Sandcastle Kisses

By: Krista Lakes & Mel Finefrock
A Billionaire Love Story

To my friends

Sandcastle Kisses: A Billionaire Love Story

Author's Note: This book takes place at the same time as Saltwater Kisses, but is completely stand-alone.

Chapter 1

I peered out of my dirty car window at the big mansion and had to consciously raise my jaw back up off my chest. I knew houses like this populated the island, but I hadn't actually been this close to one before now. Perfect white marble columns were flanked by lush tropical greenery, and scenic balconies hung out at regular intervals. The place was huge. Grandiose. Palatial. It belonged in a movie. And according to my roommate, it was actually one of the smaller mansions of the island. Key Island was the home of two extremely exclusive resorts, a smattering of multimillion dollar homes, and some locals to help run it all. The island was known as the island for people with more money than they could spend.

I shook my head as I eased my ancient little Corolla away from the circle of expensive cars in the driveway. My boss hadn't told me much about the job, just to show up and tend bar. I didn't even know who was officially even throwing it. He said there was a place for me to park to the side of the house and then to find Rachel.

Lamborghinis, Maseratis, and Jaguars lined the round-about in front of the house, and the worst part was that most of them were dirty. These people used ridiculously expensive cars as their everyday mode of transportation on the island. If using my entire research grant as a way to get to a party wasn't the epitome of wealth, then I wasn't sure what was.

I followed a delivery truck into a little parking lot off to the side of the house. It had an easy slope up to the big doors of a kitchen and was shaded from view of the house by palms and bushes. At least my little car didn't look quite as out of place as I parked it next to a sensible little blue Honda that was only a year or two younger than mine.

I pulled the keys from the ignition and checked my hair and makeup one last time in the rear-view mirror. My strawberry blonde hair was pulled back in a neat ponytail but with cute little tendrils that framed my face. My hair was now mostly blonde after being in the sun and ocean all day, but I thought it suited me.

My eyeliner was perfect and smooth, making my green eyes pop. I hadn't bothered to try and cover up the smattering of freckles across my cheeks, trusting in my old college roommate who said they were cute. She had taught me how to do my makeup in college and had gone on to become a professional makeup artist, so I figured she had to know what she was talking about.

I practiced a flirtatious smile one more time, checking my teeth in the mirror. With the top button of my white shirt just low enough to display cleavage but not appear slutty, I got out of the car. I tugged on my little black vest until it was straight and took a deep breath. Black pants and some sensible shoes completed my bartender outfit. I hoped I looked cute enough to get some good tips.

The tropical air of the Caribbean island was warm and humid against my skin. It was late afternoon, and the sun was just starting its slow descent down the sky toward blue waters. Birds chirped in the trees, and the beat of dance music started and stopped as someone inside the house worked on getting the sound system set. I felt a tingle of excitement run down my spine. This was going to be a good night.

Just inside the double doors of the kitchen, I found a woman directing traffic. She had on an expensive gray suit, and her dark brown hair was pulled up into a neat bun. Small square glasses were perched on the end of her nose as she peered down at a clipboard and tapped a pen against her lips.

“Are you Rachel?” I asked, stepping up to her. Hers was the only name my boss had given me. She smiled warmly and glanced down at her clipboard.

“Yes. You must be Isabel Baker,” she greeted me warmly. I nodded and shook her hand. A man with a keg on a dolly nearly ran me over before Rachel pulled me out of his way. “That goes upstairs on the patio!”

“Do I follow the keg, then?” I asked, my gaze trailing after the man with the keg. Rachel shook her head.

“Nope. You go down to the 'Man Cave.'” She rolled her eyes slightly at the reference, but her smile told me she just thought it was a silly name. “The boys requested to have a real bartender down there tonight. That's where the party will be.”

“Oh.” I felt a bubble of nerves. This place was incredibly fancy. I hoped I was up to their rich standards. I could feel my palms beginning to sweat.

“Don't worry about them. They just want to relive their glory days,” Rachel said warmly, referencing what had to be billionaires like they were her little brothers. “Just don't let them get away with too much. Have fun and don't worry about the booze. Just keep filling up their glasses and smiling, and they'll be happy campers.”