Wyndham Hotel was majestic.
With its empowering height, floor-to-ceiling windows, and white façade, it was something to behold.
Whenever you arrived in Alta Bahia, the tallest building was the Wyndham Hotel. It was an incredible sight to see the ocean behind it while the sunlight reflected against the tinted windows. What was more majestic was how its windows reflected everything around the building.
You could see Alta Bahia all over Wyndham Hotel—the buildings, the streets, the beaches, and the sea.
But looking at the hotel from the outside didn’t do justice to the view from the inside.
It didn’t matter how many times Cole had come to the hotel to spend crazy afternoons with Hunter and Alexander, haunting guests and playing cards with the staff. How he’d snuck girls into the hotel for rendezvous. That time he lost his virginity to the amazing Samantha Parker.
Oh, Samantha. Wow.
Or the times he had passed by it while he was running alongside his best friend Nina and wishing he was dead from exhaustion.
He’d never stopped being mesmerized.
The fact that he had fond memories of the place made it more special.
But he better stop thinking about Samantha or he would be sporting a very unwelcome tent in his pants. No need to start traumatizing anyone yet. It was still early.
He had other plans for later though.
When Cole stepped in, the fresh smell and cold air invaded him. It smelled like childhood, crazy and drunk nights, pranks, and laughs.
His eyes moved around the place, taking it all in. The huge circular reception with a bright chandelier hanging in the middle, and natural light filtering everywhere. Potted plants were scattered in all the corners or pushed against walls.
His stare zeroed in on someone at the front desk. A large beam cracked on his face.
Though he knew his way around the place, Cole couldn’t help but approach the front desk.
“Rupert!” It was a surprise to find him at the reception, seeing as last week Rupert was still the doorbell man.
Rupert raised his eyebrows when he spotted Cole.
“Incredible day, isn’t it?” Cole asked, leaning over the counter.
“It is, Mr. Cole,” Rupert answered in his usual polite tone, even though half the time he wanted to yell at him. Rupert basically saw Cole growing up in this very hotel, the Mister title was nonsense. “Are you waiting for Mr. Hunter?”
“No.” He frowned. “But if he’s back from his trip, tell that annoying idiot to come and greet me like a proper person. No phone call or text.”
Whenever summer started, Hunter Wyndham fled from Alta Bahia like it was on fire. Though it wasn’t far from the truth, temperatures resembled those in hell.
However, Hunter ran away for one reason only to the northwest—Eloise James.
The guy could lie all he wanted and say Ellie and he were just best friends, but Cole had known Hunter since they were small kids. Hunter couldn’t fool him. Not by a long shot.
Turning back to Rupert, Cole exhaled. “I miss that fucker.”
Summers were better when Hunter was around. And that was back in the days when they were still going to high school and Eloise James still lived in Alta Bahia.
Best friends, my incredible ass.
You didn’t pack every summer to visit your best friend in another faraway state. Not when most of your other best friends were already here.
Rupert raised his eyebrows, unperturbed by Cole’s foul mouth.
“Anyway,” Cole said. “We are going to have a blast, Rupert. The two of us.”
“Meaning, Mr. Cole?”
“I’m going to work here, old champ. First day.”
Rupert hummed. “It is going to be…interesting. That’s as much as I can say. Congratulations, and please stay away from trouble until my shift is over.”
Cole laughed hard and headed to the elevators. He said over his shoulder, “Can’t promise that, Rupert. Trouble likes to find me.”
Dora, head of HR, was the first one to greet him on the second floor where all the administrative offices were.
Though a stream of new people were there, Dora approached him with a big grin.
“Cole, great seeing you.”
“Dora, lovely as usual.” He smiled.
Dora giggled and handed him a tag with his name already on it. He took it, hung it on the corner of his shirt at the top, and winked at her.
She shook her head, however, he knew she was beyond charmed.
He took a seat in the middle between a guy and a girl. The room wasn’t full yet, expecting more new employees to come. Most of the new ones were temporary for the summer. Another hand to handle the hot season when tourists came streaming to the clear and private beaches.
However, if you did a remarkable job, it was likely Wyndham Hotel would find a position for you. That was what Cole was aiming for. It could start as an internship with an expiration date by the end of the summer, but he was hoping for something more stable.
He needed it.
He needed security, stability, and a good income.
Cole had joked a few months back that he would turn into the CEO of Wyndham Hotel, stealing Hunter his legitimate future position since he was the heir to the empire. Though Cole knew it was farfetched, he was aspiring for something huge right in this hotel.
After a few more minutes passed and more people filled the seats, Dora moved to the front of the auditorium with a microphone in hand.
“Hello, everyone. Welcome to Wyndham Hotel,” She smiled brightly to everyone in the room, and proceeded to give information about the hotel’s history, how it operated nowadays, some recognitions, cultural organization, and so on.
It was the typical introduction to every company, but Cole was grinning hard.
After long hours, they were given a tour of the installations and facilities of the hotel. The gym, the restaurants, the bar, the spa.
As they marched down the third floor, Cole couldn’t help but turn to the guy who was sitting next to him back in the auditorium. “I used to play hide and seek here. The best hiding place in the hotel, in case you’re wondering and having a crisis, is the room at the end of the hall, on the left. It is a bathroom. No one uses it. You can have your meltdown in peace. Cry some tears. No one would bother you.”
When they reached the wet area, Cole sighed as he cast a longing glance at the swimming pool.
“And there,” Cole nodded to the pool. “I had one of the best action nights ever. I asked this older girl to Winter Ball. She said yes, of course. After the ball, we came here for a while. I kissed her. She let me touch her boobs. I have to say, up to this day, she has the most amazing breasts.”
Harry chuckled next to him, and Cole laughed. However, his laugh got hitched in his throat as he locked gazes with glaring gray eyes.
Something stopped inside him. He wasn’t sure what. Maybe his heart?
But it didn’t matter because he wasn’t paying attention to it. Instead, he was fixated on those fucking gray eyes.
Were those eyes even real?
Cole couldn’t fathom the existence of such color. He wanted to move closer to make sure.
He felt his mouth drying the longer he stared back at her.
The girl with mesmerizing, tormenting eyes remained glaring at him for a few more seconds before they flickered back to Dora. The girl asked something, and Dora nodded, replying.
Cole wasn’t able to hear their words.
He wanted to say something disapproving so the girl glared back at him again. But before he could come up with something scandalous, Dora proceeded with the explanations, and the girl was gone.
He needed to know who she was. He’d find out later. Maybe he could ask Dora…
Throughout the tour, Cole kept searching for the girl. She remained next to Dora, shooting questions. However, she never turned to look at Cole. It was as if he didn’t exist anymore.
He needed to solve that.
When they finished looking around the installations. HR pointed out where their working places were located and some general information about breaks, the use of the canteen for drinks, and so on.
Cole was guided to the Events Management and Collaborations division, next to the HR offices.
It came as a great surprise when he found stormy eyes there too. She was placing her things on an empty desk.
Cole rushed to grab the other desk. He shot her a grin when she lifted her head.
He could remain staring at her all day long. The strong intensity behind her eyes was something that rendered you speechless and unable to move.
Though they were cold, their effect on Cole was the opposite. He felt like he was burning up inside. Fire rushed throughout his bloodstream until he felt unbearably hot.
With a flirty nod, Cole raised his hand for her to shake. “A pleasure meeting you, Sugar. I’m Nicholas Winston, but you can call me Cole.” Because he couldn’t help himself, he added. “Or babe.”
She narrowed her eyes at him and never offered her hand to shake. “Stop calling me that, or I’ll report you to HR.”
“Funny.” He chuckled softly.
She was no sweetheart, but that didn’t deter him. If anything, her saltiness made her more intriguing and interesting.
She sighed and continued accommodating her stuff on the desk, shifting the computer and phone so they were aligned and organized.
Cole didn’t realize he’d been studying her with a lazy smile until she sat on her seat and raised an eyebrow at Cole, who had remained unmoved for the past three minutes.
“What’s your name then?” He wondered.
“Cute.” It suited her. She was graceful as she moved. “Nice meeting you, Grace Whitley.”
Her name rolled easily in his mouth.
“So, Grace Whitley, what college do you attend? Or are you freshly graduated?”
She exhaled, already annoyed by him. Her reaction made his lips twitch higher. “Boston U. Just graduated.”
Instead of keeping the conversation going, she powered up the computer and started setting up her information.
“You moved all the way here for the internship?”
“Yes.” Her answer was dry.
“I’m from Alta Bahia University. Pretty nice. It has a big, open campus. Plenty of green parks. A large lake which I loved to use to skinny dip while drunk back in freshman year.”
He was waiting for her disapproving gray eyes to turn back to him.
She just ignored him.
“We are not big on football, but you might have heard Graham St. Claire went there. The great Graham St. Claire.”
Grace hummed, uninterested.
Not interested in football either—noted.
“Why did you decide to move here?” Cole wondered, sitting on his desk and trying to look at what had her so interested.
“My parents live in Miami.”
“Oh. So, you’re from Miami?”
“Yeah. Should have guessed it. The accent.”
She nodded, still fixated on her screen. Cole couldn’t figure out what was so interesting with her email. The total amount of emails in her inbox was 1. It was the welcome email. That’s it.
“Well, Grace Whitley. I’m from Alta Bahia, in case you need tips for amazing places to eat, or nice places to chill. Or in case you need someone amazing to chill out with and show you around.”
She raised her eyebrows but didn’t comment.
Getting words out of her was challenging, but Cole loved challenges. Throughout the years he had honed his skills to worm into people’s good graces, even though they were uninterested in the beginning.
He had to admit he was very interested in getting to know his new colleague. For labor purposes, of course. They were now a team. They better start working on blooming their relationship.
Before Cole could ask Grace Whitley more questions, their new boss came out of his office to give a brief greeting and welcome the new team (basically what was written in the email). He gave a short but concise speech before giving instructions on what they should do next and who was going to train them.
Grace and Cole were assigned the same person who started explaining a bit of the process in the department. The entire time, Cole paid attention to Grace, how she was laser-focused on listening to every detail, nodding, and humming.
Her level of dedication was endearing.
Her lips were also pressed into a tight line, no smile ready to crack anytime soon, even when there was a small joke thrown in.
In the end, Cole didn’t have much idea what he was supposed to do, but he guessed he’d bother Grace about it tomorrow. Another excuse to talk to her. Maybe make her smile a bit.
She seemed to be in need of sparkles and sunshine in her life.
By the end of the day, Cole gathered his stuff and turned to leave. He knocked his knuckles against her desk to call for her attention. She stared at him.
“Goodbye, Salt.” He smiled at the new nickname that popped up. It fitted her. “I can’t wait to start working with you tomorrow. Rest, because you’ll need it.”
She glared at him, and he winked before walking away.
Tomorrow couldn’t come faster.