“Where the hell is the help?” he demanded.
Sophie bit her lip. If he knew she was working here, he’d one, never let her hear the end of it, and two, have her fired.
Unfortunately for her, the manager of the place poked his head out of the back office, his beady eyes landing right on her.
With a sigh, she moved to the counter. “I’m the help,” she said.
Lucas narrowed his eyes. “You? You work here? In my hotel?”
Do not overreact, she told herself. Do not give him a thing. “It’s not all yours,” she said evenly. Lightly even. Look at her, being all mature and grown-up.
“That’s what you said about my boat, and who’s living on it?” he asked.
Annnnd…she snapped. “Oh, for God’s sake, get over the damn boat already! The bathroom’s too small, the water’s ice-cold, the single burner only works half the time, and even when it does, it’s either too hot or not hot enough, and the engine sputters and coughs like an old man!”
The old guy on the couch sat up straighter. “Hey.”
“No offense,” she said.
“The engine sputters?” Lucas asked incredulously. “What the hell have you done to it?”
“You have to baby it,” he said. “You have to let it warm up and use the choke. Are you using the choke?”
“Lucas,” the blonde said, tugging on his suit sleeve. “You promised me champagne and whipped cream.”
Sophie threw up in her mouth a little.
“If you’ve ruined the motor,” Lucas said tightly, “I’ll—”
“What?” she asked. “Get me fired from a job I love? Lock me out of my apartment? Take away my car? What, Lucas? What could you possibly do to me that you haven’t already done?”
“What about you?” he asked. “You’ve been telling women”—he broke off with a quick glance at the blonde—“people that I’m dead. Frigging dead, Sophie.”
“Dead to me,” she said. “People always forget that part.”
With a growl, he took a step toward her, and she had to force herself to hold her ground because, oh, hell no would she show him a single ounce of any emotion. Which meant she needed to get herself and her temper under control and fast.
“That was my apartment you lived in,” he said. “My car you drove. I took it all away because it was mine, not yours. You leeched off of me from day one, but that parade’s over, you little—”
That was it. The last straw, so to speak, and through the rushing of the blood in her ears, she ignored both the manager’s horrified gasp and the fact that the front door had opened again. Putting it all aside for the red fury she couldn’t see past, she grabbed the pitcher of water from the counter, the one filled with ice cubes and lemon slices for guests, and…dumped it over Lucas’s head.
The blonde gasped in horror.
“Oops,” Sophie said.
Dripping water from the tips of his ears and nose, Lucas lifted his head. “This was a two-thousand-dollar suit,” he ground out, and when he took a step toward her, she couldn’t stop her retreat. She backed up right into the counter just as a man appeared.
Blocking Lucas from making any forward progress, he turned his head and looked her over, checking for what exactly, she had no idea. His mouth curved slightly and his eyes warmed with what she thought might be…pride?
“What’s going on?” he asked casually, like How’s the weather.
“I’m on a date with the hot chick,” the old guy on the couch said. “The redhead, not the skank.”
The blonde blinked. “Hey.”
Lucas ignored Jacob. He ignored the old guy. He even ignored the blonde. He put a finger in Sophie’s face. “That was no accident, and this isn’t either—you’re fired. I’ll make sure of it.”
Well, that had been a foregone conclusion from the moment he’d stepped inside the hotel, so there was really no use crying over…spilled water.
Jacob pushed Lucas’s hand away from her face, added a long hard look at Lucas that would have had Sophie peeing her pants, and turned his back on the guy to face Sophie. “What do you want to do, babe?”
What do I want to do? He’d just wandered in for God knew what, waded through all the shit they’d been slinging, held off a furious Lucas—no mean feat—and then had handed her the reins, calm as you please. “I’d like to leave,” she said.