I take off before he can say another word, needing to get the hell out of there. The kid calls after me but I don’t look back. Just keep my head bent and my feet moving, kicking up sand as I propel myself farther and farther away from the temptation that is Lily Fowler.
I don’t even think she realizes who grabbed her out of the water. At least, I hope she doesn’t. And that’s how I need to keep it, because no way in hell do I want her to try and thank me or talk to me.
Bad enough I sat near her cabana earlier while I spied on her. I think she had me figured out after a while, so that’s why I left. I didn’t want to be too obvious, but damn it, I needed to get close.
More like I wanted to get close.
Swiping a hand across the back of my neck, I head for the hotel, practically stomping my feet in the hot sand. Never before have I let a woman affect me like this, especially on the job. I don’t know why I react to her so strongly. I usually know how to play it cool and calm. I don’t let anything get in the way of my job.
But one glance of Lily sitting on that lounger, her skin glistening in the sun, those big designer sunglasses concealing most of her face, adding an air of mystery to the intriguing puzzle that she already is, and I wanted to get closer. Just once.
You’re a fucking idiot.
Yeah, can’t deny that. I’ve done enough things in my life to more than prove that description as accurate.
My phone rings and I answer it, knowing exactly who it is on the other line.
“Where is she?”
I decide to offer up the truth. “Laid out on the sand, unconscious.”
Loud laughter fills my ear and I pull my phone away so I don’t have to listen to the brunt of it. “What, you already knocked her to the ground? You work fast.”
“I don’t abuse women,” I mutter.
“That’s too bad. A good smack might do her wonders.”
Jesus. My client is a world-class, top-grade asshole.
“She almost drowned,” I stress, glancing around to make sure no one’s listening to me. This is a conversation best kept private, even one-sided.
“Yeah, well she probably deserved it, the little witch.” More laughter. Disgust fills me. I don’t like this woman. She’s not nice. Not by a long shot. And I’m still confused over exactly why she wants me to follow freaking Lily Fowler around and grab that goddamned laptop, though my client claims it belongs to her. But I’m starting to wonder if that’s a lie. And I wonder if Lily doesn’t have something big on this woman.
Interesting thought, and not what I would consider far-fetched, either.
“Listen, it doesn’t help, you calling or texting me every couple of hours, checking up on my ass,” I mutter into the phone as I draw closer to the hotel grounds. I’m near the pool and it’s loud. A little chaotic, what with the Hawaiian music playing overhead and guests milling about everywhere. I need to get the hell out of here and back to my hotel room so I don’t have to deal with this shit. Lily Fowler will be laid up for at least a few hours, so I should probably try and grab a nap.
“If I’m not checking up on you, who will? I paid you a lot of money to get this job done and done fast,” she reminds me. “It’s my right to call or text you whenever I want.”
“Yeah, well, you’re messing with my strategy. I’ll report in once a day, got that?” I’m not going to let this woman boss me around. She may have paid me a fat chunk of change that made taking the challenging job more than worth it, but I’m still in charge of my own fucking business.
“Not good enough,” she says with a dark finality that I can’t help but admire, at least momentarily. This woman has balls, I’ll give her that. “Twice a day. Once in the morning, once at night.”
Hell. I scrub my hand across my face. “Deal,” I tell her. “Want your report now or later?”
“Now.” She sounds eager. “Tell me how she ended up unconscious. I want every dirty detail.” She also sounds downright gleeful at the thought of Lily being hurt.
So I give her everything as requested, from my watching Lily while she lazed around in her cabana and drank two alcoholic beverages before noon, right down to her fainting in my arms and me leaving her with the scared hotel employee while they waited for a medic to arrive.
“So you just left her there?” she asks after I finish.
“What was I supposed to do? Introduce myself and let her know I work for you?”
She gasps. “My God, no. That would be a disaster. Bad enough that she ruins everything she puts her filthy hands on.”
I have no idea what she’s talking about and I don’t ask. “I’ll check in on her later. Ask around and make sure she’s all right.” Someone will tell me. I bet even the guy I left her with would let me know what’s up if I found him.
“You do that,” she says distractedly, and I can tell she could give two shits whether Lily is all right or not. What a bitch.
“I’ll call you later tonight and fill you in on what’s going on,” I continue, not wanting to but hell, I have to. She’s not giving me a choice.
“May I ask you a question?”
“Of course.” I’m standing on the edge of the pool area with my back to it, facing the ocean. The sun is hot on my skin; my swim trunks are almost dry even though I’d dived into the ocean only a few minutes ago. I crave a beer and a burger to go along with it. I’m trapped in fucking paradise, waiting for some shrew to read me the riot act.