Authors: Maggie Marr
Tags: #FIC027020 FICTION / Romance / Contemporary; FIC044000 FICTION / Contemporary Women
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The EligibleBillionaires Series
This book is dedicated to Maria Seager.
Maria, you’re every right thing that a good friend should be.
Thank you for sharing your gift of friendship with me.
“It’s so tight.” Ryan couldn’t stop now. He needed this. He had to get what he wanted.
“Harder.” Charla bit her bottom lip. “Can you do it harder?”
Ryan grunted. His breathing shortened. He placed Charla’s hands around the base. He sucked in air. “Come on, baby. Come on, for me …”
The pressure built, and with one more hard squeeze, the lid for the giant jalapeno jar slid loose.
“We got it.” Charla grinned.
Ryan’s heart pulled a bit with her happiness. He’d worked with Charla now for just over two weeks. She had a great smile. Joy took over her entire face and danced into her blue eyes. The splashes of freckles across the bridge of her nose seemed to laugh when she was happy. Charla pulled a strand of blonde hair behind her ear.
He wiggled his eyebrows and set the jar on the bar. “Finally. Took both of us. Maybe I need to hit the gym more often.”
“Right, Mr. Muscleman, like I don’t see you running on the beach every darn day.”
Ryan grabbed a rag from the hook beside the sink and scrubbed the bar top. Running reduced the mental pain and chased away the memories.
Charla turned back to the cutting board, where she prepped fruit and other garnishes for the multitude of drinks they would serve to Mesquale guests today.
A gentle breeze swept off the bright blue Pacific and across the sand. Mesquale was paradise. A warm, lush, tropical paradise. Ryan slid his gaze along the beach and the still-empty cabanas. People came to Mesquale to escape. He certainly had.
Rain. Slick pavement. Lights. Blood. He shook his head.
“All good.” He walked to the end of the bar and flipped on the banana leaf fans that hung low from the thatched roof. The fans slowly turned. According to every bartender at Mesquale, The Banana Boat Bar was the best bar to work. The loudest, hippest spot at Mesquale. Ryan had gotten the shift by covering for his roommate Trevor.
The Banana Boat began service at ten a.m. with Bloody Marys and piña coladas and Mai Tais. They served all the way to two a.m. Mesquale never slept. The resort rocked 24/7/365.
Ryan tossed the washcloth into a laundry bag under the bar. Towels and washcloths were used once. Mesquale was the epitome of cleanliness. And while The Banana Boat Bar was meant to seem easy-peasy casual, this beach bar was still located within a five-star luxury resort where the elite of the world came to play. Luxury was one of the main reasons Ryan had chosen Mesquale.
“Ryan, may I see you please?” Antoine Antigua, the general manager of Mesquale, stood just inside the door of the bar. With steel-grey hair, tanned skin, sharp blue eyes, and a well-tailored handmade suit, Mr. Antigua exuded professionalism. Only perfection was tolerated at Mesquale. “Half an hour.”
Mr. Antigua turned on the heels of his perfectly polished shoes and walked away from the bar.
“Wow. What’d you do?” Charla mumbled. “Didn’t think you’d been at Mesquale long enough to get on Antigua’s radar.”
“Why? Should I be worried?”
Charla raised her shoulder, and the knife she held slid through the rind of a plump lime. “I mean, maybe not worried. Antigua is demanding, but fair. He’s definitely one of us.” Charla’s gaze trailed across the open-air bar and toward a couple that walked along the beach. Diamonds dripped from the woman’s ears, wrists, and fingers. She carried what Ryan had learned was a ten-thousand-dollar handbag. “Not one of them.”
Ryan moved closer to Charla. She smelled like citrus and honey and the ocean. Her hair was still damp from the early morning waves he’d seen her riding before work. “What do you mean one of them?”
Charla put the freshly cut limes in a jar on the bar. “You know.” She lowered her voice to a whisper. “Like us. Good. Kind people who have to
for a living.” Her brows tightened over her pug nose. Ryan followed her gaze toward the long and lean botoxed woman, who settled onto a beach chair.
“People who understand what it’s like to struggle, to feel. People who aren’t handed everything on a silver platter.” She picked up a silver tray and placed two glasses of lemon water and four napkins onto it. “You know, like I’m doing now.” She smiled and wiggled her eyebrows, and broke the tense mood that came with her words.
“Doesn’t everybody work?” He handed her a bowl of fresh strawberries. “Even rich people?”
new to Mesquale. No, not everyone works. Especially not people like her. They’re completely different than us. Believe me, I know firsthand how different those people are. I’m pretty certain just by looking at both of them they’re total trust-funders with a couple million in the bank.” Charla’s gaze landed on Ryan. “I can spot them. Plus they’re thick as thieves at Mesquale.” She lifted the tray. “That’s why us proletariat toilet-scrubbers got to stick together.” She held out her hand in a fist, and Ryan bumped his fist to hers.
Charla turned and sauntered toward the couple, now lounging on their chaise in the increasing warmth. She wore the short sarong and strapless top that was the uniform for all the female bartenders and servers who worked the outdoor cafes and bars at Mesquale.