Chancing Faith by Empi Baryeh
Genre: Sweet contemporary romance
He didn’t do short term relationships…
American ad exec, Thane Aleksander, doesn’t date co-workers either—until business takes him to Ghana, West Africa, and he meets Naaki. Now he’s at risk of breaking all the rules. Can he stop this headlong fall before it’s too late?
Until he met her!
Naaki Tabika has a burning need to prove, to herself and others, that she’s more than wife and mother material. To do so, she’s prepared to give up everything for her job. Meeting Thane, however, makes her want to get personal. But falling for her boss could destroy her career. Will she be willing to risk it all for the one thing that can make her truly happy?
Two divergent cultures, two different races, two career-driven professionals, only one chance at true love—will they find the faith to take it, or will their hearts be sacrificed on the altar of financial success?
Kotoka International airport, Accra, Ghana:
The heat and the heaviness of the air stunned Thane Aleksander as he stepped off the Boeing seven-four-seven. Whew! He took a moment to readjust his breathing with the yoga exercises he tried to practice every now and then. He’d been briefed about his new country of residence, but nothing could have prepared him for the instant perspiration as he descended the vibrating airplane stairs.
He slung his laptop bag over his shoulders and slipped on his sunshades. Within minutes, his hair was damp, with beads of sweat congregating on his forehead and sideburns. His shirt clung to his skin. He grimaced, thinking of the sweat stains he’d have to take care of later on.
His business outside the US had so far been conducted in Europe and Asia, and he knew some adjustments would be necessary—not the least being the weather—but it was the humidity that was killing him.
Luckily, a shuttle arrived to transport passengers from the tarmac to the main airport building, but despite the air conditioning, the temperature inside didn’t seem to be much of an improvement over the heat and humidity outside. He felt faint.
Entering the immigration hall, he scowled. There was only one counter for “Foreign Nationals?” He muttered an expletive and took a place in the queue. Had this been JFK, he’d have waltzed through with a “welcome home,” from the customs officer.
But it wasn’t America, he reminded himself. This was Africa, the place where, most local companies were considered to be either high-risk or incompetent. Until recently, only large consumer products manufacturers—who needed a global consumer base to remain profitable—had ventured into the territory. However, since attending an international advertising seminar in Egypt two years ago, Thane had been studying the market and tracking the exponential growth in the service industry here. If that trend continued—which he expected it to—in a decade, Africa would become the new China.
His turn. Finally. He handed over his passport.
The immigration officer, wearing an unflattering green uniform, scrutinized the document, flipped to the photo page, paused for a few seconds before looking up. “Why are you visiting Ghana?”
“Business.” As stated in his visa—if the officer would read it.
The man nodded. “When are you leaving?”
What the hell? Talk about hostile. You’d think they intentionally hired obnoxious people to work in airports. Was there some international law that justified this kind of antagonism?
“I’ll be here for six months.”
The man scanned through the passport once more and finally settled on a fresh page. He stamped it and handed it back. “Welcome to Ghana.”
Thane nodded and retrieved his passport.
Moments later, he stepped through the final exit and back into the prickling heat. It made him think of how much he’d like to take a dip, or at least, settle into his air-conditioned hotel suite as quickly as possible.
Casting a glance into the small crowd at the exit, he briefly registered emotional reunions and the eager looks of those still waiting for their loved ones to walk out. His gaze settled on a group of uniformed chauffeurs holding out large name cards. Those were the ones he was interested in, for he had no loved ones here. In fact, aside from his parents back home, he had no loved ones; period. And that was the way he intended to keep it.
He spotted his name, and an unexpected flush of relief flooded him.
“Mr. Alexander?” the man holding the card asked.
“Aleksander,” Thane corrected. It was a common error, one he never seemed to get used to.
“Akwaaba. I’m here to take you to La Paulanda Hotel.” The stocky chauffeur eagerly took charge of Thane’s luggage.
The transport turned out to be a cozy minibus whose AC blasted cold air. Thane leaned back, sighing deeply. Now that’s what I’m talking about. He made a mental check of his belongings: laptop, AC adapter, thumb drives, sunscreen, mosquito repellant, cortisone…nothing missing so far. Not that he’d expected otherwise, but the check was a calming down mechanism.
He didn’t know why he felt more than a little nervous about being in Ghana. After all, it had been his idea to come here. Based on his recommendations, Black & Black, the advertising agency he worked for, had decided to expand their operations to Africa. Thane had been working with the agency as the International Account Director for five years now, a role that made him responsible for business development outside the US. He’d championed their expansion to Europe and Asia through affiliations with local agencies, personally handling the negotiations as he was about to do with Media Image Advertising—or MIA as it was commonly called—one of the largest advertising agencies in Ghana.
He’d negotiated plenty of deals with huge European companies and done business with many non-American organizations. Yet it seemed a daunting idea that he was here to do…pretty much what he did best. He attributed the attack of tension to this being his very first time in Sub-Saharan Africa.
His discomfort only increased when he arrived at the hotel and was informed by the reception desk that the presidential suite he’d reserved wasn’t available. Briefly, he considered changing hotels. He wanted the larger accommodations in case he needed to hold meetings at the hotel, but he’d picked La Paulanda for its nearness to Media Image Advertising. Eventually, proximity and fatigue won out over space, and he accepted another suite—a much smaller one.
“Sir, if you’d like, I can check whether the presidential suite will become available during your stay at the hotel,” the front desk clerk offered as she checked something on her computer screen. A frown settled on her features before she looked up. “Excuse me a moment, sir.”
Picking up the phone, she made a call. She spoke in a local language, and even with several English words punctuating her sentences, it was impossible to decipher what she was saying.
Finally she hung up, giving him an apologetic smile. “Sorry, sir, the suite isn’t going to be available for ten days, but if you really do need the space, there’s an adjoining room to your suite, which is unoccupied. We can give both to you for the same rate as the presidential suite.”
There was some logic in that. An extra room solved the problem of space, while providing some privacy. “I’ll take it. Thank you.”
The clerk answered him with a pleasant smile and handed him a key card. “Akwaaba.”
There was that word again. Since they said it with a smile, he assumed it meant something along the lines of “enjoy your stay.” Not that it mattered. This wasn’t a pleasure trip.
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