Toni, his grandfather
and patriarch of the Romero dynasty, ordered. Toni was no stranger to
conflicts. The widower had married his young nurse, Shelly, to the chagrin of
his grandson Antonio.
But he loved his boys and he’d be
damned if they caved in to pressure like this.

The family had convened, once again, for a
family meeting. This happened quite a bit, though the Romeros were successful
in various industries, they often gathered when urgent matters arose at the
sprawling 16,000-square foot luxury estate with its breathtaking views of the
hills of Mayberry Hill and its own winery and vineyard. They also never forgot
that family came first in a crisis.

“They want you to react this way. Don’t
play into their hands,” Toni admonished. “Remember that life is ten percent
what happens to you and ninety-percent how you respond. That’s what makes or
breaks you.”

Not long ago, family members had convened in
the same area of the mansion’s luxurious study when Lucas was in hot water with
a pregnancy claim from a woman he had allegedly dated. Zack, too, had been the
center of undesired media attention when his ex-girlfriend threatened to sell a
sex tape of their Vegas rendezvous in a blackmail attempt. Carl was the one to
organize a team to dig up the location of said video recording. Never in Carl’s
mind would he have thought that he, too, would be the victim of harsh and
defaming rumors! And now?
Right on the verge of his political


“He’s right, bro,” Jules added. Not only
was Jules Carl’s ever-protective brother, he was also co-owner of their
successful business, R.M. Fitness Centers. “Just do your stuff. Don’t pay any
attention to the haters.”

“The haters?” Anger flared through Carl’s being.
“That’s easier said than done, Jules. The voters will be reading what those
damn haters are saying about me.”

Carl leaned against the study desk at
Romero Manor, his arms crossed over his chest. He was wearing a black suit with
crisp white shirt and blue tie. How appropriate that he’d worn his dark suit
today, since his mood was anything but bright.

So what if he was a member of the most prominent
family in the province? The Romero family, thanks to their wealthy real estate tycoon
and philanthropist grandfather, was popular not just for its contribution to
society but also for the headlines the single Romero men often made.

But it didn’t start off that way. They had
only met their famous grandfather in their teens since their father didn’t actually
know his real dad, Toni. Before Toni had mentored them into self-made trendsetters
in various industries the boys had suffered the tragic loss of their mother and
their father lost his job, rendering them desperate and destitute. They’d lost
their home and lived out of their father’s minivan for a little while until the
authorities stepped in. It wasn’t all fun and games growing up. But the
humility and difficulty during that period taught them to never forget where
they came from. They knew in their hearts that a minor setback was a setup for
a major comeback. And come back they did. Currently, Carl, along with his six
brothers—and their cousin Antonio III, was on the Forbes list of wealthiest
entrepreneurs in the world.

Carl knew the haters thought of him as an
over-privileged dilettante. But none of the Romero boys coasted through life on
their grandfather’s back.

His cousin, Antonio III, was a real estate
tycoon, like their grandfather. His brother, Lucas, was founder of the popular
software and app Healthy Start Program. Zack Romero, often dubbed the real
playboy in the family until his recent marriage, owned a successful winery and
vineyard and created more jobs than any other family-owned business. Dion and
Troy ran the most lucrative international business college that boasted
thousands of successful online and in-class graduates, and his younger brother,
Dr. Alonso Romero, developed both affordable and state-of-the-art medical and
plastic surgery clinics all over the world. The plastic surgery clinics helped
burn victims with

Carl, though his international health club
was flourishing, knew what it meant to be from a low-income family and wanted
to do things a lot differently in the city as its mayor. But would he even get
the chance? Property taxes were already sky high in the city. How could people
afford to pay their mortgages with the skyrocketing taxes on their homes? And
what about affordable daycare for families on modest incomes?

“Get this,” Carl growled, picking up the newspaper
again and reading another paragraph from the article. “What does Carl Romero
know about struggling
man is a party
prince from a wealthy family who is out of touch with reality.”

He threw the paper back down on the desk. “Can
you imagine? Me! Out of touch with reality?”

“Man, if they only knew how out of touch
with reality we were when we went to bed hungry in Dad’s car every night, late
at night in the coldest dark days of winter,” Jules chuckled, devoid of any

This was not how Carl anticipated his first
few days back in Canada to be. The Romeros had recently returned from Jamaica,
not even a week, from his brother Zack’s island wedding to Blue Monroe. His
brother and Blue, an ex-reporter, were still on honeymoon. But, oh, he wished
he could get some insider information from his new sister-in-law about the
inner workings of the press and their crazy antics.

Right now, Carl was on a mission and he
damned well could do without this little tabloid-like reporting fiasco.

Carl, along with his brother Jules, headed
R.M. Fitness Centers, which not only had a state-of-the-art run health club facility
but they had a morning program for youngsters addressing eating well and trying
to get better food choices in the schools. For as long as he’d known he could, Carl
always wanted to make a
Like always. And
his heart had always been in politics. Running a city. Or heck, maybe even a
province or the country one day. Who knew? He was young and he was ambitious. His
motto was always to live life to the fullest. Work hard, play harder—was
how the Romeros ran things and they were rarely intimidated.

“That wasn’t all the papers reported.” Toni
got up from his recliner by the massive stone fireplace that was nestled within
the wall of bookshelves.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Carl asked,
arching a brow. Oh, no. What was his grandfather getting at now? He had a gut
feeling he knew what else his old man was going to chime in with.


And there it was. The M word always seemed
to make its way into conversations where their grandfather was concerned. Toni
Romero believed betrothal would solve all of his grandsons’ woes.

Jules shook his head, a grin plastered on
his face. “Now how did I know Gramps was going to go there?”

Pamela, their young press secretary, was
taking notes while she gazed at her own copy of the paper. She had already
added her input to the heated discussion earlier. Image. Image was everything,
she had rapped to him.
Especially in the political arena.

“Marriage?” Carl repeated; he was
incredulous. Now he knew he’d heard it all. “Grandfather, what does marriage
have to do with any of this? Just because I’m alone, it doesn’t mean I’m
lonely.” And that was the truth. Carl never experienced a deficit when it came
date whenever he wanted, wherever he wanted. Women were often throwing
themselves at him in all kinds of social settings.

“Fair enough. But marriage is not just
about sex. It’s about being with someone committed to you for life, showering
you with unconditional love.
Someone who brings out the best
in you and more importantly, who encourages you and brings you happiness.
I know you boys hate to hear it.” The old patriarch hunched his shoulders
innocently. “But…it is what it is. If you were married, my grandson, they
wouldn’t be able to call you an out-of-touch-with-reality party boy bachelor,
or whatever it is they called you,” Toni finished, addressing yet another section
of the derogatory article.

Carl leaned back on the study again. Tilting
his head back and grinning despite his anger. “Granddad, I think you’ve gone a
bit far. Blaming me for what others are saying about me.”

“He does have a point, Carl.” Pamela placed
her notebook and her copy of
The Hills
down on the table beside her and joined in on the conversation. “As I
said earlier, public image is everything in politics. You want voters to feel
as if they can trust you. Face
most voters are
families struggling with children. There’s a reason a lot of presidents and world
leaders tend to be married with at least one child. And right here in Canada, most
leaders started out their careers always married. I did a study on this. In
Mayberry Hill, you would be the very first candidate in your
demographics—late twenties to early thirties—and single.”

“See,” Toni said, arching his brow. “I
don’t know why you boys have an aversion to marriage. It brings you stability
to be with the one you love. You boys look at a wedding band as if it’s a tiny
handcuff. It’s not. It’s a joining symbol that frees you to be you, knowing you
have love by your side.”

“Yeah, I see their point, Carl. Voters want
to know you’re getting it regularly at home in a monogamous relationship so your
attention is not elsewhere trying to sow some wild oats. Not to mention your
body will always be charged on endorphins and ready to do your job.” Jules grinned,
teasing his brother, probably trying to
mood—as was his thing to

BOOK: The Billionaire's Proposition (The Romero Brothers, Book 4)
6.14Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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