Boss With Benefits

By: Talia Hunter



Rosa dragged in her breath. She’d given up her job, moved out of her apartment, and come half way across the world to help her friend. Now Dalton was telling her she couldn’t see Tiny? She wouldn’t accept that. Tiny needed her. And if he thought she was going to give up and go home, he had no idea who he was dealing with.

“You may not want me here, but Tiny obviously does.” She met his dark eyes, making sure her tone was calm. “She wants me to run her resort, so that’s what I intend to do. If nobody had the time to meet me or the other guest off the ferry, it’s clear you need help. And what about Saturday’s wedding? Are you ready for it?”

Dalton turned his frown onto Mere. “You didn’t cancel it?”

“I couldn’t cancel a wedding two weeks out from the event, when it was already paid for.” Mere looked from Dalton to her and back again. “I’m not sure how much of it Tiny had finished organizing before she got sick. I have my own work to do so I haven’t been able to check through everything.”

Rosa kept her gaze on Dalton. “I can handle the wedding and anything else that comes up.” Amazing how she could sound so certain. Did she really just promise to run a wedding that was in five days? What if Tiny hadn’t organized any of it before she got sick?

Dalton measured her from head to toe, his mouth pressed tight. As often as she’d been judged like that when she was growing up, the weight of it still made her breath freeze in her lungs. Then she lifted her chin. Screw him. Tiny’s delinquent brother would just have to take his pretty-boy sneer, fold it into squares, and insert it into his unfairly-attractive posterior.

Rosa had never failed at anything — nothing that mattered, anyway — and she damn well wasn’t about to start now.

Shrugging off his gaze, Rosa turned to Mere. “Let’s not stand around talking when there’s so much work to do. Could you please tell me if Bure Five is ready? The guest booked into that room is waiting at the bar to be shown where to go. And is there someone on staff who usually handles luggage? Her suitcase is on the wharf.”

Mere blinked. Then she flashed Rosa a quick, conspirator’s smile. “Bure Five is ready. And Winston usually handles the bags, but he’s busy with the burst pipe.”

“Then I’ll go and collect it.” Rosa made a move toward the door.

“Fine.” Dalton’s voice was tight. “You’re hired for now, but don’t get too comfortable.” He motioned toward the offices behind the reception desk. “That’s Tiny’s office, so you may as well use it. Mere can show you what she knows, and later I’ll take you through everything else.” He grabbed the machete from the reception desk and strode toward the door.

Rosa stared after him. Her dislike of him was only heightened by the fact he looked so good when he was walking away. His faded jeans were slung low on his hips, and he had the most drool-worthy ass she’d ever seen. The way his tight butt cheeks moved held her hypnotized. The machete by his side only completed the picture of a rough-yet-delicious freebooter.

Mere was watching him too. As the door closed behind Dalton, she shook her head, frowning. “I don’t know why he didn’t want to hire you, or why he thinks cancelling bookings is a good idea. Now that you’re here, we can handle things, can’t we? There’s no reason to let our guests down.”

“Of course. Tiny doesn’t want to cancel bookings, does she?”

“I don’t think so.”

“It’s her resort, so let’s keep everything going. Her brother doesn’t need to know. And I’d like to see Tiny right away. Will you take me to her?”

Mere raised her eyebrows. “If he catches you…?”

Rosa snorted. What was he going to do, spank her? “I need to know she’s okay, so I’ll take the chance.”

“Then come with me.” Mere gave Rosa a wink. “Oh, and in case Dalton forgot to say it, welcome to Lantana Island.”





3





Rosa opened the door of the darkened bedroom. There was a shape in the bed, but she couldn’t tell if the person was asleep.

The room was filled with vases of flowers. There were hibiscus and frangipanis, with lots of other brightly-colored blooms. When she eased inside, their floral perfume was like going into a florist shop. Was it Mere who’d filled Tiny’s room with flowers? If so, it was a lovely gesture.

Rosa crept in with the bottle of champagne in her hand. If Tiny was asleep, she’d leave the bottle on the dresser and go. But as she put it down, the person on the bed stirred.

“Hi Tiny,” whispered Rosa, going to the side of the bed.

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