Kennedy groaned as her tug on the door sent pain shooting through her shoulders and down her spine. She needed to get on the massage table before her overstressed muscles totally seized. Note to self: full urns are heavier than they appear. But heavy or not, the flowers had given just the right touch of fairy tale to the “wedding of the year” that she’d organized. The marriage of the costars in last year’s best film of the year had gone off without a hitch.
Too bad said hitch had ended up in her neck and shoulders. Thank God her weekly Sunday massage was scheduled in another five minutes. Assuming she could get the heavy-ass door to the Sovereign Resort Salon & Spa open. She pulled a little harder.
“Come on, weakling. We’re waiting.”
“If I’m so weak, why don’t you use those enormous muscles of yours to get us inside, huh?”
Cooper shook his head, his look of indulgence getting her back up. She chose to ignore it when one massive paw reached out and tugged the door open effortlessly.
“What, you needed the whole hand? Wouldn’t two fingers have sufficed?” she threw over her shoulder as she waltzed inside. She’d never worked with anyone more knowledgeable than Cooper, which was why, when she’d been promoted to president of guest services at their exclusive Las Vegas resort last month, she’d recommended he be promoted into her old position of vice president—despite the fact that he cracked one too many jokes about how tiny she was. Given his size, everyone was tiny, a fact she took great satisfaction in reminding him of.
Cooper’s chuckle followed her as she walked to the wide, semicircular reception desk. “You’re welcome, Half Pint.”
Teri was already shaking her head at their antics. “Just another typical Sunday, huh?”
“Too late.” Cooper’s words shook with suppressed laughter that ended on an oomph when Kennedy’s elbow jabbed into his rock-hard belly.
Kennedy winced at the twang pinching her shoulders.
“Looks like you’ve done some damage,” Teri said, eyeing Kennedy’s posture.
A snort escaped her VP, echoed by a man she belatedly noticed leaning against the wall across from the door of the waiting room. Tall, dark-haired, and nearly as muscular as Cooper—nice. He was obviously waiting on someone, which meant he was either a husband or security, but anyone with security would’ve been important enough to call her in. Since no one had, she was betting on the former. She met his amused gaze and gave him a shrug before turning back to Teri.
“My usual room?”
Her friend focused on her computer screen, amusement still tugging at her lips. “I believe Melody put you there, yes. Just let me—”
Kennedy waved the help away. “No worries. I’ll find her.” She’d been here every Sunday morning for the past year, since the first week she’d worked at Sovereign Resort. One of the best perks of the job. She’d also booked hundreds of guest services at the spa and, in the case of high-profile clients, escorted dozens here personally. Intimate familiarity was an understatement.
The long hall leading from reception to the spa was swirled stone, laid to resemble rocks weathered by a swiftly flowing stream. She trailed a hand along the surface as she walked to the women’s dressing room, absorbing the peace and quiet. Inside, she exchanged her clothed for a fluffy white robe, then returned to the hall and made her way toward the massage rooms. Maybe before she left, she’d soak in the pool that took up the back half of the spa, overlooking the eastern Vegas skyline. The residue of the tension she’d gathered since her promotion, good or not, might take longer than a thirty-minute massage to erase.
The waiting area near the massage rooms stood empty. Kennedy skirted its edge, admiring the mini waterfall that was its focal point, and headed for the back room, the one Melody always put her in. It wasn’t the biggest, but it was her favorite. Thick shoji screens concealing built-in soundproof panels filtered the light and noise from outside, encapsulating her in the decadence of Turkish linens and the scent of lemongrass. She often started her time in the whirlpool tub inside the room. Just laying eyes on the door relaxed her muscles and eased her breathing. With relief she slid one screen aside and stepped into what she liked to think of as her own personal retreat.
And jerked to a stop. What the hell?
Her room—her room—wasn’t empty. She saw his feet first. It had to be a him, because the feet were long and wide and rugged. They hung below the cover of the white sheet, resting at the very end of the massage table. One twitched as if in sleep, and the sheet inched up, the white cloth a stark contrast to the deep tan of his skin. Muscular calves were outlined clearly under their shroud, as were heavy thighs, the sheet pulled taut across his—
Damn. Kennedy fanned the sudden flush of heat in her cheeks.
Narrow hips broadened to wide shoulders. His back was bare, the deep furrow of his spine a shadow in the candlelit room. She knew she was staring, but her feet wouldn’t move. They held her there, glued to the floor, and she could do nothing but gawk at the beautiful expanse of sun-kissed skin and the intricate tattoo of a sea turtle on the shoulder closest to her, fins extended as if swimming toward the shaggy dark-blond hair along the man’s nape. Deep blues and greens seemed to glow in the flickering light, the turtle’s dark eyes staring as if wondering who this creature was that had dared to interrupt his companion’s rest.
The turtle probably wasn’t alone.
A loud click tore through the quiet—the door, no longer blocked by her shoulder, sliding shut beside her. Kennedy’s throat closed over a curse. On the table the man stirred, his muscles stretching like a lion waking from a nap. “I almost fell asleep there for a minute, love.”
Good. God. Putty in his hands, that’s what she was. He could be ninety with one foot in the grave and no teeth, and that Australian accent brushing his words would melt her just the same. Combined with that beautiful body? She couldn’t see the lips that formed the words, but her ovaries didn’t seem to care. Kennedy’s insides swelled with heat, preparing to burst at the next sexily accented sound.
“I think that ‘almost’ is a bit of an exaggeration, isn’t it?”
No no no! Shit!
Kennedy squeezed her eyelids shut. She hadn’t intended to talk, hadn’t intended to stay, even. The risk of a guest witnessing her faux pas was bad enough, but make that a sexy, sensually accented guest? No.
But she’d opened her big mouth now, hadn’t she?
That mouth is always getting you into trouble, Sis.
Vincent had warned her time and again. Too bad her tongue didn’t listen. It would when she told it not to share this story with him, though. She’d wear a ball gag if she had to, but no way would she give her older brother ammunition for their next sibling squabble.
Her feet propelled her forward without permission, a sympathetic murmur sounding in her throat. She searched the room, desperate for some way to excuse herself without being seen, some way to disappear without Mr. Aussie realizing his masseuse was actually some strange woman who’d barged her way into the wrong room. Thank God he hadn’t turned his head; the awkward angle over his shoulder would’ve given him the perfect view of her standing at the door, sweaty fingers clutching the fluffy robe she wore—with nothing underneath it.
Nothing underneath it.
A completely absurd need to howl with laughter choked into her throat. Of course she was naked. It wasn’t like he was wearing anything under that sheet either.
Oh God oh God oh God.
I am so dead. What the hell do I do now?
She reached up to rub her hands over her face, the shock of blazing-hot cheeks slapping her out of her adolescent tizzy. “We’ll get started in one moment,” she murmured. “Let me just check something real quick.”
Just get out of here, Kennedy.
“Check anything you want, love,” the man said drowsily, “as long as I’m on the list.”
There was no missing the flirt in Mr. Aussie’s words, no matter how slurred they were. The sound sparked something inside Kennedy too, something she really needed to ignore: mischief. It had been the bane of her existence and a constant source of amusement for Vince throughout their childhood, and now it stirred in her belly, bringing trouble with it, she knew.
She shuffled back toward the door.
“Let me make you more comfortable first.”
It’s just a little tease. It won’t hurt anything. He’ll never know who you are.
I’ll know, she argued, but her hand was already reaching for the warmer, lifting the lid, pulling out a hot washcloth. She waved the steaming cloth in the air for a few moments, allowing it to cool to a comfortable temperature, then walked it over to the table. “Here we go. Roll over for me, please? Eyes closed.”
The man obeyed, sighing deeply when the warm cloth settled over his closed eyes. Thank goodness, because Kennedy was sighing as well. Just looking at his gorgeous face made her sigh.
“Nice,” he said.
“Mm.” Kennedy retreated to the tabletop. An enclosed pot waited, the little red light on the front indicating that the wax inside was warm and ready for use. She lifted the lid to stare at the melted wax, her imp firmly in control now. “We’re just about ready. Shall we start with your waxing? That’ll get you nice and awake for your massage.”
The faint note of apprehension couldn’t mar his lovely accent, but it did push a bubble of laughter up the back of Kennedy’s throat. She closed the warmer and shuffled through the papers on a clipboard sitting nearby. “Right. You asked for the Brazilian, correct? Adventurous man.” Every ounce of appreciation she could scrounge up went into the last two words.
A choked sound came from the table. “A what?”
“A Brazilian. Yes?”
“Oh.” She kept her back to the table, barely able to control her laughter. “I must have something wrong here.” Grasping the clipboard, she turned toward the door, careful to keep her head down and turned slightly away from the table, her long bangs hiding her face from the man she was teasing. “Let me clarify my orders.”
The sound of shifting came from the table. “Definitely think you should check that.” She caught a shudder from the corner of her eye. “Not just no, but fuck no,” he muttered.
A tiny laugh escaped despite her best efforts. “Well, we wouldn’t want a fuck no, now would we? I’ll be right back.”
She managed to slip through the door. As it clicked shut, she came face-to-face with Melody.
“What were you doing in there?” her friend whispered, a spark of amusement in her brown eyes saying she already had some clue.
Melody muffled her laughter behind a hand. “Every word. What were you thinking?”
No way in hell was she telling anyone what she’d been thinking—that Mr. Aussie was sexy enough to distract her until escape had been impossible. She went on the offensive instead. “I was thinking he took my room.”
Kennedy grumbled. If he was that important, why hadn’t she been told about him? Whoever the guy was, he was racking up marks that were definitely not in his favor, and racking them up quick. Kai was a great masseuse, but Kennedy wanted Mel, damn it. Routine was a must, especially when you needed to relax.
Her bottom lip pouted out.
Her friend swatted her lightly with the clipboard on her way to Mr. Aussie’s door. “Go and I won’t snitch on you.”
“Gee, thanks.” She slinked away, but not before Melody’s cheerful voice reached her ears.
“So, Mr. Anschau, we’re not having a waxing today, correct?”