Hurricane Kisses(3)

By: Krista Lakes

The letter was just the latest in a series of offers to acquire Dream Vacations. Now that my business was actually successful, they wanted it. Travel, Inc.'s initial rejection had nearly destroyed me when I was low on start-up capital. They had left me to dangle and struggle while making it impossible for me to find other investors. But I had survived, and now that Dream Vacations was successful, Travel, Inc. wanted it again. This latest offer was tempting, but there was no way I would ever let Logan Hayes or his family anywhere near my business.

I would rather let it burn in a fiery blaze than sell it to him.

Not that it was going to. Dream Vacations was doing better than I could have imagined. We were turning profits that made my previous salaries look like play money. Plus, I loved having the freedom of running my own company. The decisions were all mine to make. I didn't have to answer to anyone, except occasionally Maddy. If I didn't like the way things were being done, I had the power to change them. Taking the offer from Travel, Inc. would make me very, very wealthy, but I would lose the freedom that I loved. This company was my life. It wouldn’t go up for sale no matter how much they promised.

I was about to throw the crumpled offer into the trash when I decided that simply tossing it wasn't enough. I sat down at the desk and began ripping it into tiny pieces and putting them in a return envelope. I didn't stop when Maddy knocked and then let herself in.

“What's that?” she asked, coming over to the desk.

“Another offer from Travel, Inc.,” I answered and put the last piece of the offer in the envelope.

“Are you accepting it?” She sounded shocked. She had been there for the aftermath of my association with Logan Hayes and Travel, Inc. Besides that, she technically owned part of the company and would have to agree to it as well.

I blew my nose and then stuffed the used tissue in the envelope before sealing it. I held it up to hand it off to Maddy.

“You know I'm not mailing that, right? That's gross.” Maddy gave me one of those disgusted, disapproving looks that only a mother can give. She did not take the envelope.

“You're right. It's terribly unprofessional,” I conceded with a sigh, setting the letter on the desk. “And besides, it just isn't enough to convey just how certainly he is not getting my company.”

After what he had done to my company two years ago, a snot-filled envelope was more than he deserved.

Chapter 2

Two Years Earlier...

I took a deep breath, smoothed the front of my skirt, and stepped into the office of Travel, Inc.'s Chief Operation Officer. If this worked, I would have the funding and connections to make my dreams a reality. I was going to do the job I wanted, instead of the job I hated. If this meeting went well, Travel, Inc. would add Dream Vacations' services to their already massive empire. I would have all the resources of the biggest travel website to make my concierge travel planning the best it could possibly be.

The last two months of my life I had dedicated to getting my business up and running. The computer program that was the heart of Dream Vacations had been a pet project of mine over the past year and a half, and now I was finally ready to use it. I had waltzed out of my terrible computer programming job the minute I had finished it with a smile on my face.

I now had the website, the business plan, and the connections, but I needed more funding. Advertisements were expensive, and concierge travel planning wasn't something that the average person considered within their budget. I wanted to change that mindset, but I needed advertisements to do so. Word of mouth was helping, but I needed access to a bigger market. I had used up all my savings and was in limbo for a business loan. With their resources, Travel, Inc. could change everything. If they decided to purchase either my program or my entire business, I would be a winner.

The corner office was large and ornate. It was bigger and nicer than my apartment. Floor-to-ceiling windows overlooked the city with a large desk in the center that probably cost more than my car. A handsome man reclined in the plush leather chair behind the shiny desk. I did a double take as I came in. I had seen Logan Hayes in pictures, but he was even cuter in person. He ran a hand through his messy, honey-colored hair and smiled. I had the sudden wish to tangle my fingers in those short, loose curls.

“It's a pleasure to meet you, Olivia,” he greeted me, rising to shake my hand. A tingle went up my arm as his hand squeezed mine. He gestured to one of the two chairs opposite his desk. “Please, have a seat.”

“It's very nice to meet you as well, Mr. Hayes,” I replied. My voice only shook at the first word, but I hoped he hadn't noticed. I sat nervously, smoothing my non-wrinkled skirt again before setting a copy of my proposal on the desk. Despite my best intentions, I had already crinkled the edges with my nervous grip.