Barefoot in White - Roxanne St. Claire Page 0,1

for clients…it was the key to Willow’s personal happiness.

And she was happy, she reminded herself, humming a little, as though that soundtrack would prove the very thought to be true. So very happy and healthy and three thousand miles from California. New woman, new life, new everything.

Happy, happy, happy. The humming might be a little over-the-top, though.

Instead, she inhaled the briny bay air, stopping at the wrought iron gate that opened to Artemisia. Positioned on a rise, and angled so that the patio and pool faced the Gulf of Mexico, this butter-yellow villa was one of Willow’s favorites on the property. Setting the basket on the terra cotta steps that led up to the front door, she pulled her resort ID that doubled as a master key out of her pocket, unlocked the door, and scooped up the goodies to go inside.

The living area was darkened from sunshades on the windows, cool and quiet, with the welcoming aroma of sweet gardenias left by the Casa Blanca cleaning staff. Heading to the kitchen, Willow froze mid-step at the sound of…was that running water? No. A footstep? She listened for a minute, heard nothing, then—

“Will ya…will ya…be my girl?”

Singing. Someone was singing. Well, more like howling. Woefully off-key.

“Gotta know if it’s real, gotta know it’s forevah!”

Willow’s heart dropped so hard and fast the basket almost went with it. Was this some kind of joke? That song? That crappy, tacky, mess of metal that…that pretended to be a love song and paid for college and cars and everything else she’d had?

No one at this whole resort, on this island, or, hell, in the whole state of Florida, except for Ari and Gussie, could possibly know—

“No foolin’ around, for worse or for bettah!”

Son of a bitch, who’d found her out? Did Ari or Gussie tell someone that Willow’s father was a rock ’n’ roll household name? They’d promised not to.

Gripping the basket so tight she could crack the wicker, she marched into the hallway that separated the two bedrooms, calling out, “Excuse me!”

“Will ya…will ya…be my…”

“Hey!” She lowered the basket to peer over the top and…oh. Oh.





Ass again. It deserved a second look.

“Girrrrl!” Tanned, muscular arms whacked the air, and a dark head of wet hair shook, sending droplets all the way down to…oh, really, that rear end was the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen.

“Come and take it, don’t ya fake it, we can make—”

She opened her mouth, but nothing came out. The words caught in her throat, lost as her gaze locked on the bare-naked man air-drumming like a raving lunatic in the middle of the bedroom, totally unaware she stood behind him.

“Luh-uuuuve…” He destroyed the note, and not in the good way her father intended when he wrote the song. No, Donny Zatarain would probably weep if he heard his signature rock anthem being butchered by this idiot wearing nothing but noise-canceling headphones.

“Excuse me!”

His arms never missed a beat of the drum solo she had memorized before she was five years old, each stroke tensing and bulging muscles she hadn’t even known existed. She opened her mouth to call out again, but that was a waste of time. Anyway, this particular feast for the eyes was way too good to pass up.

“Will ya, will ya be my girrrrrl?”

But that song had to stop. She reached into the basket and grabbed the first thing her fingers touched: a nice ripe Florida orange. Yanking it out, she lobbed it as he hit the high C on “girl,” except he didn’t come anywhere near C, and the orange didn’t go anywhere near him.

Still, he spun around, jumping into a wide, threatening stance, both arms out like a warrior ready to attack. She blocked her face with the basket, peeking through the top spray of cellophane, silently thanking Ari for choosing clear.

Whoa, that was a big…man.

“What the…” he muttered after a second, whipping off the headset. “I didn’t hear you come in. You can put that down out there. Thanks.”

She didn’t move. Not even her eyes, which were riveted to…his…his…him.

“Thanks,” he repeated, the word tinged with impatience. “You can leave now.”

What if her client had come face-to-face with this? With that exposed…giant…breathtaking… She’d think this took “welcome package” to a whole new level.

“No, you can leave, because you are not in the right villa,” she said.

He scowled. Well, she assumed he scowled. It was difficult to see his face because she couldn’t stop looking at the rest of him.

“I’m in the right villa. Isn’t this