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Hey, I get it. Nothing to be sorry about. Life is busy, especially at this time of year.

Sometimes I’m super jazzed about a book, but I don’t get to reading it for a while. Sometimes it takes a friend or two to remind me why I WANT to read it. Sometimes just a reminder email, and I go, “Oh, yeah! I’ve got that book! Let me open it right now!”

🙂 This can be any of those for you. No matter what, I want it to be EASY to read my books. Easy to find them on a variety of retailers, including libraries. Easy to find them in your country. Easy to read them anywhere you read – your phone, an eReader, on an app, in your web browser.

So if you have a few minutes, keep reading for the first couple of chapters of ALOHA HIDEAWAY INN – that free book you got a few weeks ago!

If you can’t remember where you got it, you should be able to find it inside the BookFunnel app, or perhaps you had BookFunnel send it to your device…

Either way, enjoy this billionaire romance with sweet and swoony enemies-to-lovers romance, steamy-sweet kisses, and plenty of beach vibes!

Aloha Hideaway Inn - Chapter One:

Aloha Hideaway Inn - Chapter One:

Stacey Stapleton replaced the phone in its fancy-pants cradle, casting it a glare as if it had done her a personal wrong. Everything about this room on the fifteenth floor screamed high-end, and there was no way for her to replicate it. Number one, she only had one floor, so she could never provide the bay view that this new hotel, Sweet Breeze, did.

Number two, she was currently saving every penny she had to replace the carpet in the five rooms she had available at her bed and breakfast, and she now had a huge charge sitting on her credit card for this little espionage escapade she’d indulged herself in.

She should’ve known coming to Sweet Breeze was a bad idea. The air here felt a little too sticky, the smiles on the staff’s faces a little too sweet, and the service a little too slick.

“I don’t need to replicate it,” she said. People didn’t come to Getaway Bay for the high-tech room phones or even the five-hundred thread count sheets on the king bed where she sat to wait for her room service order.

“Shoot.” She dove for her phone, which she’d left on the clear glass top of the dresser. She started the timer on her phone, mentally telling herself to add a minute to the delivery time. No way this place could provide her a breakfast in the amount of time her cooks could down the beach at Aloha Hideaway.

Plus, while the view was nice for the first selfie or two, Stacey herself much preferred the privacy her bed and breakfast provided, the way the jungle grew right up to the building, almost like it was trying to erase the evidence of mankind’s existence on the island, and the sound of waves from the nearby beach.

Here, she couldn’t even open the window. The best she could do was press a button set into the wall near the bed to simulate the wave sounds. Lame.

With her timer going, and her stay coming to an end, Stacey gathered her personal hygiene items and got in the shower. The spray was hot and strong and perfectly fantastic. So this ritzy hotel that had been siphoning off customers for the ten months since it had opened had excellent showers.

Did people really choose a place to stay based on a shower review?

“Nope,” she said into the spray. Then she turned and squirted some of the hibiscus-scented body wash out of the dispenser stuck to the wall. “And they’re going to waste a ton of money with this thing.” Just to prove her point, she sent a few squirts of the surely expensive soap directly onto the floor of the tub.

She scrubbed herself down, wondering why the owner of Sweet Breeze couldn’t just provide those tiny bottles of bland body wash like every other hotel in the area. Her frustration frothed like the luxury bubbles still foaming on her loofa, and she turned to wash off, wishing her negative attitude and desperation would go down the drain too.

She slipped on the excess body wash she’d deliberately wasted, her arms splaying to the sides, searching for something to grab onto. But this shower was impossibly smooth on all sides, and she ended up grabbing onto the shower curtain. It wasn’t even standard, as it didn’t rip off the rod like hers would have.

Cursing herself for being spiteful, she found her feet and regained her balance, smoothing down the shower curtain like it was a cat. She almost expected it to start purring, not that she had any experience with a content cat.

Her feline friend was as grumpy as they came, and Malificent skulked around the bed and breakfast with a general disdain that applied to everything she came in contact with. If Stacey even tried to pet her, she was met with a hiss and the baring of claws. So she put out food and water and let the cat do what it wanted. No sense in poking the bear. Or in this case, the tabby.

She got out of the shower and dried off, pulling her reddish hair into a turban with a second towel. Heaven knew this place could afford to launder an extra towel, and she considered throwing a perfectly clean one on the floor too.

In the end, she remembered the fiasco with the body wash and left the unused towels on the rack. Plus, she wanted to do her part to use water wisely and a pin of guilt pushed into her heart that she’d used two towels when she could’ve done the job with one.

Back in the room, her phone had just ticked past the twelve-minute mark. “Seriously, how long does it take to make French toast?” she asked the spacious room. She’d booked their basic room, with one king bed, over a month ago, under a different name. She wasn’t sure why. The owner of this swanky new monstrosity on Getaway Bay lived across the Pacific, probably in his equally ridiculous penthouse overlooking the city of Los Angeles.

No one from the Davenport Development Group would ever know who she was or when she’d stayed with them. They had supervisors and managers and assistants to handle everything for average guests like Jaida Moore, the name she’d registered under.

At Aloha Hideaway, Stacey managed everything. Sure, she had a small staff that were like family to her, but when the buck stopped, it was always in her wing of the house she’d inherited from her grandfather five years ago.

She started to dress, leaving her wet towel pooled at her feet. A loud, hollow noise came from the window, causing her to jolt with shock and fear. Her heart pounded up into her throat, and she hurried over to the pane she couldn’t open to find a smudge of…something. A feather drifted down on the other side of the glass, time slowing as it wafted back and forth, back and forth.

A bird had just flown into the hotel. Probably a pigeon, which in Stacey’s opinion, were the rats of the bird world. But still. A living creature had died because of this towering building on the beach that totally did not belong. Even Hawaii’s fowl knew Sweet Breeze shouldn’t be here.

Something clicked behind her, and she spun, her pulse dancing from the front of her ribcage to the back.

“Room service,” a deep voice said and a cart started to push open the door.

A squeak of surprise flew from Stacey’s mouth and she tried to cover her bra with her bare arms as she half hopped, half tiptoed back around the corner.

“I’m not dressed,” she managed to say, her voice trembling and weak, two things Stacey never allowed anyone to see. In front of her family, her staff, her friends in the Women’s Beach Club, Stacey was calm, cool, controlled. She cracked jokes and ordered extra fruity drinks for everyone. She gave people weekends off and brought pineapple cookie monster salad to family picnics.

And now she was currently wearing only her bra and panties, and apparently the man pushing the cart through the door hadn’t heard her.

“I’m not dressed,” she called again, and the squeaky wheels on the cart stopped.

“You ordered room service?”

“Yes, but I need a few minutes to put on some pants.” Did this guy speak English? She hadn’t seen him in her haste to conceal herself behind the wall, and she bent to grab the first article of clothing she could.

It was her bathing suit cover-up and she pulled it on. Her bra straps stuck out the top, but at least she was as covered as she would be on the beach.

The door slammed closed, but the edge of the cart remained. Stacey took a deep breath and dared to peek around the corner, finding the man gone and her food producing the delicious aroma of bacon and sweet maple syrup.

“Impossible,” she muttered as she looked at her phone. With all the commotion, she decided to subtract the minute she’d been planning to add on and saw her phone said the food had been delivered in thirteen minutes and twenty-four seconds.

“Ridiculous.” She wasn’t sure if she was talking about herself or the room service. She also wasn’t sure if she could produce food as quickly.

She lifted the cloche and found condensation on the inside of it. This food was still hot.

“Unbelievable.” Stacey wondered if she’d ever speak in full sentences again. It seemed her whole vocabulary was made of single words. She looked at the cloche in disgust. They were probably ordered from somewhere secret, like the Cloche Underground or something. The metal looked like brushed nickel, far superior to anything Stacey had ever gotten from the restaurant supply store on the other side of the island.

Knocking sounded on the door. “Are you dressed now?”

He probably wanted a tip. And delivering a piping hot, smells-so-good-her-stomach-rumbled breakfast in only thirteen minutes, he deserved one.

Stacey shimmied out of the cover-up and pulled on a maxi dress in dark purple, the color of the hibiscus flowers that could only be found in the gardens at Aloha Hideaway. Her grandfather had cultivated them, cross-breeding the flowers to produce the unique color, the blooms fringed with white, and then he’d patented it. Now Stacey had three workers who dedicated full-time hours to the gardens, and she made a nice profit from selling them to locals, other hotels, cab companies, travel agents, and anyone who wanted to provide a special Hawaiian experience to the tourists arriving on the big island.

After squeezing past the cart, she pulled open the door, ready to chew the man out for entering her room without knocking first. She opened her mouth as her voice lost its ability to form sound.

The man standing in the hall didn’t look like the serving type. He had strong, broad, powerful shoulders that spanned nearly the width of the doorway. His body narrowed to his waist, where he’d tied a long, black apron. He wore a black pair of slacks beneath that, with a black shirt that strained across the chest and biceps.

His blue eyes, almost the same beautiful ocean blue as the bay beyond the window, pierced hers, and went well with his military-style haircut and clean-shaven face. He was tall, tan, and muscular, perfect for a pair of board shorts for early morning surfing, or the board room for an afternoon meeting.

“Sorry about that,” he said, and his bass voice caused vibrations to tumble through Stacey’s chest. They also got her heart going again, which sent blood to her brain, which told her voice to say something!

“It’s fine.”

Not that!

He rubbed his thumb across his right eyebrow, drawing her attention to the slice through the middle of it, like he’d been in a knife fight and lost. But he was too clean-cut for a knife fight, and Stacey’s mind ran rampant with possibilities for that scar on his face.

“How’s the food?” He nodded behind her, obviously seeing that she’d removed the cloche while he stood in the hall.

“I haven’t actually tried it. But it’s hot, so that’s good.” Why she was speaking at all, she didn’t know. This server didn’t need her critique of the food. “And delivered fast. Thirteen—I mean, less than fifteen minutes. Wow.”

A smile pulled across his strong mouth, rendering Stacey weak in the wrong places and staring at such a gorgeous grin. Men as good-looking as him didn’t seem fair. She wondered what his life had been like. Did he get special treatment in school? Did anyone ever tell him no? When he got pulled over for speeding, did he walk away with a ticket the way she did?

“Thank you.” She held out a twenty-dollar bill. A ridiculous tip, but probably one that was expected for a hotel-resort such as Sweet Breeze.

He waved the money away without even glancing at it. There was something…not quite right about him. What room service attendant turned down money?

“Sorry about barging in. I thought….” The grin appeared again, and Stacey almost leaned against the wall so he wouldn’t see how he affected her. “Sorry.”

She nodded since her voice had gone on vacation again, and he turned and walked away. Wow, the view from the back was just as spectacular as the front, and Stacey pulled herself back into the room before he reached the corner just in case he turned back from the weight of her stare.

She leaned against the closed door and pressed one hand over her heart. She felt stupid for a lot of reasons, the biggest one being that she’d felt a spark of attraction for the handsome stranger who’d almost seen her naked.

Aloha Hideaway Inn - Chapter Two:

Aloha Hideaway Inn - Chapter Two:

Fisher DuPont practically punched open the black plastic door that led into the kitchens.

Keep it together, he told himself again. He’d been reciting it the whole way down from the fifteenth floor. He’d donned these ill-fitting clothes and practically shaved his head in an attempt to keep his identity hidden from the staff. He wanted to operate on the ground floor of Sweet Breeze, find out how the systems worked—if they were even working—and what the staff thought needed to be improved.

“Do we really just go into rooms with the orders?” he asked the head concierge, Kepa, on room service, only a slight growl to his words.

Kepa, much shorter than Fisher’s six-foot-five frame, stared up at him. “Who told you that?”

Fisher pressed his lips together. He didn’t want to say, because Kepa likely had the power to fire anyone on his staff. “No one.”

“Did you do that? Enter a guest’s room without knocking and announcing yourself?”

Fisher considered the man, whose dark eyes felt like coal filled with fire. “Yes.”

Kepa’s nostrils flared and he held out his hand as if Fisher would put something in it.

“What?” he asked, not connecting the dots. And he’d made a living out of drawing his own dots and connecting them into pictures no one else had imagined before.

“Your apron. You’re fired.” Kepa wore sympathy in his eyes, but Fisher didn’t detect any leeway in his decision.

So he untied the apron he’d only been wearing for an hour and handed it to the room service supervisor.

“What room?” Kepa asked.

“Fifteen-twenty-one.” Fisher had an amazing memory with numbers, but he kept some facts about himself close to the vest. This was one such thing.

“I’ll send someone to apologize. You should go.” He flicked two fingers toward someone behind Fisher. “Please see this man off the premises.”

Fisher allowed himself to be led out of the hotel he owned, getting in the car he’d rented down the street and driving away as if he had an island home to go to. In reality, he’d gone to work in his hotel that morning from the penthouse that took up the entire twenty-eighth floor. It swayed when the wind coming off the bay was really bad, but after ten months of living there, Fisher had gotten used to it. Kind of.

He pulled over at a gas station and went inside. “Restroom?”

The guy behind the counter looked him up and down, apparently decided he wasn’t going to vandalize the bathroom, and handed Fisher a tiny brass key attached to a two-foot-long piece of piping that had been painted bright purple and had the state flower of Hawaii doodled in black marker all over it.

Fisher would never tire of the beautiful flowers in this island paradise. He’d needed a fresh start after a disastrous business venture with his father, and he’d taken it here in Getaway Bay. He no longer wanted to get away from his own life, so that was a definite improvement.

In the bathroom, he stripped out of the bad clothes and pulled his midnight-colored suit from his small satchel. Properly dressed, he could now return to the hotel, figure out who was staying in room fifteen-twenty-one, and make sure she understood that his staff did not barge into rooms just because they had a room service cart.

He handed the pipe-key back to the clerk. “Thanks.” He needed coffee, stat, but he wasn’t going to get it from a gas station. He’d had plenty of such brew in the past, and it was never quite up to his taste standard. No, there’d be much better coffee at the hotel, and he decided he could wait.

The man stared at him, and Fisher was sure his suit had cost as much as the clerk made in a year. He used to feel bad about his wealth, but he contributed to so many charities now, and he considered himself a pretty nice guy, so he didn’t let the guilt pin him down for long. Plus, he’d worked too hard for too long to have a bleeding heart because he could afford the suits, the leather shoes, the fancy cars, the jets.

After returning the nondescript sedan to the rental company and getting behind the wheel of his convertible, he returned to Sweet Breeze, taking full advantage of the valet.

“Good morning, Mister DuPont,” Sterling said as he opened the door. “Nice haircut.”

Fisher stood and smiled, the haircut courtesy of Marshall Robison. Marshall could wield a pair of clippers as well as he ran his generational pineapple plantations, but Fisher’s best friend and fellow founder of the Hawaii Nine-0 club had gone a little crazy with the blades.

He ran his hand along his nearly bald scalp, hoping his hair would grow back quickly. He’d have to slather sunscreen everywhere up top to make sure he didn’t get a nasty burn in spots usually covered by his hair.

“Thanks. Is Owen in?”

“Arrived an hour ago, sir. I believe he said he had business in the gardens this morning.” Sterling smiled and saluted before sliding behind the wheel of Fisher’s car.

He took an extra moment to pull his jacket closed and button it before he entered his hotel. He walked differently in the suit than he had in the servant clothes, and he made a note of it. Why did it matter what he wore? Was it because every eye swiveled to him when he wore suits like this? Every back straightened? Every employee brightened, smiled, and then got back to work?

Fisher wasn’t sure, but he did know he didn’t like the attention. He craved the anonymity the room service staff enjoyed, just like he’d basked in being able to walk around his hotel without scrutiny while he pushed a laundry cart in front of him.

That had been an interesting day, as he’d had no idea the enormity of linens, towels, cloth napkins from the four on-site restaurants, and other items the laundry staff took care of. He didn’t know his hotel received bonuses for being under a certain limit for water usage, and he’d really learned a lot from the small army of people he employed—and who’d embraced him as one of their fellow laundromatters—in only an eight-hour shift.

Still, when the time was right, he wore the suits and played the part. Mostly because it was better than any of the alternatives he’d tried, and the show gave him something to fill his day with.

He bypassed the front desk and the guest elevators. Holding his thumb against a pad, he opened the lock to his private hallway and let the door snick closed behind him. His elevator would take him to any floor, and he pressed the fifteen, hoping a personal visit from the hotel owner would be enough to convince the curvy woman in room fifteen-twenty-one not to write a damaging review about his wait staff. About him.

The elevator spit him out with a ding, and he plucked a pair of thick, black-framed glasses from his breast pocket, sliding them into place on his face. Women claimed that they would’ve known Superman was Clark Kent, that Lois Lane was so stupid, but he found the glasses disguised him as well as a ball cap and the wrong clothes. It was almost like the glasses simply threw people off, and they spent so much time trying to make the three-thousand-dollar suit line up with the cheap, plastic frames that he was gone before they put the pieces together.

Plus, they covered up that slight scar in his eyebrow.

Fisher strode toward the door where he’d delivered breakfast only thirty minutes ago. He knocked this time, when every instinct had told him to last time. He’d have to have a talk with Peni about telling new-hires to enter rooms without knocking. Of course that wasn’t how they did things at Sweet Breeze, and Fisher should’ve known better.

The same woman pulled open the door, her striking green eyes somehow penetrating right past his expensive defenses. Her hair tumbled and curled, falling below her shoulders in the most delicious shade of red he’d ever seen. He had a thing for redheads, though he’d never dated one.

And you’re not here to ask for her number.

“Good morning,” he said, his voice perfectly professional and crisp. “I understand there was a slight mishap here this morning.”

“I already got an apology,” she said, her eyes narrowing.

Fisher could practically see the wheels turning in her head. She looked vaguely familiar, though he couldn’t place where he would’ve seen her before. He rarely interacted with the guests, and he’d only just begun making the rounds through his undercover operations to work in all the departments of his hotel. He went around town, but usually to reserved private rooms where he was ushered in and out without making a fuss. Heaven knew the presence of his hotel on this island alone had made enough turbulence for a while.

“Yes, my room service supervisor is fantastic.” He put his CEO smile on his face. It had guided him successfully through many board meetings and swayed construction foremen—tough, stubborn men—toward his side of certain issues in critical moments.

“I wanted to come personally assure you that our room service attendants always knock and announce themselves before entering.”

“Clearly, not always.” She leaned her hip into the doorjamb and kept one handful of fingers curled around the door, barely letting him see inside. The smile on her face could only be described as…satisfied.

“Yes, well, from now on. Can I gift you a free night here at Sweet Breeze for the misunderstanding?” Heck, she could ask for a week and Fisher would give it to her. Something itched along his collar, but he kept his hands pleasantly at his sides. The urge to smooth down the eyebrow that seemed to constantly want to go the wrong direction tugged, pulled, yanked at his resolve. He couldn’t do it; he’d done it in front of her as the attendant. Such a gesture was too identifying.

“Yeah,” the woman said, a smile that felt flirty stealing across her face and making her twice as beautiful. “I’ll take a free night.”

Fisher’s heart was doing something weird in his chest, but he managed to nod and say, “I’ll have my guest concierge have the certificate ready for you when you check out.” He extended his hand for her to shake.

The moment she touched him, an earthquake that could’ve registered on the Richter scale shook his body. Her smile stayed hitched in place, and Fisher added his to the conversation.

“Thank you, Miss….”

“Sta—Moore. Jaida Moore.” Her smile turned false, and Fisher hadn’t built himself into a billionaire real estate mogul by not being able to detect a lie. He’d worked with enough carpenters, electricians, plumbers, and brick masons to know when corners were being cut. He’d seen everything from upright, honest men doing good work and making a good living to sleazy, sloppy work that tried to get passed off as adequate.

He certainly knew when he was being lied to, and Miss Jaida Moore wasn’t very good at it.

“Very well, Miss Moore,” he said, keeping his voice smooth, non-emotional. “Stop by the concierge desk before you go to get your certificate.”

“Most people call them coupons,” she said, her left eyebrow quirking in a way that felt challenging to Fisher. Slightly condescending too.

“Yes, well, Sweet Breeze doesn’t offer coupons.” He buttoned his jacket and gave an authoritative nod. “Have a great day, Miss Moore.”

“You too, Mister Davenport.”

Fisher froze as he turned, his muscles turning hard at the name. How had she known it? And why would she use it? His stare lasted long enough for her to bring back the grin, a little cockier and more sure of herself than before.

She lifted one shoulder into a sexy shrug that made Fisher wish he’d met this woman after a morning spent in the surf instead of while he was “Mister Davenport.”

“I can Google, you know.”

“Ah.” He ducked his head, something inside him telling him to get out of there before the conversation turned too dangerous. “Until next time.”

He walked away, glad for the first time that he’d registered the hotel under his father’s conglomerate. She didn’t need to know that Fisher had given up his slime ball father’s name twenty-five years ago, when the man had walked out on him and his mother. She didn’t need to know he’d gotten the scar in his eyebrow on one of his father’s job sites, because the man cut corners as easily as he breathed. Hardly anyone knew those things, and Fisher was going to keep it that way, even if Jaida-whose-name-wasn’t-Jaida stirred something in him he’d thought long dormant.

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