One young woman…
Tania, fresh out of a small backwoods college, travels to Asia to pay off crushing student debt. Lost and alone, she lives on ramen noodles and misses the friends she left behind, the family of her heart.
After disastrously losing her latest overseas job and her work visa through no fault of her own, she ends up in Thailand. Her new boss is sexy, charming, mysterious, and very rich. Tania finds herself attracted to him, but wants to protect herself. If you start from less than zero, how do you become equal to your prince of a boss?
One young man…
Sanur Taanvi, a shapeshifter from a secretive royal family, has been betrayed by those closest to him again and again. He uses his family’s ancient funds to snatch people from the hungry jaws of poverty.
Aloof and alone except for a few retainers, he needs help with one of his businesses after yet another betrayal. He has been burned before. Can he find love and a true mate, a queen, with a woman that has captivated his heart?
Note: This story has mild cursing and limited sex scenes. If you’re looking for clean romance or erotica, this is NOT the novel for you. This is a novel for adults or young adults 18+.
Targeted Age Group:: 18+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I have lived in Asia for over a decade. I have always loved writing about small-town people in extraordinary situations. I love paranormal shifter romance. I especially enjoy writing about strong women.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The books are very loosely based on my own experiences. Of course, I haven't met any shifters (that I know of) or rich secret princes (that I am aware of), so that is definitely not directly following my life. I enjoyed writing about a secretive shifter prince and his mysterious interactions with other shifters. Tania must navigate a new world.
Chapter One: Heaven Life
Tania had a week to move out and go…somewhere. It was three weeks before winter vacation and only a few months into her new year-long contract. Very few schools would hire at that time of year, the same in Japan as well. Tania had to go somewhere. She decided she might as well try to find someplace warm.
Since she was days away from losing her teaching visa, Tania had to leave the country. She decided to attend a job fair in Thailand that would start in three days, edited her resumes, went to a printer to print them, and cried when she had to spend precious money that could have been spent on her massive education debts on a ticket for Chiang Mai.
She had paid off thirty-eight percent of them by living in a studio apartment she could barely turn around in and eating mostly ramen noodles, but the after-school academy she had taught had closed suddenly when the owner’s father had a heart attack. He survived, but his son closed the academy to care for him.
Tania couldn’t go back to the USA. She had application after application there rejected, and it was right before winter break. Her friends had their own new lives, and she could never go back to where she came from again. She shuddered. Except for her grandmother and brother, who both hated her, she had no real family except Corinne and Kandace. Her friends were enough; they had to be. They were in their own economic holes; she couldn’t ask them to help bail her out. No, Tania had to stand on her own.
Tania thought it through and decided to apply for both education and online marketing jobs everywhere she could. She still had online marketing clients from the States, but that income wasn’t anywhere near enough to pay the rent. Tania answered job website ads in various countries, including Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Her future was terrifying but open. Every decision she made would either bring her closer to her goals or blow up all the forward progress she had made. She hoped she was making the right decision. If she didn’t get a job, she’d have to spend more money to fly back or find another job fair in Asia.
Going from icy winter to a balmy and humid summer was delightful. The plane ride to Thailand was relatively short, and Tania changed into shorts and a shirt in the bathroom when she landed. She stuffed all of her winter clothes in the bottom of her backpack and went to catch a motorcycle taxi for her backpacker hotel, only fifteen dollars a night, including breakfast.
The next morning, Tania took a motorcycle taxi to the job fair. She was stunned to see the sheer number of people lined up outside a conference center/hotel, resumes in backpacks, briefcases, and held in clear folders. Tania perused online ads on her cell phone while waiting in line. Once inside, Tania circled the space like a shark and put in applications for both teaching and marketing, but was exhausted and discouraged by the end of four hours. No interview had lasted longer than three minutes. “Happy birthday,” she said to herself.
Tania took a motorcycle taxi back to her backpacker hotel, ordered lunch and some iced lime tea at a cafe, and started looking up job sites online. She spied an online ad in the or a specialist in internet marketing to help an import-export company working with Thai businesses. Tania applied for that job, ate her late lunch, applied for more jobs online, and got her one and only answer from the thirty-one jobs she’d applied for that day. She made an online appointment to visit the import-export business the next day.
In the morning, Tania showered and ate a quick breakfast. She took a tuk-tuk with a sheltered seat in back to the address, just north of the Nimman District, famous for providing housing and working spaces for people working online who called themselves digital nomads. There were hotels, cafes with dozens of tables with computer hookups and even pools and gyms, places advertising laundry washed and charged by the kilo, restaurants spilling the scents of lemongrass and lime into the air.
Tania entered the gate in the white wall that led to the building and found herself in a cool courtyard with a small fountain. She smiled, looking down at the carp in the artificial pond. Tania walked over the little bridge and opened the door to the building of teak and glass. Inside the long, narrow space a Thai woman sat at a front desk, her hair perfectly coiffed, wearing a dark blue skirt and a gold silk top. Tania was glad she’d also went with a skirt, and went up and introduced herself. “I'm Tania Bressel, here to see Mr. Kaung.”
“Yes of course,” said the woman in perfect English. “Please, have a seat.” Tania did, smoothing her skirt.
A woman in black Capris and a coral top with a backpack on her back came out, high ponytail swinging behind her. She moved at a brisk pace, her low heels clicking on the tile floor, and slammed the door shut behind her.
“Mr. Kaung will see you now,” said the receptionist, unperturbed by the woman’s outburst. Tania stood up, walked back to the office, and peered in. The person standing behind the curved mahogany desk was tall, with black hair somehow layered with shimmery copper that brushed his shoulders. Hell of an expensive dye job, Tania thought. He wore khaki slacks and a royal blue polo shirt that brought out the copper overlaying his black hair. His coppery skin was smooth, and he had huge brown eyes. He unfolded himself from his seat, stood, and smiled gently at Tania.
“Please be seated,” he said. “My name is Sanur Kaung. I would be delighted to hear more about what you do.” He gestured to the two rattan seats in front of his desk. His voice was cultured, precise, with hints of both British and Australian accents.
Tania took in a breath, fought for composure. Those eyes kicked up her heart rate. “My name is Tania Bressel.” She sat in one of the proffered seats. “I've been teaching as well as working on marketing, specifically social media marketing, to bring together small businesses and individuals. I know how to do ad campaigns that bring people to your website.”
“Anyone can do that,” said Mr. Kaung. “I need someone punctual, reliable, who doesn't live on Thai time. I may have you meet clients, find me a new receptionist, and do other things as needed. I need someone who can multitask.”
“So you want me to be your office manager as well as your internet marketer?” asked Tania. “And the receptionist is leaving?”
“Yes,” he said. “Leyva, the person you met at the front desk, is doing me a favor right now. She's off to university in the United States in a week.”
“How wonderful for Leyva,” said Tania. “I will congratulate her on the way out.”
Mr. Kaung smiled. “That's the kind of small touch that I'm looking for. This business is doing very well. Thai people and those from the surrounding countries have some excellent products, mostly furniture and art, that can be sold all over the world. It's my job to get those products out. The craftspeople who make them are working in their homes or with small manufacturing. These people deserve just as much of a chance as large businesses, and with online sales, this can be done in such a way to where they receive most of the profit.”
“And your cut?”
“Ten percent across the board. You see, I already have money. I don't need to steal money from the people that I'm trying to help.”
“That's a change from how people normally do business. At least in the United States.”
“You'll find the people of Thailand a bit different.” Mr. Kaung smiled, then his eyes grew serious. “I will give you thirty percent over what I promised to pay in the ad if you will be my office manager as well as my internet salesperson.”
“Do you need help with your website? I've looked at it, and I can think of a few improvements you can make.”
Mr. Kaung raised his eyebrows. “Excellent. What exactly would you like to change?”
“Well, it's a small business. You want to really make the products shine. The colors are a little too garish, and some of the wording is a bit stilted. You want to come across as friendly while still being professional.”
“And you can do that for me?”
“I can.” Tania kept her voice cheerful but worked to show her competence. “I went through the Free Code Camp program, learning to program both the front and back end of websites.”
“Well, once you learn Thai, you can do some translation on this end.”
“It'll cost you.” Tania smiled to take the sting out of her words…but she meant them.
Mr. Kaung smiled back. “I'm absolutely certain that it will. What you will need to do is bill me for your separate activities. We will compile them into a salary. For now, the base salary is thirty percent over the one in the ad, but we’ll add on more when you sign the contract for your website work. You will also have an hour and a half for lunch. There's normally a two-hour lunch here, but I expect you to be back in the office about fifteen minutes before then.”
“Have you selected an apartment yet?”
“No, I have not. I figured it was better to find a job first.”
“Well then, there's a place, not two blocks from here. It has a pool and is a one-bedroom apartment. It also has a small gym, a convenience store, and a laundry.”
“How much a month?” Tania tried to keep the fear out of her voice. An apartment with a pool sounded expensive. She would live in a shack if she had to.
Mr. Kaung grinned. “The rent is only three hundred American dollars a month, so I will pay for that. You will be required to pay some bills, but they probably won't come to more than a hundred dollars a month.”
“That sounds excellent.” Tania tried not to dance in her seat. “What made you choose me so quickly?”
“You're young, you're bright, and you're not here just to see the sights. You're here to work. I read between the lines in your cover letter, and I'm sorry that your last school closed so suddenly. You've been living overseas for over a year, and it's obvious that you have a grasp of expat life.” Tania nodded, and Mr. Kaung sighed. “Many of the people applying are so-called digital nomads. They're here to begin a business that they can do online, and use it to travel. Expat living is not nomad living, and I don't want someone who will be here for two months and then vanish. I've made the mistake of hiring people like that, and I don't want to do it again.”
Tania nodded. “That I can understand.”
Mr. Kaung wrote something on a sticky note, pulled it off its pad, and stood. Tania stood as well. “Welcome to my company.” He shook Tania’s proffered hand.
“Thank you.” Tania smiled at her new employer. He smelled…like paper and incense. A little dry and smoky at the same time. And that hair. She had to sneak into his calendar and find the name of his hairdresser someday.
Mr. Kaung let Tania’s hand go. “I will have Leyva move back my afternoon calls. Let's get you the apartment. I take it your things are in a hotel?”
Tania was elated by the fast turn of events. “They are, Mr. Kaung. I only have one more box that can be shipped. It will be nice to get rid of all of my winter things.” She granted Mr. Kaung a dazzling smile.
“That it will. Please, call me Sanur.”
“Sanur?” asked Tania. “Isn't that a segment of Bali?”
“Yes, it is. My parents fell in love there.”
“That sounds romantic.” Tania smiled and went ahead of Sanur at his gesture.
“Apparently it was.” Sanur led the way out toward the reception desk.
“Leyva,” said Sanur. The beautiful young woman turned to him. “Please move back my afternoon calls by thirty minutes, then alter the employment contract in these ways and leave it on your desk.” He handed over the yellow note with the changes. “After that, please get yourself some lunch.”
“Yes, boss,” said Leyva, and laughed.
“Congratulations on attending college,” Tania said.
Leyva smiled, showing all her blindingly white teeth. “Thank you. Hard work gets you everywhere!”
Sanur opened the door for Tania. “Let's go,” he said. They walk the two blocks in silence because a building was under construction nearby. “Sorry about the noise. It's the price of doing business here. Things are booming in Chiang Mai, and you'll find that there is some construction nearly everywhere. It's quieter here, believe it or not. As I've said, your new apartment building has a convenience store as well as a laundromat. It's usually only a dollar or two to wash your clothes."
“Fantastic, I much prefer that. Takes up less of my time.” Tania meant every word. No one in South Korea used clothes dryers. Hanging up laundry to dry in a small apartment was annoying.
They entered the lobby, and Sanur spoke fluent Thai to a beautiful young woman with a wide face wearing a blue uniform. She took them in the elevator to look at some apartments. They were shown three different apartments, each one bigger than the last. The third one had a beautiful view of a nearby park and was very quiet. “Is this one all right?” Tania asked Sanur.
“It's within budget. Housekeeping will clean your apartment twice a week; it's part of the price.”
Tania looked around. There was a modular couch, a flat-screen TV, a beautiful white balcony big enough to put a table and chairs out there, a bedroom a little larger than its queen-size bed, a wardrobe, a bathroom with a small rain shower, and a galley kitchen. “I love it.” Tania felt like pinching herself to be sure she wasn’t dreaming. This was nearly twice the size of her South Korean apartment.
Sanur regally nodded his head, then spoke in Thai. The lady smiled and handed a business card to Tania. “Please go to your hotel, check out, and move your things here,” said Sanur. “Show this card to the tuk-tuk driver, and he will get you back here. This lady will be waiting at the front desk with your key cards. The one with a red border is used to get into the apartment building, and the second one with a blue border is to enter your room. Don't lose either one, because if you lose them after hours, you will have to sleep somewhere else for the night, and then hire a locksmith to break you back in. Come back to the office when done. Can you remember where that is?”
“Two blocks that way.” Tania pointed.
“Excellent. I have some paperwork to sign here. Can you get back here in approximately forty minutes?”
“Less than that. The hotel isn't that far away.”
Sanur nodded that regal nod of his again, the planes of his face opening into a small smile. They went down in the elevator, and Sanur waved down a tuk-tuk to get to her hotel. Sanur paid the driver in advance, and the tuk-tuk driver took her the few kilometers to the hotel. Tania asked him to wait to take her back to the apartment. It took Tania only a few minutes to check out of her hotel and soon was back at the apartment. She tipped the driver, was given her entry cards, dropped off her rolling suitcase, and immediately went back to work.
Sanur had added a list of the various prices paid in Thai baht to Tania’s contract, listing the various jobs that she would be doing. Tania used a currency exchange website to do the conversions. The salary was lower than she had been making in South Korea. But with all of her extra jobs, Tania would end up making just above her last salary. Tania did an internal happy dance, pretended poise on the outside, and signed where she was asked to sign.
Sanur took her to lunch, and they had shrimp dim sum and cold mint tea. “I can give you some time to acclimate yourself.”
Tania shook her head. “I might as well learn the job. Shall I do some training after lunch?”
Sanur laughed. “Most people would take the afternoon off and go to the pool. I like your drive and ambition. You were certainly the best candidate for this position. I'm very pleased with my choice.”
“Thank you very much. I'm delighted to be working with you.”
Sanur nodded his head regally. “Likewise.”
After lunch, Sanur walked Tania around the neighborhood and pointed out grocery stores, numerous restaurants, and the mall. He then took her back to the office, gave her a golden Apple laptop still in its box, and Tania started work immediately at her desk, just back from the receptionist’s. Tania set up the new computer and immediately began working on the company’s website. Pleased, Sanur went back to his office. When Leyva came back from lunch, she trained Tania on the phones.
Tania left at five and walked to the mall. She reveled in the air conditioning and found some delightful dim sum to eat for dinner for only about two American dollars. Then, she bought things she needed, like sheets and towels. She had left her Korean linens for other teachers. She walked to her new home, changed into her shorts, and worked out.
Afterward, since her shorts and top were actually a tankini, Tania then took one of her brand-new large fluffy beach towels and went to the pool. She delighted in the slide of cool water over her skin, and walked back and forth until she got tired, then swam, then walked again. She finally got out to lay in the padded lounger and was startled at how life can change in just a moment.
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