“Can I buy you a drink, and we can discuss the rest of our lives?”
Astiria Petrey huffed out a heavy sigh and snapped her book shut before glaring up at the newest intruder.
He leered down at her. Ken-doll bronzed skin and plastic-looking muscles bulged out from under his ridiculous shirt decorated with small chili peppers. A tiny blue Speedo peeked out from under the shirt before giving way to unnaturally bulky thigh muscles.
“Not. Interested.” She enunciated each word carefully and searched his flat, vacant eyes for any sign of understanding. Or even humanity.
“That’s only because you haven’t met me yet.” He flashed a too white smile, which threatened to blind her even through her sunglasses before he sat on the edge of her beach chair and snatched the book from her grasp.
“Stone Maiden?” He glanced at the back cover before looking up again. “Gargoyles, angels and cowboys?”
Her temper sparked. She loved to read paranormal romances, and this one allowed her to combine two of her favorite things—reading and gargoyles. All her coworkers and friends teased her incessantly about the collection of both gargoyles and romance novels littered across her desk at work and her entire house. She definitely didn’t need more grief while on vacation, and not from this bad caricature of an action hero.
“What kind of thing is this for a beautiful woman to read, when she should be more interested in what’s right in front of her face? Me.” He smiled and flexed a bicep that looked like it might explode off his arm at any moment.
She grabbed her book back, brushing down the edges where he’d bent them, and then pushed to her feet to glare at him. Anyone who didn’t take care of books lost even more respect in her eyes—not that he had any to begin with after his poor behavior. “As I already said—not interested. And even if I were illiterate and couldn’t read, I would still have much better things to do with my time than waste it talking to someone who obviously eats steroid Pop Tarts for breakfast.”
He stood and reached for her, confusion swimming in his gaze. He must not be used to hearing the word ‘no’ very often. “Don’t be like that, sweetheart.”
She sidestepped his hands and anger flowed hot and heady. “If you don’t turn and walk away right this second, I swear I’ll tell every woman on the beach that fully hard, you aren’t much bigger than a Vienna sausage.” She held up her hand, pinkie finger extended, hopefully illustrating for him in case he didn’t get the reference.
His eyes widened as understanding dawned. He opened his mouth, but before he could speak, the manager of the resort neatly intervened.
“Mario, why don’t you leave Miss Petrey to her reading? I’m sure there are others on the beach who would love to see you.” The manager’s blue eyes twinkled behind the lenses of the Harry Potter glasses perched on the end of his nose. “I do apologize, Miss Petrey.”
“Well, at least you keep saving me from them. I’m beginning to think there are a never ending stream of vacuous pretty boys frequenting your private beach.”
He chuckled. “This is the Caribbean, Miss Petrey, and the Fantasy Quest resort. They all come here to meet beautiful women sitting on beach chairs, sipping drinks and hoping to meet a man to make their vacation—more memorable. You are one of the few who come alone, who wish to remain so.”
She bristled at his comment, slightly mollified he’d referred to her as beautiful, even though she knew being nice was part of his job description. Someone with plain brown hair, plain brown eyes and a body that wouldn’t be caught dead in a bikini, didn’t exactly fire men’s passions. Hadn’t that been exactly what her ex-husband had told her when he left her for a younger, more attractive woman? And all after Astiria had worked and slaved to put the bastard through medical school.
She stifled a sigh and squared her shoulders. No, men weren’t interested in a woman with brains and personality unless they looked like a super model, so she wasn’t interested in them. Besides, her sister and brother in law had bought this trip for her birthday and practically forced her onto the plane. Amy and Doug had come here on their honeymoon and had raved about it ever since. A free vacation was hard to pass up, no matter where it was.
She just hadn’t counted on such persistence from the local herd of men. “All I want to do is relax, walk barefoot on the beach, have a few drinks and read my book.” She didn’t realize she’d said it aloud until the manager answered.
“Miss Petrey, again, I truly apologize. Why don’t you go inside, relax and order some room service? There will be a beautiful view of the coming storm from your room since it faces the ocean.”
“Coming storm? But it’s sunny and…” She trailed off as the sky darkened as if triggered by his words. “Wow, storms come up fast here.” Grabbing her towel, she shook it off to remove any excess sand.
“Your profile mentioned a certain fondness for computer games, Miss Petrey.” He gestured toward the resort. “We have several, which are free to our guests. It might help you pass the time while we ride out the moods of Mother Nature.”
A hotel manager suggesting computer games while at a beautiful resort in the Caribbean? Something about the entire situation, including the manager, struck her as very odd, but she couldn’t quite put her finger on it.
You’re on vacation at somewhere called Fantasy Quest! Of course they are going to take your preferences into account.
You need more drinks and much more relaxation. She laughed at herself. “Thank you. I’ll have to check that out. But after the storm. I don’t want to fry the computer in my room if the building takes a lightning hit.”
He smiled, his blue eyes still twinkling. “We are fully insulated from any such happening. Feel free to play. After all, if it weren’t storming, most likely, you would be staying here on the beach.”
She started at his strange wording, and the shiver of unease that slid down her spine, but shrugged it off. “Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind.”