Excerpt: The Ruthless Gentleman - Vilma Iris | Lifestyle Blogger

As a chief stewardess on luxury superyachts, I massage egos, pamper the spoiled and cater to the most outlandish desires of the rich and famous.

I’ve never had a guest want something I can’t give them. Until British businessman Hayden Wolf comes aboard—all sexy swagger and mysterious requests.

He wants me.

And Hayden Wolf’s a man who’s used to getting exactly what he demands.

Despite being serious and focused. Demanding and ruthless. He’s also charming when I least expect it as well as being devastatingly handsome with an almost irresistible smile.

But guests are strictly off limits and I’ve never broken a rule. Not even bent one. My family are depending on me and I can’t lose my job.

Only problem is Hayden Wolf is looking at me like I just changed his life. And he’s touching me like he’s about to change mine.

Book Type:

Contemporary Romance

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Excerpt: The Ruthless Gentleman
By Louise Bay

Excerpt: The Ruthless Gentleman

Superyacht chief stewardess Avery Walker meets her match when British businessman Hayden Wolf steps aboard, all charm and demands. They’re breaking all the rules in Louise Bay’s latest, THE RUTHLESS GENTLEMAN, out this week. I’m thrilled to share an excerpt from this standalone contemporary romance.

Avery

Another day, another blue sky, another superyacht. As I reached the main deck of the Athena, carrying a glass of champagne and a glass of orange juice, I glanced across at the Saint Tropez marina in the distance and took a deep breath to calm myself. I was usually well rested for the first charter of the season, and May was usually a beautiful month in the Med, but I still carried the exhaustion of the previous season with me. On top of fatigue, the lack of information that we’d been given about the first eight-week charter meant I was unprepared for this guest and it made me more than nervous.

We arranged ourselves into the welcome line. Captain Moss first, me next to him, Eric the bosun, then Chef Neill and the rest of the crew, excluding the engineers who disappeared back to the engine room rather than meet our guest.

The tinny sound of the tender grew louder from behind us, and from the corner of my eye I caught my stewardess, August, craning her neck to look. “Eyes forward,” I said. I hated riding my crew’s ass. Some of the chief stewardesses I’d worked under enjoyed wielding their power, but that wasn’t me. I just wanted the job done, the guests delighted and the tips huge.

The sound of footsteps headed up the stairs toward us. I plastered on a smile, careful to keep the tray I was holding steady.

As our guest appeared, I drew in a breath. He was young—around thirty, no more than thirty-five—and handsome with dark brown hair and wide shoulders. This guy wasn’t anything like the normal charter guest. But then this was nothing like a normal charter. He was tall—well over six feet. Sharp cheekbones framed his face and led down to a perfectly smooth, square jaw. His eyes were dark and serious. If his nose hadn’t been a little crooked, as if it had been broken at some point in his past, I might have even described him as pretty, but the unevenness tipped him toward handsome. It suggested there was a little rough beneath the oh-so-smooth.

I swallowed. I’d never found a guest attractive before. Not even a little bit. But then again, we never had charter guests who looked like this guy. When I first got into yachting, I’d expected to be surrounded by rich, beautiful people all the time. And while there was plenty of wealth, the attractive guests tended to be women. Although I was pretty flexible about a lot of stuff, I was strictly dickly when it came to my fantasies.

He strode toward Captain Moss and they shook hands. “Good to meet you,” the man said in a deep, gravelly voice that seemed to make my whole body vibrate.

“Good to have you on board,” Captain Moss replied.

“I’m Hayden Wolf,” he said, turning to pin me with a stare so intense it was as if he were getting some sort of psychic reading. “Avery, right?”

How did he know my name? Maybe the background check had given him a photograph. And the way he said it—my name shouldn’t sound that different in a British accent, but the way he enunciated every syllable, coupled with the deep timbre, somehow made it sound important. “Yes, sir,” I replied.

He nodded and smiled. My nipples tightened. Fuck. Thank God I was wearing a t-shirt bra.

The first rule in yachting was never cross the line between personal and professional. Some crew found it difficult, especially when the guests were laid back and wanted the staff to join in the fun. Sometimes the lines got blurred, but never for me—it was the easiest way to get fired. I’d never seen a guest as anything other than the person responsible for my tip and the reason why I could send money home to my family.

But Hayden Wolf?

There was something about him that erased the line completely, and all of a sudden I was imagining him naked and sweaty. Shut it down, I told myself.

“May I offer you a glass of champagne or orange juice?” I asked.

He shook his head. “No, thank you.”

My heart, which had been skipping in my chest, suddenly sank to the floor.

Please God, tell me he drinks.

A sober charter guest was the worst. I’d take someone who demanded all his sheets flown over from Italy and his whiskey from a distillery in the remote islands of Scotland over a guest who didn’t drink.

“You’ve disabled the Wi-Fi?” Hayden turned to ask Captain Moss.

“As you requested,” Captain Moss confirmed.

The Wi-Fi was disabled? Usually it was the other way around. Guests were always asking for a better connection, failing to understand that when you were afloat, there were things beyond our control—like the freaking ocean.

“Okay, I’m going to need everyone’s mobile devices,” Hayden announced. “Phones, tablets, laptops.”

No one moved and I glanced across at Captain Moss, but he wore his normal impassive expression. Were they being checked for something?

“You heard our guest,” Moss said. “We’ll be waiting.”

We all filed back inside the yacht and headed to our sleeping quarters, where the few personal things we had on board were kept. We were unusually silent as we collected our devices, unclear on why our guest was demanding our personal things.

“Is this everything?” Hayden asked as Chef Neill, the last person to emerge, placed his computer and phone on the teak table that would be later set for lunch.

“It’s vital to me that nothing leaves this boat. No pictures, no phone calls, no emails, nothing,” Hayden said.

Privacy was rule number two in yachting. We all knew how to be discreet. No one on a yacht gossiped about their guests outside of the yacht. Well, that wasn’t true. We all gossiped about the guests, but we never mentioned names. We never attributed the outrageous stories that we collected during our careers.

“I understand that it might be a challenge, so as an additional layer of security, you won’t have access to your communication devices during my stay,” Hayden said.

The entire charter without our phones or laptops? He had to be kidding. August gasped beside me, and I fisted my hands, trying to keep the smile on my face.

“Nothing for eight weeks,” the captain confirmed, and I could tell the entire crew were desperate to complain but no one would want to embarrass Captain Moss.

The third rule of yachting was the guest gets what the guest wants. I was used to outlandish requests, but no phone or internet for eight weeks wasn’t just inconvenient. If I’d known this before the charter started, I probably wouldn’t have said yes.

“Please, may I clarify?” I asked. Ordinarily I sucked up everything a guest asked for—went above and beyond what they’d hoped for—but I couldn’t hold back. “We’re not going to be able to contact our family for two months? Some of us have personal situations—”

“Not from this yacht,” Hayden snapped. “I have very few requests, but my need for absolute privacy and discretion is paramount. There are no discussions or negotiations about this. You can contact people from the shore, but if you don’t like it, then you will need to find a different yacht to work on.”

It was as if I’d been thrown against a wall by the force and intensity of his words. The jerk hadn’t even let me finish my sentence. I’d dealt with unreasonable guests in my time, but normally I could separate the job from the real me and I didn’t care less. I wanted to explode and yell that there was no way I could be without any way of contacting my dad for two months, but I knew I should be setting an example to my two interior crew members, Skylar and August. I had to stay calm and then figure out what the hell I was going to do.

“Thank you for your cooperation,” Hayden said as if he’d asked us not to chew gum or wear pink for the next eight weeks. What a way to start a season.

“Avery will give you the tour,” Captain Moss said.

I smiled, trying to focus on something other than Mr. Wolf’s almost-perfect face and how I wanted to kiss it and slap it in equal measure. I knew there must be a catch to being that handsome—he was clearly totally paranoid and an asshole. But I was a problem solver. Maybe I could change his mind.

I handed my tray to Skylar, my second stew. “Let me show you to the main salon first. If you’ll slip off your shoes?” I asked, pausing at the automatic sliding doors and indicating a shallow basket by the door that I’d left out specifically for shoes.

“Really?”

I nodded. “I’m afraid so. Yacht decks are traditionally unvarnished to keep the color natural, so shoes are likely to damage the teak. Every yacht’s the same.”

He glanced at my stockinged feet, then bent and untied his shoelaces. I glanced over his broad back. Who wore a suit to the start of a vacation? I needed to know more about this guy than that he was good looking, British and so suspicious. “How was your journey?” I asked. Perhaps he’d relax and in a couple of days we’d have our phones back. I didn’t want to have to walk away from this beautiful yacht and the increase in pay, but I had to be in contact with my father. I’d figure it out. I’d have to.

“Fine,” he replied, rising from where he crouched, and picked up his briefcase that he’d set down.

I reached for it. “Can I take that for you?”

His knuckles turned white as he tightened his fist around the handle. “That’s fine. I have it.”

His clipped tone indicated whatever was in the briefcase was important. I just hoped for all our sakes it wasn’t drugs. Yachting had a zero-tolerance policy for drug use. If even a trace of illegal drugs were found on board, a captain would be stripped of his license with no second chances. If Hayden Wolf had drugs in that briefcase, Captain Moss would cancel this charter, and we’d all be guestless and without a tip for the next eight weeks.

I glanced up as he towered above me. Despite him kicking off this charter with an entirely unreasonable demand, being this close to him made me slightly giddy, which wasn’t an adjective anyone had ever used to describe me. I was focused and diligent according to most, funny and loyal if you asked my family. But I was never giddy. Shut it down, shut it down, I chanted in my head.

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