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Maid for the Rock Star

By:Demelza Carlton


ONE



"Rock stars don't retire at twenty-five! I'm way too young. And there's no way in hell I'm taking up lawn bowls." Jason stared moodily out the helicopter window at the pearl farm below.

Beside him, Jo shrugged. "So get a job. Find a different hobby. And no, banging every girl you meet isn't a hobby. It's more like an addiction you should kick."

"It's not my fault women find me irresistible," he said smugly. "I'm a fucking rock star. C'mon, sis, name two women who wouldn't sleep with me if I asked them."

"Well, there's me, for a start." Jo spotted the pearl farm. "Ooh, I should stop there before I leave town. I could wear pearls in the office..."

Jason snorted. "You're family. You don't count."

Jo favoured him with the glare he'd seen her practising in the mirror – the one she planned to use on staff who'd blown their budgets. "My dear stepbrother, in case you've forgotten, there's no blood relationship between us. So if you truly are irresistible, your charms should work on me. And I'm just not interested."

"No, you're just crazy." Jason waved a hand up and down the body he knew was sculpted to perfection. "No sane woman can resist this."

"Approaching Romance Island now. I'll have you on the ground in five minutes," the pilot said flatly.

Jason considered her. No, too old. She had to be well over thirty. He peered back out the window, hoping to catch a glimpse of bikini-clad bodies on the beach as the white and green streak on the horizon expanded into a heart-shaped atoll.

He couldn't help feeling a thrill of excitement. This was the place, he knew it. This exclusive tropical resort was where a rock star could get a bit of rest and recuperation, with plenty of female company to keep him busy at night. And when Angel came to her senses and set out to find him...well, here he'd be. In paradise. What more could she ask for than the perfect man in the perfect setting? Maybe she'd reconsider her decision to break up the band, agree to do a comeback tour, and realise that nothing was better than living the rock star life. She just needed a bit of time, that's all. Time he'd spend in paradise, living it up.

He wondered whether he wanted blonde, brunette or a rare redhead tonight. When the helicopter bumped to the ground, he decided to leave it up to chance. After all, he could try something different tomorrow.





TWO



"Audra, you'll take care of the Pearls this week." Annette didn't lift her eyes from the staff roster in her hands.

Audra raised her eyebrows at hearing the name of the resort's crown jewels. "I thought only Jackie cleaned the Pearl Villas." Casual housekeeping staff like her didn't have a hope in hell of getting near the VIPs who stayed in the Pearls. She usually ended up dealing with the motel-style rooms in the main building. Families, honeymoon couples and well-paid professionals who didn't have secrets to keep like the Pearl guests did on the other side of the lagoon.

Annette shrugged. "Jackie's off sick. Injured her knee when she slipped cleaning one of the bathrooms. I can assign one of the other girls – Penny, maybe – but you asked for more responsibility, and if you want to stay on after the dry season's over, you'll have to know how to deal with VIPs."

And if she didn't, Penny might get the permanent position instead, was what Annette didn't say. She didn't have to. Audra needed the job and she couldn't afford to lose it to Penny. This job would see her through until next year's round of graduate job offers, if she could win the contested full-time position in the off season. Otherwise, she'd be forced to return to endless rounds of job-hunting between queuing up for unemployment benefits. Just like her brothers and her father. "No, I'll do it," Audra replied. "Thank you."

"You should thank me. Maxima's the only villa occupied at the moment. One VIP whose only request is privacy and solitude. Should be easy."

Audra nodded, but she didn't agree. Nothing in her life was ever easy.

Annette set the roster down on the table and pulled her phone out of her pocket. "I'll just send a message to Dennis and get him to authorise access for you." She tapped at her phone screen. "There. Run on over to Reception and he'll take care of it."

Thanking her boss one last time, Audra left the staff dining room and wended her way past the staff accommodation, through the palm trees and up to the main building. It wasn't until she reached the doors that she caught more than a glimpse of the heart-shaped lagoon that gave Romance Island its name. Not for the first time, she marvelled at how well the luxury resort's service areas were hidden among the dense palms and pandanus. When the guests paid a fortune for every night they stayed on the island, they didn't want to be reminded that the small army of staff who served their every need also lived there, rent-free.

Audra breathed in the faint scent of frangipani as she entered the air-conditioned foyer, wishing she could wear one behind her ear like the Reception staff did, but the flowers scarcely stayed in place through the first room she cleaned, let alone the whole day, so she'd given up on them.

Hana, the Japanese tour guide, stood alone at the Reception desk.

"No tours today?" Audra asked.

"Just heli-fishing this morning. This afternoon I have a large group snorkelling in the Rose Garden, if you want to come." Her dark eyes shone with eagerness. Audra suspected Hana preferred being in the water to staying on land, but she didn't understand it.

"Only if you tell the sharks to stay away," Audra replied.

Hana giggled. "Oh, but the reef sharks are the best part! They're so very shy."

"Not with me." Audra still bore the scars of her first meeting with a reef shark. She'd stood knee-deep in the shallows of what had turned out to be the reef shark nursery and one of the beasts had bitten her on the leg. She wouldn't venture into the water again in a hurry.

Speaking of hurrying... She caught a glimpse of Dennis entering the security office, made her excuses to Hana and headed after him.

Dennis gave her a curt nod of recognition and held out his hand. "ID?"

Audra slipped off her wristband and handed it over.

Dennis dropped it into the scanner and drummed his fingers on the keys. "So now you have access to all the Pearl Villas, too. Anything else I can get you?"

Audra shook her head and fastened her ID around her wrist. "Thank you."

"You watch out over there," Dennis said darkly, glaring at the lagoon.

Audra followed his gaze. "Believe me, I'm not interested in getting up close and personal with any more sharks."

He snorted out a laugh. "Not just the sharks in the water. The ones in the villas, too. Rich snobs, people with more money than morality. Or sense. Be careful, or you'll lose your job."

"How? I'm not going to steal from them, and I know all about our confidentiality and non-disclosure clauses. I'm not stupid enough to take any stories to the press."

"That's good, but it's the no-fraternising rule you'll need to remember." His gaze seemed to be searching for her soul.

"I haven't fraternised with anyone, guest or staff, since the day I arrived, and I don't intend to," she replied. "Do you seriously think I'd seduce some old mining tycoon for his fortune?" The money would be handy, she couldn't deny it, but the thought of sleeping with some old man... it just wouldn't be worth it. She wasn't desperate enough to do that.

"No, you're a good girl, but your dad would want me to look out for you, is all. We worked together for long enough, he's almost like family, which makes you family, too. And your mum would kill me if I let anything bad happen to you up here. I'm already in hot water over the shark." Dennis coughed. "There's a reason only Jackie services those houses."

"Because she's the most senior housekeeper under Annette," Audra snapped. "She's damn good at what she does. She still holds the record for being the only person capable of cleaning the entire main building in a single shift, and she managed that ten years ago. No one else can do it."

Dennis nodded thoughtfully. "That's why she's senior staff, yes, but not why she gets the Pearls. We used to send younger staff out there, but I've had to escort too many of them off the island. Seduced by the guests. Money or love or...some of them said they were bullied into it by the VIPs, told they'd lose their jobs if they didn't cater to the guests' every whim. I don't want to see it happen to you."

Audra fought back her anger. Dennis and her parents worried about her, she knew that, but she'd been working part-time hospitality jobs for the last seven years, since she turned fourteen. And she knew how to deal with misogynistic male customers with entitlement issues, whether they were paying a thousand dollars a night for a beachside villa or three dollars for a cup of terrible coffee. Though hot coffee to the crotch was a better defence than trying to crush his foot with a lumbering cleaning trolley full of towels. More satisfying, too.

Unless Dennis knew something he wasn't telling her...

Suspicion drove her to say, "Do you know something about the VIPs here now that you're not telling me? Is it some irresistible porn star or something?"

Dennis laughed. "Nah, no idea who the guests are. Call it a hunch, so I'm telling you to take care."

Audra took a deep breath. "Thanks, Dennis, but we both know no rich guy's going to look at me twice, unless his eyesight's failing. A welfare family girl who grew up in overcrowded public housing? I wouldn't be good enough for him. You've got nothing to worry about."

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