Boss With Benefits

By: Talia Hunter
(A Lantana Island Romance Book 1)


“No good deed goes unpunished.”

- Clare Boothe Luce (author, politician, ambassador, and nineteenth century badass.)

Rosa Carlton pulled her suitcase off the ferry and let out a low whistle. With its white sand beach and tropical palm trees, Lantana Island looked like a postcard. Her new home had to be one of the most beautiful places in the world.

It was also 2,000 miles from Sydney. But nobody could say Rosa had moved to Fiji because she was running from her problems, or that she’d left home because of Otto. Not at all. And if Otto hadn’t scared her away, then Rosa wasn’t a coward.

No, Rosa had come to the Lantana Island Resort because her friend Tiny owned this place, and Tiny needed her. She’d come to save the day.

Before she came, Rosa had deleted hundreds of books from her e-reader, only keeping the ones with badass female heroines. On the flight over, she’d re-read a novel starring Anne Bonny, a real-life female pirate, only instead of calling her a pirate, they’d used the word freebooter. Rosa loved that word. It sounded free and fearless. And what was the freebooter name Rosa had come up with on the plane over? Rosa Roughknuckles, that was it. It had a definite ring to it.

A sound came from behind her and Rosa whirled around, her heart jumping in her chest and a shriek forcing itself from her throat. But it was just someone else getting off the ferry at Lantana Island. A pretty woman with long, curly red hair.

“You okay?” asked the woman, putting her suitcase down to push a strand of wind-swept hair out of her eyes. “Didn’t mean to scare you.”

“Not your fault. I’m a little jumpy.” Dragging in a deep breath to calm her speeding heart, Rosa stuck out her hand. “I’m Rosa.”

“Suzie.” The redhead was wearing a red sundress to match her hair, and dozens of bangles that jangled as they shook hands. Dammit, she looked more like a freebooter than Rosa did. Swashbuckling Suzie, flame-haired adventurer. Yup, it suited her perfectly.

“I love your accent.” Suzie was obviously American. “You’re from Australia?”

Rosa nodded. “Sydney.”

“It’s lovely here, isn’t it?”

Rosa glanced at the white sand beach running to the left of the wharf. A line of small round huts with thatched roofs edged the coastline, spaced far enough apart for privacy. They were called ‘bures’, Rosa had learned, and there were fourteen of them. Each was surrounded by palm trees, with a small veranda in front so the guests staying there could sit outside and gaze over the water.

“Beautiful,” she agreed.

There were a few people lying on the beach, slowly melting into their beach towels. One was a big man with a shaved head, and Rosa’s heart kicked up again when she spotted him. But that was just silly. Otto was in Sydney so she didn’t need to keep her eyes peeled for him anymore. She should also stop freaking out any time she was startled.

“I’d have thought someone from the resort would be here to meet us.” Suzie looked down the empty wharf with a frown. Behind them, the ferry that had dropped them off was pulling away. It would stop in at a few other island resorts before heading back to Port Denarau on the mainland.

“Let’s say that I’m here to meet you,” said Rosa. “My friend owns the resort, but she’s not well so I’ve come to take over managing the place. This is my first day at work.”

“Looks like a lovely place to work.”

“Doesn’t it? Let’s go and find a reception desk.” She led Suzie down the wharf, carrying her duty-free bag, with her suitcase clunking along behind her. “Will you be staying long?” she asked.

“Not long. My sister’s getting married here on Saturday.”

A wedding on Saturday? Rosa made a mental note. Hopefully Tiny had made all the arrangements for the wedding before she’d had the stroke. If she hadn’t, Rosa’s first week on the job would be mighty interesting. Or downright impossible. Either way, she’d find out soon enough.

Beside the wharf, the water was clear enough to see small fish darting through the big wooden posts. Rosa was watching them as she walked, so when Suzie stopped abruptly, she almost ran into her.

“The handle’s come off my suitcase,” said Suzie with a frown.

“Well, how about you leave it here while we find the office? Once you’re checked in, I’ll have someone collect your suitcase and bring it to your room.”

“Would you? Thanks.” Suzie left her bag and they walked to the end of the wharf, then followed the crushed-shell path through the trees, their sandals making crunching noises with each step. The path meandered behind the guest bures that lined the beach.

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