Incessant Passions, Book 1
by Nicole Morgan
eBook ISBN: 978-1-62242-310-1
Jenny manages a resort and works tirelessly to maintain the lush property. Thomas is a drifter. Sexy and confident, he’s the last thing she needs in her life. Still he relentlessly pursues her. Will his charms be too much to resist? Will she act on her desires and be…impetuous?
Note: This book was previously published with another publisher and has been extensively revised and expanded
Jenny looked up at the clock on her wall. It was only half past nine and in the short span of a couple of hours she had spent in her office that morning her day had gone from shitty to shittiest ever with just one ring of her telephone.
The second hand moved itself around the face of the clock. It’s pace slow and purposeful. Unlike her job. She had no more purpose, no more drive or direction. She was just spinning her wheels while she listened to her boss list his diatribe of reasons as to why she was the worst general manager the Callaway Corporation had ever seen.
Her nerves were wearing thin, her patience running on low, and her manners were starting to run away in fear of her impending break from reality. With every word he hollered into the phone she became increasingly agitated and listened less.
She gritted her teeth and squeezed her pen, almost snapping it in half. She wasn’t sure how much longer she would be able to listen to the evil little tightwad on the other end of the phone go on and on, constantly questioning her business decisions. She’d been running this hotel for five years now. Quite well in fact.
The Arcadia was like her baby, and she treated it as such. Now suddenly every dime she spent—hell, every damn penny—was being scrutinized. From the food to the toilet paper, she had to account for every single morsel eaten and every perforated square used.
Well, no more! This time he had gone too far! Cutting more payroll wasn’t an option. There simply was nowhere else to cut!
“Jenny! Jenny, are you listening to me?” Mr. Callaway shouted.
She cringed at his high-pitched, anything-but-masculine voice as he screamed at her once again. Tell him, she silently encouraged herself. Tell him what an asshole he is. Tell him he can take this job and shove it clear up his ass until it reaches the empty hollow where his brain is supposed to be. Don’t be a coward this time. Say what’s on your mind!
“Did you hang up on me?” His shocked tone irritated her all the more.
Calming her nerves, she placed her hands flat on the desk and took a deep breath. “No, Mr. Callaway, I did not hang up on you. I didn’t want to be rude and—”
True to his rudeness, he cut her off. “Well, speak up next time, then. You got something wrong with your hearing? Is that as defective as your managerial skills?”
Calm down, she willed herself. Just calm down and take a deep breath. “No, sir.”
“‘Well, then’ what?” she wanted to scream back at him, but as usual she didn’t. Instead she bit her tongue, just like she’d been doing for the past three months ever since the Callaway Corporation had taken over the management of her small resort hotel.
“Yes, of course, Mr. Callaway. I’ll see what I can do to cut the payroll back a bit more.”
“I don’t want to hear that you’ll see what you can do! Get it done! The Arcadia is becoming a money pit. If you want to keep your job I suggest you find a way to manage the hotel’s expenses a bit better. Or we won’t be able to pay you either!”
Emphasizing his point, he slammed the phone down. She winced as the loud bang echoed through the phone, reverberating into her ear.
A moment passed, and she waited for the stinging in her eyes to go away. She refused to cry. She wouldn’t be one of those women who couldn’t handle it in the dog-eat-dog world of corporate America. She knew things would be different when Calloway Corporation bought this property from the previous owners, but she hadn’t been prepared for all of this.
She steeled her nerves and pushed the tears back down inside. Then she slowly set the phone down, placing it back on its cradle. Her heart was racing, and she knew why. There was no way she would allow herself to be one of those people dependent on medication, though. A minute or two of calm breathing would make it pass, and she would be just fine. At least she hoped so anyway. At twenty-nine years old, she was sure her stress level was sending her heart rate into dangerous categories.
Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in—BEEP…
The loud noise permeated the silent room, startling her. Her heartbeat skyrocketed that much more and nearly jumped out of her chest. The room was now filled with the high-pitched squeal of Marianne, the front-desk reservation agent, who seemed to be in an eternal state of happiness. It was times like this when she wanted to take Marianne’s smile and stick it where the sun didn’t shine. Not because she didn’t like Marianne, but because at times like this she just didn’t like to smile.
“Jenny, we have a gentleman here who is inquiring about the maintenance job.”
Great. The maintenance job. The one she desperately needed to fill and had placed an advertisement for with the local travel magazine. No matter how much she and the hotel needed it, there was no way she could follow through on that now, though. That position for the hotel would be left empty, just like everything else since Callaway and its micromanaging sharks took over her books.
Shaking her head, she wondered how they even expected her to run this hotel without a full staff. She had already cut back in every department. The front desk staff, the restaurant, the lounge, anywhere and everywhere they were down to the bare bones in employees. Just that morning she had to let go of two housekeepers. Now, with his most recent tongue-lashing, there was no way she could afford hiring a maintenance worker.
This resort wasn’t huge, but it had potential. There were two swimming pools and three hot tubs that sat on the east side of the hotel. Just properly maintaining those with the proper chemicals and cleaning ran her upward of several hundred dollars a month.
Their two restaurants were also suffering from her recent budgetary cuts. Normally she was able to order top-of-the-line seafood and prime cuts for the steak-faring clientele. That had all come to a halt in these past several weeks. The amount of money she spent on food had been drastically reduced, yet Mr. Callaway insisted that she keep the menu prices the same. Not only was it unethical to mislead their dining guests, it was just plain wrong. She sometimes wondered if the higher-ups at the Callaway Corporation even had a clue how to run a resort property, let alone a hotel.
It was becoming impossible to run things properly on the limited budget they allotted her. She wondered if all of their other properties were suffering the same cutbacks. Or if maybe instead they weren’t forced to because they were already dilapidated and infested with roaches.
The several acres of land the Callaway Corporation owned on this small island down in the Caribbean were untapped and not being used to their full potential. If they used their money wisely and invested in more amenities for their guests, she knew they would have a full house every day of the year. Her experience in the hospitality industry had at least taught her that. Their lack of reservations was due to her inability to maintain the property properly, mixed with the neighboring islands offering much more to vacationers.
The island just three miles to their south had a water park installed in the past year for all ages. There was another island about ten miles away which catered to the more adult crowd by offering night clubs, casinos, and several other swanky hot spots.
There were a million different things this island could use which would benefit not just their guests, but Callaway’s bottom line. She never dared to mention her ideas though for fear she might be literally smacked through the telephone. They took penny-pinching to a whole new level.
“Jenny? Did you hear me?” Marianne asked.
She hit the intercom button. “Yes, sorry, Marianne. Thank you, but could you please just tell the man that the maintenance position has already been filled?”
“Oh, it has? I didn’t know—”
Jenny quickly cut her off, “No, Marianne, it hasn’t. Just please, tell him that, okay?”
“Um…sure, Jenny. I’ll tell him.”
She heard the hesitation in Marianne’s voice and knew there was going to be a round of Twenty Questions at some point later that day. The two of them had worked together for far too many years for Marianne not to pick up on the stress in her voice. She didn’t want to get into it with her though. How could she explain that this hotel barely had enough money to pay for the guest essentials, let alone payroll, with the joke of an operating budget those vultures approved for her?
Marianne was a sweet woman and someone she would even consider her friend, but she was first and foremost an employee of the hotel. Jenny wasn’t willing to cause a panic in the ranks by alluding to the financial restraints they were under.
Stretching her legs beneath the desk, she wished she could go for a run. She missed being able to lose herself in the cool evening breeze as the mist came off the ocean. She missed being able to put her feet up and eat a pint of ice cream. She missed living.
“Stop feeling sorry for yourself, Jenny. You have a job to do,” she chided herself in the quiet room.
In the far corner of her office, next to her potted palm tree, sat the bucket of tools she had been avoiding all morning. Glaring at them, she pushed out her chair and got up from her desk. She took off her blazer and neatly hung it on a hanger then placed it in her small office closet. She kicked off her heels and grabbed her tennis shoes. Sitting down on the small sofa that flanked her desk, she laced them up, double-knotting the bows. Two deep breaths later and she walked over to the bucket holding her wrench, hammer, screwdrivers, and plumber’s snake and strode out of her office.
She approached room 115—the room Mrs. Grierson had made a complaint about earlier that morning—and used her master key to unlock the door. Luckily, she was able to sneak in without anyone seeing her. No witnesses meant no explanations. The last thing she needed was to have to explain to a staff member why she had a bucket of tools in hand.
“Oh God.” Her whole body cringed when she walked into the bathroom.
She closed her eyes and turned away for a moment, silently hoping and praying that when she looked back it would have all been a dream. No such luck, though. The leak Mrs. Grierson had reported was actually a lake—a very large lake, in fact, which was flooding the entire bathroom in one of their nicest suites.
“Well, here goes nothing.”
Jenny walked through the water which was rising to as high as one inch. Her shoes were soaked inside and out after just two steps, making an awful squishing noise. Luckily the bathroom had a step down from the main living quarters so there was no immediate danger of it flowing into the living or bedrooms of the suite.
Hesitation wasn’t an option as she knelt in inches of water on the tile floor. She studied the pipe that had water pouring from it for a moment before she reached for her wrench. Something her grandfather had told her when she was little stuck in her mind. “Righty tighty, lefty loosey.”
“Hmm.” She smiled.
The concept was so simple, really. Why she had been so worried about having to try to fix a silly, little plumbing problem, she wasn’t sure. Righty tighty. Lefty loosey. No sweat!
Much more relaxed and pleased with herself, she grabbed her wrench, adjusted the fitting to be snug around the pipe, and turned to the right, pulling the wrench away from her and toward the wall.
Water shot everywhere, all around her, covering her and everything within five feet. Recovering from the shock of what had just happened, she squinted her eyes, trying to keep the spraying water from obstructing her vision. With water pummeling her directly from the fitting she had inadvertently loosened, she could barely tell where she was placing the wrench. After fumbling through a few tries she finally had the tool snug back around the fitting.
She pulled the wrench in the opposite direction and…”Oh, shit!” She screamed the four-letter word loud enough for people to hear her on the top floor.
Somehow in her efforts to tighten the loose fitting she had instead managed to break it, causing a full rush of water to shoot out at her. Not unlike Old Faithful, the diligent geyser in Yellowstone National Park, the pipe erupted with such force she was nearly dumbfounded by it.
“No, no, no, no!” she continued to shout.
“Oh my gosh. Jenny, are you okay?”
Marianne’s voice came from behind her, but she didn’t turn to look. Instead she sat staring at the eruption before her, drenched and completely frozen in disbelief. She wanted to do something, but had no idea what.
Hands touched her shoulders then moved down and wrapped themselves firmly around her upper arms. Suddenly, she found herself being moved out of the way. She was able to catch a glimpse of a tall man with brown hair. He was saying something, but she couldn’t make out what it was over the rushing sound of water.
Then, as if he had magic hands, he reached below the antique pedestal sink and turned a knob. The water, which had been coming out at her as if it was on the attack just moments ago, slowed down to a light flow, then a drip, then finally nothing at all.
The water shutoff valve! How could she have been so stupid? Not sure if she was overworked, overwhelmed, or just overwrought, she felt completely mortified that her inaction could have made things so much worse.
Her epiphany was interrupted by the tall, wet stranger asking, “Well, did you?”
“I’m sorry? Did I what?” she asked him, confused and still frazzled by the events of the past minutes.
A smile cocked up on one side of his mouth. “I asked if you had considered shutting off the water valve before doing any plumbing repairs.”
For the first time since he’d walked into the room she was finally getting a good look at him. This man, whoever he was, was tall and slender, but his wet T-shirt showed her what was hidden underneath the cotton fabric. His chest was defined by muscles, and while he didn’t have large, overly muscular arms like so many men she saw on the beach these days, they were definitely the arms of a working man. The smile he was giving her wasn’t half bad, either. In fact, if she had the time for a boyfriend, she would say he was just handsome enough to be her type.
Time for a boyfriend?
That ridiculous thought brought her back to reality. Bracing her hands down at her sides, she pushed herself to a standing position. Holding out her hand toward his, she meant to shake it, but somehow when his hand met hers, she lost her balance. The next thing she knew she was slipping and falling to the ground. With his hand in hers, she unwillingly took him with her and they both crashed down on the hard floor.
A loud crack echoed in her head when it met with the tile floor. It disoriented her for a second. That was, until she felt the strong, hard body lying on top of her. Opening her eyes, she realized their faces were just inches apart, and she could feel his breath caressing her lips.
Heat warmed her wet body, despite lying there in inches of water. Her heart began to race again, but not like it had before in her office. She swallowed a lump of nervousness as it hit her throat. She attempted to speak, but no words came out.
“Well, sugar. You know, normally I like to spend a little time getting to know someone before I get horizontal with them, but since you’re so forceful, I might just make an exception for you.” He winked at her when he spoke the last word.
That wink, or maybe it was the words he used, caused that heat she was feeling to sink to her belly. A throbbing tingle shot down to her pussy and awoke all of her nerve endings. It caused moisture to pool in between her thighs which had nothing to do with the leaking pipe. Had anyone else said that to her she would have smacked him and laughed in his face, so why did this man give her the desire to wrap her legs around him and grind her hips into his?
“Who are you?” Jenny asked.
A giggle interrupted him from answering, and they both looked over to see Marianne still standing there in the doorway.
“Um…perhaps this would be a good time to see what I can get together to help you clean this up. Yeah, that’s what I’ll do.” With a smile she shut the door, leaving them alone.
They turned their heads back to face one another again, and time seemed to stand still for a moment too long. Nervous, she was about to ask him again when he finally answered.
“Beck, and you must be my new boss,” he said, with an even bigger smile covering his face.
“The maintenance job. I was the person at the front desk inquiring about it, and I think that you should fire yourself from that position and hire me instead. No offense, but you lack certain plumbing skills.”
His sexy grin was affecting her more than she cared to admit. That, and the fact that his tone was sounding more and more condescending, was confusing and irritating her all at the same time. He was sexy and obviously had a way with making her body react, but she didn’t care for any man criticizing her. She got quite enough of that in her professional life.
“I see. Well, we are just fine, thank you. We do not need a maintenance worker for our hotel.”
“You don’t need a maintenance worker?”
His boisterous laughter filled the room as he moved off her and lay down beside her. Holding his stomach in apparent amusement he scooped up a tiny amount of the leaked water into his hand and allowed it to cascade over his head.
Shocked by his arrogance and caring little for the way he was clearly mocking her, she got up from the floor and stood over him. The obnoxious smirk and a cock of his brow made her realize she was standing close enough for him to see up her skirt. Disgusted with his crude behavior she took a couple of steps back.
“Mr. Beck, we do not need a maintenance worker. Now, I appreciate the help, but unless you are a guest of this hotel I would like you to leave.”
Annoyed with his behavior she walked out of the room, needing to get to her suite and clean herself up.
He shouted to her, “Not Mr. Beck. Just Beck.”
“Of all the arrogant, condescending, overbearing…” Her voice trailed off, muttering the words to no one but herself as she got in the elevator.