I stare at this man, who just ordered me to do something far outside my job duties. That he’s asking me to do it makes me want to laugh. I need this job, but I also have a backbone.

“With all due respect, Mr. Blackwood,” I say firmly, my chin lifted. “I’m a housekeeper. I have other suites to clean. I simply can’t help you with this.”

“You can’t help me with this?” he repeats a bit tightly. His expression appears curious, but his eyes darken to the color of storm clouds.

“Sir, Blackwood Hotels prides itself on customer experience. I have a tight schedule to complete the other suites I’m in charge of cleaning. Those customers will suffer if I have to drop my duties to attend to your problems.”

At my refusal, his eyes flare. He takes a step closer, dropping his arms. There’s nothing but a wall of naked, muscular chest before me and I have to tip my head back to keep our eye contact.

“You definitely don’t have a problem speaking your mind,” he muses, sounding shocked. “I’m not sure if I respect you for that or if it pisses me off, especially since I just told you to do something and you refused.”

I swallow hard, wondering if I’ll be able to find another job with early day shift hours to accommodate my schedule and jarring need for income.

CHAPTER 3

Declan

It’s been a long damn time since a woman’s interested me like this, and oddly, the way I know she’s interesting is that my palm actually itches to spank her ass for her impertinence. I’m not taking it personally as Declan Blackwood, heir to the Blackwood fortune and thus should be obeyed in all things, but as a petite, curvy, hot as fuck woman who doesn’t seem to be intimidated by me in the slightest.

Also, she appears to have a brain and some common sense. As her employer and one who exacts the best in customer service, I’m even going to give her bonus points for being concerned about meeting her duties to the other suites she’s set to clean this morning.

No, I want to spank her ass because I have a feeling she’d like it, and I sure as fuck would.

Regardless, I have a pressing problem, and she seems to have the solution. Plus, she’s assertive, quick thinking, understands the Blackwood philosophies on customer satisfaction, and appears intelligent.

Since I just fired mine, I also happen to be without a personal assistant right now.

“I’m going to have you work as my personal assistant.” My authoritarian tone comes naturally when I’m making business decisions. “I’ll call my assistant general manager to inform him to find someone to cover your duties today. You can start by calling the Desert Rose—”

“With all due respect,” she says, speaking firmly. “I decline your offer to be your assistant.”

My body goes taut. People don’t say “no” to me. Surely I heard her wrong. “Excuse me?”

She should look ridiculous with the thin efficiency vacuum gripped in one hand. Instead, she looks formidable. My palm itches even more.

“I enjoy my job in housekeeping,” she says, but I sense the lie.

I cock a skeptical eyebrow, taking a step closer. “Really? You enjoy cleaning toilets and breaking your back every day for nine dollars an hour?”

She blinks, mouth falling open in surprise. I can tell she never expected me to know how much I pay housekeepers, but I know every dollar that goes in and out of my hotel.

“Well, no, I don’t enjoy the work, but I’m satisfied—”

“The assistant’s position starts at forty thousand a year, with health insurance and a 401K. Because of your quick thinking to help save this event, I’ll even give you a five-thousand-dollar signing bonus.”

Her eyes widen. I know I’ve hooked her with the money. I expected no different because who turns their nose up at such an opportunity?

But she doesn’t jump at it. Instead, her brow furrows, appearing thoughtful. Sucking her lower lip between her teeth, she seems to be doing mental calculations.

I have a billion-dollar enterprise to run. Impatience rolls over me. I don’t have time for this, so I try to help with the math. “It’s not rocket science… um… What was your name again?”

“Bailey Robbins,” she replies vaguely, now holding up her fingers to count something out.

“I can assure you, forty thousand a year is way more than nine bucks an hour,” I say dryly. “Take the damn offer, Bailey.”

Her eyes narrowing, she snaps, “I’m sorry… but I have more than one job. I’m trying to figure out if I can manage it all, but you won’t stop distracting me with your scowl. And, for the love of God, can you put on some clothes?”

Yeah… my palm itches so badly I have to resist the urge to scratch it. When I feel a stirring beneath my towel, I realize she most definitely won’t take the job if I get an erection in front of her.


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