Italian Billionaire's Unwanted Quadruplets

By: Sophia Lynn

Chapter One

The Caribbean sky was a perfect blue without a single cloud to mar it, and that blue was reflected in the acre-wide swimming pool underneath it. Even when she was exhausted and out of sorts, Pearl Watford could take a certain kind of freeing joy in the twin blues of sky and water, and tipping her head back for a moment, she simply breathed.

Of course, like any fun moment at the water show, it was one that ended quickly. Angie, one of the waitresses who worked the crowds at the edge of the pool, nudged her on her way past.

"Hey, look alive," Angie murmured. "Carson's on his way by."

Pearl nodded her thanks at Angie while cringing a little inside. Seriously? Didn't Carson ever go home? The son of the resort's owner always seemed to be lurking around on “business” from his father, and lately, his business took him around the mermaids more often than not.

"I swear, the little creep is breaking in to steal our panties," Eileen had grumbled the other day, and Pearl wasn't sure she disagreed.

Seated on the fiberglass rocks that ringed the edge of the swimming pool, Pearl flexed her thighs and calves, letting her magnificent white silicone tail roll partially into the water. It was stunning, and unlike the girls who borrowed their tails from the resort, this one was all hers, shaped perfectly to fit her narrower hips and slender legs. While the other girls enjoyed the green and blue and even red tails, she had always loved the subtle iridescence of her own tail. Her short, wavy blonde hair was held back with shimmering white barrettes, and her green glass earrings mimicked the bright green of her eyes.

Being a mermaid had its downsides, but Pearl had been doing it for almost three years. Every time she thought she might like to find another line of work, another child looked at her as if she had made magic for them, and she thought she would keep at it a little longer.

Unfortunately, glancing around, she couldn't see any children who might want to stop for a chat and a photo, preventing Carson from overstaying his non-existent welcome. All the parents were getting their children situated for the show that was due to start in half an hour or so. The only people around seemed to be a group of Italian tourists who were sitting up in the seats close by, all male, all laughing as if they had already had a few, and none looking all that inclined to help her out of a tight spot.

Pearl sighed and pasted a broad smile on her face as Carson came closer. He held a clipboard that had some random form attached to it, and he looked at her over the rim of his ridiculously expensive sunglasses.

"Hey, Pearl of my heart," he said in a tone she guessed he thought was charming. "How's it going over here?"

"Just fine," she said with a smile. "I'm just getting into character for the show, that's all."

Carson obviously thought she was too far away for his message, so he climbed up on the rock with her. For a moment, he stood over her, looking down with a superior glint in his eye, and then he condescended to squat down by her side.

"Sure, sure," he said airily. "I know how seriously you girls take the 'magic' and the 'mystique.'"

He wiggled his fingers in the air on the last words, and Pearl stifled an angry reply. As a matter of fact, she did take it seriously, but he was already moving on.

"You know, Pearl, my dad and I have been talking about you."

"Oh?" That was a surprise. Carson Senior had been at one of his other resorts overseeing renovations all week, and he had a nearly legendary lack of patience for his son, even if he refused to fire him.

"That's right, Pearly-girl," Carson said with a grin. "He was just telling me that there are some big things in the works for you, you know? You've got a lot of potential, and who knows what's in the works? A bigger place in the show, hell, your very own show too. Sky's the limit."

For a moment, Pearl wondered if there was a chance that Carson was serious, and then she dismissed it.

"That's pretty cool, Carson," she said politely. So what if he thought she was a little too dumb to take the bait? That was fine by her.

Carson laughed, and there was something more than a bit jagged about it. If she could have scooted away without making it obvious, she would have.

"It's more than pretty cool, baby," he said. "I'm telling you, this could be big. Why don't you come to dinner with me after the show? You know, I get free room service here, and if you come up to my room tonight, maybe we could try some lobster thermidor together, huh? As long as you check and make sure we're not eating one of your best friends!"

She smiled politely at his joke while he laughed out loud, and then she shook her head. "I'm afraid not. I'm sorry, but I can't make it tonight."

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