When Alexis booked her work retreat at The Deveaux, the most she had to look forward to was a bit of spa time on the company dime, but flashy salesman Chris Kendrick has an even better suggestion. For years they’ve had a hot and cold working relationship with a bit of flirting mixed in, and now is the perfect time to get that spark out of their systems.
Three days hopping in and out of beds (and other convenient places) shows Alexis that Kendrick’s smooth demeanour is more than just talk, and that aromatherapy and soft-tissue massages have nothing on Kendrick’s firm hand.
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‘Sandy beach, spa, and what is this? A full bar? Why, yes, I think I will have a bit of bubbly.’
Alexis Shea kicked off her shoes and wriggled out of her pantyhose. She left it all in a heap by the bed, then went to the mini fridge in the corner of the suite.
Alexis’ boss, Quinn Stratford, was in his private cottage near the beach, possibly giving his trophy wife an afternoon quickie. She toasted them both by drinking champagne straight from the bottle. She intended to make the most of a weekend away from her two-bedroom apartment and live as much as she could in the enormous bathroom with the Jacuzzi tub.
She had enough vacation time built up to disappear from the face of the planet for a few months, but there never seemed to be a good time to take it. The mess she would come back to wasn’t worth it, and so she kept her late hours and counted on early retirement.
At least she had these retreats. One a year: two partners, two deputies, six department heads and three personal assistants had checked in and dispersed to their own rooms before dinner.
They could have gone to Stratford’s family camp in Maine for this retreat, which would have given Alexis a headache at dinner when the kids started screaming. They could have delayed the retreat until winter and held it on the ski hill, but she’d hinted that the troops of Stratford & Street were getting antsy and needed a little appreciation in the sun.
Her suggestion had been nearby Montreal, but in the end Stratford had taken a vote and it was decided: The Deveaux of North Carolina.
Champagne bottle in hand, Alexis went about exploring every inch of decadence that lay before her. She ran her fingertips along the cool, shining surfaces as she passed through the living room area, to the double doors that led to the bedroom where the king-size bed was the showcase. There was a fireplace in this room, but it would go unused for this August trip, and so she passed it by and went directly to the shared balcony.
On the veranda, she let her hair down and shook it free. The view was an outstanding panorama of flawlessly manicured lawns, symmetrical shrubbery, and gardens bursting with colour, and beyond it all a lake with a wharf but no beach.
A view made for coffee and croissants, Alexis thought, and sank into one of the rocking chairs that lined the veranda. She took another swig from the bottle and tilted her head back to take it all in.
In the distance, she heard the whirr of a cart, and she smiled a little to think of her stuffy, suit-and-tie colleagues shooting the shit on the green while she soaked in the tub.
With a long sigh, she closed her eyes and reached for the top button on her blouse. No meetings were scheduled before 11 o’clock, none scheduled past 7 in the evening. Work she must, but she would stay up late and sleep late, indulge in a massage, or spend an evening with a book at the water’s edge.
She might even get laid, if she had the opportunity to get acquainted with the other guests or nab herself a hot waiter.
‘You hit a home run with this place, Miss Shea.’
Alexis turned towards the voice. Chris Kendrick, head of sales, swaggered from his corner suite next to hers. He took the rocker next to hers and reached for her champagne bottle.
Alexis pulled it out of his grasp. ‘Get your own.’
‘You don’t want to save the company a few bucks by sharing?’
She grinned at him as she stretched out her legs and wriggled her toes. ‘I want to drink the whole bottle myself and then order room service.’
He returned her smirk, and then his eyes started to move down over her rumpled clothes, along bare legs to toenails painted pink.
By the time he met her gaze once more, Alexis was tingling in all the right places.