Million Dollar Christmas Proposal

By: Lucy Monroe

CHAPTER ONE


“YOU WANT ME to find you a wife? You cannot be serious!”

Vincenzo Angilu Tomasi waited for his personal administrative assistant to close her mouth and stop making sounds like a dying fish gasping for water. He’d never heard her talk in exclamation points, hadn’t been sure she was capable of raising her voice, even.

Fifteen years his senior, and usually unflappably confident, Gloria had been with him since he took over at the NY branch of Tomasi Commercial Bank more than a decade ago.

Enzu had never seen this side of her. Had not believed it existed and would be quite happy to put it behind them now.

When she didn’t seem inclined to add anything to her shocked outburst, he corrected, “I will provide these children with a mama.”

Although he was third generation Sicilian in this country, he still gave the old-world accented pronunciation to the word.

His niece, Franca, was only four years old and his nephew, Angilu, a mere eight months. They needed parents, not uninterested caretakers. They needed a mother.

One who would see them raised in a stable environment unlike what he had known as a child or had been able to provide for his younger brother. Which, yes, would mean the woman would have to become his wife as well, but that was of negligible consideration.

“You can’t possibly expect me to find them that. It’s impossible.” Outrage evident in every line of her body, shock dominated Gloria’s usually placid-whatever-the-circumstances expression. “I know my job description is more elastic than most, but this is beyond even my purview.”

“I assure you I have never been more serious and I refuse to believe anything is beyond your capabilities.”

“What about a nanny?” Gloria demanded, clearly unimpressed with the compliment to her skills. “Wouldn’t that be a better solution to this unfortunate situation?”

“I do not consider my custody of my niece and nephew an unfortunate situation,” Enzu told her, his tone cold.

“No. No. Of course not. I apologize for my wording.” But Gloria did not look like she had an alternative description to offer.

In fact, once again, she seemed to be struck entirely speechless.

“I have fired four nannies since I took custody of Franca and Angilu six months ago.” And the current caretaker was not looking to last much longer. “They need a mama. Someone who will put their welfare ahead of everything else. Someone who will love them.”

He had no personal experience with that type of parenting, but he’d spent enough time in Sicily with his family over there. He knew what it was supposed to look like.

“You can’t buy love, sir! You just can’t.”

“I think you will find, Gloria, that indeed I can.” Bank President and CEO, the driving force behind its expansion from a regional financial institution to a truly international one and founder of his own Tomasi Enterprises, Enzu was one of wealthiest men in the world.

“Mr. Tomasi—”

“She will have to be educated,” Enzu said, interrupting further ranting on his assistant’s part. “A bachelor’s degree at least, but not a PhD.”

He didn’t want someone who was driven to excel academically at that level. Her primary focus would not be on the children but her academic pursuits.

“No doctors?” Gloria asked faintly.

“They hardly keep hours conducive to maintaining the role of primary caregiver for the children. Franca is four, but Angilu is less than a year old and far from being school age.”

“I see.”

“It goes without saying the candidates cannot have any kind of criminal record; I would prefer they be currently employed in an appropriate job. Though the woman I choose will give up her current job in order to care for the children full time.”

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