His Millionaire Maid

By: Coleen Kwan

“Not in Hartley.” He riffled his hair and sighed. “Look, there’s a room next door you can have. It’s nothing fancy, but I won’t charge you for it until you’re back on your feet.”

She lit up, surprised and touched by his offer. “Oh, that would be fantastic! Thank you, that’s really generous of you.”

Good-looking and kind to strangers. Joe was pretty awesome. But, more importantly, she now had a job and a place to stay. That wasn’t so hard. Things were looking up.

“You don’t happen to have a universal phone charger, too, do you?” she asked. “The jerk took everything.”

“Sure, we keep a few spare for guests.” He rummaged in his desk drawer and handed her a charger.

“Thanks.” She sighed in gratitude. “You’re a lifesaver.”

He shrugged. “Let me show you your room.”

Joe led her out of his office and back into the corridor. “Like I said, it’s nothing fancy. No en suite, but there’s a bathroom down the hall—not renovated like the others but usable. And you don’t have to worry about guests here, because this section of the inn isn’t for public use.” He opened the neighboring door and gestured her to go in. “No one’s used this room in a while.”

Nina walked into the room and stopped dead. God, he hadn’t been kidding when he said it wasn’t fancy. Dull gray walls, scuffed floorboards, a single bed, a scratched desk, and a sagging armchair. A narrow window looked out on the service yard where the trash bins were kept. No private balcony. No stunning beachfront view. The room was clean and habitable, but about as welcoming as a prison cell, and a million miles away from her bright, comfy apartment back in the city.

As she looked around, Joe’s gaze zeroed in on her. He was waiting for her reaction. Maybe he expected her to complain. She took a breath, searching for something positive to say, but failed.

“Well, okay,” she muttered.

Joe stepped forward. She sensed him weighing her up. “Is there a problem?”

No problem at all. Except her car was at the bottom of a quarry, she had fewer friends than she’d assumed, and she was diving headfirst into her craziest scheme ever. A sense of loneliness hit her, making her shiver, but she pushed away the vulnerability.

“It’s been a long day.” She shrugged.

He didn’t speak for a while, and the silence crackled with tension.

“Are you in trouble with the law?” he asked, his voice surprisingly gentle.

“What? N-no!” she spluttered. He sensed something didn’t add up, she realized, and she had to give him a plausible story. “I’m not running from the police. It’s more of a…a family issue. I had to get away for a while, and this job came up…” She silently prayed that whoever had really been sent to this job would never turn up. “I’ll admit I don’t have much experience cleaning or busing tables, but I’m a fast learner. Please, I could use a break.”

And Joe was a good guy. Even though she’d only met him half an hour ago, there was something intrinsically trustworthy about him.

He studied her a moment more and then released a sigh. “I might regret this later, but okay, I’ll give you a chance.”

She grinned at him, unable to hold back her relief. “Thank you. I won’t let you down.”

“You’d better not. I don’t have time for games.”

“Doesn’t that depend on the game and who’s playing?” Her smile widened.

Joe blinked at her, and that spark between them was back, flashing in the air, too obvious to miss.

“Uh, yeah.” He coughed, shifted on his feet. “Well, you’re welcome to this room for as long as you need it. Linen and blankets are in the supply room. And like I said, bathroom’s down the hall. Come on, I’ll show you around the bar and introduce you to the rest of the staff.”

He walked out, leaving Nina to stare after him. He really had the cutest ass in those tight jeans. She couldn’t stop smiling. Joe had no idea who she was. She had flirted with him with impunity, and her name and wealth had nothing to do with his reaction. Not that she was purposely going to flirt with him, though, because he was her employer and she wanted to make a good impression. But it didn’t hurt that he was the hottest guy she’d come across in a long while. Not one bit.

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