Boss With Benefits

By: Talia Hunter



“Can she walk?”

He nodded. “She’s finding her balance again. Her ankle’s weak, so she needs a brace. And I had to break the bad news that she can’t run any more marathons. You can imagine how upset she was.”

The joke was so unexpected, Rosa let out a surprised noise that was little more than a snort. As active and busy as Tiny had always been, she’d hated sport of any kind. Imagining her wanting to run a marathon was like picturing a fish wanting to climb a mountain.

Tiny had always had a wicked sense of humor. Could Dalton have one too?

“I told her I’d come back and see her again tomorrow,” said Rosa, testing the water. Maybe Dalton wasn’t such an ass-wipe as she’d first thought.

“The therapist isn’t coming tomorrow, so you can stop in anytime. She’s usually got more energy in the morning.”

“Okay.” She motioned toward the reception building. “I’d better get to work.”

He stood aside to let her pass. She could probably call that progress. At least Dalton seemed to have accepted she was going to work here, and didn’t tell her to go home. It wasn’t much to be thankful for, but right now it was all she had.





4





Dalton watched Rosa hurry away down the shell path, her sandals crunching on the shells.

She was slender, with a hint of curves where it counted. Long, graceful legs. Pretty, sure. But she’d ignored the one thing he’d asked of her and woken Tiny when she needed to sleep.

If Rosa had thought she’d take advantage of Tiny’s illness to score herself a fun job on a tropical island doing whatever the hell she wanted, she was dead wrong. That she hadn’t even tried to hide the champagne she’d brought with her pretty much said it all.

She could stick around to help out for a week, maybe two. But as soon as the resort was sold, Rosa would be on a plane home.

And so would he and Tiny. He couldn’t wait.

There was no place in the world Dalton hated more than the Lantana Island Resort, yet here he was in this loathsome hell hole. Making the best of it.

Okay, so making the best of it meant stomping around like a grizzly bear with a wasp nest stuck to its ass, but who could blame him? Being stuck on this cursed island, unable to get treatment for hours, was the reason Tiny’s stroke had done so much damage. The Lantana Island Resort kept demanding more blood from his family. Hadn’t they already given it enough?

It wasn’t until Rosa had disappeared around a curve in the path that Dalton went into the house and peeked in through his sister’s bedroom door. Tiny was in bed with her eyes closed. At least she wasn’t curled up with her face to the wall. Or crying. He hated it when she cried.

He hadn’t meant to wake her again, but when the door creaked, she opened her eyes and lifted her head to see who was there.

“Hey, sis,” he said, going inside. “How are you feeling?”

“I saw Rosa.” Amazingly enough, his sister gave him a smile.

Dalton raised his eyebrows. He hadn’t seen her smile in ages. “You didn’t tell me you’d hired someone.” He kept his tone mild. The last thing he wanted was to upset her, especially if her mood had lifted.

“Need someone to help run this place.”

“You’re not supposed to worry about anything. Leave the resort to me and concentrate on getting well.”

She eyed his bare torso. “You’re sweaty.”

He nodded. He could easily have paid someone to do the work, but there wasn’t a gym on Lantana and he needed to work off his agitation. Besides, the harder he worked, the less he thought about the past. Putting in a hard day’s physical labor made it easier to fall asleep at night.

“I’ve been clearing overgrown sections of the path,” he said. “Got to get the place looking nice to sell it.”

She let out a long sigh. “Don’t want to sell.”

“You need proper treatment.” Though they’d had this discussion several times already, Dalton kept his tone gentle.

“Doctors here are good.”

Dalton shook his head. He’d arranged for as much therapy as was available here, but Fiji was too small to have a dedicated treatment and rehabilitation center. He sat on the side of the bed and took her hand. “Let me take you home, sis.”

“You don’t have a home.”

True enough. But that needed to change. He couldn’t just think of himself anymore.

“We’ll make a home,” he said. “I’ll get us a nice place overlooking Sydney Harbor that’s close to the rehab center. You’ll have the best care available, and you’ll get better.”

“You’d settle down?” She sounded surprised. “For me?”

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