I stood on the longest dock in St. Kitts harbor, jetlagged and sweating in the heat of the late morning sun, staring up at the gleaming bow of the ship that would be my home for the next four months.
I took in the enormous length of Now, Voyager, a two-hundred-foot yacht that barely fit within the confines of the harbor. The yacht was owned by C.R. Carter, a man reputed to be a charming wanker – or at least, that was how my college friend, Carter’s personal assistant, referred to him. It hadn’t discouraged me from taking a job on board. After a year working as a personal assistant and a yacht steward for the rich and infamous, nothing shocked me. Seeing off my primary’s escorts? Done. Arranging a party for two hundred people the day of? No problem. I could handle being a last-minute stand-in because the pay and the reference from a high-profile client was desperately needed. I was relieved and nervous in equal measure.
Grabbing my suitcase, I walked along the plank that attached to the lower deck and spotted a few of the crew on board, wiping down the enormous volume of windows and railings. One man on the bridge deck caught my undivided attention. Unlike the rest of the staff who were dressed in smart navy shorts and white logoed T-shirts, this man was wearing ripped cargo shorts, no shirt, mirrored aviators, and a baseball hat. His body was fit and tanned, his dark blond hair a messy tumble around his ears. I was so busy staring at the Adonis on board that I failed to notice the hose in the man’s hand and the fact that it was aimed my way until it was too goddamn late. Icy cold water drenched my travel-weary body.
“Shit, that’s freezing! Watch what the hell you’re doing!” I yelled up at Blondie as I stood there on the deck, soaking wet, a small puddle forming under my feet.
“Are you speaking to me?” Blondie asked in a posh British accent as he placed the hose down and wandered closer.
“No, I’m talking to the seagull hovering nearby. Yes, I’m talking to you! Pay attention to where you’re aiming that thing! Look at me!”
“Best to keep out of the way when we scrub her down,” Blondie snapped back with a smirk as I vibrated with anger, shaking the water off. Fuck, even my leather loafers were soaked.
“Is Captain Bernard available? I’m your new chief steward, Andrew Slater,” I bit out.
Blondie walked closer to the railing, and his face came into view. Or most of it. With the sunglasses and hat, all I could see was a pair of wicked dimples that framed full lips and perfect white teeth. The man’s grin was confident, cocky even. Oh boy.
“Pleased to meet you, Andrew. I’m Rowan. The captain is on shore, but he’ll be back momentarily. In the meantime, why don’t you follow me, and I’ll show you where you can put your luggage.” His smooth accent was effortlessly charming and only added to his appeal. “But first, take this.” Rowan walked down a flight of stairs to the main deck, grabbed a blue towel hanging over one of the chairs, and threw it down at me.
“Oh, wow. I’m sure this tiny hand towel will dry my entire body in no time,” I replied, rolling my eyes and wiping at the water that was dripping down my face and neck.
“Where’s your uniform?” I asked as I stepped onto the wooden deck and got a good look around. Loads of loungers and chairs with crisp white and blue cushions beckoned. The bright sunlight caused a glare that even sunglasses couldn’t evade, and I squinted at Rowan, waiting patiently for his answer. Despite my cold and clammy clothes, my body began to sweat in the dense tropical air.
“I tend to dress as I please, and I prefer not to wear shirts when I’m working in this heat,” Rowan replied with that arrogant smirk again as he sauntered closer. Ravi had warned me about recent changes to staff and a few of the crew members being careless in their duties. This pompous dude probably assumed his cute accent and dimples allowed him to skirt the rules.
“There’s a high standard to maintain in this business. I assume the yacht’s bosun expects all the deck crew to be dressed in the staff uniform. I suggest you go and change,” I replied firmly, thinking it best to take a proactive manner as early as possible.
“Really? Well, I’ll take your direct request under advisement,” Blondie reached up and pulled his cap off, running a hand through his wavy hair. My eyes caught and lingered on his impressive bicep. Stop staring at the man candy. As sweet looking as it is.
I cleared my throat. “Or we can shoot the shit with the captain. Perhaps that’ll change your mind? Maybe he’ll put you on laundry duty or have you cleaning the staff quarters, given your lax attitude. And inability to aim a hose.”
Rowan’s booming laughter surprised me and echoed loudly in the still, humid air. My face heated and I bit my lip to stay calm.
“That would be entirely appropriate, Andrew. Please do tell the captain right away.”
Rowan pointed to a place beyond my shoulder. Whipping around, I came face-to-face with a trim middle-aged man dressed in a white uniform standing directly behind me, his mouth set in a grim expression.
“I’m Captain George Bernard,” the man replied in a clipped British accent as he surveyed my wet form and shook his head. “And you are the new chief steward, Andrew Slater, I presume? I see you’ve met Mr. Rowan Carter, the owner of this fine vessel.”