Boss With Benefits

By: Talia Hunter

“There.” Rosa spotted a sign that pointed them toward another small building. When they pushed open the door and went in, it was cool and dark compared to the brightness of outside. The long, low reception desk was clearly where they were supposed to check in, but currently unmanned. Not a staff member in sight.

Except for Rosa.

She put her bags down, slid behind the desk, and checked the computer. Nobody even knew she’d arrived, and here she was, helping herself to the resort’s reservation system. Still, that’s what she was here for. Rosa Roughknuckles to the rescue, doing what she did best.

“Looks like you’re in Bure 5,” she told Suzie. Only she had no idea where the room keys were kept or whether the room was ready for a new occupant. She thought fast. “How about you head to the bar for a drink, and I’ll figure out if your room’s been made up. I’ll come and get you when I know for sure.”

“Sounds like a plan. Here comes my first cocktail for the week. One thing’s for sure, it won’t be the last.” Reaching for the door handle, Suzie added, “Thanks for sorting things out for me.”

Rosa watched Suzie leave, and saw her almost collide with someone who was coming in. Then a man filled the door frame, and for a moment he was little more than a large silhouette with the light behind him. Though she kept reminding herself Otto was miles away, Rosa’s heart still lurched.

The man was shirtless, wearing only a pair of faded jeans and battered running shoes. In one hand he held an evil-looking machete.

Rosa tried to swallow, but her mouth was suddenly bone dry. She felt herself shrink against the chair, glad to be behind the desk. Could Otto have sent someone here to…? No, that was ridiculous and paranoid. There had to be a rational explanation.

As the man strode toward her, she forced her eyes up from the man’s machete, over the rippling muscles of his stomach, to his face.

The hard, masculine lines of the man’s cheeks and jaw were softened by his full lips and thick eyebrows. One of his eyebrows had a scar cutting through it, making it look like it was broken in two. She liked the rugged look it gave him, and the dissymmetry that made his face interesting.

His dark eyes were framed by long black lashes, and his forehead was creased into a frown. His black hair was short at the sides and longer, almost shaggy, at the top. A few wayward strands of hair hung over his forehead, tickling the top of his broken eyebrow. He was unshaven, and the stubble on his chin dialed his face up from seriously handsome to utterly swoon-worthy.

Or he would be, if he weren’t frowning at her while clutching a deadly weapon.

“Who are you?” he demanded.

“Um.” Rosa found her voice with an effort. “Hi. I’m Rosa, the new resort manager.”

The man’s frown darkened. He leaned over the reception desk, his voice a low and dangerous growl. “The hell you are.”

Rosa gaped up at him, too shocked to answer for a moment. Then she swallowed and lifted her chin. Fearless, remember?

Besides, the man wasn’t wearing a staff uniform. Not unless nipples, rippling six-packs, and foot-long knives were part of the dress code. And she happened to know that the resort only had one male employee: a maintenance man called Winston. If this was Winston, he was being incredibly rude. If he wasn’t Winston, then he was either a deranged guest, or a time-travelling buccaneer straight from the pages of her Anne Bonny novel.

No, he had to be Winston. Which meant he was officially an ass-wipe. In fact, that was his pirate name. Captain Ass-Wipe.

“Tiny hired me,” she said, putting some steel into her voice. As the resort’s new manager, she would be Winston’s boss. A thought that would be a lot more comforting if he weren’t carrying the machete.

The man shook his head, his lip curled as though he’d caught her out in a lie. “Tiny couldn’t have hired you. She’s not well enough to employ anyone.”

“Which is why I came. We’re old friends and she needs someone to run the resort.”

“You’re a friend of Tiny’s?” He looked her up and down as though the information had only made the situation worse.

Rosa rose to her feet, keeping the reception desk between them. She was still at least half a foot shorter than him, but at least now his machete wasn’t at eye level. “That’s right. And I’d like to see her right away.”

His gaze dropped to her duty-free carry bag beside the reception desk. He stared at the bottle of champagne poking out of it and his eyes grew harder and colder than the blade in his hand.

“No need to unpack,” he snarled. “You won’t be here long.”

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