True romance is always an adventure...


HOOKED ON YOU

She slowed, turning up the palmetto and begonia lined walkway that led to the front door of Chase’s cottage. Hand trembling, she slipped the key into the lock and let herself in. Time was on her side. Chase was back at the resort restaurant having breakfast. She’d seen him go in just a few minutes before.

Shoving the cart aside, she set about her search. What she was looking for, she had no idea. Anything that would point to Chase’s involvement in her father’s problems. She only hoped she was wrong in her suspicions.

He was neat, she’d give him that. The clothes Chase had brought along for his stay at the Blue Parrot were all folded inside the top two drawers of the white wicker dresser. But that was it. No rope. No guns. No framed picture of a wife. Okay, so the wife had nothing to do with her search. It was good to know just in case Chase turned out to be innocent of her suspicions.

She checked the closet. Nothing out of the ordinary. Shay moved on to the coffee table where she rifled through the assortment of magazines strewn across the glass top. Not one had any letters or words missing from it. Shay sighed in relief. It appeared Chase was innocent.

Looking around, she caught sight of a brown leather wallet lying on the night stand by the bed. She flew around the bed and scooped it up, curiosity driving her. She had no sooner flipped open the wallet when the knob shook on the cottage door.

Shay froze. What was he doing back so soon?

The wallet! He must have forgotten it. Her heartbeat kicked into overdrive as a key jiggled in the lock. She went into full blown panic.

Shoving the wallet into the front pocket of her dress, she dropped to the floor and scooted under the ruffled skirt of the tropical print bedspread.

The door opened, then silence. What was he doing? Her nose twitched as a sneeze threatened to give her away. No matter how great her determination, she lost the battle.

"Bless you," a familiar voice replied.

"Thank you." Shay slapped a hand over her mouth. What was she thinking? Caught red-handed, she scrambled to her knees to peer guiltily over the bed at Chase.

"Looking for something?" he asked as he leaned against the doorframe, arms crossed.

"I...uh..." She got to her feet. "Dust bunnies."

"Dust bunnies?" he repeated, arching a dark brow.

"You know, the dirt that collects under beds." She made her way around the bed to her borrowed cart.

"You work here?"

"I what?" She turned to meet his questioning gaze. Dressed in a pair of low riding jeans that hugged his muscular thighs and an open shirt, Chase’s effect on her senses was overwhelming.

An involuntary shudder moved through her as she recalled the heat of his kiss, the one they’d shared on the dock a few nights before. She had wanted him then and she wanted him now.

"The uniform," Chase prompted, ending the silence. "The cart," he added with a quick nod in its direction.

"Uh...yes." Shay looked down at the too small housekeeping dress, thankful the buttons were still intact, then back at Chase. "Just for the summer."

Her uneasiness grew as his assessing gaze moved over her. The last thing she wanted was for him to find out her real reason for being there. And if her father ever found out...

"I see."

But it didn’t sound like he saw anything. She had to make him believe. "I’m almost done here. I...I just have to," she struggled for a somewhat half-believable reply, "sweep."

His mouth curled up into a grin. "Well, don’t let me stop you. I just came back to get something I forgot." He walked over to the night stand.

Shay turned away and fingered the wallet she had shoved down inside her dress. Now what? She couldn’t very well pull it out now and hand it to him. Maybe Chase would think he’d lost it on his way to the main resort and leave, then she could drop it on the floor by the bed where he’d find it later.

"Is there a problem?"

She bit down worriedly on her lower lip. "Uh, no."

Pull yourself together, Shay, you’re supposed to be cleaning his room. Having no other choice, she did just that, calmly walking over to the service cart she had brought in with her. She reached for the oversized commercial grade sweeper and lowered it to the floor with a muffled groan. It was heavier than it looked. She had to give her father’s housekeeping staff credit.

Unwinding its cord, she plugged it into an outlet by the door. The sweeper roared to life almost instantly and began moving across the floor on its own. With a startled shriek, she raced after it.

Chase’s head snapped around her direction, a grin tugging at his lips. "Everything all right?"

Catching the runaway sweeper by its handle, she forced a smile. "New sweeper."

With a shrug, he turned away and resumed rifling through the top drawer of the night stand.

Shay struggled with the two ton sweeper, at the same time keeping a close eye on Chase who was still digging through the dresser drawers. When was he going to leave? Maybe she should ask him what he was looking for then suggest he look on the path leading to the resort. Or maybe...

A loud whirring sound interrupted her thoughts, followed by a high-pitch grinding that echoed off the walls as the high powered vacuum sucked up the ruffle at the foot of the bed.

"Shoot!" Shay tugged at the sweeper as it made a meal out of the bedspread. Smoke began to wisp out from under it.

Chase flew across the bed and yanked the plug from the outlet, then turned to her. "They pay you to do this?"

"I’m new. This is my first housekeeping job." It wasn’t exactly a lie.

"No kidding."

She yanked the tattered ruffle free of the sweeper. "I’ll have a new bedspread sent down." She loaded the vacuum cleaner back onto the cart and started toward the door.

Chase stepped into the open doorway, blocking her escape. "What’s your hurry?"

His body became a muscled wall in front of her. Her gaze settled on the bare chest displayed between the open flaps of the white linen shirt. Shay swallowed hard.

His musky male scent surrounded her and she fought the urge to reach out and run her fingers down his chest. Looking up, she met his piercing stare.

"I don’t make it a habit of cleaning rooms when the guests are in them," she explained, her heart working overtime.

"Just cleaning them out while the guests are away?" he inquired as he backed her into the room and closed the door.

"No. I...I mean yes," Shay whispered as the backs of her legs met the edge of the bed. "That’s how it usually works."

He reached behind him to bolt the door.

"W...what are you doing?"

Chase made no reply as he moved toward her.

She forgot to breathe.

Pulling her to him, he slipped a hand between them. "Shay," he whispered against her ear.

The temperature in the room shot up a good hundred degrees. With a groan, she surrendered to his touch. She was a big girl. One in desperate need of a fling. Dee was right. It had been way too long.

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