Room Service Read online

“Oh, forget him,” Liza said with a sniff, but she flipped over, revealing her thong bikini bottoms. Or more to the point, her extremely perfect yoga-tightened butt.

  From Eric’s chair came a choking sound. When they looked over at him, he turned his head away.

  Liza sent Em a smile. “See? Right where I want him.”

  Em shook her head.

  “So tell me again why we sent coffee to a man who could probably get any coffee in the city that he wanted, especially from his own hotel?”

  Em sat back against the cushy lounge chair and sighed. “Because I’m trying to apologize to him.”

  “Because why?”

  “Because he deserves it. I should have told him sooner, Liza.”

  “Really? When, exactly? When he was kissing you in the elevator?”

  “Yes, well, certainly by that second kiss.”

  Liza’s eyes nearly bugged out of her head.

  Even Eric sat up for this one.

  “Second kiss?” they both asked together.

  Em rolled her eyes. “Look, this isn’t exactly the time to discuss how many kisses there were.”

  “When exactly would be a good time then?” Liza asked. “The next time I find you two having wild monkey sex in your room?”

  “We were not having wild monkey sex,” Em said with exaggerated patience.

  “What about regular sex?” Eric asked hopefully. “Because you could tell us about that.”

  Liza shoved him back to his lounge. “Perv.”

  “I’m just saying she should get it off her chest,” he said innocently. “That’s all.”

  “There’s nothing to get off my chest,” Em assured the both of them. “And we’re here to talk about the real issue, that being the chef for the show.”

  “Or the lack thereof,” Liza pointed out.

  “Yes, thank you, Liza. Or the lack thereof. A situation that needs to be fixed, immediately. I’m going to find a way to talk to Jacob. I’m not giving up there, but…” Em’s stomach clutched yet again. She felt funny opening her briefcase and pulling out a pad of paper in her bikini, but desperate times…“Any thoughts just in case?”

  “Hire me,” Eric said.

  Liza laughed.

  Eric turned his face toward the sun, his expression unreadable. “Well, if that’s so funny, audition for other chefs.” He sprawled facedown on his lounge again, stretching his long, lean body as he sunned. “Right here at Hush.”

  Liza and Em looked at each other in shocked surprise. “You know,” Liza said, “once in a while he actually has a few productive thoughts.”

  “I’ve got a few more,” Eric assured her with a naughty tone in his voice. “Want to hear them?”

  “No,” Liza said.

  Eric shrugged and lay back down, facing away from them.

  This left Liza free to openly study his slicked-up, smooth back and butt, with such an expression of longing it hurt to look at her.

  “Tell him you want him,” Em mouthed.

  Pride blaring from her gaze, Liza shook her head.

  Em sighed and began to make her list. “We’ll need to book a conference room.”

  “And get the word of the auditions out,” Liza added.

  “I can do that.” Eric mumbled this into his lounge pillow. “I’ve got agents I can call. Don’t worry, I’ll get you a decent showing.”

  It had to be done, Em thought as Eric and Liza continued to come up with good ideas. They had to have a viable backup if Jacob truly wasn’t interested. She could do that, find someone else with the charisma and talent she needed. Because she couldn’t lose sight of the real issue—this was her last chance. If she screwed this up, by this time next month she’d be standing behind a counter in a silly hat, asking customers if they wanted red or green sauce with their tacos.

  “Excuse me,” came a low, soothing female voice. “We’re ready for you in the spa.”

  Eric and Liza jumped up eagerly. Em wrapped herself in one of Hush’s thick towels and followed the woman through the gorgeous garden that someone worked very hard on. The moment they entered the spa, Em let out a deep, tense breath she hadn’t even realized she’d been holding.

  She could smell a myriad of special scents, mostly lavender, and the walls glowed with a gentle light that was nearly as soothing as the scent. In the reception area there was a wall of cascading water that both looked and sounded incredibly appealing. It was so beautiful in here it made her ache, and the quiet surrounded her, a calming balm on her shaky spirit.

  They were each led into separate rooms. Em’s had a freestanding waterfall similar to the one in her room. There was incense burning, and the soft sounds of a jungle coming from speakers she couldn’t see. An attendant told her about an Indo-Asian hot oil treatment. “A delight to the senses,” she promised in a soft, quiet voice that went with the atmosphere. “When you’re ready, remove your suit, stretch out on the massage table and just concentrate on relaxing.”

  Braving the moment, Em stripped out of her bathing suit, covered herself with a sheet so soft it felt like a cloud and lay down. The attendant came back in and started the massage, using heated oil that had Em melting into the table. Her skin soaked up the oil, and by the time it was over, she didn’t think she had a single bone left in her body.

  Then she was wrapped in warm, herb-soaked strips of linen and covered with the sheet, left to bake pleasantly under a heat lamp. Once alone, she listened to the sounds of the water hitting the rocks, of the faraway jungle, and nearly forgot all about her troubles. In fact, her entire being began to let go for the first time in a very long time.

  The door opened. “Look at that,” someone said in a very low, husky Southern drawl. “Just what the doctor ordered—Emmaline Harris, bound and stretched out for my perusal.”

  Em, flat on her belly, trussed up in her herb-soaked linens and sheet like a mummy, barely lifted her head. It was all the movement she could manage.

  Jacob’s mouth was curved in a smile, but it wasn’t necessarily a friendly one. It held things, naughty, wicked things, and made her tummy tremble.

  “What are you doing here?” she asked, struggling to sit up.

  He held up a piece of paper. Her note, written to him in her own hands, inviting him to please come see her today, anytime, anywhere.

  Admittedly, not her smartest idea. An open invitation.

  Interestingly enough, the note was crinkled, as if he’d balled it up, then smoothed it out.

  And if she took a good look at him, she could see his jaw was tight enough to tic, that those broad shoulders seemed tightened as hard as rocks.

  Chef was looking a little tense.

  “Jacob,” she said, still fighting the linen. “I’m so sorry I hurt your feelings.”

  “You didn’t.” He moved close, watching her tussle with the sheet for a moment before he gave her a hand, helping her to a sitting position so that her legs hung over the edge.

  She kept a hold on the sheet wrapped around her body—her only armor—clutching it close, hoping not to expose any body parts. “I wanted to talk to you,” she said, “about the show.”

  He hadn’t backed up. His thighs bumped her knees. “I’m not here to talk about the show.”

  “Oh.” She smoothed the sheet over her legs, feeling the strips of linen beneath beginning to loosen. “But—”

  “No business in here.” Reaching out, he stroked a finger over her shoulder—her bare shoulder—making her painfully aware that her sheet had slipped. With only the strips of the herb-soaked linen beneath, she wasn’t completely bare, but she felt pretty damn naked all the same.

  Jacob was just looking at her, his eyes dark and unreadable, leaving her feeling like Little Red Riding Hood staring into the eyes of the hungry wolf. She fought with the sheet a minute, tugging, letting out a sound of vexation because it was trapped under her butt.

  Jacob watched, a slight smile on his lips.

  She finally managed to pull some of the sheet free from beneat