Chapter Four

The room was made of fuzzy gray shapes and indistinguishable shadows. My breath came in short gasps. I sat up, confused and panicked for a moment before remembering where I was. As soon as I remembered I was sleeping in a billionaire's mansion alongside the Caribbean ocean, I sighed and laughed a little at myself. Leave it to me to freak out about sleeping somewhere too nice.

I tried to lay back down, but just settling back against the perfectly-stuffed pillows made me antsy. The bed was too soft and the blankets too fancy to be comfortable. I didn't deserve three-million thread count sheets or sleeping underneath what I suspected was a Picasso. I was not billionaire material. I wasn't even Chad material.

Besides, I was ready to get started. I needed to show Mr. Belrose that I wasn't just a wanna-be football player who tackled random billionaires taking out the trash. The day was going to be full of exciting work and I didn't want to wait. Not that I could get anything done until Dad woke up, as we had to go over our plan for dividing up the work, but I still couldn't just lay in bed. It was like asking me not to peek out at the tree on Christmas morning.

I padded over to the window, the wood floors cool on my bare feet. My messy reflection greeted me in the glass. Auburn hair all tangled and messy fell over my shoulders and green eyes peered back at me. I frowned and pulled my red hair back into a untidy pony-tail to deal with later. Dawn was on her way, with the gray skyline lightening and heralding her impending arrival. The clouds were tinged with pink and reflecting in the quiet ocean waves.

I remembered how good the water had felt around my legs last night and grinned. Sunrise with my feet in the ocean was the perfect way to start a day. If the water had been beautiful in the moonlight, I could only imagine how amazing it would be in the first golden rays of the day.

I hurried down the stairs and out onto the wooden deck, pausing for a moment before going outside. I was only wearing a thin, white, jersey-knit t-shirt and a pair of old blue boxers covered in pale pink hearts that were once part of a pajama set-- not exactly appropriate attire for company. I peered out the window and didn't see anyone.

I shrugged and stepped out. If anyone saw me this early, they would most likely be in pajamas themselves. Besides, I didn't want to go back up and change and possibly miss the sunrise.

The sand was cool against my feet, but still just as soft. It was colder now that the night had the chance to cool the world, but it was still far warmer than the freezing temperatures of home. I considered getting a light jacket, but that would entail going back upstairs. Instead, I just wrapped my arms around myself and hurried to the water.

The sun wasn't up yet, so the water was dark and colder than last time, but I didn't care. It was still exhilarating. The sky was turning a vibrant shade of pink and every wave was tipped with the warming color. I was in for a magnificent sunrise.

A noise behind me made me turn. Coming down the beach, carrying a long surfboard looking thing and a paddle, was a billionaire. Wearing a skin-tight, full-body wetsuit that showed off just how in shape he was, he looked hotter than the sun that was supposed to come up any moment. His light brown hair was tussled with sleep, but his eyes were bright. And on me.

“Hi,” I stammered as he entered the water, eyes still on me. “Good morning...”

What exactly was one supposed to say when meeting a billionaire in one's pajamas while standing in the ocean at dawn? After trying to tackle him the night before? Not to mention that my very sheer shirt was highlighting just how cold I was. I tightened my arms around my chest, hoping that I had myself appropriately covered.

“I don't usually see anyone out here this early,” he replied, stopping a polite distance away. It was still closer than I felt comfortable with, especially with the wetsuit showing off his broad shoulders and toned ass. The wetsuit, if anything, accented his perfect build rather than hiding it. I almost would have preferred him to be wearing a normal swimsuit because it would have let my imagination stop putting him together. “Are you going to try and take my board again?

“No, not until later,” I replied, blushing straight down to my toes. I wasn't going to let him get to me today, though. I was a strong, independent woman. Or at least I was going to pretend to be one. “I only tackle billionaires at night. I'm actually more of a morning person. I like sunrises, and long walks on the beach.” I didn't mean to quote one of his commercials, but there it was. I really needed to learn to think before I spoke sometimes.

Mr. Belrose's brows raised and his eyes met mine. Butterflies started dancing in my stomach. There was no reason for me to feel this giddy nervousness, but I couldn't help it. For whatever reason, I wanted him to like me and standing out in my pj's quoting his company's commercials sounded incredibly lame. I was an idiot.

He half-grinned, thankfully finding me amusing.

He nodded toward the horizon. “This is a good place for sunrises.” His gaze went past me and up toward the horizon and his grin shifted into an all out smile.

I turned my head from him to see a golden ball of fire rising up over the dark blue water. The sky was awash in blues, pinks, golds, and oranges that stole my breath away. It was possibly the most stunning sunrise I had ever seen.

I glanced over at him again. The sunlight was bathing him in total glory, accenting the strength of his cheekbones and the golds in his hair. His shoulders were relaxed as he soaked in the morning light, absorbing it's radiance. His smile was almost brighter than the sun and just as beautiful. When he smiled, it was better than the sun coming up. It made my heart beat faster and my stomach make strange knots.

I looked away, turning back to watch the bright ball rise further until I couldn't bare to look at it anymore. Feelings of hope and renewal flowed through me. This is the way to start a day, I thought to myself. Almost better than coffee.

After a moment, I shifted my weight in the water, feeling awkward. “So, are the waves any good for surfing?” I asked, looking over at the billionaire and motioning to the board floating in the water beside him.

He looked over at me surprised, as if he had forgotten that I was there. The brilliant smile was gone, but so was the sternness I remembered from the day before. Out here, he looked like a young man excited for the day. Even the scar down his cheek was less pronounced. He was friendly in the morning light, as if he hadn't had time to harden.

“The waves here aren't big enough for surfing,” he patiently explained. “I paddle-board.” He grinned, threatening to reveal that brilliant smile again, as he held up the paddle. “Best way to greet the day.”

I looked at his board. It looked like a surfboard, but just a little different. The fact that he had a long paddle that looked like it belonged more on a kayak also suggested something I wasn't familiar with.

“I've never actually done that,” I said slowly.

“You're welcome to join me,” he offered. “There's extra boards in the shed.”

“I'm not exactly dressed for swimming.” I blushed, looking down at my boxer shorts and seeing the pale pink hearts darkening on the hem from the ocean water. “Is that how you broke your board?

His eyes looked me up and down, taking in my thin pajamas and just how tight I was holding my arms close. I could have sworn his pupils dilated, and just thinking that they did made me blush harder.

“No,” he said shaking his head. “That board got hit by a boat.”

“I hope you weren't on it,” I said when he didn't offer anymore information.

He regarded me quizzically for a moment before shaking his head slightly. “No, I wasn't. I was driving the boat.”

“Oh.” I smiled and nodded, hoping like hell that the pink sunrise was at least partially hiding my blush. It was really hard not to stare at his muscles under his wetsuit. Good lord, he was built. “Then maybe I'll take you up on your offer to paddle-board, but I'll remember not to go out on a boat with you. Or at least not be on a paddle-board when you're sailing.”

I looked up to see the corner of his lips twitched, hinting at his own amusement.

“As long as you don't tackle me again, I promise not to hit you with a boat.” He kept his face straight, but his eyes twinkled. I couldn't help but smile back.

He nodded politely and stepped away. Pulling his board close to him, he then lay down on his stomach and began paddling out into deeper water.

It only took a moment before he rose first to his knees and then up to standing in a graceful motion I knew must have taken months of practice. Even from where I was standing, I could see his abs and arms working with the strength needed to push him through the water. It was easy to see how he stayed in such good shape if he did this every morning. It looked like a full body workout.

I watched him for a moment, enjoying seeing his finesse and strength in the water, until I realized that I was staring again. Somehow I managed to blush even more, especially knowing that I could have happily watched him all day. I was a creep, but at least I knew it.

I shook my head, trying to clear my thoughts. Now that the sun was up, it was warmer but my pajamas were still thin and getting wet. My stomach rumbled, reminding me that dinner had been a long time ago and Charlotte had mentioned something about breakfast in the morning.

Reluctantly, I turned and headed back to shore. At the base of the deck was a little freshwater shower that I used to rinse the sand and salt from my legs before climbing the stairs back inside. I looked out at the water as I finished rinsing, surprised to see Mr. Belrose looking back at me.

He grinned, and the blush that had finally faded came roaring back. I bit my lip, determined not to make a complete fool of myself and hurried inside, nearly colliding with a giant wall of man. Elijah avoided me easily, making sure that I didn't run into him or the door in my attempt to stop the collision. He chuckled, shaking his head.

My face was burning now, knowing that not only was the stealthy body guard chuckling at me, but Mr. Belrose had seen the whole thing. I mumbled an apology and scurried up to my room to put on real clothes and hopefully fade my blush before my skin permanently matched my hair.

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