My eyes darted around the lobby of the hotel. Something was off. Something didn’t look right, but what? I needed everything to be perfect, beyond perfect. I needed everything to be immaculate—spectacular. Despite the fact that my hotel only brought in the elite of the elite, I wanted the reviews to be glowing, and Parker Ryan, acclaimed travel journalist and hotel reviewer, must not be disappointed.
Everything and anything he wanted, he was going to get.
And if I happened to make a friend along the way, all the better.
My therapist said I’m lonely and I need to make friends.
I wasn’t sure I agreed, but whatever.
I was too busy to be lonely. My days were full. It was my responsibility to make sure that my guests were happy and my staff was taken care of.
It’s impossible to make friends or be lonely when you’re the Big Kahuna and work eighty hours a week.
I had no time for either.
I’d arranged for Mr. Ryan to stay in the most luxurious villa, the presidential villa. He’d get daily massages, deep-sea sport fishing with our best guide, a sunrise hike up to the Belvedere Lookout, tableside dinners by the executive chef and, if he was up for it, spear-fishing, parasailing and skydiving with yours truly.
Yes, everything must be perfect.
I needed to impress Parker Ryan, and I needed to impress him big time.
It didn’t matter that my resort was one of the most sought-after holiday spots in the entire world and that only the elite one percent of the population could afford to come here, to the tropical island haven of Moorea; I had other properties, and they needed the exposure, too.
So if Parker Ryan wanted to come here to Moorea and interview me, he was going to get star treatment all the way.
He just couldn’t take my picture.
I continued to stare at the framed painting of a tropical sunset hanging above some wicker chairs. Something was off; there was imperfection afoot.
It was crooked.
I hustled over and fixed it, then I noticed some dust on the top of the frame. Using the handkerchief from my breast pocket, I began to dust.
Muttering to myself, I took to dusting the entire sitting area.
“This is not my fucking job. Where is housekeeping?” Probably off doing their job; they’d get to this room later. I immediately chastised myself for my thought.
My staff was actually fantastic, and I had nothing to complain about.
I was letting the nerves get to me. I’d just never agreed to an interview before, and it was stressing me out. I prided myself on my ability to remain under the radar and out of the public eye. I maintained an anonymity most people with my level of wealth found difficult to keep going.
I could walk into a bar anywhere in the world right now and no one would know who I was, no one would know that I’m Tate McAllister—a billionaire and hotel magnate. And I intended to keep it that way.
I glanced at my watch as I continued to dust, desperately trying to rub out a smudge on the glass top of the side table. No smudges. There would be no smudges in my hotel’s review, none.
Shit, it was closing in on go-time. Mr. Ryan was going to be here soon. Damn it!
I lifted my head up from the glass and was dumbstruck.
She was Illuminated like a redheaded angel with the afternoon sun glowing around her in an ethereal halo as she sashayed her way in through the open doors.
The warm breeze snagged the hem of her skirt and flipped it into a jet stream of ivory behind her, while dark crimson tendrils got swept up on another sudden gust and danced around her head like an arc of fire.
She made a half-hearted attempt to tame her wild mane, but then, when her efforts proved futile, she gave up.
When she stepped farther into the lobby and out of the sun’s radiance, I was suddenly sent into a fit of panic.
Her face was nearly as red as her hair, and her eyes were filled with what could only be described as white-hot seething rage.
Without a second thought, I raced up to her. “Hello, and welcome to The Windward Hibiscus Hotel. Is there anything I can help you with?”
Blue eyes the same color as the crystal-clear ocean outside flashed up at me, full of flames . . . and something else.
“Yes!” she said with a huff, her perfect little freckle-covered nose lifting into the air just a touch. “You can take me into the nearest broom closet and fuck me senseless.”